Flaking, smudging, glopping, clumping. New dance steps? No, they are what happens when mascara goes wrong ...
Mascara gives us mate-attracting eyes. No wonder Rimmel claims to sell one Endless Lash Mascara in black (pounds 2.95) every 22 seconds. Yet Rimmel's Exaggerate (pounds 3.99) lengthens better. Cover Girl Long 'n' Lush (pounds 4.29), Agnes B Ultracil (pounds 6.90) and Max Factor Stretch (pounds 5.79) do, too.

Before you buy mascara, look at the wand. It needs to be a huge, thick bristle brush. Those weedy brushes with big gaps give you big, gloppy lashes. Molton Brown Protein Mascara (pounds 12), Revlon Colorstay Lashcolor (pounds 7.95) and Screenface Supreme (pounds 7.25) have sensational wands. Lengthening mascaras look natural; thickening mascaras more glamorous. For daytime, Sensiq Volume Rich (pounds 4.25) darkens the lash-ends. Estee Lauder's Minimalist (pounds 13.50) creates those just-believable lashes you would have naturally if you were, uh, perfect.

At night, it's time to pile it on. La Femme Cake Mascara (pounds 4.95) is having a comeback. Max Factor 2000 Calorie (pounds 5.79) and l'Oreal Perfection Voluminous Mascara (pounds 4.49) create lashes as thick as two short planks. Estee Lauder's Pure Velvet (pounds 13.50) lasts, and isn't stubborn at bedtime.

For "sensitive eyes", Kanebo 38 Degrees is gloppy but comes off with 38 C water. Clinique's fine wand (pounds 11) takes its gentle lengthening formula to the lash-base. Almay Amazing Lash Waterproof (pounds 7.95) strikes a sensitive balance between thick 'n' thin. Make-up Forever Waterproof (pounds 12) comes in a host of funky colours.

While we await l'Oreal's Color Endure, everyone's talking about Sainsbury's mascara. It's being discontinued. It costs pounds 3.99. The word? Buy it.

Maybelline Great Lash and La Femme, from Screenface (0171-836-3955). Agnes B: mail order, Le Club Createurs de Beaute (0990 902090); Molton Brown (0171-581-7660); Make-Up Forever, Dickins & Jones (0171-734 7070)