Mascara's come a long way since it first appeared on the scene in 400BC. That's right: in ancient Egypt, women coated their lashes with a mixture of burnt almond, honey, and crocodile faeces.
The Romans also loved a slick of mascara, and believed that having an overly active sex life caused the eye lashes to fall out. For this reason, the women with the longest - or most enhanced - eye lashes were deemed the most chaste.
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More recently, around 70 years after the Victorian era came to an end, Eugene Rimmel, a French spice merchant and perfumer, invented the world's first commercially available mascara, and the rest, as they say, is history.
These days, mascaras come in an endless variety of guises: with batteries, miniature lights, and super-sized brushes.
In recent years, the focus has certainly been on the brush, and according to Chase Aston, the Body Shop's international make up artist, the right type might be more important than you think.
"Depending on the brush, you can multiply, define and lengthen small, sparse lashes, add thickness and volume, and create thick, volumised luscious lashes on anyone," points out Chase.
"Finding the right brush is as important as finding the perfect foundation - once found, you never look back."
So how can we work out what type of brush we need? "It all depends on the type of lash effect you want to achieve," says Chase.
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"If you want thickness and high volume, you would use a big bushy brush, but if you want definition, use a wand that has firm, separated bristles.
"For an everyday lash look, use a firm, small-tipped wand, to coat, separate, define and lengthen."
Finding the magic wand
The good news is that finding the right tool for the job doesn't have to cost the earth. Consider investing in a bag of disposable mascara wands and replace these every few weeks.
The Pro Makeup Shop (www.thepromakeupshop.com) sells bags of mascara wands in 13 different shapes. No matter what type of brush you prefer, choosing a highly pigmented mascara will reduce the need for additional coats of colour, while using a lash primer beneath your mascara will have the same affect.
So what's next in the world of mascara? Chase believes brands will build on the success of rotating mascara wands to create an even more effective application tool.
"Vibrating and rotating mascara wands are the perfect tools to ensure distribution along the lashes, and technology will now take this concept and improve the brushes for even thicker, fuller, voluminous, defined and lengthened lashes," predicts Chase.
"It's a possibility that one of the premium brands will develop a vibrating or rotating lash wand with portable, interchangeable 'clip-on brushes' so that you have a mascara wand to create all types of lashes. You'll definitely see more of the vibrating or rotating mascara wands being developed, but with more emphasis on the brush and the increased, intensive delivery of mascara to the lashes."
Chase's top tips:
Find the right brush to create the perfect lashes. Defined or lengthened, thick and voluminous, curled or everyday, or all of the above. Go to your local pharmacy or department store and ask for disposable mascara wands to use for each, then sample mascaras to find the right one for you.
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Choose the right format. Everyday? Waterproof? Lash building? Curling and volumising? Each mascara will give you a different lash look, so opt for different mascara formats to suit the occasion.
Think about shades. Mascara comes in a variety of shades, not just black or brown, so experiment with shades which will define and lengthen your lashes while enhancing the natural shade of the iris.
The ones to watch:
ck one colour mascara, £17, Debenhams
This new mascara from ck one comes with a brush which can be lengthened or shortened with a quick twist, allowing users to opt for either huge, voluminous lashes or subtly defined ones.
Max Factor Eye Brightening Tonal Black Volumising Mascara, £6.99, nationwide
This purse-friendly mascara really does do it all, and is ideal for fans of black mascara. There are three varieties - Black Pearl for brown eyes, Black Sapphire for blue eyes and Black Ruby for green eyes.
The magic ingredients are tiny, gem-toned colour beads which enhance natural eye colour, while light reflecting particles create the illusion of fuller, voluminous lashes.
Wild about Beauty Nutrilash Nourishing Mascara, £18, House of Fraser
Those with sensitive peepers will love the latest offering from eco-beauty brand Wild about Beauty. This lash-enhancing mascara is free from nasties but packed full of active ingredients (quackgrass, anyone?) designed to promote lash growth.
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Diorshow New Look Mascara, £23, nationwide
Spinning brushes are so last year. Dior's latest mascara comes with a brush comprising two sections: the lower part separates lashes with rows of soft miniature spikes, while the upper part comes with a tiny tip designed to coat the smallest of lashes. It also contains a royal jelly-enriched serum which reacts with body heat to fortify and strengthen lashes at the root.
Clinque High Impact Extreme Volume mascara, £17, nationwide
Last month Clinique launched their High Impact Extreme Volume mascara, which uses an oversized, multi-dimensional brush to "blow out" lashes. Those clever peeps at Clinique have also added what are known as "wetting agents" to ensure the mascara really does cover lashes from root to tip.
Eyes Right mascara, £12, Lush
Lush's new mascara defies convention with a small, dropper-like bottle. But don't be put off - it offers fabulous coverage and is another great option for those prone to sensitivity. While most mascaras contain a number of preservatives, Eyes Right contains just one, with natural waxes giving the product great staying power.
Revlon PhotoReady 3D Volume Mascara, £10.99 nationwide
Since HD took hold, there's been a number of make up products designed for those preparing for a close up, and this mascara is one of the latest examples. Revlon's mascara contains smoothing agents to minimise clumping and uses what's known as flexible polymer technology for wide-awake eyes.