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Smashbox Full Exposure Mascara review

If she were wearing Smashbox mascara, it'd be all over her face.
Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images

Smashbox Full Exposure Mascara


The eyes are the window to our soul, or so they say. Being a California native, I’ve found throughout my life that this simple, yet oftentimes over used saying, especially in dating, is true.

One can learn a lot about a person, just by looking them in the eyes. Looking into their eyes. Looking around their eyes. An entire story will emerge, if you know how to read another human beings face, makeup or not. As far as beauty is concerned, gorgeous eyes are something that one can get lost in, look at for hours, and are drawn to.

An enigma of sorts, the love, exciting, and/or intense feeling of locking gazes with another individual, and have wordless conversations with another being, while exchanging a mutual positive benefit of eye gazing.

Especially in today’s society where no one really socializes in the real world anymore, and most people who want to lock your gaze, in public, inevitably want something that you have no desire to give. But alas, the art of looking and not looking is a story for another day.

For many years women and pre-women (I wont say teens because some pre-teens use makeup) have known that learning how to, and what to, apply to the eye area can both brighten, take off years, hide fatigue, and add intensity and drama to ones look. Thus, leaving many a person to be consistently on the lookout for the next best thing on the market. As we all know, the wrong product can do the exact opposite, by adding years, and the appearance of exhaustion, to an otherwise beautiful canvas.

In the mail came about a month supply of Smashbox Full Exposure Mascara in jet black. Initially I was excited. Smashbox has, in the past, made some great products.

Due to this initial excitement, I made a pact with myself to use Smashbox Full Exposure Mascara every day for two weeks. It was the only way that I can give an honest review of daily use in multiple situations. I was not allowed to touch my HG (holy grail) Maybelline big blue, aka The Classic Volume Express. Little did I know this decision would lead me to the realization that big blue was, and continues to truly be, the mascara love of my life.

After one week of using Smashbox Full Exposure Mascara I have to admit that there were some positive aspects to it, aka the intense eye look I’m able to attain for the first couple hours of use.

Smashbox Full Exposure Mascara does, on some levels, what it claims. It will volumize and lengthen, and give you va va voom lashes. Is buildable, lifts and separates while giving that full look. It is also easy to apply due to the large brush and bristles.

It dries on your lashes in a reasonable amount of time, so that it wont transfer onto your face, should you happen to blink during the application process, which most people regularly do. This is great for the lash novice because they can apply and reapply the fresh mascara without worrying about clumping, to create that intense lash look. The brush is large and if you aren’t skilled in wand techniques, you will have to do some touch up work on your lids, so that the mascara spots that land on your eye lids disappear via an eyeshadow brush or Q-tip. Be careful when applying if you aren't used to a large, in circumference, brush.

That being said, I wont be replacing my HG (holy grail) Maybelline big blue, any time soon due to a few things that concern me. For all the positives that one can get, that initial awesome look that can be achieved. That ever elusive va va voom look, it will only last a few hours. I’m not sure where the mascara goes but it fades, and it fades big time. It doesn’t flake off, and if it does flake, I don’t know where the flakes go. By the 5 hour mark, it is a shadow of its former self.

Smashbox Full Exposure Mascara is absolutely not waterproof or water resistant. If you plan to have an emotional day, for instance attending wedding, funeral, graduation, breaking up with your significant other, fighting with anyone that might make you cry, a therapy session, and/or have something land in your eye, then I can not state this enough. If for any reason you believe you may cry, or have any liquid on or around your eyelashes, avoid this mascara at all costs.

Below are many of the ways that Smashbox Full Exposure Mascara will fail you:

Napping: Apparently during my nap, either my eyes watered, or my skin got moist from being in a wonderful state of sleep. I woke up and went into the bathroom. Still groggy I didn’t see my face… until I washed my hands and looked up into the mirror. AHHHHHH! Smashbox Full Exposure Mascara was under and above, both of my eyes, and not in a sexy smear kind of way, in a crazy person sort of way. Had my significant other been there, he would have had a gigantic laugh, and depending on how long we’d been together, I may have been a bit mortified. Yes, mortified, I’m not trying to look like a crazy clown in front of my man. Luckily, I was alone.

Getting things in your eye: Something painful went into my eye, therefore my eyes did their job, they teared up. Normally you can keep your mascara off your face by carefully wiping away the tears in a specific hand motion, with or without tissue, so as to NOT get it all over your face. NOT with Smashbox Full Exposure Mascara, instead it grabbed onto my eye skin and smear, smear, smear. It took a couple washings to get this totally off and start over, that is, after I got the object out of my eye. Though, to be totally honest, this experience made me want to ditch mascara all together. Which is the opposite of everything I usually believe in.

