NARS Larger Than Life Mascaras: Lengthening and Volumizing

February 9, 2010

I’ve been testing out my new NARS Larger Than Life mascaras for a little over two weeks now since my last NARS makeover and feel ready to finally give a review!

I purchased the original Black Orchid Mascaras from NARS years ago and remember loving them. I asked the artist how the new ones compared to the old version and she told me the newer ones contained Vitamin E and Macadamia Nut Oil which made for a better formula that would not smudge or flake. If you go to the NARS Website, there is more information and a mini video of the new mascaras in the Lengthening & Volumizing formulas (click on More Info).

The artist who did my makeup used both mascaras on me, she first applied a layer of the Lengthening Mascara (skinny brush with almost rubber-like bristles) and then followed with a layer of the Volumizing Mascara (thicker almost chubby like bristles).

The combination/result = instant lash makeover and enhanced eye definition. Each retail for $25 and since I was so amazed by the results I decided to purchase both of them.

After testing these out some more on my own, here are my thoughts:

Test Method 1: Lengthening Alone – I really love this one. Just one coat thickens and defines the lashes with a true black finish. It holds my curl and doesn’t smudge or flake. I just apply one coat. The brush seems similar to Dior Iconic which I also love. My only (tiny) complaint is that the very tip tends to accumulate a bit too much mascara so I just need to dab it on a piece of paper to remove the excess.

Test Method 2: Volumizing Alone – This one is a bit more difficult to work with for me. I like the finish, but it’s a bit high maintenance to apply. The brush is lush and full which is nice, but unfortunately it picks up way too much product. I had to take a piece of paper, wrap it above the bristle and wipe off the excess. I couldn’t get the right balance of product on or off the wand in order to get a decent application. There was either too much product on it, or I took too much off.

Test Method 3: Lengthening/Volumizing Combo – Unfortunately I couldn’t recreate the look the artist did without clumping and making an absolute mess of my eye. She did use the disposable NARS mascara brushes which had significantly less mascara product on them. Perhaps that’s why it didn’t turn out clumpy.

So, you might ask now that the NARS Lengthening Mascara seems to be a new favorite, how does it to compare to other mascaras I’ve raved about? My current favorites:

Nars Lengthening $25.00:
* Pros – defines, lengthens, holds curls, makes my lashes look really black
* Cons – not a fan of the rubber packaging just because it gets dirty easily, also the handles are longer than your average mascara which feels weird to me

Dolce & Gabbana $29.00:
* Pros – defines and gives a natural defined lash look
* Cons – doesn’t really hold the curl either, expensive

Diorshow $24.00 (mini version):

* Pros – instant false lashes look in a rich black color, this gives the most dramatic plush lash finish for my non-existent lashes
* Cons – doesn’t hold the curl

Diorshow Iconic $27.00 (not pictured):
* Pros – defines, lengthens, goof-proof wand
* Cons – doesn’t hold the curl

Giorgio Armani Eyes to Kill $30.00 (mini version):
* Pros – thickens in one coat/sweep, even application, no clumping and holds the curl & I’ve gone through 2 tubes so far
* Cons – expensive, but worth EVERY penny

I tried to take before and after pictures of my eye with the new NARS mascara but couldn’t get a good photo to demonstrate the effects. Have you tried the new NARS mascaras? What are your thoughts?

Or have you tried anything else on my favorites list? Did you love or hate any of those? YMMV (your mileage may vary) with each of these. I know of girls who LOVED the Eyes to Kill and others who absolutely hated it. I’d love to hear about your experiences for those who have actually tried these.

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  • I have black orchid from a black eye set from Nars (with makeup remover/pandora eyeshadow/eyeliner pencil) but I thought while the texture is nice not clumpy or runny but the overall effect was way too natural for my liking…

    Anyway, I haven't try that many highend mascara but I think Anna Sui super long was my favorite of all time not to mention the tube is cute and the paste smells like roses as well (not sure if everybody is going to like that part).

  • Hmmm. Would you consider trying a Japanese drugstore mascara? I think Kiss Me Heroine Long & Curl or Volume & Curl would do everything you want plus they're about half the price (between $10-$18 online, but I get mine at Marukai for $16). I haven't tried the Volume & Curl version myself but from what I've read of reviews it works nicely and is fairly easily layerable with the Long & Curl formula. Long & Curl is my HG and I'm on my 3rd tube. It lengthens *really* well, defines, lifts and holds curl forever. It doesn't smudge or flake ever. It is a little difficult to get off with most makeup removers I've used, but I've found the green L'oreal takes it off really easily (hold saturated cotton pad for 20 seconds).

