Mascara Wands: Every Type Of Brush Explained Here
5 minutes read
Mascara wands are underrated. No matter how good a mascara’s ingredients or formula may be, if the brush isn’t right, it simply won’t deliver the results you’re after.
The type of wand you choose will determine how much mascara is deposited on your lashes with each stroke, either giving you subtle definition with minimal product or full, fat, inky lashes. Also, every brush type grips and bends the lashes differently, creating varying effects – some give you loads of length and definition, while others are all about dramatic volume. Finally, picking the right size and shape for your eye shape is also important.
The first commercial mascara (created by Eugene Rimmel in 1860) had a wand that looked like a tiny toothbrush – you can only imagine how tricky the application must have been. Thankfully, today, we have a plethora of options to choose from. Below, we list all the different types of mascara wands, their uses and our favourite mascaras to try.
Types of mascara wands and what they do
Dense, bushy bristles
This is the most traditional (and loved) type of mascara wand that can coat lashes with tons of mascara within seconds. While you risk getting clumpy lashes if you apply too much too soon (or if the mascara’s formula isn’t the best), nothing beats the intense volume these wands offer.
Try: The Supra Volume Mascara, £25, has a fluffy brush that gives lashes tons of volume in a single coat, minus clumps. Plus, the formula has ingredients that make the mascara double up as a lash serum, working to make your lashes fuller naturally with continued use.
These wands give you a cleaner, more even application. The spiky, plastic bristles help comb through clumps and distribute mascara evenly, so they’re great for lengthening and lash separation.
They tend to be paired with more liquid, “wet” mascaras, meaning you must give your lashes a few seconds to dry. But that also means you have more time to perfect your mascara before it sets.
Try: The ILIA Beauty Limitless Lash Mascara, £30.56, has a double-sided plastic wand: the shorter bristles help dispense the product and the longer, comb-like ones help separate and lift the lashes.
The bristles on these wands are shorter at the edges. These are great if you want a dramatic lash effect. The smaller bristles at the tip help coat the smaller lashes in the inner and outer corners of the eyes. You can also use them to comb through individual lower lashes for a doe-eyed, ’60s-inspired look.
Try: Kevin Aucoin’s The Curling Mascara, £32.40, has a traditional, conical wand that suits most eye shapes.
If you want a curled lash effect, a curved wand is the one to pick. The C-shaped brush grips and lifts the lashes from the inner to the outer corners of the eyes. For a curl that lasts, use an eyelash curler first.
Try: The Supra Lift & Curl Mascara, £25, is an editor-favourite at Beauty Daily. The curvy wand grabs every lash and lifts it from root to tip. And the rounded edge is perfect for coating the lower lashes.
Comb-shaped wands are great for older, thinn, sparse lashes that need light definition. You rarely have to worry about clumping with these.
Try: The Sweed Lashes Lash Lift Mascara, £22, is for anyone who enjoys precision. The comb wand helps coat, lift and elongate the lashes without any risk of clumping.
These are great if you want a light but even coating of mascara. They’re not going to give you loads of volume or length but will add subtle colour – ideal for a ‘no-make-up’ make-up look, or if you want something specifically for the lower lashes.
Try: It Cosmetics’ Tightline 3-in-1 Mascara, £25, has an ultra-skinny wand that allows you to deposit colour close to the roots of your lashes, creating an invisible liner effect.
Other wand types
There are also other shapes to consider. Hourglass-shaped wands tend to have short bristles, designed for fine or sparse lashes. Bubble-shaped wands or brushes with a spiky ball-shaped edge are great for grabbing and coating small lashes along the corners of the eyes, as well as bottom lashes.
How to clean your mascara wand
Although some wands are more susceptible to clumping than others, they all need care to keep them performing their best. To keep your mascara wand clean and clump-free, wipe away excess mascara on a clean tissue before applying it. Also, limiting the number of times you dip your wand into the mascara tube will keep your mascara from drying out for longer.
If your mascara is new and still creating clumps, there are other ways to remedy this.
Getting rid of clumps in mascara
To eliminate clumps, comb through your lashes with a disposable spoolie while the mascara is still wet. Or invest in a washable, reusable lash comb for a more planet-friendly option.
Remember that mascaras naturally don’t have very long lives. Clarins Training Manager Charlotte McHale says, “every single time you apply mascara, you’re exposing it to oxygen (which over time will dry the product) and touching the wand to your eye, which transfers bacteria straight back into the bottle.”
So, the reason your wand feels a bit dry could be because it’s crossed its use-by date. If it’s been over three months since you opened your mascara, toss it out and treat yourself to a new one.