Finding the perfect mascara can be a little like finding true love. It can lead you to some seriously undesirables that have been the biggest waste of time, but once you find ‘the one’, you feel as though life – and your make-up regime – will never be the same again. 

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And it’s not only an emotional quest. We’re prepared to invest some serious cash into seeking out our dream lash enhancer. A 2013 survey by US website Mint revealed that mascara is the make-up product we are prepared to spend the most amount of money on year after year. They found that the average US woman splashed out $3,770 (Dh13,835) on mascara in their lifetime. That’s compared to $2,750 on eyeshadow and $1,780 on lipstick. Annually, it’s estimated that a billion mascaras are sold globally. So yes, when it comes to mascaras, there is a lot of business to be had as brands are clocking onto the fact that we’re all on a desperate hunt, are prepared to try out quite a few different types along the way but with the main hope that once we have sourced our dream mascara, we will purchase, re-purchase and never look back.  

Read: How to add lustre to your lashes 

Which leads to the most important question of all: What makes the perfect mascara? Of course, the formulation is key. You need a fairly fluid consistency so that it can glide through lashes, but it needs to be able to dry fairly quickly so it stays put without smudging – but not so drying that it flakes and crumbles down your cheeks. See? This is why it’s not easy finding the perfect mascara. However, there are limited varieties of mascara ‘juice’ that brands can play around with. 

Read: The 8 best mascaras to try

Really, it all comes down to the brush and the bristles on it. This is where brands spend most of their mascara R&D (research and development) money. Chanel spent over five years perfecting the bristle placement, size and shape before launching their first volumising mascara in 2016. And brands have been known to not reveal the exact ergonomics to the whole design team for fear of it being leaked. This is cloak-and-dagger stuff indeed. 

However, when it comes to the regular consumer, what it means is that different positioning and pattern of bristles will create and determine exactly what type of effect you can achieve. Everyone will always have their personal mascara favourite because our lashes are all different – great news for beauty brands, because it means that at any given time, there will always be a swarm of women still on the hunt for a better mascara than their last. 

Mascara dos and don’ts

1. DON’T pump the wand in and out of the barrel. It puts more air into the formulation and dries it out quicker.

2. DO wipe any excess product off the top of the mascara wand before applying. It will prevent your lashes getting clumped together. 

3. DON’T keep your mascara for more than six months. The brush will pick up bacteria and dirt and you don’t want to spread that around your eyes. 

4. DO keep your mascara stored somewhere cool and dark. If exposed to heat and sunlight, it will dry up. 

5. DON’T use mascara samples in department stores. Ask for a disposable wand, dip that into the formula and test out your potential new love that way.

The Ultimate Bristle Guide

1. Best For Volume

Brush type: Densely bristled

A wand packed with fibre bristles will pack product at the root and then grab onto them and lift them up at the same time. 

2. Best For Short Lashes

Brush type: Cactus-style

Spiky, ball-shaped brushes are ideal for reaching small and hard to reach lashes, especially in the inner corners or bottom lashes. Instead of using the brush horizontally, turn it towards the eye and paint the mascara onto the lashes.

3. Best For Length

Brush type: Plastic brush

Plastic bristle combs are best for making the shortest lashes look like supermodels’ legs. The formula pours down the channels in between the bristles and coats each one individually. 

4. Best For Definition

Brush type: Comb 

A plastic comb-style brush will glide through your lashes depositing product all the way from the root to the tip. 

5. Best For a False Lash Effect 

Brush type: Tapered

To create winged lashes, you need a brush that is almost the same shape so look for one that is narrower at the tip and fuller at the base so that product is deposited in the same fashion.