Charlotte Tilbury can always be relied on to deliver the glamorous goods and this curling mascara is no exception. You’ll have to master the application technique (which isn’t difficult) and watch out for smudges, but in return you’ll get glossy, fluttery lashes that really go the distance
Curl and length
Easy to remove
Requires care on application
By Fiona McKim
My very first thought on seeing Charlotte Tilbury Pillow Talk Push Up Lashes is, why do so many of the best mascaras have suggestive names?
The raunchy corner of my cosmetic drawer is already in rude health with Too Faced Better Than Sex and NARS Climax not to mention the niche subset alluding to a lash-cleavage connection – Benefit They’re Real, Maybelline's The Falsies Push Up and now this.
Don’t say it’s just me who reads the words ‘push up’ and pictures a Wonderbra ad?
Innuendo aside, this is a pretty sexy mascara. It looks like a 50s pin-up’s dream and gives lashes a flirty curl. The shade is deepest inky black and the glossy texture comes down to some nice conditioning ingredients that love your lashes right back.
Downsides? The wet formula means that smudging during application is, if not inevitable, then certainly probable. The double-sided brush and special application technique is clever, but it might be a bit too clever for some.
Are you not fussed about perfecting how to apply mascara and happy with a ‘that’ll do’ quickie job? Or are you looking for something earth-shattering and will put in the graft to make sure it hits the spot? Oops, innuendo crept in again, but if option B resonates, this could just be the one.
Waterproof version available: No
Extra features: Strengthening keratin
No surprises for anyone familiar with the brand, Charlotte Tilbury Pillow Talk Push Up Lashes mascara is a looker. The tube comes in matte pink quilt-effect casing with rose gold foil branding and a classy bevelled lid.
The design is satisfyingly chunky, so much so that I was surprised to pull out the wand to reveal a rather skinny little applicator at the end.
Rather than a big bushy brush it’s one of those firm rubbery combs with irregular sides that speak of a specific application protocol – more on that later.
Formula and ingredients
Unusually, quite a lot to talk about here. I say unusually because mascara formulas don’t really change all that much due to the obvious implications of getting something unwelcome in your eye.
Because of this, most mascaras are a blend of reliably tested wax, pigment and polymers. But like many a cocktail, Charlotte Tilbury Pillow Talk Push Up Lashes uses superior examples of familiar ingredients, mixes them judiciously and creates something special.
This means we get waxes – carnauba and microcrystalline – specifically chosen for their volume-boosting yet lightweight properties. There are flexible polymers derived from the larch tree that coat the lashes and form a weightless lifting film around them, plus an ingredient you may recognise from fortifying hair treatments – keratin – to condition and strengthen.
Ease of application
There’s no getting around the fact that applying this requires a smidge more effort than your usual mascara. Sure, you could just whip the brush out and start layering it on any old way, which I did on test numero uno and ended up with nice enough lashes plus a little bit of smudging on my eyelid (easily cleaned with a cotton bud).
After that, you might be inclined to read the back of the cardboard outer casing which explains that, actually, the strangely shaped brush has two sides and a method to follow. The flat side should be skimmed up the lashes to coat them in the product and give instant lift. Then you flip the brush 90 degrees and comb through with the little diamond shaped bristles to re-coat, curl and separate. Tests one and two produced palpably different results, so this is definitely a product that warrants some instruction-following, even if it takes you an extra minute or so.
As mentioned before, the formula is quite wet. I found I needed to wait another 30 seconds once I had finished applying to set and avoid smudging . On balance, the benefits of enjoying lovely glossy-looking lashes all day without flaking outweigh this minor inconvenience.
What’s it like to wear?
Very nice indeed. My lashes were indeed lifted, curled, glossy and fanned out. So much so that a colleague who I sit in virtual meetings with on a daily basis messaged after a team debrief to insist we ‘talk about my eyelashes’.
Admittedly that curl caused my lashes to make contact with the skin under my brow bone so did leave a few transfer marks later in the day. I don’t say this as a criticism (I have hooded lids, it happens a lot) more to demonstrate how much length and lift Charlotte Tilbury Pillow Talk Push Up Lashes offers.
Removal was nice and easy. I use a Face Halo to take off my make-up but often have to go back in with an oil for particularly stubborn mascaras. This happily shifted with just the pad and warm water, which will suit anyone with sensitive eyes who doesn’t like to scrub away at the area too much.
One of the things I liked most about this mascara is its versatility. It’s subtle on coat one but you can build up coat after coat without it going all spidery and the unique bristles really get in there to sort out any lashes that have stuck together. Obviously mascara is personal. If you prefer a drier formula with more focus on bulking the lashes out that requires muscle to remove, Charlotte Tilbury Pillow Talk Push Up Lashes may not be for you (I’d say Benefit They’re Real is the Citizen Kane of that genre) But if your priorities lie with curl, separation and lash health then this is an effective, glamorous option that looks great in your make-up bag.
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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