Review: L’Oreal Voluminous Mascara in ‘Extra Black’

The Beauty ‘guru’ bloggersphere has been awash for years with recounts of the wonderful L’Oreal Voluminous Carbon Black – a particular favourite of Makeup Geek founder, Marlena. However, is it as good as all that?

The mascara is one of the cheaper ones in L’Oreal’s range, which is appealing in and of itself as L’Oreal tends to be slightly ‘up there’ in terms of high street prices. It retails at £8.49, a good few pounds cheaper than others in the range, though obviously still more expensive than other drugstore products. It also features an old-school mascara wand, with bristles. Now, preference dominates here – personally, I don’t feel especially strongly about which type of mascara wand I prefer. My criteria for a mascara is that I want it to give me more volume, make my lashes darker and I want it to be easy to remove at the end of the day. I refuse to ‘build’ mascara – because who has time? – and frankly, I have never found one that can deal with more than one or maybe two initial coats without getting clumpy. This is no exception.

Despite the cheap price tag, and the potentially favourable return to the old-school bristle brush, the main problem with this formula is that it is too wet. This always seems like a silly complaint, but what it actually means is that I can never put it on my eyelashes without also getting it in my eyebrows. Which is a more of a statement than I really want. Furthermore, the wet formula lends itself to becoming easily clumpy, as eyelashes stick together and ‘clots’ (ew) form in the mascara itself. This all means that you have to be pretty careful actually applying the mascara, which irritates me as I really don’t like to spend much time fussing over my make up. Comparatively, I think I prefer the L’Oreal Volume Million Mascara, which has a plastic wand and is not nearly as wet – and as such, it doesn’t clump.

I will say, however, that in the few weeks that I have been using this mascara, it has improved. It is clearly going to be one of those mascaras that gets better with age (if only that were true for all of us!). On the one hand, this is frustrating as you are not getting the best product at time of purchase, on the other hand, this kind of extends the longevity of the mascara – but only if you are willing to dismiss, or take with a generous helping of salt, the recommended three month deadline.

Despite my reservations with this product, I have had compliments – which is unusual. As a glasses wearer, people very rarely comment on my eyelashes/makeup at all, so it must be doing something right, right? I certainly notice that it does give me volume now – it didn’t initially – but now that it has dried slightly it does, and I do enjoy this effect as my lashes are pretty long naturally and any more length lends them a little to spidery for my tastes.

Finally, a trite observation, but it is a very nice shade of black – my tube is ‘Extra Black’ rather than ‘Carbon Black’ which is often attributed to this mascara – it doe not come across as grey or wishy-washy, which is important.

Overall, I’m still on the fence. I would definitely buy it again as it is pretty affordable and does work well eventually. However, this is a far cry from achieving the ‘holy grail’ status some people attribute it too – but we’re all different, I suppose.

This product is available from Boots/Superdrug for £8.49

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