The High Street Mascara with High-End Performance

ruth crilly close-up beauty

Last week I wrote about my non-surgical eye lift revelation which was, probably to many people’s disappointment, simply the power of a good mascara. No trickery, no miracle-promising skincare ingredients, just simple lash definition and a bit of lift at the roots to send things skywards rather than letting them droop.

KIKO Standout Volume Buildable Mascara review

I won’t repeat myself; I’m merely here again to tell you about the mascara I was wearing in the photographs, which was the amazing Standout Volume Buildable Mascara from KIKO. In a neat, squarish tube which reminded me (very fondly, I should say) of Guerlain’s Maxi Lash mascara, it didn’t really scream anything special – no crazy tube shapes (MAC) or Batman-esque rubberised finish (Dior) or separate fibres to brush on (L’Oreal).

KIKO Standout Volume Buildable Mascara review

What the KIKO Standout Volume Buildable Mascaradid have was a slightly odd-shaped brush head at the top of the wand, which almost put me off trying it. I’m no good with odd-shaped brush heads (if that’s even what the top bits of mascara wands are called) – I can deal with a bit of tapering, I can cope with a slight curve, but start throwing in balls and knobbly bits and separate combs and I get a bit wary. I don’t want my mascara wand to surprise me – it’s just not something I look for. Surprise is the least appealing word I can think of when it comes to the eye area – I don’t want to be caught out by a weird “separating” brush or a ball of spikes that should be used for the “hard to reach” lashes. I don’t want to risk detaching my retina from my eyeball every time I make one of my infamous mascara miscalculations, where I think my eyes are about six inches further away than they actually are and then lunge the wand painfully and suddenly straight into one of my eye sockets.

And I don’t particularly have to want to turn the wand, either, to access different bristles for different purposes – I want one brush head that does everything. Lifts at the roots, deposits a nice amount of mascara along the lengths and separates the lashes as you pull it through. Job done.

KIKO Standout Volume Buildable Mascara review

So yes, the KIKO brush. You can’t really see it that well in the photos, because it’s a subtle sort of misshapenness, but it kind of tapers in and then out again. Like it has a waist. With a very curvy “top half” and a slimmer bottom. I didn’t notice before I started testing, but it became apparent when I almost punctured my own eyeball three times in the space of twenty seconds. (It’s not that I aim the wand straight at myself, it’s a kind of knee-jerk reaction; when my lashes sense a change in the wand shape they get feisty and I blink really hard and then the wand gets thrown inwards and all hell breaks loose. Watering eyes, mascara all over my lids, my cheeks, my forehead, possibly the wall. I can’t be the only person this happens to.)

But I got used to the waisted wand quite quickly (it’s barely a thing, I’m just nit-picking because the mascara is so bloody good) and was really quite taken aback at how brilliantly the Standout Volume Mascara built up volume. One coat gave a promising, neat sort of naturalness and extra length, a second coat really kicked in the volume. Here’s a before and after, which you’ll have seen in my eye-lift post the other day:

kiko standout volume buildable mascara

kiko standout volume buildable mascara

The standout things for me, with this “Standout Volume” mascara were a) the fact that I got extra length and volume, b) the lashes stayed very separated and non-blobby no matter how many coats I applied and c) the buildability. I suppose that b and c are almost the same thing, really, because if a mascara isn’t buildable then it’s usually because the finish is clumpier or flakier with every additional coat – with the Standout Volume the lashes stayed very smooth and neat even after three coats. But whatever, I’m doubling up on my praise.

kiko standout volume buildable mascara

So very impressive and especially for a mascara that costs less than ten pounds. Mega-volume, good separation and – I’d say – the closest thing to “false lash effect” that I’ve tried in years. The original Faux Cils from YSL feels positively clumsy (or should I say clumpsy) in comparison to this. Not to mention the fact that it seems to dry out within about three minutes. I love it for a tarry, out-all-night look, but this gives better lift (I didn’t curl my lashes before applying for these photos) and looks far more natural. Yet more false. If that makes any sense.

kiko standout volume buildable mascara

OK, enough of a rave – I don’t want this KIKO mascara to get all big-headed. I’ve just read, on the subject of heads, that its brush shape is tapered like that so concave area coats the lashes and the other part combs them through. Whatever, it’s working, so… bravo. No dropping, flaking or smudging and relatively easy to remove. (I just use a bi-phase makeup remover – the one from Simple here*, at the moment, as it happens – and it’s off within a few goes.)

You can find the KIKO Standout Volume Buildable Mascara here* for £9.90. At present, it’s available in one shade, jet black. Can I start a campaign for this to come in brown?

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