Mascara is probably the one product most women never leave home without. Despite catwalk trends urging women to try purple, blue and green, most of us haven't moved on from the black we tried as teenagers for the simple reason it looks good. But it can still be a minefield when it comes to choosing the right one. Some claim to lengthen, others to thicken, still more to volumise, define, plump, curl and feather. The perfect mascara probably doesn't exist - if it did, it would be free, make you look a million dollars and do your chores for you - and it's often a case of trial and error to discover the right type for your lashes. But like finding a good hairdresser, once you've happened upon your dream black mascara chances are you'll stick with it for years. After all, it's one product and colour that will never go out of fashion. Top marks go to Maybelline Full 'N Soft Waterproof Mascara ($65; from ParknShop and Watson's), which gives you the best lash for your cash. Only one application was needed for a clump-free lush-but-natural look and it stayed smudge free even through a contact-lens crisis. According to self-confessed lash-freak and freelance makeup artist Denise Toms: 'It's the best - very affordable for the quality it provides and incredibly gentle on lashes.' 5 out of 5 Nars Perfecting Waterproof Mascara ($185; from Joyce Beauty, Queen's Road Central) has a light, creamy texture and a delicate, stiff brush, which was surprisingly effective. Made lashes longer and feathery and was so natural-looking it didn't seem as though any product had been applied. 4 out of 5 Although volumising and excellent value for money, Revlon's ColorStay Extra Thick Lashes ($49; from Mannings, Watson's and Sasa) tended to stick eyelash ends together after two coats; it was much better when combed through with a brush after the first application. It was also long-lasting and flake free. 2 out of 5 Estee Lauder Illusionist ($180; from Lane Crawford) - one of the best curling mascaras on the market. It felt light on the lashes, lifting them instantly and giving an impression of length. It dried quickly and was easy to remove. 5 out of 5 Bobbi Brown Thickening Mascara ($140; from Festival Walk, Kowloon Tong) had a lovely deep colour, making lashes seem fuller and longer. Its soft-bristled brush gave long-lasting coverage; no flakes or smears either. 3 out of 5 Making eyes Using eyelash curlers will open up your eye and make lashes seem longer. For best results, heat the curler gently with a hairdryer before using. And never use curlers on already mascaraed lashes because you risk breaking or damaging them. To coat the mascara brush, twirl the wand around. Don't pump it because this causes air to get into the tube and dries it out. Prior to application, wipe the brush with a napkin to take off excess mascara and prevent clumping. Makeup guru Bobbi Brown suggests rolling the wand from eyelash base to tip, stroking on mascara for maximum coverage. Many modern mascaras coat lashes sufficiently with only one coat but if want a more dramatic look, wait for the first coat to dry before you apply a second. Brushing lashes with a special comb - or an old mascara wand - after they have dried will remove clumps and give them a more natural look. Replace your mascara every three months to avoid bacteria as well as unsightly clumping on eyelashes.