I'm forever on the quest to achieve mile-long lashes. Because of this (and by virtue of my job), I have tried a lot — and I mean a lot — of mascaras. For the best drugstore mascara, I think L'Oréal Paris Telescopic takes the cake. The award for best under $10 would be TikTok's favourite Essence I Love Extreme Crazy Volume Mascara, but the award for best overall, well, that goes to Benefit Cosmetics' Fan Fest Fanning & Volumizing Mascara.
Best overall mascara: Benefit Cosmetics Fan Fest Fanning & Volumizing Mascara
Benefit Cosmetics Fan Fest Fanning & Volumizing Mascara: Review
⏰ Tested for: 3 months
⭐ My rating: 4/5 stars
⭐ Sephora shopper rating: 4.7/5 stars
🛍️ Reasons to buy: As its name would suggest, this Benefit mascara fans and volumizes your lashes within an inch of their life. It didn't flake (in my experience) and plays well with multiple coats.
✋ Reasons to avoid: If you're not keen on spending $38 on a tube of mascara, I don't blame you. While it is fantastic, there are a ton of budget-friendly options that are equally as impressive, including my L'Oréal and Essence picks.
If I'm being honest, I have a love-hate relationship with Benefit mascaras. Like many others, I fell in love with the brand's They're Real! but disliked BADgal BANG! so much that I ended up tossing it and taking a break from Benefit.
However, I am happy to report the love-fest is back on, thanks to the brand's newest mascara launch — Fan Fest.
Fan Fest is formulated with provitamin B5 to condition the lashes. Cranberry extract helps lashes feel nourished, and rice wax is on hand to define, separate and lift.
Its full-flex fibre brush has a 40-degree custom curve, which helps achieve that sought-after root-to-tip lift and corner-to-corner coverage. The fanning formula is easily buildable and, importantly, doesn't clump or flake.
What I loved
Mascara is one of the few makeup arenas in which I have any sort of skill. My lash game is strong (no need to fake modesty), so I take my mascara selection very seriously.
What I like about Fan Fest is its ability to define and build. I am a two-to-three-layer mascara kind of gal, so I always look for formulas that can build without clumping.
If you want the look of fake lashes without the hassle, I suggest you try this product. It doesn't flake and leaves lashes full, sans mess or residue.
Before and after:
Room for improvement
While Fan Fest has quickly become one of my makeup holy grails, there is room for improvement. First, I find it tricky to take off. I normally use Clinique's Take The Day Off Cleansing Balm to remove my makeup, but I've found Fan Fest often requires more than one removal method. Second and perhaps niche, I flew across the country recently, and when I applied my mascara post-flight, I found a ton of product clumped near the top of the tube that I had to remove with a Q-tip.
What Sephora shoppers say
Fan Fest has racked up more than 3,100 reviews on Sephora and an impressive 4.7-star rating.
One shopper has dubbed it "one of the best mascaras I have ever used." Fan Fest makes "my lashes look false without appearing clunky," they write.
It's "my new go-to mascara," says another. "[You] don't have to use false lashes. This mascara does the trick."
Despite a 91 per cent recommendation rate, some reviewers found the formula "very clumpy" and, like me, difficult to remove.
It took "so many tries to get [it] off my lashes," writes one reviewer.
Among the dozens of mascaras I have tried over the years, Benefit Cosmetics' Fan Fest Fanning & Volumizing Mascara ranks among the best. The formula and wand work wonders to lengthen, volumize and define lashes, mimicking the look of falsies. However, at $38, it is a makeup bag investment, especially if you go through a lot of mascara.
Editor-Tested: Best mascaras in 2023
To shop more of my favourite mascaras I have tried this year, scroll below.