Don’t worry, this isn’t a poem, but the gravity of the sentiment is indeed poetic. I don’t care how many enemies or potentially #sponsored moments I may be at risk of sacrificing, it must be said:
Fuck. Fancy. Mascara.
And so it has been written. Can we all breathe a collective sigh of relief? Can I get an Amen, or even an ehem?
Like many of the aesthetically inclined, I dedicated months if not years of my life in pursuit of the mascara. There were many aspects to consider. Black or brown? Volumizing or lengthening... or both? (Is there a both?) Waterproof or not? Organic or chemical-laden? The countless options and marketing promises began to feel like a conspiracy to keep me suckling at the teat of the beauty economy, and I spent quite a pretty penny in my misguided quest. I read all the Glossier interviews for the occasional honorable mention. I deferred to influencers for their recommendations, only to discover that they’re seals of approval were most certainly for hire.
My initial aversion to drugstore (re: cheap) mascara was twofold. For starters, it felt infantile. The first mascara I ever used was my mom’s Maybelline of the pink and green variety (Great Lash). Blame it on the emotional trauma of middle school or a new formulation, but it just didn’t look as good over a decade later. Furthermore, something about my eye area, be it my lashes or the skin, had changed. In my late 20s, my peepers had become product-averse, and try as I might, my mascara and eyeliner would assume the role of blush by lunchtime. So, I sipped the big brand KoolAid and spread open my wallet. Take me, Dior! Give it to me, Bobbi Brown! More, Nars! More! I hopped from tube to tube, feeling even more used and bamboozled with every flick of my wand.
And then, on a fateful trip to Paris, I found myself in the cosmetics section of the supermarché with my mother. “Grab me some mascara for me, will you? The one with the silver top,” she asked. I dutifully obliged, and found myself browsing the selection. Leave it to the French to make a supermarket mascara display look tempting. For myself, I settled on an orange-topped L’Oréal that promised “MEGA VOLUME” (yes, caps and all) with a “Hippie” aesthetic. D’accord!
That was the day I opened my eyes to the world to cheap mascara, and I never looked back. No more racoon eyes come midday, and a non-waterproof formulation meant far fewer lash casualties upon removal. And the volume… the volume! Sure, there was a bit of a clumping issue towards the end of the tube, but at less than €8 each, I could just pop open a new one. Quel bonheur!
Now, I must digress for a moment and admit that my mascara make-over happened to coincide with a skin care overhaul that was not nearly as economizing (Biologique Recherche, anyone?), which most likely helped with the midday-melt factor. Whatever the case, in my now Bambi-esque eyes, I had officially attained this particular holy grail.
Needless to say, the frantic, last-minute trips to stock up on my trips to Paris became tiresome, but I didn’t trust the American market (or the FDA) to provide an adequate replacement. That is until I went to my grandmother’s Long Island home one afternoon... Now, get ready for a waterproof apropos moment. I was at her home that day for the tragic reason that she had recently passed, and my mother and I had been charged with tending to her personal effects. As I delicately fingered my way through her make-up tray, I came across a Revlon tube with a blue-ish periwinkle top. I put it on more out of nostalgia than anything else. Today, it’s the only formulation I use, and now that I live in Paris, my first stop back in the States is the nearest CVS.
Now, I could have bypassed the entire mascara saga, had I opted for extensions. Mais non. Hors de la question! Le hard pass. Much like boujee mascara, this beauty trend is more hype than hot. First of all, the mere idea of having something glued on or near my eyeballs is a little too Clockwork Orange for my tastes, thanks. The upkeep is also insane, and the look is... too put it very gently, not exactly discrete. WE SEE YOU. And as Anna aptly noted in a text thread about the very subject, lash extensions are essentially acrylics for your eyes. So, do with that comparison what you will, but if you don’t have the chutzpah to put them on your fingers à la Lana del Rey, best refrain from the ocular equivalent, sweet pea.
Honestly ladies (and gents), stop bambi-ing the fuck about. Unless you’re rocking a full 60s glam vibe, there is no reason for your eyelids to look like the hairier end of a pair of Gucci slides. Your lashes need not appear habitable to lice. I fear that in the future, the cartoon doe-eyed look will go the way of over-plucked eyebrows and body glitter. I beg you not to become a statistic. However, if are looking to up your lashes game beyond mascara and into the realm of more lasting effects, Anna swears by the ole’ lift and tint.