Benefit They’re Real Review: Does the iconic mascara really measure up?

Benefit They’re Real! set the bar for mascaras when it launched – and we can see why...

Benefit They’re Real
(Image credit: Benefit)
Woman & Home Verdict

A talented crowd-pleaser, but it isn't without flaws

Reasons to buy
  • +

    Length and definition

  • +

    Fluttery outer lashes

  • +

    Flake-free and very resilient

Reasons to avoid
  • -

    Tough and awkward comb wand

  • -

    Not as much lift and volume as we’d expect

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Benefit They’re Real! is indisputably one of the best mascaras (and the most in-demand from beauty fans) in the world. It’s been so beloved that it has established Benefit as one of the leading beauty brands for mascara, commanding the beauty community to pay attention when the brand released both the Benefit BADgal BANG! and Roller Lash mascaras, which also became instant hits. 

They’re Real! is the one mascara that you can pretty much guarantee every beauty fan has tried at some point, with some still swearing by it even nine years after it came on the scene. And we can see why it’s developed such a cult following. Not only does it boast eye-catching packaging (which also makes it super easy to dig out of our makeup bags), but it has an almost excessively long-wearing formula that leaves lashes soft and springy without drying out.

Despite its acclaim, it might not be what everyone looks for in a mascara, but we’ll let you decide for yourself…

Benefit They’re Real!: our summary

If it’s length, definition and flutter you’re after, then They’re Real! is a winner. It’s impactful, drawing attention to even the shortest and stubbiest of lashes – you might even get a few questions about where you get your lashes done.

But that isn’t to say that it’s without flaws. For those who like volumised lashes, then this is not the one – even after a few coats, it doesn’t deliver much body. You could consider finishing with a swipe of something thicker like Too Faced Better Than Sex to hit the length/definition/volume hat-trick.

Despite its weak spots, we love the clump-free flutter the mascara delivers and its potential for layering makes it a safe all-rounder in our eyes. We think it would make a worthy inclusion in any makeup bag.

First impressions


Price: £22.50

Mini version available: Yes

Shades available: Black and brown 

Added extras: Unique crown tip

With an iconic silhouette you’d be able to pick out of a beauty line-up, the sleek and shiny tube gives off mega 90s catwalk vibes, with its silver colouring and neon writing. The coral writing also jumps out at you, reminding you of the product’s aim and giving an idea of its performance.

The practical shape also features slightly straight edges, which is really handy in stopping the tube from doing the dreaded roll and drop – let’s face it, we’ve all lost a good few soldiers behind our dressing tables because of that.

Formula and ingredients

Jet black in colour, this is one formula you’ll be glad to coat on to your heart’s content. The intense shade creates an impactful look regardless of whether you go light or heavy on the layers, and the liquid has a flexibility to it that leaves lashes soft and fluttery, rather than stiff and prickly.

It comes out wet, so glides on sleekly without catching in any lashes, and because it is so thin and silky it does allow for easier layering than some other mascaras we’ve tried. Despite being so soft and velvety, it has a pretty muscular staying power. Flaking was non-existent, even through an unprecedented mini heatwave, and it took some serious elbow grease to clean lashes at the end of the day – not the best news when bed is calling to you, but ideal for anyone who wants a smudge-free formula that lasts from morning to night without ending up smudging on your eyelids or flaking over your carefully applied best foundation

Ease of application

In all honesty, much like Benefit BADgal BANG! They’re Real! is not the easiest mascara out there to apply. The comb feature of the wand seems to embody everything that puts people off comb mascaras because, although the spiky wand does make for smooth separation of lashes, it is quite tough plastic, which can lead to scratching. And the signature crown on the tip is far from the wand’s crowning glory, as it does make it awkward to get right down to the roots without poking the corner of your eye or catching your lash line.

Having said that, when following the instructions to “hold the wand vertically and stroke upward to curl & separate”, it does indeed do a stellar job of creating definition in the lashes and establishing a nice little curl. Though be careful to wipe away excess product collected in the crown before using, as it can cause clumping if you whack the whole thing on there.

What's it like to wear?

There has to be a reason why They’re Real! has become somewhat of a household name in the world of mascaras, right? Well, in our opinion, it all comes down to the legitimate false-lash effect you get from this product - this is definitely one of the best lengthening mascara options on the market. 

However, it does live up to its name in a way that we didn’t expect. While the mention of false lashes brings to mind visions of feathered, Bambi-like strips that are noticeably fake, that’s not quite the effect you get with They’re Real!. Instead, it bestows on lashes enviable length and delicate fanned-out definition, which looks like a professional has been let loose on your eyes. Coupled with a sultry flutter, it gives your outer lashes a dainty but polished look, even with the wand’s inconvenient crowned tip.

But while it works wonders on the outer lashes, it doesn’t quite lift inner lashes as much as we would have liked, and even after using an eyelash curler, they do droop slightly after applying the product. Of course, you try another spin on the eyelash curler after applying, but just make sure to wait at least half an hour, so that lashes are properly dry first. It also doesn’t deliver the volume that we expected, even after applying a few layers. If you like a bit of a punchier look, we’d maybe opt for something with more of a bulking formula. 

Aleesha Badkar
Digital Beauty Editor, woman&home

Aleesha is Digital Beauty Editor at woman&home, where she gets to share her expertise into all the best techniques, sharpest tools and newest products—with a particular savvy in skincare and fragrance.

Previously, she was Deputy Editor and Beauty & Fashion Editor for My Imperfect Life, where she headed up the beauty, fashion and eCommerce pages. In the past, she has worked as Shopping Writer at woman&home, gained an AOP awards nomination after working on their news team, contributed to Women's Health, Stylist and Goodto and earned an MA in Magazine Journalism from City, University of London.