Irrationally, mascara was always one of the items of make-up I was most jealous of not being able to wear. Firstly, it always looks amazing, properly applied (more on that later) and I love that wide-eyed sixties sex kitten look (although I’m not in my sixties just yet). I’m not quite sure why, but mascara always strikes me as being very feminine. I’m sure there’s a sociologist or anthropologist or make-up artist who can explain why. And I’ve always been full of admiration for women who can do their mascara on a moving train, tram, bus or the Nemesis at Alton Towers. I can’t do mine properly in front of a wall-mounted bathroom mirror in a stationary three bedroom semi-detached house after a soothing cup of chamomile tea.
I was researching different types of mascara and their finish when I came across clear mascara, right at the start of my make-up explorations. I researched a few different brands and I didn’t want to spend too much at that time so I plumped for the Maybelline Great Lash Clear Mascara, which seemed to get decent reviews at pocket money prices.
So what is it?
In his book “Stark”, Ben Elton goes on a comedic little detour about the naming skills of the Australians. It’s a desert, it’s great and it’s sandy, goes the Australian reasoning, so why would you call it anything but the Great Sandy Desert? And a similar logic seems to have been applied to this product. The name really does say it all.
Except… it doesn’t. The Great Lash Clear Mascara is, quite helpfully, a clear brow gel as well. Two products for one extraordinarily low price!
How do I use it?
As a mascara: there are two tricks you need to learn. The first is the correct order in which to do things whilst applying mascara. Start with the top lashes and go from the inside to out. If you’re any sort of normal person you’ll quite naturally baulk at the thought of anything near your eye and for the first few attempts. You’ll only get mascara on the last couple of micrometers of lash. That’s fine, don’t worry about it!
With practice you’ll be able to apply properly, which is to say that you’ll get the brush right in at the base of the lashes and draw it slowly (not too slowly) forwards through the lashes. I wouldn’t go through the same area of lashes more than twice with this product, because the mixture is fairly runny and won’t dry if there’s too much of it. Work from inner to outer, making sure that you don’t allow it to dry before you apply the second coat, and only then do the bottom lashes (in future, when you’re really trying to build up the layers to create statement lashes, you’ll sit and later then for hours at a time like layers on a papier-mâché balloon; but this is not that product).
I often don’t bother with the bottom lashes unless for some reason they’re messy or stuck together because you don’t want to use too much. Apart from not drying quickly when you use too much, the first time you blink you’ll get it on your skin below the eyes.
Which brings us nicely to trick two: don’t blink. If the tenth Doctor was here he’d say the same thing: don’t blink. If you blink when you’re applying it, at best you’ll just coat your upper eyelid with mascara; at worst you’ll jab yourself in the eye with a pointy stick covered in short, pointy bristles each of which is coated with a sticky, goopy liquid. Ponder hard on what that will do to your eye, and then don’t blink.
And as a brow gel, you use it just as the name suggests – tame those unreally forehead-mounted beasts so that you don’t look like an inbred simian who could pass as a guitarist in Oasis. Get some solution on the wand and comb through from inside to out and don’t use too much.
What does it do?
The effect is very subtle. It does separate your lashes and gets them pointing in the right direction (once you’ve honed your technique). It gives them a subtle sheen. The overall effect is to make your eyes appear just a little bigger and wider, which apparently has the effect of making you appear more attractive. It’s also a great way to get into using mascara and practising your technique before you move into the serious stuff, like Bobbi Brown’s Everyday Mascara.
As a brow gel, it stops you resembling an elderly TV astronomer or lifelong Tory peer, and that’s got to be a good thing.
I’ve also seen other bloggers talk about using it as a hair gel, to keep short flyaway hairs in place; as a mascara primer; and as a gel to keep false eyelashes in place. I’ve never used it for those things, but for a fiver then frankly you could use it to keep your Brazilian on fleek. It’s cheap enough that you could use a whole tube just on practising applying mascara and not worry about it.
TNPM rating: 10/11 – TNPM Recommends!
It costs next to nothing and it does exactly what you want. The effect is subtle and you won’t have any trouble wearing it to work or around friends and no one is likely to get close enough to even notice, let alone suspect. The fact that you can use it for various little tasks just makes it better value. I purchased mine for £4.99 from Amazon and six months later I still have half the tube left. The only place it loses a point is on the consistency of the liquid – it can be a little runny and if you apply too much, it can be a little messy. Remember that applying make-up is like decorating the downstairs toilet – apply one coat, then see how it looks before deciding whether you need another one. Learn to be sparing and build up, and you’re onto a winner.