BEST OF | Fall/Winter 2016 Mascara Haul + Comprehensive Review, Photos

Although many of you heard before that I've found my Holy Grail mascara in Giorgio Armani's Eyes to Kill Wet Waterproof, I discovered several others worth trying. I visited all the counters at Nordstrom the past few weeks to explore different wand shapes and learn about new formulas, so here is a round up of those that made the cut!

My natural lashes are fine and straight, but they are relatively long considering my Korean background. I wish I had more of them, although they wouldn't be considered sparse. If I wear the right mascaras, sometimes people will ask if I am wearing lash extensions! Curl hold and volume are my priorities so I always wear waterproof formulas but I find that technology has improved greatly. A few of the mascaras I will review here are only smudge-resistant yet manage to provide a decent amount of lift.

Let's start and recap my love for Giorgio Armani's Eyes to Kill Wet Waterproof Mascara. I do not believe that "wet" is an accurate way to describe the formula since it is not damp or heavy and actually dries quite quickly. Hence, I'm not sure why others who were also dedicated to the original ETK WP have been complaining about this updated version. I've gone through three tubes since its release earlier this year, all which of have performed consistently. Ultimately, it does absolutely everything I want in a mascara, although I do miss the elegant metal packaging of the previous ETK generation.

I always use an eyelash curler (like Kevyn Aucoin's) to prep my lashes before applying any product, just because I hate seeing my lashes droop even one degree. The Wet formula holds curl exceptionally well. I don't experience any clumps while building up the layers. They just look long and full and don't feel crunchy or flaky. I can achieve a lush full fringe with two coats, although I do wish it provided a touch more volume. No smudging whatsoever! I took advantage of Nordstrom's Mascara Madness earlier this month to get one free when I purchased two. 

Sisley's So Curl Mascara is brand new for Fall 2016 and I was apprehensive about purchasing this because I genuinely did not want to like it due to the price tag. This is the second most expensive mascara I've ever tried, but I love the volume that this one provides so I pair it with Armani's (see above). Together they give me the most luscious and elongated upper lashes I could ever hope for! The deep dark black of the Sisley formula makes my lash line appear fuller, too. I favor the short wand combined with the wide and plush brush because reaching every single lash is made possible with complete control. I would not wear this one alone since it does tend to smudge a teeny bit after four to six hours but not too shabby!

Burberry released their Cat Lashes Mascara a few months ago, and it was well received even by high-end mascara skeptics. I reviewed this on YouTube, but I will discuss it here again because I adore the soft flexible silicone brush head. It distributes the mascara evenly thanks to the varied lengths of the bristles but feels comfortable against my sensitive lash line. The formula feels more wet compared to Sisley's and takes more effort to build up due to the drying time, but both are volumizing. Cat Lashes does not hold curl as well as Armani's or Sisley's, but the formula imparts a smooth glossy finish and never feels dry or looks crumbly, even on my lower lashes! I like to wait one minute between coats, even longer on my lower lashes.

I was recommend Shisiedo's Full Lash Volume Mascara by a friend in the beauty business, but I don't think it's nearly quite as good as he raved. It is most similar to Burberry's Cat Eyes mascara in that both are wet formulas, but the Shisiedo provides a touch more lash hold albeit a bit less length. The slightly curved brush has very short bristles, which is great for short lashes, but I could have used some extra height. Of the eight featured here, this is the one mascara I would not repurchase. I think Shiseido has done an excellent job of reformulating and rebranding this year, but I wish this mascara would have been more reminiscent of the super duper waterproof formulas they offered six years ago.

Clinique's Lash Power Flutter-to-Full Mascara is their newest "custom" innovation. It is a phenomenal lengthening mascara for the price, a great alternative to Armani's now-discontinued Stretch Mascara. It works well on both my upper and lower lashes without irritating my contacts but this is not a formula intended for volume. Instead, it gives me a full feathery fringe with clean separation and lots of straight length. I highly recommend it, but keep in mind that twisting the center barrel doesn't do anything to change the degree of volume in my experience. I find that all three levels give me virtually the same results. Nordstrom is offering a very generous Clinique gift with purchase currently, so check out the details here in case you're interested.

I recently tried MAC's False Lashes Mascara since it was included in a holiday Nutcracker Sweet eye kit, and wow, I have fallen in love! It is most comparable to the Clinique Lash Power Flutter-to-Full, although the curl hold of the False Lashes is lacking when applied to my upper lashes. It is also flake-proof and smudge-proof, but I only use it on my lower lashes since I see the most impressive results there. The brush is wider than I would prefer, but it manages to coat my tiny lashes and make them visible! With two carefully applied coats, I see incredible volume, length, and ultra clean separation. I don't want to use anything else on my lower lashes!

Last but not least, I have two Lancôme mascaras. I initially assumed the Grandiose Extreme Mascara was a waterproof formula because it was new but it is just an intensely black version. The richness is color is obvious when I apply the Extreme on one eye and the Waterproof on the other. Also, my lashes are far more plump with one casual coat of Extreme, which would be the equivalent of two coats of the Waterproof. The Grandiose Extreme actually gives the Sisley and Burberry formulas a run for their money in terms of volume! Since it is a thicker formula, however, you do have to be wary of clumping with the Extreme. Wipe down the mascara wand prior to application or comb them out with a spoolie post-application.

Now, some might prefer the separation that the Lancôme Grandiose Waterproof Mascara provides, although others might categorize it as a somewhat "spiky" look. I think it results in the most unique look of all mascaras reviewed here, although it does require three generous coats to look its best on my fine lashes. The waterproof does not provide significantly more curl hold than the Extreme version, it is noticeable enough on my lashes by the third coat. Since it doesn't flake, I will use this one on my lower lashes as well.

My favorites in order, scroll from left to right!

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