Benefit They’re Real! vs Maybelline Lash Sensational: does a higher price mean higher-quality mascara?

Benefit They’re Real! and Maybelline Lash Sensational have become global bestsellers – but does a higher price make one any better than the other?

Benefit They’re Real vs Maybelline Lash Sensational
(Image credit: Benefit / Maybelline)

Weighing up Benefit They’re Real vs Maybelline Lash Sensational for your next mascara purchase? Benefit They’re Real! has a reputation for being one of the best mascaras in the world, making a name for the brand as a leader in makeup and paving the way for the beloved Benefit BADgal BANG! and Roller Lash mascaras. 

But is it worth the relatively hefty price tag that often comes with premium mascaras – and how does it measure up against a lower-end bestseller that clawed its way up to become one of the top-selling products on Amazon?

Maybelline Lash Sensational has become a makeup-bag staple for its intelligent brush and purse-friendly price, gaining the label of Britain’s number-one mascara for its market-topping sales.

But is one of these industry greats really better than the other and does price play a part when it comes to quality?

What is special about Benefit They’re Real!?

Benefit They’re Real specifications

Mini version available: Yes

Shades available: Black and brown 

Added extras: Unique crown tip

Its eye-catching packaging and long-wearing formula are just some of the reasons why Benefit They’re Real! has developed such a cult following. If it’s length, definition and flutter you’re after, then you’re ready to join the They’re Real! cult. 

It catches even the shortest of lashes, giving them a false-like length in a way that isn’t too obvious – and we’re sure the clump-free look doesn’t go unnoticed, either.

A unique brush tip has piqued the interest of mascara fans the world over, making this bestseller a must-try at least once. It’s not for everyone, but there obviously must be enough people on board, considering its global reputation.

Benefit They’re Real vs Maybelline Lash Sensational

(Image credit: Benefit)

Packaging

An iconic shape that any beauty fan would be able to pinpoint, along with a sleek and shiny finish, makes this tube an industry favourite. Having said that, it’s not the most elegant packaging and does bring to mind a 90s catwalk with its silver and neon colouring, but it does scream Benefit, which in itself gives it some clout.

The tube also features practical straight edges to stop it from rolling around, which is a dream for anyone who’s lost a few behind their dressing table.

Formula

With an intense jet black colour, this formula creates an impactful look no matter how many layers you slap on. We love the looseness of the liquid, which allows for multiple coats without any clumping or drying, and its flexibility means that lashes were left soft and fluttery instead of stiff and prickly.

But the pliable texture by no means makes this a flake-happy formula, as even after a full day of wear there is no flaking or smudging in sight. That does make it a bit of a battle to take off before bed, but if you manage to nail your night skincare routine, then removal should be a little easier.

Ease of application

Despite its reputation, this is not the most straightforward mascara to apply. Although the spiky comb does separate lashes really beautifully, it is made of quite tough plastic, which can easily scratch the lash line. And the crown tip, which makes They’re Real! such an intriguing product, does actually get in the way when it comes to trying to work up from the root of the lashes.

However, when following the application instructions and using the crown vertically, it does create a nice curl in the lashes and separates them well for a lovely, defined look – that’s if you make sure to wipe away the excess product collected in it, otherwise you’re left with a pretty tenacious mess stuck to the lids.

Results

As anticipated by the name, They’re Real! does give you a false-lash look, just not in the way you might have thought. Rather than packing lashes full of volume and drama, it instead works on length and definition, giving you a subtle, feathery, fanned-out look, almost leaving onlookers wondering whether you’ve had a lash lift or those really are your real lashes.

But while it does make an impact with the outer lashes, shorter inner lashes don’t have the lift that we would expect from a premium product. Even a quick clamp of an eyelash curler beforehand couldn’t remedy that, as lashes did just end up drooping slightly after application. And we also would have liked a little more volume, so if you’re in the same boat we’d maybe look out for one of the best legnthening mascaras.

What is special about Maybelline Lash Sensational?

The brand’s unique Layer-Reveal wand brings everything that’s special to this mascara. Of course, it does have a beautiful dark and flexible formula that nearly holds its own against They’re Real!, but it’s the brush that has us all scrambling to stock up on this.

It’s said to catch even the tiniest of lashes to create a fuller and more even look – and it really does deliver on its promise. Lash Sensational doesn’t have the eye-catching packaging of the They’re Real! tube, but the signature brush definitely knocks Benefit’s out of the park.

Benefit They’re Real vs Maybelline Lash Sensational

(Image credit: Maybelline)
Maybelline Lash Sensational specifications

Waterproof version available: Yes

Added extras: Layer-Reveal brush

Packaging

Unfortunately, the tube of the Lash Sensational does give away its position as the cheaper of the two options. It has a pretty blush colour, which is a lot more unassuming than the They’re Real!’s garish theme, but it’s made from cheap, hollow plastic that makes it look and feel very low-budget.

