There are rumours in the beauty sphere that Japanese mascaras are some of the best in the world. Now I’m not one to believe everything I read or hear about, although I was certainly intrigued. Being an asian woman, I have been blessed with short, fine, sparse and deadly straight lashes that seem to defy gravity. Lucky me. My Shu Uemura Eyelash Curlers will forever remain a staple in my makeup bag and I ALWAYS wear waterproof mascara in order for my lashes to be able to hold their curl. The Maybelline Colossal Volume Express Waterproof Mascara and the Loreal Paris Lash Architect 4D Waterproof Mascara are some of the best waterproof mascaras around in my humble opinion. Normal, non-waterproof formulations are too wet and heavy, and weigh down my lashes whatever the brand. So when on a recent trip I arrived in Tokyo, you can probably guess what mission I’d tasked myself with.
Firstly I’ll like to mention that every store I went into (and trust me I went into quite a fair few), whether it be a department store or a local drugstore, I did not come across the brand Fairy Drops despite it’s Scandal Eyes Queen Mascara* apparently being one of the best selling mascaras in Japan. Even when I enquired about it, the sales staff would look at me blankly and slightly dumb founded (although the language barrier doesn’t make it very easy to communicate either). What I did find though, was that walking into a drugstore (which from the outside looks a bit like the equivalent to UK’s Poundland but selling beauty, hair products and toiletries as opposed to house hold junk) was incredibly overwhelming. Not only did they have a shed load of brands; some familiar western brands such as the likes of Maybelline, Revlon and Loreal; some Asia specific such as the likes of Kate; but also a myriad of Japanese brands particularly when it comes to mascara. So much so that theres usually a whole wall dedicated to the Japanese branded mascaras. Now if I had bought each one, I’m pretty sure I would have had to off load them at the airport due to exceeding the luggage allowance. So after doing some quick research, and playing a game of ‘eeny, meeny, miny mo’, I narrowed it down to just five mascaras (and you don’t want to know how hard that was). Now enough babbling from me, here’s my tried and tested review of each one in search for the best Japanese mascara.
You can either read this whole review (it’s pretty long so you might want to grab a snack or make yourself a cup of tea), or click the mascara you want to read about in the table below to skip to the relevant review.
I was told by the sales assistant that the Mote mascara was the best selling mascara they had. It was in the beauty department of a department store where I first spotted it, namely because it was being promoted in-store so it was hard to miss. That might be because the brand has recently undergone a bit of a make-over and the product has been repackaged. There are five mascaras in the range and each mascara is packaged in a different colour to distinguish a different function. I picked up the red packaged mascara which is the volumising one and god only knows how much I need some volume in my life. The wand for this particular mascara is long and rather slim, with alternating fibre bristles which are relatively short. So you have short bristles and then even shorter bristles. I’d say this mascara actually provides length and separation as opposed to volume which some may prefer. There was some volume but not to the extent that I would promote that as the primary selling point. It builds well without too much clumping but I felt that the more I layered, the more the lashes started to drop and eventually lose it’s curl. I am not blessed with naturally curled lashes and need help with an eyelash curler so the last thing I want is my lashes to fall flat on it face if you know what I mean. Ratings out of 5? I’d give it a 3. I picked this up for around about £10 in Tokyo but looks like it sells around double that price on Ebay.
Now I was excited to try this mascara because, not only does it have such a strange name that conjures up images of a hair piece for lashes, but because Online beauty retailer, Cult Beauty, sells this bad boy priced at £18.00. If you know anything about the Cult Beauty site, you would know that they cherry pick the best, often cult (hence the name) products from around the world to sell on their site. I picked it up for around half that price in Tokyo. The Fibrewig comes in a regular tube packaging with a red body and sparkly silver lid (the Japanese do like a lot of sparkle and glitter as I discovered). The wand itself is long but unlike the Mote wand, the bristle head is slightly thicker and also curved. Now the peculiar thing about this mascara are the strange nylon fibres that come out onto the wand. Now, I’m taking a wild guess here but, could these strange little fibre-ry things be the strands of the so-called wig? Well it makes sense in my head! But the question is, does the wig actually work? In one word? No. I get the philosophy here, I truly do. As you coat your lashes, the fibres (or ‘strands’) attach to the lengths and ends of your lashes like hair extensions, but here’s where the issue lies. You can’t build the damned thing without it clumping like a biatch! For me, that’s a huge issue as I like to wear a minimum of 3 coats of mascara for full, voluminous lashes. Not only do the lashes start to attach themselves with each other as you build, the fibres are also distributed unevenly so the length isn’t consistent across the lash line. I have to point out that I did also try layering this when was wet as suggested by some reviews and it does help a little with the distribtution of the nylon fibres, but the results were separated and spidery lashes which is not my cup of tea. I had high hopes for this mascara but this has been a big disappointment. As a result, I’d give it a 2/5.
