12 Canadian makeup artists pick their absolute favourite mascara
The wand they always keep in their kits, and their tips on how to swipe, right
Finding the perfect mascara for oneself isn't always easy, and, for many women, the makeup bag staple is usually a word-of-mouth purchase. So who better to trust for lash advice than experts who have basically tried them all, from drugstore to luxury and every other wand in between. Here, twelve Canadian makeup artists dish on the one standout mascara they always keep in their professional kits and bring to jobs.
Plus, these pros also share their best swipe-and-go tricks to help lashes reach their most lush, fluttery potential.
The pro: Aniya Nandy, Toronto
The pick: L'Oréal Paris Voluminous Original Mascara, $9.99, Shoppers Drug Mart
"I always have [this] in my kit. The pigment is strong and the formula is buildable, so it gives me options. I can use it for a natural 'no-makeup' makeup look, or I can build it up for full drama. And it doesn't flake."
The tip: "If you are wearing mascara daily, clean off the applicator once a week. This will prevent product build-up. [I] wrap a paper towel (not tissue) around the base, hold firmly and pull upwards going over the brush. This leaves you with a clean brush going back into the [tube] so that your applications look smooth and clump-free."
Good as faux
The pro: Fatima Elrafie, Calgary
The pick: Benefit Cosmetics BADgal BANG Volumizing Mascara, $33, Shoppers Drug Mart
"This mascara is super volumizing and buildable without weighing down or clumping lashes. I also love the intensity of the pitch-black colour. It works so well and almost gives the illusion of falsies! It's both a client and a personal favorite."
The tip: "I like to apply my mascara by first brushing it downwards on my lashes and then upwards using more of a vibrating motion with the wand. This gives nice length and volume. And I like to apply 2 to 3 very light coats to ensure it does not look clumpy."
The pro: Témi Shobowale, Toronto
The pick: Milk Makeup Kush High Volume Mascara, $29, Sephora
"This has been my recurring favourite, [both] personally and for my professional kit. I love how this mascara opens up my eyes and somehow perfectly volumizes and lengthens while coating every single lash strand. Big bonus point: it's vegan and [contains] CBD and hemp oil, which hydrates and helps my natural lashes grow strong."
The tip: "Clumpy lashes? Invest in a metal lash comb to gently comb through your lashes and de-clump!"
The pro: Farah Hasan, Vancouver
The pick: Make Up For Ever Smoky Stretch Lengthening & Defining Mascara, $30, Sephora
"As the name says, this really gives [a] smoky effect to lashes, making them look full but never clumpy and messy. It definitely creates a very long and separated lash effect. My other favourite part of this mascara is the shape of the brush. I can't insist enough on [the] right makeup tools, and this brush is one of them! It makes for easy application, from your inner corner lashes right to your lower lid lashes. If I'm using false eyelashes on my clients, this mascara is a saviour, as it helps blend natural lashes and falsies without clumping."
The tip: "I like to roll the brush when applying mascara. It gives a fuller effect and softly curls the lashes without using a lash curler."
The pro: Myles Sexton, Toronto
The pick: Lancôme Définicils Mascara, $35.50, Lancôme
"Mascara to me is as personal as a tattoo, just with less commitment; it all depends on the look you want and how your lashes grow. If you have lashes that are denser but short, and you're tired of your mascara sticking lashes together or flaking and rubbing off throughout the day, then my go-to is Lancôme's Définicils. It's a gel-based mascara so it does not flake, clump or smudge, and is the best for separating lashes for the most natural look. I often use this mascara as my first step when creating bold lashes because it separates so well."
The tip: "Bottom lashes can be difficult to apply [mascara to] and hard to see sometimes. I always wait until my mascara wand is almost dry, after laying it on my top lashes before [dipping it back into the tube], and I wiggle [the wand] onto my bottom lashes. This will help avoid smudging the product on your lower water line."
The pro: Kiera Memka, Winnipeg
The pick: Inika Organic Long Lash Vegan Mascara, $46, Inika Organic
"I recently began my journey into ethical beauty, and I've been trying to chose vegan options as often as possible. This product is actually 100 per cent plant derived. It uses mineral pigments and all-natural ingredients to add length and volume. It also applies completely clump-free! It's not waterproof, though, so it isn't my first choice for brides, but it is absolutely the best natural mascara I have come by!"
The tip: "Slow down and be patient! Mascara is often our last step and we typically rush it, but if you take your time, wiggling from the very base of the lash right up to the tip, you'll get the best result."
