Mascara is one of the hardest beauty products to find fault with. Unlike foundation, blush and concealer, mascara tends to come in one shade, the blackest of blacks, so you don’t need to worry about it not matching your skin tone. And unlike eyebrow pencils and eyeliner, mascara doesn’t require years of practice to perfect your application. The ingredients in mascara don’t vary from brand to brand either, even between drugstore and high-end brands.
But when mascara goes wrong, it goes very wrong. Simply put, the results can be disastrous. Think of the spidery, clumpy lashes you gave yourself when you bought your first tube of Maybelline Great Lash in middle school: that’s pretty much what you get when you purchase Too Faced’s Better Than Sex Mascara ($25). Reviews on the Sephora website claim that the mascara, hailed as a “Sephora Favorite,” gives your lashes a “full, long, and fluffy” look and a “fanned out” effect.
When I first purchased Better Than Sex, I was excited. My lashes are decently long and curlier than the average, but they sometimes appear sparse on camera. I prefer to use mascaras that volumize rather than lengthen, which is why I was first drawn to Better Than Sex’s large, hourglass-shaped brush. I didn’t really understand how the brush was “inspired by the curves of a woman’s body,” as it’s described on Sephora, but I found it interesting nonetheless.
When I started to apply the mascara, however, everything went south. My all-time favorite mascara is Milk Makeup’s Kush High Volume Mascara ($24), which I usually apply two to three coats of in order to build the volume. When I use The Kush, the brush is structured to minimize clumps on the bristles, so I assumed Better Than Sex would be similar.
Only it wasn’t. The brush on Better Than Sex grabs hold of your lashes in order to apply as much color on them as possible, but that results in an extremely clumpy and wet first layer. Not to mention that when I blinked, some of the product stained my contact lenses. The entire process of trying to take my now-blackened contacts out without ruining my lashes was so cumbersome I decided to just take a makeup wipe and start over.
The second time around, I made sure to wipe off some of the excess product on the brush before applying it. Still, my lashes were clumpier and less natural-looking than I would have preferred. Not working out for me, Better Than Sex mascara didn’t exactly live up to its name.
A version of this article appears in the Monday, Nov. 11, 2019, print edition. Email Gaby Baldovino at [email protected]