All makeup choices are personal, but there’s something about mascara that makes it particularly hard to find your Goldilocks. Some people prioritize length over volume, others would never go without a waterproof formula, and many are tapped into the very specific difference between Classic Black and Blackest Black (IYKYK). Despite all of these variables, one product has risen above them all to become the #1 best-selling prestige (aka not from the drugstore) mascara in the United States: Too Faced Better Than Sex Mascara.
Even with a slightly NSFW name and not-inexpensive $26 price tag, the metallic pink tube has earned a dedicated legion of fans who claim it’s the best of both worlds, adding that perfect amount of length and volume. That, and it’s also said to have the best brush in the game. But if you haven’t tried it out yet, you may be wondering if the appeal is all in the marketing, especially when there are so many other great mascaras out there for a fraction of the price.
“As long as you love loads of volume and length, it’s a great option to try,” says celebrity makeup artist Allie Renee, who has worked with Camila Mendes and Carly Rae Jepsen. Still need convincing? We’re breaking down all things Better Than Sex, from what sets the formula apart to a first-person review, complete with Renee’s expert take. Lastly, keep scrolling for our recommendations for other best-selling mascaras that will leave your lashes looking just as fabulous.
On the surface, it’s another black mascara, but as they say, it’s what’s on the inside that counts. Infused with a polymer that keeps lashes curled; Acacia Senegal tree extract for volume; and peptides (aka short chains of amino acids) to condition lashes, Too Faced has seemingly thought of everything. “Better Than Sex mascara is great because it adds volume, lengthens, has the right amount of sheen, and is a deep black,” explains Renee. The brush—which any mascara enthusiast will say is arguably the most important part—is shaped like an hourglass, which helps reach every lash. “I love the hourglass wand because it suits all eye shapes,” explains Renee.
The signature Better Than Sex hourglass-shaped wand. Credit: Lindy Segal
For Renee, investing $26 per tube is a no-brainer. “Overall, the price tag on this mascara is worth it. It does what it’s supposed to do, and it does it well!” says the makeup artist. Oh, and pro tip: You can also get the $14 mini mascara if you want to try it out at a slightly lower price.
Full disclosure, I’ve used Better Than Sex mascara several times before, but for the sake of my review, I’m going in as if it’s my, ahem, first time. My natural lashes are fairly long, but you’d never know because they’re so blonde. So generally, I look for lengthening and darkening—anything that adds too much volume looks overly unnatural on me. And today in “genetics are weird,” my right lashes have a perfect curl, and my left lashes are straight, so also I like when mascaras provide a little curl.
Here’s what my lashes look like bare (if you can even see them)…
Credit: Lindy Segal
The first thing I noticed when holding the tube is how heavy it is. The cap feels nice and weighty, which gave me a bit more control as I applied it. The hourglass-shaped brush has tons of bristles, and really does reach every lash—the first coat took no time at all.
Here’s what my lashes looked like after one coat…
Credit: Lindy Segal
Insta-eyes! As you can tell, my lashes were much more visible and defined, but not overly thick. I also felt that it added a bit of curl to my stubborn left lashes. Overall, I was a big fan of the feathery, separated results, and would wear this for a typical daytime makeup look. After I let it dry (my selfie break took about two minutes), I moved onto the next coat.
Here’s how my lashes looked after two coats…
Credit: Lindy Segal
The second coat applied easily (no major clumps) and added even more length as well as volume. One note: I only did two coats on my top lashes (that’s just a personal preference, but you do you).
Final verdict: If you don’t mind spending a bit on the right makeup, it’s worth the investment for the brush, easy-to-control tube, and formula. The results are lush but not over-the-top; it may not quite be a replacement for false lashes, but it’s a reliable choice for any daytime or nighttime look.
Fantastic news: Too Faced also makes the beloved formula in a waterproof version. “I’ve used it on clients for underwater photoshoots, weddings, pool and beach events, and even in incredibly humid environments, and let me tell you, it will not budge!” raves Renee, who adds, “That being said, definitely use an oil-based makeup remover to remove it.”
For a remarkably similar, under-$10 option, Renee “loves” this popular mascara. “The brush has the same shape, though it is more manageable than the Better Than Sex, and when the formula dries, they look identical in volume, length, and color intensity,” the makeup artist says. And yes, to state the obvious: Squint and you can barely tell the difference between the packaging.
For those who find Better Than Sex too thick, this drugstore formula may be the solution. It has a similar hourglass-shaped brush but promises to be clump-free while still providing length and volume. And can we talk about that price?