February 12, 2014

Beauty Pet Peeve: The Mini Mascara Dilemna

mini mascara

Samples, can’t avoid them, there everywhere! You know residents of the UK complain so MUCH about how stingy their counters are with beauty samples but I feel like here in the US our counters are overly generous to the point I, dare I say it, throw samples out.

OMG! I’ve committed some sort of mortal sin. Does this mean I go the beauty hell when I die!?

As of late a new trend are deluxe size products. These aren’t really samples and they aren’t really full size but they sure are generous enough that you can get a feel for a product and sometimes get a month or more use out of it!

Super duper!

I personally love mascara samples but I have a beauty pet peeve when it comes to them and actually sort of a dilemma.

Have you EVER noticed that you get a mini or deluxe size sample of a mascara and it works great. You’ll use it maybe an entire month, especially if it is a deluxe size, absolutely fall in love with it, and proceed to ADORE it. Now you’re ready, you’ve decided to take the plunge, this formula is HG (holy grail), you’re going to grab the full size.

And you get the full size….

And wait, what happened

Why isn’t it working as well as the mini?

Has this every happened to you?

It’s either my imagination or my biggest beauty pet peeve.

It’s happened SO many times.

In particular it’s happened with Diorshow Mascara! OMG the mini works amazing! Totally my HG (holy grail) mascara. But…but…but..the large size? It doesn’t work as well. WTH?!

So tell am I alone?

Have you ever used a mini mascara, skincare product, or some other samples and had it work wonderfully well but upon buying the full size it just didn’t work as well?

Do share!

About the Muse

Isabella MuseIsabella is just an average everyday geeky girl who doesn’t blend her eyeshadow correctly, wears too much blush, and hopes she never finds her holy grail products because she likes the thrill of the chase so much. Her mission is to bring you super honest reviews on makeup, skincare, fragrance and all things beauty. She’s in no way an expert on the topic and she sure as hell isn’t a super model. But she’s passionate about makeup and is seeking like-minded individuals that like pina coladas, getting caught in the rain, and ones that enjoy spending hundreds of dollars at Sephora without feeling buyer’s remorse. If you’re that person feel free to reach out and leave a comment or follow me on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Bloglovin‘.

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  • Christina D.

    YES! Which is why — particularly when it comes to mascara — I use only the samples of pricey brands or buy inexpensive drugstore versions.

    • Isabella Muse

      SIS! off topic! Jai (bff) found the tattoos for me πŸ™‚ he gave them to me last night w000000000000t!

  • Eli

    Weeell, I am kinda sort of envious! Here in Bulgaria you don’t get samples that easily at all πŸ™ Not that I’m really really fond of stacking ’em up and not using them, but… You know, they are so cute πŸ™‚

    As for mini mascaras, I’ve used only one. And I will definitely not buy the full size LD

    • Isabella Muse

      I think it’s typically with most European countries πŸ™ I feel a little too overwhelmed with samples sometimes! πŸ™

  • Diana Thompson

    Yup, has happened to me several times, it is very irritating πŸ™ However, just recently I got a Pixi mascara sample, it was fabulous, so I took the plunge and bought the 18.00 full size and it was just as fabulous! but this is very rare.

  • Steffi

    Benefit Porefesional Primer. I GOT A SAMPLE AND DIED. IT WAS AMAZING. And then I tried the full size. NOT THE SAME.


  • Amy

    ACK, yes, this happens all the time–it’s like the little mascara tubes are better shaped to keep clumps off the wand, and then the big tubes are like storing the mascara in a bucket! I thought I was nuts or just had buyer’s remorse, glad to see it’s not just me (well, I could still be nuts, I guess).

  • kim

    I always attributed this to less product in the sample giving the brush the perfect amount of product. Tarte lights, camera, lashes sample is my favorite ever. I love the full size too, but i have to use it for a month or more before it starts performing as well as the sample. It starts a little clumpy, and but after that first month, my lashes are fluttery, natural looking and have a nice curl, just like with the sample.

    • Isabella Muse

      I’m reverse..tarte samples never work for me but full sizes do GREAT! haha..but Diorshow, oh man, I love the sample hate the large size WTF!?

    • Manda

      Same here with the Tarte mascara! I was so mad. I tried wiping off the brush and other stuff but still no luck πŸ™

  • Katie

    I get what you’re saying when it comes to the bare minerals volume mascara. I got the mini and fell in love…and while the full size does the job better than any other mascara yet, it’s just not the mini. I feel like it must have something to do with the wand and having it shorter? No clue but it’s a shame that the full sizes can’t compete with their smaller counterparts.

