In Rotation | Beauty Look Book Mascara and Lash Primer Picks

July 18, 2014

I typically limit myself to a couple of mascaras I use at any given time since I keep them for 3 months max before tossing but I’ve been testing new ones and I’ve discovered some new favorites. I have half a dozen I’m using right now and I’ve picked out my favorites to share.
When it comes to my lashes, I’m really picky with mascaras or lash primers. I have really straight ones that often don’t hold the curl with most mascaras even with a lash curler (my essentials here). I also find a lot of black mascaras turn grayish looking after they dry on my lashes, smudge or end up feeling crunchy and flake during the day. When it comes to mascara I look for something that will last all day without clumping, flaking, smudging and something that stays a true lush black color and holds the curl.

I’m hesitant to try lash primers and lash serums because I don’t like having an extra layer of product on my sensitive eyes. I’m a novice in this area so if you have any recommendations I am all ears.
The mascara and lash products I have in rotation right now:

  • Shu Uemura Lash Builder ($33) is a lash builder serum to help create a longer lusher lash look, I’ve been testing this for a few weeks and am still undecided on what I think but it’s been in my lash rotation, it darkens and defines the lashes when you apply it but I haven’t seen a visible difference after I apply colored mascara, reviews seem to indicate you will see results over time
  • Diorshow Maximizer Lash Plumping Serum ($28.50) is something I’ve used for several years, I don’t use it everyday but it’s a favorite base that helps mascara adhere better to the lashes and makes it catch the lashes resulting in a fuller look, I like that it doesn’t impact the curl after using a lash curler
  • Guerlain Maxi Lash Waterproof ($30) is something I discovered thanks to RaeView, it’s the first waterproof mascara I’ve tried that doesn’t make my lashes feel crunchy, this one needs 2-3 uses to break it in, it gives lush rich black lashes, volumizes, doesn’t clump/flake/smudge and defines the lashes nicely, I haven’t tested it at the beach or pool but it seems to be sweat proof and lasts all day
  • Giorgio Armani Eyes to Kill Stretch ($32) is a staple in my beauty arsenal, I’ve repurchased this numerous times (probably a dozen tubes by now), it’s my favorite mascara of all time because it does everything I want – lengthens, defines, thickens, darkens the color and stays put, it’s easy to apply and gets the little corners easily because of the tapered brush tip, the bristles are well designed to grab on to the lashes and glides on easily
  • Chanel Le Volume de Chanel ($30) is the only Chanel mascara I like, it’s a lightweight mascara that glides on easily and doesn’t clump, it stays put and doesn’t dry to a grayish finish like other Chanel mascaras do (at least for me), I like the Black and Bleu (navy) for fun, but mostly use the black
  • NARS Larger than Life Volumizing Mascara ($25) is another favorite that I’ve repurchased numerous times, it is one of my favorite volumizing mascaras that doesn’t flake or smudge, this one has a big fluffy brush so it can be prone to clumping after a while due to buildup, I wipe down the brush with a small piece of paper wrapped around the tip (tissue or paper towels will get caught in the bristles, so paper actually is best to clean the brush) and then it’s back to perfection
If I were pressed to pick just one mascara to live with the rest of my life, it would be the Giorgio Armani Eyes to Kill Stretch. If you’re looking for something more wallet-friendly, a few other  less expensive favorites I’ve tested and purchased numerous times include Clinique High Impact Mascara ($16), Topshop 3d Curve Mascara ($20, or in this Eyeliner/Mascara Set for $24) and MAC Plushlash Mascara ($16) has been a long-time favorite. I’ve tried dozens of drugstore mascaras (literally) and for some reason they’ve all turned grayish in color on my lashes and I’ve never found one that holds the curl.

What are your holy grail lash primers, serums and mascaras? I’ve been researching lash serums and would love your thoughts on any you’ve tried.

