Chanel’s flagship new-gen mascara is innovative, glamorous and easy to wear. Unless you’re on a budget or love a drag lash look we can’t imagine why you wouldn't like it
Curl and separation
Light, easy to manoeuvre wand
Not for spider lash fans
By Fiona McKim
If you're a mascara lover, you're probably interested in Le Volume Stretch de Chanel. Let’s be honest, anything Chanel Beauty does is interesting simply by dint of being Chanel Beauty.
That’s not to say the French house rests on its laurels, slaps a double C on any old thing, and watches the Euros roll in. Pas du tout. Chanel maintains top-grade desirability status because they know how to innovate and have consistently done so for decades. Combine that with a chic resistance to unwearable trends plus a soupçon of glamour, and you’ve got yourself an irresistible combination.
So, what’s hard to resist about Le Volume Stretch de Chanel? Quite a bit, actually. It goes without saying that since this mascara is a Chanel Beauty item, the packaging is fabulous. I loved the contemporary textured tube and interlocking Cs on the lid. It’s also got a unique 3D printed brush (light as a mini madeleine and just as visually pleasing), plus its very own application protocol for the advertised stretch effect.
Formulas play a big part in ranking the best mascaras out there, and Le Volume Stretch de Chanel poses some stiff competition. The formula is neither wet and smudgy nor super dry and caky. And since the effect on lashes is ultra separated and curled rather than big and bulked out, it makes it a great mascara for daytime or any time if you prefer a laid-back, natural look.
Waterproof version available: No
Extra features: 3D printed spiral brush
Excellent, unsurprisingly. Le Volume Stretch de Chanel is the mascara equivalent of that charismatic plus-one your friend brings to a party who you take one look at and vow to befriend by the end of the night. The black casing has a texture like spun gold, most satisfying to run a fingernail up and down, with striking white branding and a lid that twists smoothly and clicks pleasingly into place.
In the literature that accompanied this mascara's launch, much was made of the 3D printed brush. This is undoubtedly an innovative approach to product design and manufacture, one that’s bound to be aped by other brands. But does it make much difference to you or I once we get the mascara home and use it? I'd say yes a bit thanks to the materials used in the wand - but we’ll get to that later.
Formula and ingredients
Stop me if you’ve heard this one before (which you will if you’ve read my Charlotte Tilbury Pillow Talk Push up Lashes review), but there isn’t usually all that much to say about mascara ingredients. Most formulations use the same true pigments, waxes, and polymers that we know are safe and effective, which is honestly all you want near your eyes. Naturally, this being Chanel, we are treated to the highest quality and most effective variations of this pigment, wax, and polymer combo, but you catch my drift.
In terms of the formula’s feel, this is what I’d call medium-dry. This means you’ll need to layer up quickly but also that it is brilliantly smudge-proof both on the application and during wear. Many will find that a more than acceptable trade-off.
Ease of application
Here's where that wand proves itself to be more than a conceptual novelty. Pull it out, and you’ll notice two things - it’s extremely light and a little bit short. The shortness threw me at first, but as soon as I began applying, I had a revelatory moment akin to the first time I used a handheld Dyson instead of its clunky push-along predecessors. Why are all mascara wands so long and ungainly anyway? This little pocket rocket is so nimble, agile, and easy to control you'll be praising the 3D printing powers that be.
The brush isn’t really a brush at all. It’s a hollow, flexible, pine-cone-shaped structure with tiny bristles spiraling over it. The word double helix came to mind when I first set eyes on it, so I Googled the human genome, and it does indeed bear some resemblance. If you’re interested and not a scientist, have a little Google and see for yourself!
The application method is simple: press the brush at the base of your lashes, then rotate your wrist to roll the bristles upwards. This does four things - evenly disperses the formula, grabs the lashes, separates, and stretches them upwards. That aforementioned medium-dry formula doesn’t hang around before it starts to bed in. You’ll get one coat on with ease for a fluttery curl. Add a second quickly for volume, and it’ll feel much the same, but wait too long, and it might drag a smidge as the formula begins to set.
What’s it like to wear?
Le Volume Stretch de Chanel is the kind of mascara you can forget you are wearing, and I mean that in the best possible way. It sets down nearly as soon as you’ve applied it, so you needn’t worry about smudges. It doesn’t flake off or transfer onto eyelids and retains a nice curl for the best part of a day.
This is a natural-looking mascara, which also makes it easy-breezy to wear- it’ll compliment any makeup look you choose to wear without aggressively taking over. If mascara is your desert island ‘I only have time for one thing’ product, then this would be a perfect choice to enhance a bare face without overpowering it.
You could build it up for the evening if you wish, although you would need to remove it properly and start again to avoid clumps. Speaking of which, removal is easy and non-draggy enough as long as you use a dedicated eye make-up remover. Micellar didn’t cut it for me, but then again, I find it never really does.
As woman&home's Senior Beauty Editor, Fiona Mckim has tried more products than she’s had hot dinners and nothing makes her happier than raving about a brilliant beauty find on womanandhome.com or her instagram grid (@fionamckim if you like hair dye experiments and cute shih-tzus)
Fiona joined woman&home as Assistant Beauty Editor in 2013, working under legend Jo GB, who taught her everything she needed to know about the industry (clue: learn about ingredients and employ extreme cynicism).
In a previous life, Fiona studied journalism back home in bonnie Scotland and honed her skills as a magazine features writer, with a brief and terrifying stint on the showbiz gossip pages of a tabloid newspaper in between. She's a skincare fanatic who can’t resist adding an extra step to her routine if it’s all the rage in Japan, loves fragrance, has fun with makeup and never turns down the chance to test a new hair tool. Basically, she loves it all.
When not slathering herself in self tan or squinting at a tiny ingredients list on a moisturiser, you’ll probably find Fiona enjoying something to do with food - cooking it, eating it, cajoling her friends into trekking across London to try a hyped pop-up in a dirty car park.
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