We try it!

We Try It: Benefit They’re Real! Mascara

I’m not a mascara girl. I guess it has something to do with having those little black mascara flakes find their way underneath my contact lenses one too many times.  Though really, that’s one of those things where just one time is enough to make you swear off eye makeup forever. Ouch. Anyway, I keep a tube of my trusty DiorShow Blackout on hand for big nights out and red-lips, bare-eyes days. But this isn’t about DiorShow. Fabulous as Dior may be, this is about my new best friend: Benefit Cosmetics They’re Real! Mascara.

Closeup of eyes, with two coats of They're Real! mascara
With two coats of They’re Real! on both eyes and no other makeup. The pictures really don’t do this mascara justice.

After polishing off the Dior last week, I wandered into Ulta with the resolve to buy ONE tube of eyelash magic (I almost made it – I had to get eye cream). I follow Benefit Cosmetics on Facebook, and I can’t seem to escape their constant advertisement of They’re Real! And yes, the exclamation point is part of the name. Some sites don’t use it, but I think it’s fun. Every post on this stuff with the amusing name piqued my interest a little more, until I finally headed over to Sephora and Makeup Alley to peruse the reviews. See, I don’t jump all willy-nilly into cosmetics purchases, at least not after the great Sephora spree of 2009 (it’s too traumatic to talk about). Eventually the reviews and the Facebook posts and the comments from fans won me over, and I decided to cheat on poor Dior.

This stuff is fantastic. I really can’t say that enough. It takes short, not-very-curly lashes like mine and makes them long and doll-like. After two coats of They’re Real!, I feel like someone could stick me in a frilly dress, hook me to a stand, and package me up. Wait, no, that’s creepy. But I still feel like I’ve got doll-eyes! One coat will still give you long, battable lashes, but you’ll look subdued enough to go head to the office. Two coats and you’re set for a night out. Three coats and you can hit somebody in the next room with your eyelashes. Alright, I’m exaggerating, but three coats does do magnificent things to your eyes. If you want long, curly lashes, this is your stuff. If you’re going more for thick and fluffy, I’d still recommend DiorShow. I’m personally planning on keeping both around because I’m a mascara harlot.

Closeup of eyes, wearing no makeup
No makeup! Pardon my messy brows.

The only truly bad thing about this mascara is that it clings to your lashes like nothing else. That’s good while you’re prancing about during the day, because it won’t smudge or run even though it isn’t waterproof. But when it comes time to take it off, it’s a long process. Don’t try and speed it up either, because it will take a few lashes with it as punishment. I have yet to find a makeup remover that works well with it, so I’ve been using a combination of Neutrogena remover wipes and plain soap and water and I still wake up a bit panda-eyed in the morning. If anyone has removal suggestions, pipe up in the comments!

Closeup of eyes with one coat of mascara on left eye and none on right eye
With one coat of They’re Real! on the left eye.

Currently Ulta is running a deal where you can get a full-sized tube of They’re Real! as well as a mini travel tube for $23, which is a pretty good deal if you like to keep a tube at home and in your purse/ at the office/ in your significant other’s bathroom. It’s even better if you can talk a friend into letting you have their mini tube!


Note: I paid for this mascara entirely on my own, and was not gifted any of the products talked about here.


By Elfity

Elfity, so named for her tendency to be a bit uppity and her elf-like appearance, is a graduate student and professional Scary Feminist of Rage. She has a propensity for social justice, cheese, and Doctor Who. Favorite activities include making strange noises, napping with puppies and/or kitties, and engaging in political and philosophical debates.

12 replies on “We Try It: Benefit They’re Real! Mascara”

I bought this mascara based on another review a while back and don’t like it at all! I get that it’s intended for high-impact, but I found the formula so thick that it clumped my lashes together and made them kind of spidery.

And yeah, it is REALLY difficult to get off. I usually take my mascara off with sudsy tea tree oil SHAMPOO, but not even that worked on this…

Mascara is my favourite cosmetic product and I usually have at least 3 different types on the go at any given time. I have yet to try this one, however. Think I’ll have to pick up a tube next time I am at Sephora. (PS: If you want super dramatic lashes, wear the They’re Real! with the Dior Show.)

Thanks for the well-written, informative review! I rarely buy products based on one person’s opinion, but you’ve intrigued me enough to try them. (I used to be a Max Factor Waterproof devotee, but they don’t sell in the US anymore and bootleg tubes are getting harder to find.)

For removal, have you tried Andrea Eye-Q pads? I love them, they’re cheap, and they’ve taken off anything I’ve used, including multiple coats of waterproof mascara and even MAC Russian Red lipstick.  (On my lips, not on my eyelashes.  These pads multitask!)

I feel pretty identical feelings on this :) The They’re Real! can be very nice and dramatic, but you do have to do the coats pretty thin as it will clump like crazy. And it definitely is hard to get off (if I try to remove it, I usually use some Vitamin E oil or other oil, but even still it never seems to all come off & I don’t want to break all of my lashes – so admittedly I don’t always remove it). The thing I like the best about it is that the end of the wand is sort of rounded spikes, so you can use it vertically and it helps ‘curl’ the lashes a bit. I actually got samples of the Lancôme Hypno-something and the DiorShow after I started using this, and I prefer the DiorShow for a daytime/nice look, with the They’re Real! saved for more dramatic looks (or when I want to have mascara on for a few days :)).

I wear contacts and I was fine! It didn’t seem to affect me, and my eyes are pretty sensitive since they’re also usually plagued by allergies. You might be able to try it on at Sephora (if you have one nearby) and see how it works with your eyes.

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