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  • I love the Dior Lash Plumping Serum & treat myself to one every now & then. It makes my lashes look incredible. I love it. I love the Lancome Hypnose Mascara for my high end & Rimmel Accelerator as my budget buy

  • all time favorite mascara is Armani Eyes to Kill! I occasionally try something else (usually a tester or GWP size) but I haven't found anything I like better. Been using it for years. Recently I purchase Lancome's lash primer. I never thought that a primer would add anything to the look of my lashes, but now I see why they are so popular! It doesn't make them look too full or furry (I hate that furry spider leg look)….adds just the right amount of volume. Oh and I agree….Le Volume is the best Chanel mascara and I like the colored ones!

  • I also have straight lashes (long and heavy too), and holding curl even after using a lash curler is an issue for me. I've tried several lash primers (including Lancome, Chanel, Mac, Dior and even drugstore ones) and the only one that really holds curl no matter what is Shiseido Nourrishing Mascara base. It's also transparent, so there's no problem with turning mascara gray because of the white primer. I highly recommend you trying that one.

  • The Nars mascara looks amazing, really want to get that!

    Mia xx

  • Currently I am head over heels in love with the Kevin Aucoin the volume mascara! I am picky as hell with my mascara but this one is just perfect! I also really like the Dior Show Iconic which was a go to before KA happened!


  • I absolutely love Diorshow Maximizer Lash Plumping Serum! I haven't had it in the rotation in a while and you make me want to run out and get a replacement. I haven't had any favorite mascaras lately – seems like I am always getting fallout before the end of the day. Sigh…

  • jeansco

    I really love Koji's Curving Eyelash Curler and Kiss Me Heroine Make Volume & Curl mascara. The curler really captures all my Asian lashes and curls them beautifully. The mascara separates quite well and does have fibers to create longer lashes and to build volume. I'm not sure if the one I'm currently using is waterproof or not, but I did cry at a friend's wedding and it didn't seem to smudge. Plus, it's very very easy to remove with an oil based remover..absolutely no rubbing needed! Just place a soaked cotton pad on your eyes for 5-10 seconds and it's off! I know they have a 'super waterproof' version, but I have yet to try that one out yet. I also use Sonia Kashuk's metal lash comb in between coats to help separate and push my lashes upwards.

  • Jo

    I like the NARS volume too. I first bought it a year or so ago on your recommendation. I'm going to try the Armani based on your recommendation as well. A less expensive brand I like is DHC Perfect Pro mascara. Like the Kevin Aucoin volume mascara it is a tubing mascara. It is volumizing and smudgeproof and a true black. I tried the KA because it gets such rave reviews and I love the brush and the application but it is not black enough for my taste and it does not add volume.

  • I really like the Clinique high impact mascara and also Lancome hypnose drama. The L'oreal mascaras rival a lot of the high end ones though, especially Miss Manga, my lashes have never been so huge!
    – Grace

  • Chanel volume mascara is my favorite. I have never tried the Guerlain waterproof, will give that a try! Thanks!

  • Chanel volume my favorite, I'd like to try the Armani one after reading your review

  • Anonymous

    Dear Sabrina,
    My formerly thick lashes are now thin and sparse due to age. I use Shiseido lash primer or Suqqu primer after curling my lashes, both of these hold the curl after mascara. The Suqqu primer is available from Selfridges UK. I like the new Dior Addict-It mascara, it doesn't clump and covers well, and is a nice shiny black.

  • The Guerlain Maxi Lash is my holy grail mascara, I don't think I'll ever try another black mascara again. Holds a curl, amazing volume, long-lasting, and a lovely rose scent to boot.

    Izzique | For beauty and lifestyle

  • I switched from Lancome Doll Eyes to Fairy Drops and never looked back!

  • NARS and CHANEL my favorites!
    Lots of love, xx


  • Recently started using Dior Lash Plumping Serum and it makes my lashes so thick! Love Chanel too xoxo