Two budget mascaras: Bell Cosmetics & KIKO Milano to the test.


budget mascaras

KIKO Milano Unmeasurable Length & Bell Secretale Xtreme Lashes

Right now I have two mascaras on rotation on my makeup stash, which is something I normally avoid; I don’t like having too many cosmetics open, especially mascara, which is particularly susceptible to contamination and gumming, so I prefer to finish a product before moving on to the next.

Bell Cosmetics Secretale Xtreme Lashes Mascara

Bell Cosmetics Secretale Xtreme Lashes Mascara

Nevertheless, since I had these two budget mascaras, and one of them already has me kind of annoyed, I decided I might as well put them to the test side by side, in the name of lash-batting science.

Secretale Xtreme Lashes Mascara by Bell Cosmetics

This one cost about 5€, and given that I generally liked the few things I’ve tried from Bell Cosmetics, I thought nothing of adding it to my shopping basket. However, it’s been a fiver down the drain, as far as I’m concerned; it’s not just that it’s a poor product I dislike, I actually find it a pain to use.

In theory, the Secretale Xtreme Lashes Mascara is a lengthening and volumizing mascara, but it does none of those things well: it barely gives any length, and while it does give volume, it does so at the cost of clumps and gunked-together eyelashes,  something I detest.

The short-bristled brush it comes with doesn’t help either. Personally, size does matter to me, and I prefer larger brushes with longer bristles, which I find more useful for combing and separating lashes, and distributing the product better.

I can, I suppose, separate the gummed lashes and comb the clumps away with a clean mascara brush, but my alloted time for these things is limited and treasured, and the last thing I want is to fuss and fiddle with a cosmetic to get it to work right; besides being time-consuming, it disturbs my zen-like enjoyment of my morning rituals and puts me in a bad mood… and frankly I have the rest of the day for that, so I don’t need it first thing in the morning in my own time.

One good thing about this mascara: even though it does transfer to my lids when it’s fresh out of the tube, at least once it’s dried it doesn’t smudge throughout the day, not even in warmer temperatures, nor does it flake all over my undereye area. So there is that. In fact, I’m still using it, though mostly to finish it up, because I think it’s mediocrity made mascara. If not for the clumps and gunked-up spider lashes, I don’t really notice much difference between wearing the product vs. not wearing it.

Bell Cosmetics Secretale Mascara

Aqua, Styrene/Acrylates/Ammonium methacrylate copolymer, Myrica pubescens fruit cera, Stearic acid, Glyceryl stearate, Oryza sativa cera, Hydrogenated olive oil, Glycerin, PVP, Triethanolamine, Glyceryl behenate, Argania spinosa kernel oil, Copernicia cerifera cera, Panthenol, PEG-100 stearate, Propylene glycol, Olea europaea fruit oil unsaponifiables, Cetearyl ethylhexanoate, Cetearyl alcohol, Ceteareth-20, Hydroxyethylcellulose, Caprylyl glycol, Hexylene glycol, Butylene glycol, Tocopherol, Ascorbyl palmitate, Polyquaternium-10, Sodium laureth-12 sulfate, PEG-8, C-11 pareth-7, Sodium acetate, Sodium chloride, Tetrasodium EDTA, Isopropyl alcohol, Citric acid, BHT, Phenoxyethanol, Potassium sorbate, CI 77499. See analysis in CosDNA.

My rating: 2.5 points. It’s not that I think it’s an impossible product: really, at this price point one can’t ask for much, and I think someone out there might even find it workable (it may seem strange, but some people don’t mind the Twiggy-esque spidey-lash look, I’ve seen them); me, I have war declared against any and all mascaras that clump and glomp noticeably. So I wouldn’t buy this again.

KIKO Milano Unmeasurable Length Mascara

KIKO Milano Unmeasurable Length Mascara


KIKO Milano Unmeasurable Length Mascara

I got this mascara from KIKO by chance: normally it costs 6,90€, but one day I went into the shop to get something else, and they had it on the checkout counter for 3,95€… resistance was futile, more when you take into account that this one has 11ml of product, rather than the 9ml of the Bell mascara, which on the other hand, was just fine with me, since I’d already ruled it a disappointment.

Naturally, I wasn’t expecting much from this price point either. In truth, I don’t really expect much from any mascara, cheap or expensive, since it’s clear to me that my short, sparse lashes will never be fringy fans; at the most, mascara makes it look like I have lashes, period. This is what I expect from mascaras, besides not being gunky, goopy or smudgy.

KIKO Cosmetics Unmeasurable Length MascaraThe first thing that struck me as odd in this product is this lumpy brush. I don’t know… despite the unusual shape, it doesn’t really do anything too different from regular old brushes, in fact, for me it has the same problem as the one before: the bristles are a bit too short to cover lashes the way I like.

Even so, I kind of like it, if only as sort of a collector’s curiosity: I rarely dispose of mascara brushes because I often find them useful for other things (not just makeup*), and someday I’ll have enough for opening the Mascara Brush Gallery, and of course this funky-looking one will be among the pieces featured.

As for lengthening lashes, it does that somewhat okay, to the extent that is possible to do with my eyelashes. On the other hand, it is rather liquidy and doesn’t give any volume that I can see. That’s fine with me: I’m not really one for volumizing mascaras, since I can’t remember having used one that didn’t clump my lashes together to some extent; for this reason I prefer to avoid them.

It also leaves the odd clump here and there, as can be seen in the image, but not nearly enough to annoy me as the product above. It also flakes somewhat on the undereye area as hours go by… not a big deal, but clearly this isn’t a product I’d use for an event of some import.

KIKO Unmeasurable Length mascara

Aqua, Synthetic beeswax, Paraffin, Acacia senegal gum, Butylene glycol, Glyceryl stearate, Copernicia cerifera cera, VP/hexadecene copolymer, Aminomethyl propanol, Oryza sativa cera, Phenoxyethanol, Dimethicone, Octyldodecanol, Ormenis multicaulis flower cera, Acrylates copolymer, Hydroxyethylcellulose, Rosa centifolia flower cera, Rosa damascena flower cera, Tropolone, CI 77499. Analysis in CosDNA.

On the whole, I’ve liked this mascara more than the first: I find it a nice, useful product for everyday wear, but I wouldn’t buy this again. So, my rating for the Unmeasurable Length Mascara de KIKO is 3.5 points.

*Speaking of which…

… a fun mascara-related tidbit: some months ago I stumbled on an article about a donation drive, launched by a wildlife conservation nonprofit in the US: they requested donations of old, washed mascara wands, which they could use for grooming the fur or feathers of small animals, and they received so many, it got to a point where they couldn’t open them all.

I mention this because I thought this was rather cute, besides being a great idea… plus, it might be useful info for anyone reading this who has guinea pigs, hamsters, gerbils or similar furries at home.

1 point: No! Never again, not even if you gave it to me, or even paid me to wear it.

2 points: I didn’t finish the container and it’s very unlikely I’d buy this again. It might work for you, but it does nothing for me.

3 points: Meh. I’ll use up my jar/tube, but I don’t think I’d buy again. It might work for you, but it doesn’t do much for me.

4 points: I like it. It’s nice and does its job. I might buy this again, if I find nothing I like better.

5 points: I love it! It does its job very well, I find it a pleasure to use, and it’s earned its place in my beauty routine.




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He probado la máscara de Kiko y deja mucho que desear y eso que me encanta la marca, pero esta en concreto no me terminó de convencer. un beso!!