Does This Heralded Drugstore Mascara Deserve the Hype?

published Jan 26, 2017
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(Image credit: Arlyn Hernandez)

We’ve all had that moment where someone has recommended a product to you in which they say, “Everyone loves this, it’s perfect. It cleared up my skin and made my lashes longer and crushed all my enemies!” There are a lot of cosmetics out there that have been heavily recommended for ages now, so it’s time we take a look at them and see if they really are worth the hype.

First up: Maybelline Great Lash mascara, through the eyes of contributing writers Alex Nursall and Colleen Murphy, who used the long-worshipped cosmetic for a week…and had many thoughts on the subject.

Meet the Testers (& the Product)

Colleen’s version of a fully made up face is tinted moisturizer and Chapstick (only for special occasions, of course.) Go-to, everyday mascara: None

Alex: Great Lash was the first mascara I ever owned. I remember my mum wearing it for years, and I think part of why it’s lodged in my brain like a shiv is because it has such identifiable packaging. I’ve definitely used and loved many other mascaras over the years, but nothing compares to that pink and green tube.

Colleen: Oh my god that packaging. While this was the first time I had used Maybelline Great Lash, it certainly was not the first time I’d seen it. It must have been at the bottom of half the purses I’ve seen emptied out onto bar tables as a friend searched for keys, phone or a debit card. That green and pink combo…it’s Patrick from Spongebob, but in mascara form.

(Image credit: Maybelline Book)

Alex: Great Lash has been a mainstay in women’s makeup drawers since it was introduced back in 1971 as Maybelline’s first water-based mascara, and while its formula hasn’t changed much since then, it still remains the best-selling mascara in the U.S. That’s quite the accomplishment in a time where everything seems to receive “holy grail” status with just one mention from a respected beauty blogger. I think products that have been recommended over and over and over again (to the point that I never want to read a single thing again about, say, NARS Orgasm blush, until I die) must have originally filled a gap in the marketplace. When I first got into makeup as a kid, you could buy it at the drugstore or the counters in the department store, and that was it. Sephora? What Sephora?

Colleen: This “holy grail” idea is lost on me. I have a minimal makeup collection that has only increased in volume by about 50 percent since my teenage years and perhaps even contains a relic or two from the original line-up (I should probably do a spring cleaning of sorts?). When I was 14, my best friend gifted me an American Eagle lip gloss for my birthday and said, “It’s probably a waste because you’ll still have this in college.” Jokes on her, I still did! I don’t anymore (thankfully), but suffice it to say that I don’t receive too many cosmetics recommendations beyond “you should maybe throw that out now.” But after having my makeup done by friends and artists over the years, I can attest that the “this one product fits all” pitch is dubious at best. Setting aside different skin types and color palettes (I’m a winter!), there’s no accounting for personal taste. Not everyone is looking for the same thing from a tube of mascara, but maybe Maybelline really does have it figured out. Time (and testing!) will tell for me.

The Test

(Image credit: Alex Nursall)

Alex (above): We used the current Maybelline Great Lash Waterproof formula in Blackest Black (could someone please explain the difference between “black” and “blackest black” when it comes to mascara?) on our lashes. This one comes with the classic mascara wand that we all know and…well, if not love, then at the very least tolerate (small brush, bristles, no curve).

When it comes to mascara, even though I already have pretty long lashes, I look for varieties that take me from “lady with pretty decent lashes” to “I want them to rub against my glasses like a drunk person in a party bus,” and I find that traditional bristle wands turn my lashes into one giant lash blob (the silicone ones are better at combing them out). Plus, I have the decidedly non-medical condition of “stupidly oily eyelids” (slickious eyelidicas). For me, many mascaras end up flaking all over the place and leaving me looking like said drunk party bus person the following morning, so I usually wear lash primer to keep my mascara from budging. For the purpose of this, I wore the mascara for a few days without the primer and a few days with to see if there was a noticeable difference.

(Image credit: Alex Nursall)
(Image credit: Colleen Murphy)

Colleen (above): I don’t usually wear mascara at all unless I’m doing a full makeup look (people who know me might laugh and wonder when this, if ever, actually happens), and since my lashes are dark to begin with, I usually just look for something to add length and volume. My current go-to lash-enhancer is Benefit’s They’re Real Mascara ($28.25)—unfortunately, it doesn’t specify whether it’s black or blackest black but, in my experience, it achieves the latter. The balance I have to strike with mascara is that, while I want something with a thicker formula, I don’t want one that is too wet or sticky. If I sneeze immediately after application (which is a common phenomenon—Alex, can you find any stats on this?), I don’t want my lashes imprinted onto my face or have mascara freckles on my contact lenses.

Alex: Okay, I’ll admit that I love a good excessive lash line and, if that’s what your end goal is, Great Lash does not deliver on that. But even though it gave me a much more toned-down look, I found myself liking it more and more as the week went on. Even without primer, I didn’t find it flaking or smudging or getting all gross. The look was much more natural than what I normally go for, but it was nice. My lashes still felt good and I didn’t feel like I had to spend part of my day picking bits of mascara out of the bottom edge of my glasses. It also didn’t feel crunchy or heavy, which some wetter mascaras tend to.

(Image credit: Colleen Murphy)

Colleen: When I first applied it, I had to go back for a few more swipes because I wasn’t quite sure if anything was happening. There’s certainly no fear of goopy or uneven application but it does take some repeated attempts to notice a difference.

The Verdict: Does Maybelline Great Lash Live Up to the Long-Held Hype?

Alex: I want to really note here that makeup is very much a “your mileage may vary” product when it comes to reviews. The best reviews include a little info about the reviewer (skin type, concerns, end goals, etc.), and I hope that those came across above. If you have lots of lashes or long lashes and are looking for a simple, more natural look, Great Lash is solid. The waterproof formula is good at not flaking and smudging and wore very well through commuting in the sloppy Toronto winter. It lasted from 7:30 a.m. until about 9 p.m., when I got sick of wearing makeup and started rubbing cleanser all over my face. Overall, I’d say that Great Lash still holds up after all these years as a good, classic option (both with primer and without).

Colleen: For me, it didn’t achieve the dramatic results of other bigger, badder mascaras, but if you’re looking to just highlight what you’ve got, this is a solid low-maintenance option. It’s subtle and it was comfortable throughout the day. Oh, and it passes the sneeze test. I’d like to note that I wore the mascara for a few days but that is because I just left it on and let nature do its thing! Please note: this is not a suggestion that you should not take off your makeup, but rather a call to action to do better than me. Remove your mascara! I’m just saying that if you need a quick body shower after work, you don’t have to worry about Lauren Conrad tears running down your face.

Alex: Note to self: Leave bottle of makeup remover on Colleen’s desk.