I have typical Asian lashes… thin, short, sparse, and relatively straight. Unfortunately, a mascara can only do so much, but here are my Top 5, in descending order.
My most favorite mascara is Chantecaille Faux Cils.
Though expensive for something that gets tossed every 3-4 months, I would recommend Faux Cils to everyone because: (1) It gives glossy, black lashes that are volumized and lengthened just enough to give an impact, but also still look very classy and elegant; (2) It seems to care for the lashes in the sense that when it's removed at night, the lashes feel very soft and conditioned; (3) While on the lashes, the lashes don't feel crunchy or stiff; (4) It holds a curl, even though it is not waterproof; (5) There is no smudging or flaking; (6) It has a delightful rose scent, as it contains rosewater. Faux Cils also comes in a Longest Lashes version, which contains peptides that help lengthen the lashes over time, but I've not yet tried that one, as the price is prohibitive, and I wasn't 100% sure it was safe during pregnancy/nursing.
My second favorite mascara is Dior's DiorShow.
This was the first mascara to feature a huge brush, and it continues to be one of the best. I've tried all the different iterations of DiorShow, but prefer the original. I still remember when I first moved to New York 10 years ago, and I was in midtown between interviews and decided to stop by Lord & Taylor to browse. DiorShow had just come out, and had its own display. I decided to try it, and I was sold. At the time, I was wearing Maybelline's Great Lash (which did absolutely nothing for my lashes), and the DiorShow actually made me look like I had lashes. I love it because: (1) The large brush makes it easy to build volume quickly; (2) It holds the curl and gives a nice curve to the lashes; (3) It gives a fair amount of length; (3) There is no clumping. My only slight complaint is that after a month or two, it does start to dry out and flake (and I am not one to pump the mascara wand before applying), which is irritating because it is expensive.
My third favorite mascara is Paul & Joe Mascara Duo N.
I love this mascara because it is dual-ended, with a lengthening side that has little fibers, and a volumizing side that has a little comb. You can use each end separately, or together to get maximum impact. I actually used this mascara for my wedding. I love it because: (1) The versatility of the duo brush; (2) The little fibers really lengthen, and don't flake into my eyes; (3) The comb side has a short-bristle comb and long-bristle, so you can really cover all of your eyelashes. Like the DiorShow, my only sight complaint is that after a couple of months, it does start drying out and flaking, which is sort of a pain.
My fourth favorite mascara is Giorgio Armani Eyes to Kill Excess.
I admit, I was first intrigued by this because of the ad with Megan Fox. Um, hello, who doesn't want beautiful eyes like hers? (Obviously, no makeup is going to make someone look like another person, but it is a lovely ad…) So, I digress. Eyes to Kill Excess is one of my favorites because: (1) The container and brush are awesome… the top of the tube/handle of the brush is weighted, so it really helps to hold on to it, and it makes application a heck of a lot easier. The brush is a fluffy teddy bear brush with long bristles and an hour-glass shape, so it really builds up every lash; (2) The color is a deep, rich black that has a glossy-ish finish; (3) It give an insane amount of volume and length (I like to save this one for some of my more smoky-eyed looks). I didn't rate it higher because I actually don't like the scent of this mascara… it has a weird rose/crayon scent to it that a lot of the L'Oreal brands (such as Lancome and Maybelline) have, and it sort of grosses me out. If you're not sensitive to scents, this would be fine.
And, finally, to round out my Top 5, I have Chanel Inimitable Intense.
This was one of the original "rubber-bristle" brush type mascaras, and soon after, all of the other brands started copying. I like Inimitable Intense because it sort of does it all: (1) Gives great volume while separating the lashes; (2) Gives a good amount of length; (3) Holds the curl; (4) Doesn't flake into the eyes and is long-lasting; (5) Is easy to use, and the brush is firm enough, but not too hard that it pokes you in the eye. Compared to the original Inimitable, the Intense version is more volumizing and glossier, so for a small-lash girl like me, that is a huge plus. Chanel has since released another mascara, Le Volume, which does not compare to Inimitable Intense, in my opinion. My only complaint is that it does dry out my lashes (unlike my beloved Chantecaille), so that is why I did not rate it higher.
You're probably wondering why none of my Top 5 are from the drugstore. While I used to be someone who thought that drugstore and department store mascaras were interchangeable, as I started trying out a lot more and more, I decided that for my purposes, they weren't. Drugstore mascaras, whether due to the formula or packaging, always miss that certain "je ne sais quoi" that my department store favorites have. I find for someone whose eyelashes need a lot of help, the drugstore ones did not give the results I was seeking, nor did they have the ingredients to offer my lashes the nourishment they needed.
This is not to say there are not some good ones I've found along the way. I would say my top 3 drugstore picks are: L'Oreal Double Extend Beauty Tubes which gives a fair amount of length and is easy to remove; Cover Girl Lash Blast Volume, which gives great volume and a decent amount of length, but dries out my lashes, and the wand doesn't have a slim tip to apply to the inner corners/lower lashes; Maybelline Full 'n Soft, which gives a natural, soft-lash look that's great for every day.
What are some of your favorite mascaras?