Crying: Yes, the woman writing this wonderful mascara review, a review that has to be a much larger word minimum than in the past, hence the stories, cried. Admittedly, I’ve been referred to as an Ice Queen, and other “names” one calls a woman who is in control, knows what she wants in and out of life, and goes for it. Ice Queens cry too, sometimes… though not all the time, and absolutely not to gain sympathy, or as an emotionally manipulative tool.

Which means, I cry maybe 5 times a year at most, because other than releasing stress, crying doesn’t solve problems. The fact that many men don’t take situations or emotions seriously unless a woman is crying, is complete sexist bull, propagated by everyone involved on both sides, but that is a whole other article, for another time.

During my two week affair, yes that is right, affair. I am loyal to my Maybelline big blue. I cried due to a situation that is none of your business. This is when I found out just how bad Smashbox Full Exposure Mascara will run all over your face.

Once again, when I tried to wipe it away, it just smeared more! Yet, I didn’t know it was smearing until my son came into the room and motioned to my face. I didn't notice his hand gestures because I was busy being upset. Then he gave me a hug and asked what was wrong. Side note: We use hand gestures in our house, it is time efficient and when in public, it allows us to communicate without anyone having to yell. We are an anti yelling household. Think more like 3rd base baseball coach motions, and less like sign language.

However, because my mind was on what was causing me to, you guessed it, cry, I didn’t realize he was giving me the, “You have something on your face that shouldn’t be there so wipe it off,” sign. We hugged. Then, since I didn’t do anything about it, he presumed I didn’t care. He was partially right, at that point I really didn’t care, especially since no one was around other than the two of us. Though I don't cry often, our home is a safe zone where we can express our emotions freely, and talk about everything without fear or shame. We make our home a place where we can take shelter from the outside world, laugh and love. After all, home is what we make of it, for my family home is our safe haven. But I digress... This too is an entire article unto itself.

Being so used to my Maybelline big blue The Classic Volume Express, and expecting more out of a Smashbox product, it never occurred to me that this mascara could run, or smear to the extreme point that it did. While I was crying, the amount that I was crying, and using my savvy hands to wipe off my tears, I figured it had to be completely off my face. Wrong.

Wrong. When I went into the bathroom and looked at, what I thought had to be a normal puffy cry face, BAM. Not only was I puffy, I had terrible black streaks all over my face. They were the worst I've ever seen in my life, which is saying a lot seeing as I am a certified makeup artist and licensed esthetician. Meaning, I've experienced a lot of makeup flops. Oddly enough, enough mascara was left on my lashes, so I could cry and smear even more had I wanted to. No fun.

I thought, "Great, xyz trouble and bad mascara for the next week." After my son and I talked about the issue at hand, I asked him why he didn’t tell me that my mascara was all over my face. He reminded me that he had tired. I recalled that he indeed had tried. We laughed at the situation, a much needed joy in the ridiculous things life throws at all of us. Laughter is always abundant in our home.

However, even my 10 year old son, who doesn't care at all about makeup, told me that I should never use that mascara again.

When I said I have one more week, he was like, “Really? Mom, are you really going to do that to yourself?” I said, “Yep, I promised that I would, so I can write an adequate review.” He laughed and patted me on the back, basically saying, “That sucks, sorry you have to do that.”

Point being, I had an emotional day. We all have emotional days regardless of gender, strength or pride. I cried, not being used to mascara that doesn’t stay in place, or that can be maneuvered in a specific way, I didn’t know it had smeared all over my face. While I am aware that this isn’t a waterproof mascara, there are some on the market that are water resistant, even though they are regular mascara. You can cry while catching your makeup in a way where it isn’t all over your beautiful face.

Doesn’t stay fresh looking: Most of us ladies put on our morning makeup and expect the eye portion of it to look fresh for at least 6 hours without reapplying. That will not happen with Smashbox Full Exposure Mascara. Most people have a work day of 8 hours plus lunch time, and a commute. When you do the math, it simply doesn’t add up. Within 3-4 hours it will look stale, like day old mascara face that you don’t bother to wash off from the night before. You will either have to reapply it, risking clumps and mascara transfer aka lid/eye-socket dots, or take it off and start all over. Let’s be honest, halfway through most of our days we are exhausted, and the last thing we want to do is reapply our eyes.

I don’t know about you but I don’t have the time, nor the desire to be applying and reapplying anything other than concealer, foundation powder, or powder or lip products, once I leave my house. By the fourth hour the volume is gone, the length is gone, and it’s not on the face. I have no idea where it disintegrates to.

