By Sophia Panych. Photos: Hannah Choi/Allure.
Most makeup artists agree that mascara doesn't have to be expensive to be good. In fact, a couple of years ago during a particularly wet and snowy New York Fashion Week, I was backstage at a show with a very famous makeup artist who shall remain nameless. "What mascara are you wearing?" he asked. I responded with the name of the very fancy, very pricey mascara I had on my lashes — or so I thought. "Well it's all over your face," he said, taking a cotton pad covered in Bioderma to clean up the makeup massacre all over my lids. "Just wear Maybelline Great Lash; it's cheap and it doesn't come off." And with that he walked away. Ever since I've adopted the same mentality: There are makeup items you should definitely splurge on. Mascara does not have to be one of them.
That is, unless we're talking about Christian Louboutin's new Les Yeux Noirs mascara, part of the designer's most recent beauty extension. At $70 it's outrageously expensive — laughably so. But it's quite possibly one of the best mascaras I've ever used. I almost feel guilty liking it so much. Almost.
This is not an ad. I don't owe anyone anything at Christian Louboutin. I'm not looking for a free pair of Pigalles. To be completely honest, other than the mascara I've never used the brand's beauty products on a regular basis and I find it pretty ridiculous how pricey they are. I was ready to roll my eyes after taking the gilded tube out of the bag. Does the world really need another expensive mascara? I asked myself. But then I looked in the mirror and immediately had a change of heart.
In terms of lengthening, the formula is similar to Benefit They're Real! (another favorite of mine). I swipe on either of these mascaras and it looks like I put on a pair of false lash strips. The difference is that Les Yeux Noirs is wetter and shinier, giving your lashes an almost vinyl effect. It's also more volumizing, visibly plumping up lashes and filling in the lash line, as you can see from the picture below.
Then there's the wand: Again, it's similar to Benefit They're Real!, except that the bristles are about half the length (it also reminds me a bit of the CoverGirl LashBlast Volume mascara, the one in the orange tube). Because they're so tiny — and there's alternating rows of short and slightly longer ones — they not only catch and comb through every little lash, but they also don't pull out too much product, so you never run the risk of applying too much. By not applying too much formula you have less mess to clean up afterwards and zero clumping, which results in an easier and faster application. Now I know it doesn't take all that long to apply mascara in the first place, but this fancy shmancy tube does seem to shave off a few seconds from the process.
And finally, this mascara is less beauty product and more miniature work of art. The weighty gold-and-black tube (you'll be surprised just how heavy it feels in your palm) is decorated with studs and acanthus leaves, the latter most closely associated with Corinthian columns than cosmetics. You'll have a hard time stashing it back in your makeup bag; like all of Louboutin's makeup, this maquillage was made to be shown off.
So is this $70 mascara worth it? If you're a mascara snob or neurotic about how your lashes look then in my opinion, yes, it is. Should you go broke trying to buy it? No. There are plenty of great options out there that cost one-tenth the price of Les Yeux Noir. But if you've got some extra spending money, would like to treat yourself, or gorgeous lashes are something you don't mind dishing out the big bucks for, then I highly recommend it. And think about it, it's a heck of a lot less expensive than lash extensions and a whole lot easier than gluing on falsies every day. I'm already saving up for my next tube.
This story originally appeared on Allure.
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