A talented crowd-pleaser, but it isn't without flaws
Length and definition
Fluttery outer lashes
Flake-free and very resilient
Tough and awkward comb wand
Not as much lift and volume as we’d expect
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.
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 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...).
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