Add that to the cost, as in $$$ cha-ching, cost list. No thanks. It wrecks your makeup when it smears (reguardless of the cause of smearing be it crying, mist, naps, things in the eye) causing you to have to reapply your other makeup. This alone costs you more money because it’s possible you didn’t need to reapply your powder foundation, concealer, bronzer, blush, eyeshadow, eyeliner, or other type of thing you have on your face.

Two weeks is a really long time to commit to a mascara product that clearly wasn’t working for my lifestyle. Anyone who thinks I’m a commitment phobe needs to read this article, as two weeks living each day with a mascara that just kept quitting on me, is a really long time in human makeup years.

Which leads me to my last bummer point. In theory, Smashbox Full Exposure Mascara should be an amazing product. The brush is large and lush, while not being so obnoxious that you end up getting mascara all over the eye area. Smashbox used to make some really great eye products including the old eyebrow powder/wax combo, which prior to the formula change was my HG eyebrow makeup. I haven’t tried it since they changed the product design and formulation and have since moved on to NYX brow/wax combo in blond:

along with Maybelline expert eyes twin brow, eyebrow pencil in blond:

Both products combined cost under $15.

Smashbox is a company who has had some wonderful products over the years and for some reason keeps changing them. I really don’t understand why they keep trying to fix things that aren’t broken. I’m not just talking Smashbox, I’m talking all corporations that go in, and ruin tried and trusted formulas. Unless it’s found to be carcinogenic, leave it the heck alone!

After my two weeks living with Smashbox Full Exposure Mascara every single day, I can not in good conscious recommend anyone to purchase a tube of $20-ish mascara that isn’t going to work properly, and will have to be replaced in 3 months anyway. Especially when you can get some great drugstore brands for under $10 that will equally last 3 months (which, for those of you new to makeup is the mascara throw away time). You must throw out your mascara every 3 months even if you think you can get another 5 months out of it, for the health of your eyes. ALso, if one were to have to reapply so often, would the Smashbos Full Exposure Mascara actually last 3 months? I don't have that answer and i'm not about to experiment to find out.

It is sad that Max Factor became extinct in the US, because in their time they made some of the best mascara options on the market, and were often in direct competition with both Smashbox and MAC. I’m not sure if it’s due to the controversy with the Max Factor heir, who did awful things, or what the reason, but anyone who says makeup is boring, take a look at that guy’s wrap sheet, and then, try to tell me that isn’t, in itself, a horrific true crime story.

Smashbox Full Exposure Mascara is a true let down. Based on past product performance by Smashbox, I believe they can, and should have, made a better product.

After testing Smashbox Full Exposure Mascara for two weeks in various climates and situations, as stated above, I’ve come to the conclusion that you should spend your $20 elsewhere.

If you have about $20 in your budget to spend every 3 months on mascara, and are still in search of your HG (holy grail in makeup universe terms). I suggest trying MAC, DIOR, Lancome, Maybelline, Make Up For Ever, or any another brand available. As this one will quit on you and, after a few hours, can make you look like you never washed off last nights makeup. For that price range there are an enormous number of other mascaras on the market that will give a similar look, but actually stay in place. See above.

If you are like me, and your powder foundation costs upwards of $35 per compact, and your concealer is right up there in terms of monetary cost, not to mention the eye shadow, that may need to be reapplied, as well as the cost of the mascara, then we are talking a serious waste of both product and cash. Evan if your makeup is drugstore price, not everyone can, or wants to repurchase constantly due to mascara flops, especially not in our current economic climate.

I realize some women only need their mascara to last a few hours, for those of you this will work, provided you are in a dry habitat. However, I am not one of those rare women. I’m sticking to my big blue Maybelline The Classic Volume Express.

In the language of beauty we should be able to cry without looking awful, nap without fear, and in the year 2014 apply mascara without looking like a banshee. We have gone to the moon and back, haven’t we? We do send satellites into space and we can send a text message to a person in the same house without using verbal ques, unlike the 80’s contraption in Honey I Shrunk The Kids. Wanting a functional and fancy mascara really isn’t hoping for much.

In the end, eye makeup comes down to a simple fact, mascara safety, both in the form of not irritating the eye, causing an illness due to ingredients, and the aesthetics.

No one wants to walk around wondering if their mascara is going to run off their face or otherwise retreat to another residence. Smashbox Full Exposure Mascara does not offer this confidence. If by full exposure they meant it will fully expose how awful of a product it is, then congratulations, they won on that point.

You can find Smashbox Full Exposure Mascara at Sephora, Nordstrom, Macy’s, or any other place where Smashbox is sold, including Ulta.

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