Could the Miss FQ team tell the difference between luxury and supermarket mascaras? We put it to the test.

20 April 2018
By Fashion Quarterly

When it comes to mascara, does spending the extra $$$ really get you a substantially better product? We decided to find out.

Our ongoing mission to find the holy grail mascara has been documented previously. And while for some members of the Miss FQ team, that means a mascara that costs almost as much as your rent because, #beautyislife (and you also kind assume you get what you pay for, ya know?). For others, it is a case of sticking with what you know – and what you know just happens to be your classic supermarket or chemist brands that you’ve been using since the day you first convinced your parents to fork out for one during the weekly supermarket shop. All mascaras these days are employing mind-boggling technology and some of these developments can be seen in the price tags. But is spending the extra dollars justified?

With the launch of the new L’Oreal Paris Paradise mascara, which has been garnering rave reviews overseas, we thought it was the perfect time to test this theory out. Miss FQ beauty editor Megan Bedford has tried basically every mascara in existence (including the Paradise), so was the perfect person to put the challenge to the rest of the team.

She asked three Miss FQ staffers to try two different mascaras and compare them: one would be a “high-end” mascara (with an RRP over $60) that she has tried and rated highly; and the other would be the new L’Oreal Paris Paradise mascara, which has an RRP of $26.99 and which she also rates.  The catch? The team wouldn’t know which was which, thanks to some handy neutral packaging which would disguise the mascara tube. Ooh… let the fun begin!

To find out their verdict, read on.

Miss FQ associate editor

My lash situation: I’ve been #blessed with pretty decent eyelashes and as a result I rarely struggle to get a mascara to work for me, no matter what it promises or what end of the price spectrum it sits in.

What I look for in a mascara: I’m not about a subtle lash — the best compliment you can give me is to ask if I’m wearing falsies —  so it’s important that I can apply up to three layers of formula without my lashes getting clumpy or spidery or feeling like they are going to snap off. 

What I thought of the mascaras: Both mascaras I trialled were easy to apply and gave me length, volume and definition with minimal mess. If I was to name my preference, it would come down to which was the more buildable formula. I felt things were about to take a turn for the worst after layer two of the first mascara (which I applied to my right eye, which will be your left), so stopped before I reached peak drama, but the second mascara (applied to the left eye) was the gift that kept on giving, leaving my lashes still thick, glossy and pliable after three applications.

So… which was which? Megan revealed to me afterwards, the first mascara I tried was the high-end over $60 mascara; the second was the L’Oreal Paris Paradise.

My final thoughts: It’s very interesting that it was the L’Oreal that came out on top, as I do love a luxury mascara and thought I might have instinctively gravitated towards it. But as I said… I’m a mascara magician, so give me any mascara and I’ll work wonders with it.

Danielle trying the L'Oreal Paradise mascara

Miss FQ fashion editor

My lash situation: I naturally have very fair lashes, so I love a full volume mascara that gives a baby doll effect.

What I look for in a mascara: I want something that feels quite ergonomic and steady to hold as I apply it, and something which can get in quite close to the root of the lash to build volume and length.

What I thought of the mascaras: The first mascara, which I applied to my right eye, gave a subtle and defined look, but lacked a little bit of the oomph I normally opt for. I loved the decent wand size of the second mascara, it made getting product onto even my smaller lashes easier.

So… which was which? Apparently the first one I tried was the luxury brand, the second was the L’Oreal Paris Paradise.

My final thoughts: I really enjoyed the volume the L’Oreal mascara gave me and it was also a really nice product to use. I would definitely use it again!

Ella trying L'Oreal Paradise mascara
Miss FQ digital content producer

My lash situation: My lashes are of an average length – not particularly long but not short either – so I’m usually looking for something which can open my eyes a bit and make me look more ‘awake’.

What I look for in a mascara: I am all about something that is quick and easy to apply and also want something that is affordable. I don’t want to be spending a huge amount of time on my mascara, so I look for formulas which avoid clumpiness and any other classic mascara problems that means you sometimes spend just as long cleaning up your smudgy mistakes, as you spend putting it on in the first place!

What I thought of the mascaras: To be honest, there wasn’t a huge amount of difference in the two mascaras I tried. I felt like the first one I tried (on my right eye) gave me darker, fuller lashes that made my eye look more open. I didn’t mind the second either, as I do like just a subtle lift, but I felt like the first definitely gave me more bang for my buck.

So… which was which? It was revealed afterwards that Megan had given me the L’Oreal mascara to try first, the ‘high-end’ mascara was second.

My final thoughts: I’m not too fussy when it comes to mascara so would happily use either. But if I can get pretty much the same result (or even slightly better) at half the price, then I would definitely opt for the supermarket brand. Every time.


“You can’t say definitively that price has a bearing on the quality and effectiveness of a mascara at all. Sometimes you do come across a mascara that is just so perfect for achieving the effect you are looking for (and that obviously varies from person to person, depending on your lashes, your lifestyle, your priorities and so on), and if it so happens to come with a higher price tag, it can often be justified.

“However, I’m not a mascara snob by any means and have found that many of the more affordable mascara ranges suit me really well also. Hey, there aren’t cult supermarket mascara brands out there for no reason! My best advice is to find what works for you – and the best way to do that is through trial and error. Good luck on the hunt for your holy grail mascara!”

Photos: Michael James Rooke


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