Three words. Oh. My. God! For such an unassumingly packaged product, it sure does pack a punch, and it does so in just one coat (although that doesn’t stop me from piling on another two). Inside the small, fuchsia pink tube reveals a rather small wand. Surprising for something that is able to delivers such big lashes. With just one coat, the mascara covers each lash evenly and allows you to build and build without any clumping in sight (see this mascara in action in my ‘Warm, Smokey, Winged Eye & Neutral Lips‘ video . Gravity doesn’t stop the Heroine Make either, as it holds, and I feel, lifts the curl so far up and back that it’s almost touching my eyelids. Ok maybe slight exaggeration there. After just two coats of this mascara, my lashes were long but not ridiculous, full, thick and curled. I don’t think my lashes have ever looked this good. A sneaky peek on Amazon reveal that they come in at around £13.40 but again, I picked it up for around half that price in Tokyo. I would have easily paid double for it though. From what I can see there are currently no retailers for this in the UK so whoever (if ever) picks up on this little gem is onto a sure fire hit and no doubt a best seller. Here’s another two words for you, HOLY GRAIL! I sure don’t say that often around here and for that I’d give it a well deserved 5/5.
*Since this review of the Volume & Curl, I have managed to get my hands on the Long & Curl and put that eagerly to the test. I d
I don’t normally go for mascaras that promise longer lashes as I would always opt for volumising as the primary requirement every time. More often than not, mascaras will promise the world and declare that it can deliver on both. Oh how they lie. The only reason I even bothered to pick the Long & Curl up was because I had heard that if you layered one over the other i.e. the Volume & Curl over the Long & Curl (or vice versa), the results were somewhat spectacular. Now for me, layering two different mascaras is a bit of a faff. I mean, who has time for that really? I just about have time to use a separate mascara for my bottom lashes (the Mac Extended Play Gigablack Lash is totally awesome), there’s no way I can incorporate a third into my routine. I actually think the result alone speaks for itself for both mascaras. The Long & Curl does make your lashes longer but not ridiculously long where the loose fibres are literally hanging onto the ends of your real lashes and therefore looking quite bitty and rather messy. It does so whilst making the lashes look soft and fluttery which is definitely the kind of lash look I prefer. It also makes your lashes look thicker too. Not quite as thick as the Volume & Curl but certainly not far off. Knowing how much I love the Volume & Curl, I shouldn’t have been surprised that the Long & Curl was actually going to be rather good. So good that I’d give it a 4.5 out 5. It’s sister mascara just pips it to the post with it’s body boosting formula.
The Integrate mascara is another mascara that seems to be rather hyped up according to reviews. It retails for around 1850 yen which is roughly £10 on mihoko shop (without P&P). Housed in a slick, metallic gold tube, it reveals a wand that is not to dissimilar to the curved Fibrewig, with it being a fraction longer and marginally thicker. Again, another mascara with fibres, so I expected it to perform like the Fibrewig. Oh how wrong I was! Due to the fibres, this mascara was always going to give length albiet inconsistant, ridiculously long length. When building up the mascara, the lashes start to attach to one another giving a very defined but very separated look to them. Some might like this look. I don’t. My already sparse lashes do not need any further separation because I end up with bald looking eyelids in place and that isn’t the look I’m going for. Ever. I also found that it weighed down my lashes, which resulted in the curl dropping completely flat. It just did absolutely nothing for me so much so I think I’d actually rather go without mascara than use this (and I NEVER go without mascara). It’s definitely the worse performing one of the bunch. As a result, I’d give it a 1/5, or maybe it should be a 0/5.
