To start, the formula nixes a number of ingredients typically found in mascara: parabens, formaldehydes, formaldehyde-releasing agents, phthalates, mineral oil, retinyl palmitate, and coal tar and contains less than 1% of synthetic fragrance. The end result is a mascara that is an astounding 99% natural (a highly respectable percentage for a mascara—especially one this good).
And while I do, of course, care what’s left out of it—I honestly care more about what goes into it. Namely, this has arginine, an amino acid that is found in keratin. (Keratin is the protein that makes up our hairs, be it on our heads, brows, or lashes.) By infusing the formula with the amino acid, you can help fortify and nourish your lashes. There’s also a rich base of fan-favorite shea butter, a rich ingredient full of antioxidants to protect delicate lashes from free radical damage (not only that but it will help soften the formula while also providing a bit of thickness). Finally, they round out the formula with beeswax, which will give lashes a bit of holding and staying power.
But what makes this mascara so hoarding-worthy comes down to three characteristics, I’ve deduced: The silky texture of the formula, staying power, and multifunctional brush.
Much like any beauty product, mascaras come in a variety of textures. There are some that are thin like liquid, others are thick and tacky, and still others are soft and fully. These different textures help achieve different results, be it barely there lengthening, megawatt fullness, or fluttery wisps. The silky, smooth texture in Ilia’s is on the thinner side, which helps the formula glide on the root to tip for maximum length; but it’s not too liquidy or sticky that the lashes slink together forming clumps.
It also sticks around all day: So many mascaras bleed and smudge to the surrounding eyelid. In fact, it’s so common, many switch over to waterproof just to avoid sporting raccoon eyes on the regular. This I can attest to: For even the hottest and longest of days, stays put. And this is coming from someone who a makeup artist once told “You have very oily eyelids” and can seemingly never keep eyeliner on for longer than a workday. If it sticks for me, I wager it can stick for most.
Then there’s the brush. Oh, how I adore this brush. On one end of the wand, you have a few rows of dense, short bristles to really help load on the liquid. Use this side first to layer it on thick. Then use the comb end (a single-file line of long prongs spaced out) to define and separate. If needed, go back and add another coat right before they’re all but dry.