Sifting through the Mascara Mess

Consumer Reports Findings

A panel of 34 staff members used 16 washable black mascaras over six weeks, then rated each on overall performance, ease of application, brush, look on lashes, durability, and ease of removal.

Bottom line

Top-rated was a department-store brand, Lancôme Définicils, $24. But several other very good mascaras are sold in drugstores and supermarkets for just $7 to $9: Max Factor Lash Perfection Volume Couture, Maybelline Define-A-Lash Volume, Cover Girl VolumeExact, and L'Oréal Telescopic Clean Definition & Lengthening. Testers judged the lowest-rated mascaras, Bare Escentuals Big Tease and Revlon 3D Extreme, especially difficult to apply and remove, and they disliked their brushes. Spinlash, $15, a battery-operated spinning wand, earned praise from a couple of panelists, but others said it left clumps.

Because mascara tubes provide the kind of dark, wet environment in which bacteria can flourish, toss them after three months of use.

Brand and Model Price Overall score

Max Factor Lash Perfection Volume Couture  7 77.

Estee Lauder Double Wear  20 71.

Cover Girl VolumeExact  7 69.

MAC Zoom Lash  11 68.

L'Oréal Telescopic Clean Definition & Lengthening  9 68.

Maybelline Define-A-Lash Volume  8 68.

Cover Girl Lashblast Volume Blasting  7 66.

Neutrogena Healthy Volume  8 66.

Maybelline Great Lash Washable  5 65.

Christian Dior Diorshow  24 64.

Rimmel Eye Magnifier Exact Definition  7 63.

Avon SuperSHOCK  9 61.

Almay One Coat Nourishing Triple Effect  8 56.

Revlon 3D Extreme  10 45.

Bare Escentuals Big Tease  15 42.

Posted: December 2008 - Consumer Reports Magazine issue: January 2009