Being the most ornately designed of the bunch, with a gold embossed lid that resembles a door knob with a regal stamp on it, it’s a good representation of the brand Lash King. Majolica Majorca is the younger brand offering from well renowned Japanese beauty brand, Shiseido and is available in 8 Asian countries. For that reason, I was kind of skeptical about it seeing as my lashes didn’t fare too well with the Shiseido Integrate Masacara. Upon closer inspection, the monarch inspired design reveals a rather short wand inside but with a relatively long but slim bristle head with very short fibres. What I didn’t expect to find were loose fibres as with the Fibrewig and the Integrate. Interesting. We all know how it ended with the previous two fibrous formulations. Suprisingly though, this works (see how great this mascara performs in my Party Makeup Tutorial. It’s performance is very similar to the Heroine Make in that it hugs each individual lash evenly. The fibres are not as obvious as with the previously tested two but they are definitely there. They attach themselves to the lashes to add both width and length, providing fuller, fatter and longer lashes. This is everything DJV Beautenizer wants the Fibrewig to be, and everything the Integrate mascara from Shiseido should be. I think the trick here is that the fibres are much shorter and thinner so are more discreet and allows for it to be distributed across the lashes consistently. I also have to point out that it layers well. Really well in fact. I wore three layers and there were no issues with clumping or lashes attaching themselves to one another. However, the fibres do start to become more noticeable so anymore than three layers then you may find that things might start to look unnatural. But hey, if you’re all for the false lash look, like you’re wearing falsies without having to go through the trauma of trying to get them on and gluing them in down into place, then this guys is for you. For that reason alone, I’d rate this at 4.5/5. It’s a tough call but I think the Heroine Make just pips it at the last post.
And so the award for the BEST Japanese mascara is…
The Herione Make by Isehan Kiss Me (featured in this video)
*Now since writing up this post which seems to be one of my most popular posts since I started blogging, I have managed to get my hands on the FairyDrops Scandal Queen Waterproof Mascara which is now sold in the UK via Cult Beauty but interestingly enough, thisisbeautymart.com sells two other varieties of the Fairydrops mascara; the Glossy one and the Quattro one though I’m not sure what the difference is.
First and foremost, let’s talk about the packaging shall we? A metallic, rose pink tube with the brand stamped across the lid and covered all over in white doodles. Very pretty and very girly. However, I wasn’t too impressed with the gimmicky wand inside. The thick wand looks like it’s been shaped and cut into so that it’s rounded 3 times down the length. I feel this actually makes applying mascara a bit of a pain. Think of the Maybelline Brow Drama Sculpting Mascara which has a rounded tip, which I hate as it’s to big to come through my thin brows, but with two more balls attached to it.
Now in terms of the formula, like with a lot of mascaras, for the first week of using it, the formulation was very wet. I usually prefer my mascaras after a couple weeks of using it as it tends to dry up a little making it easy to apply and makes the lasges less prone to sticking to one another. One of the first things I noticed was that it gave a lot of length, where the tiny fibres in the formulation (as with some of the mascaras mentioned above) would attach to the ends of each lash. However, I found it hard to build any volume as the lashes would almost immediately begin to attach itself to one another. To resolve this issue, I would have to go in after each coat (and you know I like to typically wear 3 to 4 coats of it to beef up my scrawny lashes) and brush them through with a lash comb before going in with another coat. Now this isn’t the most practical option because who’s got time to keep going back in after each coat to comb out the sticky lashes? Definitely not one to use when you are pushed for time.
However, I have to say that after testing it for a couple of weeks now, I feel like it’s become more manageable and I’m pretty sure it’s to do with the formula drying out a little. I feel like I’m beginning to see width in the volume department as well as length. I still find that I have to go in with a comb after the second and subsequent coats before reapplying but if you have all the time in the world, then this isn’t too much of a big deal breaker. Another thing to note, but I think because of the gimmicky wand, I actually find applying it to my bottom lashes pretty easy without getting mascara halfway down my face. Overall, I’d give this a 3/5. Points knocked off for the gimmicky wand and having to brush through lashes after each coat. The winner is still very much the Isehan Kiss Me Heroine Make Mascara but I don’t think it’s still available anywhere but on Amazon.
It’s also worth mentioning that all these Japanese mascaras are waterproof and therefore smudgeproof/budgeproof. I even found that with some of them, it required a bit of elbow grease to actually get the mascara to come off so I would recommend an oil based eye makeup remover to get them off to avoid excessive rubbing of the delicate eye area.
I hope you enjoyed this review as I certainly enjoyed testing them out and as a result I’ve found a new Holy Grail product. Now I wish I had known back then when I was in Japan so that I could stock up. Just as well as I really don’t need anymore mascara. Or do I? Let me know if you have tried any of these mascaras or any other Japanese branded mascara and what you thought of it. In the meantime, my mission here is complete. Not only have I found the best Japanese mascara, I’ve found the best mascara full stop!