  • Hi Citrine! I agree – the original Black Orchid was very natural looking. What I loved about it was that it was the darkest black I could find!

    Catherine – OMG, yes! I would definitely consider Japanese drugstore mascaras. The problem with those is you can't try before you buy though and you can't even see the wands. I'm going to try and find them once I've used up the ones I have πŸ™‚ Thanks for the rec!

  • Hi Lina – I did a pretty detailed video review of Kiss Me Heroine Long & Curl here: http://www.strawberrymochi.com/2009/05/10/reviews-with-video-koji-soft-curve-lash-curler-and-kiss-me-heroine-long-curl-mascara/

    I know the wand looks kind of scary, but it is really awesome! Hope the review and visuals help. =)

  • Hey Sabrina! Have you tried the Fresh mascaras? I like the Supernova one or if you'd like to try both the Firebird & Supernova you can get a mini size of both from Sephora for $10.. I can't vouch for their curl holding properties because I don't curl my eyelashes…
    What about Chanel Exceptionnel? That's my all time favorite, I am on my third tube– whats your opinion on that?

  • Hi Lina,
    I tried to boycott mascaras that cost me over $15. I have tried Diorshow and even though it made my lashes blacker than it could ever get – I felt it's thickening super powers barely working on me so I said "why bother". I have always had great luck with MAC mascaras and they were under $15. Currently, I am using Plush Lash (bought for $10 at Company Store)but if you swear by the Armani mascara I may throw down $30 for it. I suffer from thin and wimpy Asian lashes so if you're telling me that this will actually make mine look more voluptous (I would kill for Salma Hayek lashes) I'll reconsider lifting my boycott!

  • Anonymous

    Love your very thorough and literate posts. You are really intelligent on the subject of makeup — not an oxymoron — and this reader appreciates it.
    All I ask of a mascara is that it not leave smudges under my eyes by lunchtime. For years I did not even wear mascara because the undereye smudge look is so messy and unprofessional.
    The only one I've found that really doesn't smudge is Chantecaille Faux Cils, and, like you, I'm always careful to wipe excess off the wand before each use.

  • Neat post, Lina! πŸ™‚ I tried both new Nars formulas and enjoy both of them, but I actually prefer the Volumizing one! It didn't clump on me, it was a fairly smooth application. Also, HUGE love for Armani Eyes to Kill… it is an awesome mascara, couldn't agree more with you when you say it's worth EVERY penny! πŸ˜€

  • Catherine – I will definitely check out your review. Thanks for sending me the link!

    Lexi – I LOVE plushlash, but found it too natural and it didn't hold the curl so well. Armani's DEFINITELY holds the curl and does wonders for your . If you're near a Saks, they have minis in their GWPs. You should definitely try and get one. Also, can you email me? I have a question for you.

    Lakshmi – I have tried Fresh, it was actually a mini one from Sephora and I didn't like it at all, but I can't remember why. I've also tried Chanel (I've tried almost everything from Chanel at least once) and while the mascaras are nice, I think they are lacking in the pigment/blackness. I need mascaras that are SUPER dark. Chanel ends up looking greyish once it dries on my lashes and I have no idea why.

    Anonymous – Oooh! You gave me another lemming. I've had a few friends tell me the Chantecaille was amazing, but I was very skeptical and didn't want to splurge. Perhaps I might try it out for the Neimans beauty event now that you mentioned it. It took me many many many purchases to find ones that didn't smudge on me too.

    Poonam – Thanks for the info!! I will have to play around with the NARS Volumizing one. It looked so good when the artist put it on me and there was no clumping. Perhaps it will just require some practice on my part. I'm glad you love GA Eyes to Kill. I hated every other Armani mascara and would have never bought Eyes To Kill if I didn't get that mini sample first.

  • Hmm… have you tried the Chanel Obscur Noir version of the Exceptionnel? Its supposed to be blacker than usual.. I have it but I can't say I really notice a big difference! I definitely want to try the Armani one next.

  • Hi Lakshmi – yes I have πŸ™ I just don't like Chanel mascaras that much – they are too high maintenance for me and I just don't really like them as much compared to Dior/Armani etc.

  • ga eyes to kill is hands down the best mascara i have tried. However, i am also quite happy with el sumptuous.