Rachel Marie Walsh tries out the best of the mascaras, cleansers and eye liners on the market.
MAC Upward Lash, €25.50, 4 Stars
MAC is consistently good at mascara, even if it does have that Estée Lauder thing of giving different names to products formulated for the same purpose.
Other brands are certainly guilty of mascara overlap but MAC’s e-commerce store offers a whopping eleven volume-enhancing formulas, excluding waterproof versions and a lash-thickening primer.
Ingredients lists are very similar (though I recommend against Opulash, €18.50, for as mascaras so high in denatured alcohol tempt irritation) and their brushes distinguish them most.
Smashbox Indecent Exposure Mascara, €22, 5 stars
I don’t know how indecent lashes can look but this mascara certainly exposes every last one. The slim-cut, irregular-length bristles capture and coat every lash. The formula lengthens and separates but doesn’t provide much density which, to be fair, Smashbox doesn’t promise. A good one for primed or naturally thick lashes.
Charlotte Tilbury Legendary Lashes False Lash Effect Mascara, €32, 4 Stars
Tilbury is all about Hollywood glamour and promises thirteen times more voluminous lashes with three coats of this mascara. Unsurprisingly, this is an exaggeration.
Still, this is an excellent volumising mascara. The formula is less emollient than the brand’s Full Fat Lashes Mascara, €29, and better at holding a curl for it. It also has a different brush, with multi-length bristles that capture every lash. I still prefer Full Fat because Legendary is perfumed, so potentially irritating to eyes.
Maybelline The Falsies Push Up Angel Mascara, €12.30, 5 Stars
Maybelline is another brand that offers a perplexing number of volumizing mascaras.
This is one of the best. The curved brush aligns with roots and carries the product evenly through the tips, creating noticeable lift and curl. Volume is substantial with just two coats and the formula doesn’t clump or flake.
Elemis Nourishing Omega 3 Oil-Rich Cleanser, €37, 3 Stars
This is a sunflower and castor oil-based wash.
‘Nourishing’ is not a realistic description of any cleanser, they just don’t stay on the skin long enough to “feed” it healthy plant extracts. The formula contains a lot of natural perfume oils, which can be just as sensitising as the real thing with regular use. It’s not great with waterproof eye makeup but is an otherwise competent cleanser.
Estée Lauder Advanced Night Micro Cleansing Balm, €40, 4 Stars
This luxurious balm turns to oil on the skin and works quickly to remove even waterproof makeup.
The formula contains soothing plant extracts and leaves skin feeling soft and comfortable. It is lightly fragranced with lavender which is pleasant but can bother sensitive skin.
Simple Kind to Skin Hydrating Cleansing Oil, €9.99, 5 Stars
Cleanser is the skincare product that spends least time on your face.
Added peptides and exotic antioxidants will run down the drain (along with your money) without making much impact on the skin.
The perfect cleanser removes makeup and impurities gently, without harming skin’s natural moisture barrier or leaving a residue. Simple, right?
Simple gets cleansers right generally, the only one I recommend against is Simple Clear Skin Oil Balance Exfoliating Wash, €5.29.
This is very high in witchhazel which (while astringent in the short term), has the same drying and sensitising effects as alcohol with regular exposure. The Hydrating Cleansing Oil is a great buy for normal to dry skin.
It has just five ingredients, excluding a preservative. Grapeseed oil, sorbitol tetraoleate and isopropyl palmitate are emollient surfactants, whisking away makeup and debris while keeping skin supple.
Small amounts of Vitamin E and retinyl palmitate calm redness.
Too Faced Melt Off Mascara Cleansing Oil, €17 at debenhams.ie, 4 Stars
Too Faced is known not for cleansers but cutesy cosmetics, so this oil is a pleasant surprise.
It is packaged like mascara and applies with a wand. The formula is unscented and very gentle. It is also extremely thorough, removing eye makeup with one or two swipes.
If you are forever waking up with mascara under your eyes, no matter how long you spend cleansing, this is a reliable choice. At this price, however, you’d reasonably expect more product.
Illamasqua Illustrator Liquid Eyeliner Pen, €25, 4 Stars
This pen has a needle tip that’s great for ultra-fine lines. A distinctive flick takes a while to build.
The classic inky-black look of the pigment is very glossy and glamorous. The overall formula is waterproof but quite high in castor oil, so does not feel tight on the skin.
It is also fragrance-free and safe for sensitive eyes.
Charlotte Tilbury The Feline Flick Shodo Pen, €29, 5 Stars
A shodo (Japanese calligraphy) pen apparently inspired this liner.
Its fine-tipped design is not so different from dozens of other pens but no matter, it doesn’t really need a backstory to appeal. Charlotte Tilbury could christen it “wingdings” and I’d buy it again.
The liquid pigment is matte black and applies beautifully. The cat’s eye trend has been going so long you’re probably a fli-xpert but any product that helps you do a good thing better and faster is worth trying.
Kat Von D Tattoo Liner, €20, 5 Stars
Eyeliner tattoo is a genuine service and not for the squeamish.
The procedure involves the release of micropigments into skin’s dermal layer using a needle, like a delicate version of a real tattoo.
Results are semi-permanent and actually pretty subtle. I can definitely see someone so committed to liner they’d have it embedded in their lids wanting to add to the effect.
Kat Von D specialises in long-wearing makeup and this liner does remain intact for hours without irritation. It is waterproof and available in intense shades of black and brown.
The pen’s needle-tip is perfect for creating fine lines or double-flicks.
Too Faced Sketch Liquid Art Marker, €19.50, 3 Stars
This liner is high in alcohol, which really isn’t a great ingredient to leave on the delicate eye area for hours.
The 11-shade range include turquoise, pink and yellow, as well as traditional colours. The precision tip creates fine, consistent lines.
The colour is long-wearing and transfer-proof though, as mentioned, it’s tenacity isn’t great for skin.
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