Formula

With a dark and silky formula that’s strikingly similar to They’re Real!, it layers well without leaving behind the dreaded spider-leg effect. We would say that the They’re Real! formula is marginally thicker and glossier, but they both glide on as smoothly as each other without any drying, catching or clumping.

It holds curl on the inner lashes a little better than the Benefit, but it’s not as durable and does tend to flake a little once you reach the end of the day.

Ease of application

A barrel-oaked chardonnay to They’re Real!’s Tesco Value vodka, this mascara applied more smoothly than not only its competitor but many others on the market, too. The soft comb wand comes with a delicate curve that hugs as it easily glides from root to tip, leaving no lash behind.

The signature Layer-Reveal brush also has mini inner bristles that catch even the tiniest of lashes to amplify them for a fuller and more even look than the They’re Real!.

Results

This purse-friendly buy definitely proves that you don’t have to fork out to get an exceptionally performing product. It might not look premium on the outside, but its goods on the inside give you a feathery, lengthened and defined fanned-out look with a delicate curl, which, like the They’re Real!, will leave people questioning if it really is a natural flutter or not.

As with the Benefit offering, you don’t get much drama and volume, but the lash-multiplying effect from the mini bristles does leave a more even look than the They’re Real! does, even if it doesn’t last as long. And for added volume, you could even pair it with another more dramatic option such as Too Faced Better Than Sex or L’Oréal Paris Lash Paradise.

Benefit They’re Real! vs Maybelline Lash Sensational: the verdict

These two global favourites have each gained a cult following in their own right and, we have to say, they both deserve it.

Despite the price gap, we can’t see much of a difference between these two offerings. They’re Real! does have a more durable formula, however we have fallen in love with the Lash Sensational comb that makes application a breeze, no matter how many coats you apply.

For a full and pretty flutter, we’d definitely opt for the Lash Sensational, but if you want something longer-lasting that comes with a slightly spikier look, They’re Real! will be for you. 

If going by value for the money, we’d say the budget buy wins for us on this occasion. The modest offering has opened our eyes on what wonders we could be missing at the lower end of the price spectrum, proving that you can find some of the best cheap mascaras for under £10 – we can’t wait to explore more...

Aleesha Badkar
Aleesha Badkar

Aleesha is digital shopping writer at woman&home - so whether you're looking for beauty, fashion, health or home buys, she knows all the best places to splash your cash. She earned an MA in Magazine Journalism from City, University of London in 2017 after graduating from University of Leeds in 2014 with a BA in English and Spanish (which took her to Madrid for a fun Rioja and tapas-packed year). Aleesha has worked for woman&home since 2019, when she joined the team as their digital news writer. A year on the news team gained her quick and reactive writing skills and a love for breaking stories, invaluable insight into where to get the best lifestyle releases first, an AOP awards nomination and the nickname ‘crazy watch lady’ after she became so obsessed with the royals that she followed breaking news alerts on her Apple Watch.


Before joining the woman&home team, Aleesha wrote for their sister site GoodtoKnow, where she covered celebrity news, health advice and where to snap up the cheapest lifestyle buys. With a background in beauty, Aleesha has also written for Stylist and Women’s Health where she developed an understanding into what makes a stellar product and which brands are worth paying attention to. She never leaves the house without a slick of lip balm and a good slathering of SPF, cannot live without an eyelash curler by her side and is always on the hunt for new lipsticks to add to her ‘Lipstick of the Day’ Instagram story highlight (and color-coordinated collection).

But it’s not just beauty buys Aleesha can help you with. Social media savviness, strong PR relationships and a need to stay in the know mean she’s all about the latest fashions, clever gadgets and reliable lifestyle buys too. She loves indulging in an interior craze (with a bedroom drowned in prints, plants and pink), is a regular visitor to the Missoma and Edge of Ember 'New In' pages and can’t resist the allure of a kitchen gadget—just ask her three coffee machines.

When she’s not playing around with new products and testing anything she can get her hands on, Aleesha spends most of her time with her head in a current bestseller, catching up on the latest Netflix craze with her sister, trying out new recipes, drinking wine with her bestie and (in non-COVID times) has been known to be a bit of a jetsetter amongst her friendship group. Oh and she makes the most of her Disney+ subscription by watching the Marvel films on repeat (definitely not just for Chris Evans...).

Follow her latest shopping & lifestyle advice, beauty insights and social antics on Instagram at @aleeshabadkar.


Twitter: @aleeshabadkar

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Email: aleesha.badkar@futurenet.com