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August 31 2014

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Beauty Throwdown: Battle Mascara Wand

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When Givenchy Phenomen’Eyes Mascara, with its brilliant spherical wand design, launched two years ago, there was nothing else like it on the market. Until, that is, L’Oréal introduced Telescopic Explosion Mascara (and its Penélope Cruz-fronted TV commercial) last fall, with a similarly shaped spiky-ball applicator, for about a third of the price of the Givenchy original. Given that mascaras are meant to be tossed every few months (you do that, right?), we wondered if we could save a few bucks with the L’Oréal knockoff and still maintain our long and lush lashes?

In a wand-by-wand comparison, Phenomen’Eyes is tough competition. The applicator might look like a mace with flexible teeth, but it works amazingly well at wrapping around individual hairs, especially those little wonky ones in the corners of your eyes. And you can run the tip of the head vertically along your upper lash lines to create a cool, blurred liner effect. That said, Phenomen’Eyes isn’t perfect: Even its new and improved ink is very creamy—almost to the point of greasy—which makes it prone to the occasional smear. Also, it isn’t super- buildable, meaning that it can clump up after a few coats.

L’Oréal attempted to put its own spin on medieval weaponry-turned-beauty tool with a longer, slimmer handle. Unfortunately, that only makes the wand harder to wield and work into lashes (if you misfire, you can poke yourself in the eye). Its Telescopic Explosion does, however, have a nice flexible head, and the bristles really stretch lashes to their fullest. Whereas Phenomen’Eyes’ ink is slightly too creamy, Explosion’s is a bit too drying—lashes turn brittle and touchups aren’t feasible without serious flaking. Happily, though, smearing isn’t an issue.

Bottom line: The second-generation version doesn’t offer any slicker features over the original, besides the better price.

Photo: Courtesy of Givenchy; L’Oréal

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