The Mascara InStyle's Beauty Writer Swears By

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Eyelash extensions freak me out. Sure, they're a foolproof way of quickly achieving the look of fuller, longer lashes that will last for a few weeks, but I don't like the concept of a stranger getting that up close and personal with my eyes. Even I don't like touching my eyes that much. It's why I've opted not to get contact lenses for my nearsightedness and continue squinting every morning on the subway platform when I'm trying to figure out if it's my train that's approaching the station.

So, I rely on the old-fashioned way of getting my lashes to look so thick that my coworkers are asking each other "is she or isn't she wearing falsies?" A volumizing mascara. But not all tubes and their wands are created equal. When it comes to brush size, bigger is better, and it has be large enough to coat the majority of my lashes in a single swipe. And as for the actual mascara? The shade better be truly black.

Enter Marc Jacobs Beauty Velvet Noir Major Volume Mascara ($26; This tube fits all of my minimal mascara requirements and then some. Its plush, curvy brush contours to the shape of my lashes (including the hard-to-reach center lash line) to completely coat and define them in three swipes max—and stays completely smudge-free. And the semi-matte finish looks like, well velvet, which makes the product's name fitting. After all, Jacobs was inspired by velvet black ribbon when formulating it.

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While the mascara became a part of my regular rotation immediately following the first day I swiped it on, what solidified its ride-or-die status is when the barista at my neighborhood café asked me if I was wearing lash extensions one morning. If someone other than my beauty department coworkers comments on my lashes, that's major.

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