The Independent’s journalism is supported by our readers. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn commission.

Is Benefit’s new magnet mascara better than the original ‘They’re Real!’ version?

The latest launch has a wand with a magnetically charged core, but does it make a difference?

Louise Whitbread
Wednesday 24 February 2021 13:33
<p>The original ‘They’re Real!’ mascara has inspired a whole product range since its launch in 2011</p>

The original ‘They’re Real!’ mascara has inspired a whole product range since its launch in 2011

A great mascara does wonders for your make-up look. It can instantly make you look more awake, pull the rest of your products together, and add drama and length to even the shortest of lashes.

Benefit is a brand which knows a thing or two about perfecting this holy-grail product, and has been creating best-selling, cult-favourite mascaras for years, including Rollerlash and Badgal.

However, its lash lengthening “They’re Real!” mascara has proved to be the brand’s most popular offering, and since its launch in 2011, it has inspired a whole range of products, including an eyelash primer, eyeliners, eye make-up remover, eyebrow products, and even duo-phase lipsticks.

Read more: We put Victoria Beckham’s new future lash mascara to the test, does it deliver?

Its metallic grey tube is well recognised for housing an interesting shaped brush, with fine bristles coating the whole wand and a ball-shaped tip which allows you to reach those finer hairs on your lower lash line and inner corner of your eye.

The latest addition to the They’re Real! family is a magnet mascara that according to Benefit, has a “magnetically charged core” to allow it to easily grip hairs and spread the formula outwards, making lashes appear longer and more lifted.

Any mascara launch from the brand piques our interest, but given the legacy of the original version, and the fact that we’ve yet to hear of another magnetic mascara, we had to put it to the test. But most importantly, we’ve compared it to the original formula to see whether the new launch is as groundbreaking as it sounds. Rating each on the brush design, ease of application, staying power and how simple the removal process is, ahead is our in-depth review.

You can trust our independent reviews. We may earn commission from some of the retailers, but we never allow this to influence selections. This revenue helps us to fund journalism across The Independent.

Benefit They're Real! lengthening mascara: £23.50, Boots.com

One of the OG lengthening mascaras that we remember seeing everyone have when it first came out, Benefit’s original They’re Real mascara has continued to assert its cult status. With a few coats, our naturally fair, sparse lashes look longer and fuller.

It gives a nice lift to them too, so if your natural lashes tend to grow more straight, this does a great job at giving them a slight curl, especially if you apply as close to the lash line as possible.

The brush is evenly coated with bristles all the way around. They are all the same length but coat each hair evenly, and you can focus more on the outer corner if you want a more cat-eye look.

The ball tip is what this mascara is most known for. Designed to allow you to stroke upwards to separate lashes and give a fanned-out finish, we actually found we didn’t need it, as the straight wand did a perfectly good job.

We actually found the ball tip a bit tricky to work with, as its round shape picks up more product than we’d like, and we accidentally got it on our eyelids because of its slightly larger size.

It doesn’t clump hairs, however, one of the defining features of a great mascara, and kept lashes nicely separated and lengthened.

While it's not a waterproof mascara, it lasts all day without a single smudge or flaking, but as a result, it does take a little longer to remove. While a rich cleansing balm or oil get most of it off after delicately massaging it into the hairs to break it down, we did go back over our lashes with a cotton pad and eye make-up remover to ensure every last scrap was gone.

Buy now

Benefit They're Real! magnet extreme lengthening mascara: £24.50, Boots.com

This new mascara contains 0.5g more product than the original, with 9g in total, and the brush is quite different too. It’s thicker with shorter, closely packed together bristles and no ball tip.

Again, all the bristles evenly coat the brush and are the same length, which makes it really user-friendly, especially if you struggle to apply your mascara without smudging it around your eye. Without the ball tip, we actually found it easier to reach those really fine hairs right at the inner corner of our eye.

According to Benefit, the formula is enriched with magnetic minerals and the wand has a magnetically charged core which, when combined, work to deliver extreme length and volume by pulling the formula up and outwards.

With one application, it has an immediate lifting effect, leaving us looking wide-eyed and fresh, despite a groggy start to the day thanks to a late night (TikTok, we’re looking at you).

We love long, fluttering lashes, as we’ve yet to master the skill of applying false strip or individual lashes, and this is the perfect product to achieve that within seconds. The first coat lengthens, but it’s very buildable if you want more volume too – we applied three coats before we were happy with the final result. There was a noticeable difference in length compared to the original They’re Real! mascara.

Left before, right, after using Benefit they're real! magnet extreme lengthening mascara

It does a great job at separating lashes too and there was no clumping, but if you find your lashes naturally stick together, try brushing a clean spoolie through the hairs before you apply. No matter how much we applied, hairs remained separated with oodles of volume and felt weightless.

We didn’t notice how the magnetic formula affected how it looked or applied, and it’s difficult to know what you should be looking for, but the difference between before and after is pretty drastic, so if you love a dramatic look, or want your lashes to do all the talking in your make-up, it’s brilliant.

It’s only let down is that it began smudging slightly four hours in, with black marks decorating the outer part of our lower lash line. Considering we wore it while working from home and on a lunchtime walk without a mask (or rain), we were surprised to see that our under-eye skin needed touching up this quickly.

It’s easy to sweep away with your little finger but this smudge potential is worth considering when you wear a face covering, as the trapped heat and humidity from a mask would exacerbate this problem. If you suffer from naturally watery eyes, this might not be best option for you either.

Your usual cleanser may struggle to remove this as it’s impressive staying power on the top lashes mean it took longer than our usual mascara, so we’d recommend using an eye make-up remover to get the bulk of before cleansing as normal.

Buy now

Verdict: Benefit’s original They’re Real! vs new magnet mascara

The latest launch from Benefit is a brilliant mascara and with few faults. It would make a great addition to your make-up bag if you’re after voluminous, lengthened lashes that make a dramatically different impact.

Its magnetic formula claims feel a little far-fetched as we didn’t notice a different feel when applying it compared to the original They’re Real! mascara, nor our usual favourite.

That’s not enough to put us off however, as the thicker brush with shorter bristles and no ball tip made it easier to apply without any fleck of product ending up on our eyelids, which ultimately won us over compared to the original brush design. Our final tip would be to apply a little less than usual on your lower lashes to reduce smudging.

For more lash-lengthening recommendations read our guide to the best waterproof mascaras that won’t smudge, crumble or smear

IndyBest product reviews are unbiased, independent advice you can trust. On some occasions, we earn revenue if you click the links and buy the products, but we never allow this to bias our coverage. The reviews are compiled through a mix of expert opinion and real-world testing.