  • Jess C.

    Yes!!! MY HG deluxe sample of Benefit’s They’re Real! Mascara was more like a total fail when I bought the full size! Sooo upsetting! But now I’m using Tarte’s Lights! Camera! Lashes full size and it’s working for me so far..

    P.S. I thought I was mental and the only person who had this happen to them! I’m not alone! πŸ˜‰

  • Sara

    I swear I have like 10 deluxe mascara samples in my beauty collection at the moment and I use them pretty interchangeably. So I guess if I never really run out of the samples, I won’t have to deal with the full size problems! Eventually they’ll get icky and have to be tossed, but until then I’m pretty happy with my collection.

  • Christina D.

    Yes it’s off topic but who cares — CTs?! Woo-hoo!! So glad Jai got them for you. Haven’t used them yet so can’t wait to read your review and look at the pretty swatches.

    • Isabella Muse

      LOL! ;-D off topic is ALWAYS fun especially when it is about new eyeshadow WAHOO! and even more off topic what did you think of Katy Perry’s version of Yesterday!?

  • Kathryn

    Totally happened with the Tarte Lights, Camera, Lashes! mascara. I’ve had 4-5 samples of it and absolutely love it, but I’ve purchased two full-sized ones, thinking maybe the first was faulty and I cannot get over how much I don’t like the full sized. I’m glad you took a moment to share your thoughts about it – happy to hear I’m not the only one!

  • amy

    I don’t use mascara minis enough to warrant a strong opinion, but of the few I’ve tried, I never felt the urge to buy the full-size. I really like Lancome mascaras, but I get enough to not need to pay for a full-size one. I’ve tried benefit BadGal & tarte Lights, Camera, Lashes, and both were absolutely disgusting; I attributed it to the fact they were in small tubes, and therefore dried out a bit. Still, I didn’t feel compelled to take a chance on full-size products… I love tarte, & really had high hopes for benefit due to the brush, but after trying 3-4 samples of each, over a span of a couple of years, I don’t find either worth the trouble.

    I’ve been using L’OrΓ©al Voluminous off & on for over 25 years, and always seem to go back to it, so Ifigure I may as stick what I know works for me!

  • Caroline

    I’ve had this experience with Benefit Badgal mascara!! I thought I was the only one who had ever experienced this. It’s good to know I’m not alone! LOL

  • sara

    I thought I was crazy, I totally think the samples are better!!! The full size never works as well. I’ve noticed with all Dior and Benefit mascaras!

  • Maddie

    OMG I THOUGHT IT WAS ALL IN MY HEAD! This happens to me EVERY time, and I swore Iwas doing something wrong. Glad to knowe I’m not crazy lol

  • Alex

    I thiiink with minis, smaller tube, less product they dry down a bit faster? I prefer all mascaras once they’d dried a bit unless the formula starts wet. So I don’t have this problem too much but I’m also very finicky with mascaras in general as I only use mascaras with plastic wands.

    This has happened to me, fortunately not very often though. I’m fond of Benefits they’re real mini, but the full sized mascara takes so long to dry to the consistency I like it it’s not worth it.

  • Kaitlyn

    I feel like this happens to me a lot with skincare samples (I had so many mascara samples or extras that came in kits I didn’t buy mascara for a whole year once! I’ve never purchased a full size HE mascara not in a kit though..)I used an anti-aging cream sample that literally decreased my fine lines in 1 week! The full size.. is lovely and prevents my lines from getting worse, but doesn’t lessen them either. πŸ™

  • bree

    Not sure I have had this happened, but I love the minis. I have come to the conclusion that I would rather pay $10 for the mini because I just can’t use up a full $20+ tube of mascara before they get gnarly and the formula changes. I have an Urban Decay curling mascara just sitting in my drawer that needs thrown out but I hate to because its like $20 in the trash. That’s my rant anyways! There are just too many good cheap mascaras to really even bother with the pain of the expensive ones.

  • Christina D.

    I love you so much just for asking that question and here is my unequivocal answer: I HATED IT. I hate her music anyway (I think I told you about the overwhelming feeling I get of wanting to hit her in the face repeatedly with a two by four) but this was a really, really bad idea. I have no idea who thought she should be in the Tribute section of the show anyway but are you kidding me? You want to sing what and in front of whom? Shudder.

