Review: Tarte Lights, Camera, Lashes! Mascara

By Voxy  

tarte sample size 1I’ve always been a drugstore mascara girl. As far as I can recall, this was not the result of any trauma with a couture mascara product or anything; I never ran out into the fields, thrust my fist up at the coppery sky, and cried throatily, “As God is my witness, I’ll never buy high-end mascara again!”

Over the years I tried a lot of drugstore brands, and most of them were more or less OK. Some were definitely “less,” but I thought that the brittle lashes and the undereye smudging and the little flaked-off bits of mascara that would get in my eyes at the end of the day and irritate the crap out of them were just what happened with mascara. So when I bought the “My First Makeup Kit” from Sephora (how I wish they would change that name!) and saw that it included two mascara samples, my eyelashes did not exactly prick up in anticipation. But my duty to you, dear readers, required me to at least pretend to be excited enough to try the products. Thank you for being so easy to blame things on, by the way. I appreciate it.

Of the two deluxe samples, the one I tried first was the Tarte “Lights, Camera, Lashes!” mascara, shown in the picture in its sample-size version for reasons that will become clear shortly. (The other sample was Korres’ Deep Colour Mascara, which I haven’t yet opened.) This mascara was a pleasant surprise, and/or I was very naive. As it turns out, brittle lashes, undereye smudging, and eye-irritating flakes are NOT automatically part and parcel of the mascara experience. Huh. Who knew?

Given how thick and bushy the brush is, Lights, Camera, Lashes! goes on surprisingly easily and cleanly. I expected there would be clumping, but not so. The brush does a good job of separating lashes and the formula goes on smooth and dark and lasts all day. My natural lashes are entirely unremarkable — not particularly long, or thick, or numerous, or curly. In short, thoroughly average. This mascara definitely makes them look both longer and thicker, though neither effect is outlandish. (Tarte refers to the product as “a push-up bra for your lashes.” I think I liked it better before I read that description.) According to Tarte, it is a “4-in-1” product: it lengthens, curls, volumizes, and conditions, and is clinically proven to increase lash volume by 430%. Statistics like that are kind of meaningless to me; not only do I not know what “lash volume” means exactly, but 430% of an eyelash is not really a quantity I can wrap my brain around.

On teaching days, my mascara is usually on before 8 in the morning, and Lights, Camera, Lashes! lasts over 14 hours without smearing, flaking, or making my eyelashes hard or brittle. It comes off relatively easily with cleanser and water, though I have to use a makeup remover if I’ve also used liquid eyeliner or heavier eye makeup. One coat is plenty for a daytime work look; I haven’t yet tried to build up multiple coats for evening but I suspect this product will perform well. A lovely side effect of its non-flakiness is that since I no longer have little black particles getting in my eyes every evening and irritating them, my eyes in the morning are less red than they usually are. (My eyes are on the dry side and have always been a little too bloodshot for my liking; I didn’t realize how much my flaking mascara was contributing to the irritation.)

I have nothing but praise for the product inside this tube.


When you buy one of the “Sephora Favorites” sampler kits, you get a coupon inside for an extra 50 Beauty Insider points if you buy a full-size version of one of the deluxe samples in the kit. The Sephora Friends and Family sale was coming up, so I could get this for 20% off and get an extra 50 points to boot! Which I did. The packaging of the sample was so clean and classy; as I said in yesterday’s post, I am a sucker for good packaging. For some reason — don’t ask me why — I expected the full-size version to have the same packaging as the sample size, except, well, bigger.


I have purchased a mascara that I love to wear but that I would not be caught dead carrying in my purse. Here is the full-size product. You may wish to avert your eyes.

tarte full size eek

It is metallic purple faux snakeskin. It is perhaps one of the most unappealing product exteriors I have ever come across. I’m really trying to think of a product exterior that’s worse than this and I just can’t come up with one. In addition to being fugly, the snakeskin wrapping makes the product annoyingly bulky and unwieldy; it has a SEAM, for God’s sake. Mascara should not have a seam. It’s just wrong. And speaking of “wrong,” I can’t believe I put the following words together in a sentence: metallic, purple, faux, snakeskin. The exterior of this product makes me feel like I should be putting on a pair of fringed cowboy boots and dancing the Electric Slide at a country & western bar. Which I have no intention of doing, so don’t even ask.


Tarte Lights, Camera, Lashes! Mascara: $18.00

Provenance: Purchased

Price/Value Ratio (high-end: poor/fair/good/excellent): Good, but I’d prefer to spend less money and lose the dubious benefit of the purple metallic snakeskin mascara condom

Purchase again? Yes, but only for use/display in the privacy of my home

(Have you used this product? Love it? Hate it? Want it? Let us know in the comments!)

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  1. avatar elsie
    Posted November 22, 2009 at 9:57 am | Permalink | Reply

    It looks like a purple faux metallic snakeskin tampon package.

    Speaking of mascara, I would like some tips. I have long eyelashes on top, but the tips are light, so you can’t tell how long they actually are without mascara. But they’re long enough that my lashes smear the inside of my glasses’ lenses and wet mascara ends up on both my lenses and my eyelids. Do you have any tips for mascara application that will keep the mascara from getting all over?


    • avatar Voxy
      Posted November 22, 2009 at 11:53 am | Permalink | Reply

      I’m definitely going to pop this over to the Monday Mix Q&A, to make sure others see it and can give their answers, but off the top of my head, I have two suggestions, which are not mutually exclusive.

      Assuming you are waiting until your mascara is really dry before putting your glasses on (because if you aren’t, then that’s the place to start), this kind of thing is often the result of the mascara dissolving a little bit as natural skin oils from the eyelids spread out and get onto your lashes.

      1. Have you tried the types of mascara that form tubes around the lashes? (Blinc Kiss Me, etc.) Because the formulation is different, it’s not susceptible to dissolution via skin oil. Those tubes, once dry, won’t smear on your glasses.

      2. If you like your mascara and don’t want to change it, I’d suggest using an eyeshadow/eyelid primer on the lids to keep oil in check, even if you’re not planning on wearing eyeshadow or eyeliner. Apply it all the way down to the lash line. I like Too Faced Shadow Insurance best, but Urban Decay Primer Potion is also a cult favorite. This should help prevent the eyelids from getting oily, which reduces the amount of oil that will drift onto lashes.

      I’d also use an oil-free makeup remover; that will also minimize the amount of oil that’s hanging around the eye area.

      Oh, and something else that occurs to me is that there are some lash tints out now that might help; I haven’t tried them, but I understand that they’re more of a temporary dye and less of a goopy mascara-type product. I wonder if they would be less likely to smear — I don’t know all that much about them.


      • avatar elsie
        Posted November 22, 2009 at 12:10 pm | Permalink | Reply

        The eyelid primer idea sounds like one to try. Even when I’m not wearing mascara, oils end up on my lenses from my lashes so that I end up washing my glasses several times a day.


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