Min effort, max impact
The pro: Susana Hong, Toronto
The pick: Le Volume Révolution De Chanel Mascara in 10 Noir, $45, all Chanel beauty counters
"A bit on the pricey side, but if it's extreme volume and length you want, this is it. It has a nice dense brush which I prefer over wimpy silicone applicators because it allows you to deposit as much product as you want, to build, at the base before feathering it out in one shot. Also, the formula is quick drying so it doesn't straighten out curled lashes."
The tip: "I really like to deposit most of the product at the base of the lashes. It gives the illusion of volume, and doubles as a very fine eyeliner for me. Some people put eyeliner on the water line for added intensity, but I have always used mascara at the base, really close to the water line, to give the same illusion. Then whatever is left on the brush I comb upwards, leaving the tips with the least amount of product. This gives a feathery effect and looks voluminous without heaviness."
The pro: Simone Otis, Toronto
The pick: Nars Climax Mascara, $30, NARS
"There have been tons of different mascaras coming out, and I felt like most of them were just O.K. When I first got [this mascara] I was pretty skeptical, but turns out, it is excellent! The brush is a great size — it's fluffy with lots of bristles — and it really swipes each lash very well. It gets to the base of your lashes and delivers enough of the product that you can keep coating the lashes until you get the look that you want without getting all clumpy and dry."
The tip: "When you're going for that really "lash-y" look, comb through each layer with a metal-tooth lash comb. It gives you a cleaner, clump-free look as you continue to layer."
The pro: Angela Hix, Halifax
The pick: MAC Extended Play Gigablack Lash Mascara, $23, MAC
"This mascara [has] it all. I not only wear it, but recommend it to everyone! The formulation is clay-based and is heat, humidity, tear and water resistant. It's both smooth and lightweight, and doesn't clump or weigh lashes down. Complete with a petite bristle brush, it helps coat the longest and shortest of lashes… It's honestly perfect for everyone, and benefits those with deep-set or hooded eyes. The best part: it's easily removed with warm water at the end of the day. I've cried with this mascara on and can attest to how well it stands up!"
The tip: "Replace your mascara within the recommended 3-6 month timeline, regardless if it's near empty or not. Why? Because one of the base ingredients is antibacterial, which starts to break down once exposed to air at the 3-month mark. By 6 months, it is no longer active. And always remember to never, ever share your mascara with anyone. That tube of wet, dark cream has a dark interior that is a perfect breeding ground for bacteria!"
The pro: Christine Cho, Toronto
The pick: Elizabeth Arden Grand Entrance Mascara, $33, Shoppers Drug Mart
"This is a fantastic do-it-all choice. When used lightly, it really separates and lengthens lashes on the first coat. When used with a little more pressure, it doubles as a fabulous volumizing and building mascara too. The brush is curved and has a mix of tiny spikes and conical bristles, [and the formula is stocked] in vitamins so lashes don't feel or look dry. It's also water resistant (not waterproof), so amazing for smudgeproof long wear, while still [being] easy to remove at the end of [the] night."
The tip: "If you have straight lashes like me, make sure to patiently and properly (almost over) curl [lashes] before applying any mascara. I curl at the base, mid, and tip. I then wait for a moment, and then curl in middle again. This is all before any mascara goes on."
Every single lash
The pro: Jacqui Pogue, Montreal
The pick: Hourglass Extreme Lash Mascara, $34, Sephora
"[This is] the newest mascara addition to my kit. It's thin, straight bristles are ideal to lengthen even the smallest lashes; the inner corners are usually the most difficult to catch!"
The tip: "Aren't you tired of throwing out dried-out mascaras? I see clients trying to get more product onto their mascara wand by dipping the brush in and out of the tube a few times. This is a big no-no, as it exposes air to the formula, which speeds up its [shelf] life. Dried-out mascara leaves flaky residue under your eyes and gives clumpy lashes."
The pro: Roxanne De Nobrega, Toronto
The pick: Sisley-Paris So Intense Mascara, $85, Holt Renfrew
"This is my absolute favourite guilty pleasure. [It] has a unique brush that comfortably combs your lashes from root to tip for a sculpted look. It curls, defines and lengthens with a voluminous effect, and does not flake or smudge."
The tip: "I start my application with the tips of the lashes, sweeping upwards, to sculpt and curl in the direction I want. Then, with a second coat, I sweep from the middle of the lashes to the tip to define. For more drama, I do a third application, brushing from the root of the lashes to the tips."
Natasha Bruno is a Toronto-based freelance writer with an obsession for beauty, health & wellness, women's issues, and curly hair. Her byline can also be found in The Kit, the Toronto Star, S/ magazine, Sharp Magazine, Bustle, FASHION magazine, among other outlets. Follow her journey on Instagram @natashajbruno.