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As someone who doesn't consider themselves a mascara snob in the least, it's still nearly impossible to find a mascara I'm incredibly into. (Just refer to my copious, constructive Best of Beauty testing notes for the volumizing mascara category.) I've come to terms that my short, stubby lashes are hard to work with and most drama-inducing mascaras will, inevitably, make my lashes look far too clumpy and "unnatural."
While it's not a volumizing mascara, the Ilia Limitless Lash Mascara is one of the few mascaras I not only tolerate but cannot get enough of. (I think many would agree since it won a 2020 Readers' Choice Award.) My lashes always look elongated, fanned-out, and yet surprisingly natural. So when I discovered Ilia was releasing its second mascara, the Fullest Lash Volumizing Mascara (pictured below), I decided to give it a fair shot. Founder Sasha Plavsic tells Allure that Fullest "offers similar benefits to our Limitless Lash Mascara, meaning it won't flake, smudge, or weigh lashes down, but give lashes more oomph and fullness than Limitless." One thing's for sure — I'll take all of the oomph I can get.
Flash forward to after a few test wears and I think I've found my new favorite going-out mascara. It offers surprisingly good separation and, most importantly, doesn't make my lashes clump together like a sea of sticky bodies at a Coachella show. (If I'm just chilling at home and attending Zoom meetings, I don't really need a va-va-voom mascara. I'm good with Limitless or, more recently, Charlotte Tilbury's Pillow Talk Lashes for a subtle, clean effect.)
If you're an avid proponent of "clean" beauty, Ilia is one of the best brands on the market. (In case you missed it, the Super Serum Skin Tint won a Best of Beauty Award in our "Clean" category.) As far as the brand's mascaras go, Ilia points out that its black pigment is derived from charcoal, rather than a suspicious ingredient called "Carbon Black," which has been shown to be a carcinogen.
Give the ingredients list of Fullest Lash a quick scan and you'll find recognizable ingredients such as moisturizing glycerin, arginine, and panthenol. Cosmetic chemist Ginger King explains arginine is an amino acid that helps to nourish lashes and panthenol, an active also known as provitamin B5, is the same ingredient found in Pantene products to strengthen hair and, in this case, lashes. So far, so good.
Sarah, just get to the part about what the mascara actually looks like. OK, fine. Here are the classic before-and-after comparison shots:
Hello, lashes! So nice of you to show up.
The violin-shaped brush — as the brand calls it — is pretty straightforward and similar to the hourglass brushes I've used in the past. In case you needed a reminder from a few paragraphs ago, I have naturally very short, straight lashes. On camera, they're barely discernable at all (see above left photo). My issue with all hourglass-like brushes is that the thicker end isn't able to pick up a few outermost lashes. So, if I want to avoid streaks all across my lids, I have to carefully hold the brush vertically in order to coat the stragglers. While this isn't a comparison of the two mascaras, the Limitless's unique, comb-like brush definitely offers more precision and control. But the two clearly serve different purposes and I'm here for both.
Other than that, I've absolutely warmed up to Fullest Lash. Even during one of my most objectively stressful weeks in recent memory, I look alert and wide-eyed. This mascara doesn't budge, flake, or streak like most mascaras do after a few hours. After purposefully splashing water on my face and giving myself a lovely wake-up call, I think it's safe to say that this formula is pretty water-resistant. (Note: Plavsic tells us that, while Fullesh Lash isn't considered waterproof or water-resistant, it does "hold in place well through wear and tear.") And, as with waterproof mascaras, I do find it easiest to remove with a cleansing oil. My current favorites are Curél Makeup Cleansing Oil and Manyo Factory Pure Cleansing Oil. Otherwise, it takes multiple rounds of micellar water, which is too harsh for my liking.
The best part is that I only need one coat to get the full, volumizing, and pitch-black effect, which can be attributed to the lash-boosting team of beeswax, synthetic beeswax, and carnauba wax. (Note: While Ilia has tried to do away with beeswax in the past, Plavsic explains that the longevity of the mascara is unmatched in terms of the formula containing beeswax versus all synthetic waxes.) I've never been a mascara-layering person — call it laziness or disdain towards potential clumpiness — but this formula dries down what feels like almost instantly, so adding coats would be done in vain. Whatever saves time is a winner in my book.
Ilia Fullest Lash Mascara
If you're in the market for a new mascara that dials up the drama without clumping or smudging, you can pick up the Ilia Fullest Lash Volumizing Mascara for yourself at iliabeauty.com for $28 starting today, August 3.
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