    Now where’s that two by four…

    • Isabella Muse

      i actually don’t mind her music, it can be fun however, she absolutely upset me with her version of Yesterday oh god. seriously, they should have never sold the copyright on any of their music off the topic of her performance because I shudder when anyone does any remakes. They had to run it by Paul and Ringo first right?! They are both insane if they thought it a good idea to have her perform. ugh god

  • Erika Beck

    This has happened to me too! I thought it was just me! Still annoying, but I’m glad to know it’s not just me! The first time I really noticed it was with Urban Decay’s Skyscraper mascara. SO DISAPPOINTING!! I have a sample now of Benefit’s They’re Real, but after reading this, I don’t think I’ll buy the full size even though I love the sample!!

  • Christina D.

    Actually, they didn’t sell the copyright, The Beatles never owned the rights to their songs! Very sad but true and I can tell you all about it if you’re interested (but I figure it’s too long and waaaay off topic to go into here). I don’t know if Paul or Ringo had any input about the Tribute show performers, but a few weeks ago, Paul was on The Graham Norton Show and unfortunately so was Katy Perry. She was a complete twit but she must have thought she was the bomb to then sing Yesterday in a Beatles tribute show. I agree with you that I hate remakes, especially of my beloved Beatles songs!

    • Isabella Muse

      where MJ owned the rights to the entire catalog, which was sold very recently and Paul was working on getting back to MLP but…prior that…? Explain! Tell me more oh wise one hehe! I’m a fan but you’re a fanatic hehe! I didn’t see the Graham Norton Snow yet (didn’t see Matthew either on it! But they are keeping my Tivo warm hehe) so I can imagine what she was like sitting next to Paul oh god! groan!

  • Liz G.

    I actually think mascara samples never work as well as the full size, generally. I always feel like they are dried out and flake! And don’t get me started on those short wands, it’s so hard to get in there with those little nubs, you have to switch hands and then watch out, you’ve poked yourself in the eye! We’ll maybe that’s just me. The mascara samples are both a blessing and a curse!

  • Karen

    Same thing happens to me with mascara. & occasionally with perfumes too. I don’t know what that’s about or if I’m imaging it.

  • kimkats

    Oh thank god you said this – I thought it was just me! And why is it *always* mascara that is awesome in miniature, but a tube full of suckage in full size?? How do they even DO that?!

  • Cassi

    I never buy the full size, a lot of times I’ll buy the mini. I’m a little weird about mascara, I change out my tubes every month.

  • Renu

    Happened to me with Benefit They’re Real. I know, I am a statistical anomaly. Oh, we wept, precious. How we wept! Ever since, I stick to the minis, or Lancome Hypnose Doll Eyes.

  • Lisha

    I didn’t read all the responses do somebody may have already said this but, I have noticed it and I’ve decided the reasoning is because after it gets a little older towards the end of that month it starts to thicken a little which is why you slowly but surely fall in love with it…then bam you get a fresh, new one & the process starts all over again!

  • Kat A.

    I agree with Tarte’s Lights Camera, Lashes too! I like the full size, but the smaller size has a better brush (I think that’s what it is). The brush is straighter and fuller, whereas the big size is curved. I get better volume with the smaller one, though you’d think the brush of the bigger one would give more volume. It’s too bad I can’t refill the smaller one! I still haven’t found the perfect mascara for me, but am using ones from kits for a while now.

  • Caitlin W.

    I have had the same problem so what I started doing…buying the full size and transferring some to the mini tube…weird but I’ve had better luck with doing that and it may be the amount of product or the shape…I dunno but I’d say try it and see if it works for you. I may just be a fluke.

  • Jase

    It’s really because you have to work Dior mascaras in… the first couple of times you use them they are crappy but once the air gets to them and they settle a bit… they are just right!

    Maybe because there is less product in the minis, it “gets good” faster?

  • Emily

    I feel the same except for the other way around sorta. I bought the sample of the Diorshow mascara ($20!) and the second time I opened the primer part of the tube the wand snapped off and the mascara really did nothing for me. It kinda turned me off from the brand though I’m sure that’s probably not how the full size works.

  • Christine Joy Luikuo

    We don’t have samples here in the Philippines, except for perfumes sprayed on thin strip of paper. Haha! But then, I had few samples of perfumes that came from the US and used them almost everyday. I had a sample of Vera Wang Princess and the full version one and I think it’s the sample that had a stronger smell.

