We tested out the most popular mascaras so you don't have to

Dec 17, 2015 at 12:30 p.m. ET
Image: Jose Luis Pelaez Inc/Blend Images/Getty Images

Today we are bombarded with a sea of exciting cosmetics releases but what is the one piece of makeup you can't live without?

In Olay's 2012 Big British Beauty Poll, 35 percent of women chose mascara over foundation and lipstick. London-based celebrity makeup artist Caroline Barnes's desert island essential is mascara because, "It's the easiest makeup product to apply and makes the biggest single difference to your face, making your eyes look wider and more awake." Her clients include Kylie, Diane Kruger and Cheryl Cole.

Selecting the right mascara can be intimidating, especially when the choices are seemingly endless. When you boil it down all mascaras are simply wax, pigments and film formers, which provide long-lasting wear. Since mascara formulas are usually similar, it's the design of the mascara wands and tubes that can create incredibly different results.

More: 4 Makeup tips for flawless eyes

Know thy brush

Familiarising yourself with mascara brush designs will help narrow down your mascara choices to achieve that desired look. There are two main types of mascara brush available: traditional fibre and plastic. Fibres on traditional brushes are shaped into various forms, including curvy and conical. Newer mascara brush designs feature moulded plastics that provide design control. Brushes with deeper grooves hold more mascara to create voluminous lashes, while densely spaced bristles create a more defined lash look.

What is the best mascara to achieve your best lashes?

Maybelline Big Great Lash Mascara, £5

Maybelline Big Great Lash Mascara
Image: Superdrug

Touted as America's favourite mascara, celebrity makeup artist Gucci Westman opts for its bigger wand that grabs lashes from root to tip to evenly distribute mascara for that eye-opening effect.

Max Factor Lash Extension Effect Mascara, £11

Max Factor Lash Extension Effect Mascara
Image: Amazon

Want to amplify those short stubby lashes? This Max Factor mascara provides an alternative to fibre/nylon wands with its slender short rubber brush which is great for even distribution. Max Factor UK celebrity makeup artist Caroline Barnes holds the brush along the lash base and sweeps up and outwards for that wide-eyed and super long lash effect.

Clinique Bottom Lash Mascara, £14

Clinique Bottom Lash Mascara
Image: John Lewis

A true game changer for defining both bottom or shorter lashes, Clinique's Bottom Lash mascara's small wand coats lashes from the root to create a natural and delicate smudge-free effect.

More: 7 Splurge-worthy beauty products that really deliver results

Too Faced Size Queen Mascara, £17

Too Faced Size Queen Mascara
Image: Beauty Bay

This Too Faced mascara does it all: volumises, conditions, lengthens and curls. Featuring a double-helix design, its corkscrew brushes hold enough mascara to create great lash volume with the shorter bristles and length from all directions with the longer bristles.

Fairydrops Scandal Queen Mascara, £19

Fairydrops Scandal Queen Mascara
Image: Cult Beauty

Make those lashes stand out with Fairydrops' curved brush to open the eyes by providing lift, length, volume and curl. With a smudge-free, budge-free and water-resistant formula that conditions while it hugs every lash what's not to love?

Benefit They're Real! Mascara, £20

Benefit They're Real Mascara
Image: Feel Unique

This little wonder provides long-wearing results as it lengthens, curls, volumises, lifts and defines. It also features a ball tip which targets every single lash from top to bottom and can be used to fan outer lashes for the ultimate doe-eye look.

More: The beauty products actually worth splurging on, according to a beauty editor

Estée Lauder Sumptuous Bold Volume Lifting Mascara, £21

Estee Lauder Sumptuous Bold Volume Lifting Mascara
Image: John Lewis

There's a reason this Estée Lauder mascara is a firm favourite of British celebrity makeup artist turned cosmetics mogul du jour Charlotte Tilbury. The fibre brush helps achieve that wide-eyed, fluttery dramatic look that complements Tilbury's signature feline flick.

Tom Ford Extreme Mascara, £35

Tom Ford Extreme Mascara
Image: John Lewis

Tom Ford makeup is ultimate luxury that gives you instant glamour and drama. This mascara's tapered end deposits the creamy formula along the root creating a sophisticated tight-line effect, while the the fuller, middle part of the brush pumps up the volume and length with every layer.

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