Mascara wands used to be pretty universal in composition and shape. Sometimes the brush would be curved slightly, but the bristles were generally nylon.
Then came silicone bristles, an alternative to supposedly clump-causing nylon bristles. But nay, nylon bristles are not the cause of clumping. Clumping is the cause of clumping.
As mascara wands have continued to evolve, each new shape promising better results, one has to wonder: is wand more important than formula? I'd have no lashes left if I tried all of the different wands out there, but allow me to debunk a couple of wand myths using three fairly new shapes.
I'm still waiting on the patent for that official title, but I’ve noticed that a lot of mascaras boast BIGGER wands for BETTER lashes.
This year, Maybelline brought out the big guns with its new Pumped Up! Colossal Mascara, part of the Volume Express line. The formula is super light and dries softly, but the wavy, bumpy brush is a hindrance. It's meant to pump double the formula onto the wand, but everyone knows that over-pumping your mascara wand gets more air in the tube and dries out the liquid.
The brush itself is made of long, flexible nylon bristles. These are great for lengthening because you can sweep the brush from root to tip with more prolonged contact on each lash, depositing as well as stretching the formula in one motion. Still, for volume, I don't understand why so many formulas employ the fatty brush, because you’d want to deposit MORE product, not sweep it off as you’re trying to get it on there. It would make more sense for volume mascaras to have wands with shorter bristles that are more spread apart, so your lashes get more product on them without the bristles getting in the way.
That said, while it took a fair amount of sweeps to really get all my lashes covered without gunking up my eyelids, Pumped Up did a bang-up job of lengthening my lashes. Would I call them voluminous? I mean, yes, more voluminous than my naked lashes, but the greater payoff is in length.
The Christmas Tree In February
If you’re one of those lazy people who keep your Christmas tree around way longer than the 12 musically-prescribed days, it might look a bit like this mascara brush with stiff nylon bristles of varying length.
I’m sure you guys have seen many variations (both nylon and silicon) of this choppy-looking brush. It’s a smart idea, considering that everyone has different lash lengths; there’s a bristle for each and every one of them!
L'Oreal's new-this-year Miss Manga Voluminous Mascara uses this shape, and also has a flex-hinge. What is the hinge for? I guess if you're on of those swift-swipers it’d help deposit more color, but so would reapplying.
What really works for this brush is the tapered shape: The pointy tip allows you to get in close and work the goop into your longer outer lashes. A couple swipes while wiggling the wand back and forth does indeed create some decent volume and length. The crazy-looking brush plays for both teams, so you're kind of able to achieve lengthening and volumizing.
The Tree of Life…Or Something
Housed in some of the most beautiful mascara packaging I’ve seen, this crooked contraption is not without purpose.
OK, so this one is a bit of a wild card, and a primo example of how mascara wand technology is truly a testament of our times and struggles. I was surprised to shimmy it out of its tube to reveal (big surprise) a wand as gnarled as a tree root.
This mascara has a silicone wand, again with the wave-length-looking bristles. Apparently Lancôme anticipated the user’s general befuddlement with such a device and included directions on how to get optimal use out of it, including separate instructions for left or right-handed people. Not all of us can be ambi-swipers.
You guys, as soon as I used the crooked arm it TOTALLY made tons of sense! It was like how people must’ve felt after they started putting handles on slippery inner tubes. I had never thought about how constricting a straight wand is, but if you are NOT an ambi-swiper, trying to apply mascara evenly to one eye prevents you from laying the brush flat against your lash line; you have to kind of pivot it because things like noses get in the way. Well, no longer will I be thwarted by my own schnoz. Being able to apply mascara in one fell swoop isn’t just time savvy, it really does prevent clumps because you’re not overlapping on fast-drying formula.
I don’t know if Lancôme has a patent on the tree root design of this wand, but if you see one in the wild, pick it up.
Do you generally go for wand or formula when shopping for mascara? Any other short-lashed ladies out there have a swear-by brand? Tell me all your secrets!