You wouldn't dream of leaving moldy food in the fridge, but many women don't think twice about continuing to use cosmetic products that have passed their expiration date. • Mascara, for example, is good for only three to six months once opened, meaning the product may harbor bacteria once it's past its good 'til date. • I've rounded up the best — and worst — new mascaras so that money spent on lashes that wow isn't wasted on mascaras that flake, clump and run instead.
Love it! Maybelline XXL Pro Volume
I previously raved about a pricey, but worth it, mascara and primer duo from Kanebo and now I've discovered the bargain bin alternative for drugstore divas. Maybelline's new XXL Pro Volume Mascara, available in washable and waterproof formulas, promises to amp up volume, thanks to a dual-sided applicator that builds lashes with a primerlike product and then adds color with the mascara itself. The microfiber base coat delivers on its promise to increase volume while the topcoat serves up intense color that is oh-so-buildable. Best of all, this affordable mascara actually lasts; grab a tube for $7.29 at Target stores.
Leave it: Givenchy's Phenomen'Eyes Mascara
They say "revolutionary," I say "ridiculous," and you'll say "thank you" when you heed my advice and avoid wasting $29 on this disappointing mascara. The wand, which closely resembles a medieval weapon, is intriguing at first glance. Plus, with a reputable brand like Givenchy in its corner, I thought perhaps there was in fact some genius in the patented apparatus. Not so; the odd wand is in fact unwieldy. It left me with no more than a poke in the eye and clumpy lashes for my troubles.
Love it! Napoleon Perdis Glamorista Mascara
Thanks to a fabulous multifaced wand that plumps and lengthens as well as working on short lower lashes or long upper lashes, I quickly became committed to Glamorista. The formula is ultra buildable, meaning you can apply coat after coat of the black stuff without sticking or clumping. Get it for $15 at Target.com.
Leave it: CoverGirl Exact Eyelights Mascara
Clearly we women are confused about our makeup. That is the only thing that explains why we — and by "we" I mean "me" — would fall for the old makeup-that-enhances-your-eye-color trick. Not surprisingly, this mascara didn't deliver on its promise to "brighten" my brown eyes, but it did serve up a side of flaking with a touch of glitter that may be mildly irritating to sensitive eyes.
Love it! Sue Devitt's Amplifying Mascara
Not cheap — $28 at suedevittbeauty.com — but worth every penny. The mascara is designed to take the place of false lashes, serving up length and thickness, thanks to a proprietary formula featuring beeswax and a special brush that the Devitt website says lengthens and lifts lashes at the root (oh, yes it does). Strangely, after a few uses, my lashes appear nourished, soft and malleable yet surprisingly long and luxe with never, ever a flake in sight.
Now, to take it off
Dolly Parton may sleep with her makeup on, "in case I have to get up in the middle of the night," but you don't need to be caught in yesterday's cat eyes the morning after. (Sorry, Dolly.) Here's my definitive list of the best and the worst eye makeup removers.
Love it! Yes to Carrots Eye and Face Makeup Remover
What's not to love about an 8.45-ounce bottle of paraben-free makeup remover that is packed with carrot juice, pumpkin, sweet potato and dead sea mud and costs just $9.99 at Drugstore.com? I couldn't find fault with this creamy eye makeup remover that effortlessly and gently removes eye makeup and more. And for moms keepin' an eye on their babies and tots, I also recommend Yes To Baby Carrots; lotion, bubble bath, diaper cream and more for your bambino.
Leave it: Cures by Avance
Cheers to Cures for the concept of gentle eye makeup remover, but jeers on overlooking the actual effectiveness of the product. This product simply did not remove my eye makeup — and it's $26.
Love it! Ahava's Gentle Eye Make-Up Remover
Truly gentle and yet oh-so-efficient at removing even the blackest of mascaras and kohl liners, Ahava's Gentle Eye Make-up Remover is hypoallergenic, ophthalmologist-tested and worth every penny. Get it for $22 for 8.5 ounces at Ahavaus.com.
Love it! Ultra-Soft Eye Makeup Remover Pads from Neutrogena
Soft and thick pads offer a plush, ready-to-go option for effective eye makeup removal. Promising to remove all traces of makeup, including waterproof mascara, Neutrogena's Ultra-Soft Eye Makeup Remover Pads actually delivered at a good price: $6.69 for a month's supply at Drugstore.com.
Leave it: Too Faced Lash Injection Antidote
I was willing to put up with the slight stinging sensation on applying this product, because it promised to actually remove not only waterproof mascara but also "tube'' mascaras containing silicone. Lash Injection Antidote stung, but it didn't budge my waterproof mascara.