  • Eli Caroline

    OMG! I thought this only happened to me or it just my imagination. I am so happy to know that I’m not the only one that has had this issue.

  • Jenna

    I think sample sizes work better because the smaller brushes are easier to maneuver.

    • Sarah

      I was assured by the make-up counter girl that the brush size is the same in the full size when I had the same theory about the Lancome sample. The samples sure do work better though!

  • Shelby

    I tried to use my dior show mascara sample and nothing happened, I hadn’t opened it previously so it shouldnt have dried out but I feel like the brush took up the entire tube!

  • CIndy

    And this is why I only use sample mascara’s. I have bought the full sizes more then once and they always dissapointed me. When I talked to a beauty insider she told me that the samples where amped. The mascara that you get in a sample size is actually the mascara in the full size but then on steroides. No wonder the full sizes don’t do the same and I stopped buying them. These days I just stack up on sample sizes that you can get with magazines.

  • Zadidoll

    When it comes to mascara companies would better off selling it in “deluxe sample” sizes rather than “full size” because if mascara is suppose to be thrown out every three months then what’s the point of buying full size?

    You’re not alone; sometimes the sample size works better than the full size.

  • Coco

    Like eye primers, I have so many deluxe samples of mascara that it has been a long time since I actually bought a full size of anything. (Unlike other kinds of makeup — *ahem* nail polish, blush, lipstick, eye shadow, eyeliner — I don’t hoard more mascara than I could actually use in a natural lifetime)

    Plus, like a number of other commenters, I actually throw out my mascara after using it for three months, so using anything bigger than a deluxe sample or travel size is actually kind of a waste. I’ve been using the same Buxom mascara deluxe sample since early December and expect it to last another couple weeks before I toss it.

    In the unlikely event that I run out of samples, I would definitely prefer to repurchase in a travel size. I find that travel size mascaras seem less likely to glob and clump than their full-sized counterparts, as others have also observed.

  • Peggy

    This has happened to me with Guerlain mascara and really pissed me off! I paid $30 for a full size and it sucked!

  • Lacy

    I completely agree. And it’s more so with mascara’s than anything else! So frustrating. One time I received a “deluxe” sized sample of a bliss moisturizer from sephora and the freaking tube was all but empty. I didn’t even get two uses out of it. My other pet peeve is having a sample be considered “deluxe” size but really it’s just a normal size. When I think deluxe I think bigger than normal, and that’s rarely ever the case.

  • Pamela

    I thought I was the only one!

    I got a sample of Clinique’s waterproof high impact. Not only was it truly waterproof but it held a curl like nobody’s business. (A boy even commented on this. A boy!) But then I go and buy the full size this summer and it’s just enh. Ok, but not nearly the hold. Maybe I’ll dig it out now and see if drying out a bit helped.

  • Mira

    I’ve been reading your posts for years lol finally commenting! Love them all πŸ™‚
    I have worked for several cosmetics companies, and many customers have said this to me. It’s also true with the fragrance testers at makeup up counters, they work better then the actual full size perfume. This occurs occasionally. The formulations for samples are not always the same as the full size or “tester” product on purpose. I find it’s more common with higher end brands. It’s unfortunate that some brands to this to try and increase sales. But it is a fact and does occur unfortunately. I’ve also had clients have reactions to their sample size but not full size product.

    • Isabella Muse

      aw thanks mira <3! πŸ™‚ INTERESTING! they are doctoring samples haha!

  • DiDi

    I received a sample of a fairly expensive lip gloss a while back I think it was YSL. The color was gorgeous and I got so many compliments. When I bought the full sized lip gloss the color was nothing like the sample. SO disappointed

  • Sandra Madison

    I got Benefit They’re Real mini and it was my HG until I started noticing smudges under my eyebrows about a couple hours afterwards. I think it makes my lashes too long??? Love it so much and want to go full tube but the smudges make it so disappointing. Any tips? Love your site!!!

    • Isabella Muse

      aw thanks Sandra! Mmmm that’s tough one! You can try powdering your lids and under your eyes and see if that helps with the smudges a bit!

  • Laya

    Thank you for confirming my suspicions. I used to notice this when I was a teenager and my mom would get the LancΓ΄me samples. I would try them and think, ” wow, these are great!” When I would buy the real thing I was always disappointed. Now I just stick to samples.