When it comes to mascara, there are two heavy lifters in the game: Too Faced’s Better Than Sex, and Benefit’s They’re Real!. Both are at the top of best-sellers list everywhere from Ulta to Sephora, and users swear by them both.
To find out which reigns supreme, I pitted them against each other. I look for a brush that holds the perfect amount of product, can separate my lashes into a feathery fan, and add a curl that lasts on my long but stick-straight lashes (and stand up to my hooded lids). The winning formula cannot smudge, flake, or run. I brushed on two layers of each mascara and wore them from morning through night. Here’s what I found.
Overall: They’re Real is high impact after just one coat and lengthens like crazy. It coats lashes evenly from root to tip so it feels heavier on the lashes than Too Faced’s. It’s not waterproof, but lasts all day like it is—the trade-off is that it is stubborn to remove.
Brush: The plastic brush on They’re Real! is excellent for separating and lengthening lashes. The domed tip of the wand grabs even your teeny tiny lashes in the inner corners, and the spokes on the wand are lengthy enough to separate lashes like a comb might.
Formula: The formula is heavily pigmented so that two coats was almost too much, bordering on clumpy. One coat is plenty: otherwise, the formula can get too thick and spidery. It dries quickly and doesn’t smudge or run through the day, but that lasting power means it’s tough to take off at the end of the day, even with a makeup wipe.
Overall: Better Than Sex is great for curling lashes. It gives a more natural-looking finish: the base of your lashes will look thicker and darker and naturally taper off at the ends. You’ll have to apply several layers for more drama and it doesn’t have the lengthening power of Benefit’s mascara, but it wears more comfortably and is easier to remove.
Brush: Better Than Sex has an oversized, hourglass bristle brush that hugs the shape of the eye. The brush shape makes the mascara easy to apply, but its large size can be hard to maneuver into tight corners without scuffing your lids with product.
Formula: The formula is drier than Benefit’s and goes on a lot more lightly. It does a great job curling lashes on application, though by the end of the day I noticed the curl had fallen. To get the pigmentation and impact I wanted, I had to apply four coats (which took twice the time). Expect the formula to flake as you layer more on and to replace your tube fairly often, thanks to the drier formula. The product transferred onto my upper lid partway through the day, but was easy to remove.