In her Harry Potter books, J.K. Rowling was unto something when she wrote about how each wand had to be the perfect match for its witch/wizard owner. In real life, wands have to be matched to the owner, too. Mascara wands, that is. Now before you brush me off as a wacko Potter fan, allow me to elaborate.
More than the actual formula, I think it’s the mascara wand that makes a massive difference to your lashes in giving you the effect you desire. Generally, my only criterion formula-wise is that it be waterproof. I take more time in deciding on the wand shape.
For instance, when I want my lashes to look defined and well-separated, I will use a mascara that has a smaller wand, with shorter bristles. This allows me to really get to the lashline and define my lashes from root to tip.
Something like this…
Now when I want major volume, I will opt for a bigger, thicker wand. This will allow me to really build up my lashes and get them thick and lush after as little as one or two coats. (Me being me, I usually layer more than that.)
Here’s a picture of a wand that will get you volumized:
I also took a picture of these two wands side by side just to help you see the difference in their shape and size.
Oh and while we’re on the topic of mascaras, nowadays, there is such a thing as lash primer. You’re supposed to apply it to your lashes first, and then follow with mascara. I tried using it once and it makes your lashes look thicker. Personally, I think you can get the same effect with multiple coats of mascara. Some lash primers have added ingredients, e.g. they claim to make your lashes longer/healthier. I haven’t used one for a long enough period of time, so I really can’t comment about that. But I’ll show you some pics of a lash primer that I pilfered from my mom.
This is an Estée Lauder one, and the tube looks like this:
And here’s a close-up shot of the wand and the formula:
You see how ghastly white it is? That’s why you have to layer mascara on top, or risk looking like a weirdo.
So when you go mascara-shopping, apart from the formula, do check out the wand that comes with the tube. Make sure it will work for the type of lash effect that you prefer.