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What is Cake Mascara?

By Janis Adams
Updated May 21, 2024
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Credited as being the most natural looking of all the types of mascaras, the original type of mascara sold was cake mascara. The mascara came in a dry, cake-like form to which a dab of water had to be added. A brush was then used to paint the mascara onto the eye lashes until the desired thickness was achieved.

In the early 1900s, this type of mascara was first marketed. To this day, its formula has not changed all that much, and the application process still remains largely the same. However, its use has largely decreased over time because of the popularity of tube mascara, which does not require the addition of water and can be applied anywhere at any time.

Cake mascara is applied with a small brush, which is similar in appearance to a much undersized toothbrush. Another tool that is commonly used along with the brush is an eye lash separator or eyebrow brush. This eye lash separator is gently combed through the lashes after the mascara is applied. Doing this will remove any excess mascara and further define the lashes. As many coats of mascara can be applied as desired.

Although the application process is a bit more involved, cake mascara is the chosen product by many makeup artists. The reason for this choice is that this type of mascara does not clump and fall off after it is applied. Liquid mascaras tend to flake due to the binder that must be used to create this product. Also, the exact volume of lashes desired is more easily achievable with this type of mascara because layer upon layer may be applied until the desired effect is achieved.

Unlike other liquid mascaras, cake mascara does not have an expiration date. Liquid mascaras tend to dry up and also can contain germs due to the repeated use of the mascara wand without washing between uses. Cake mascara is far more hygienic than its more modern and liquid counterpart. One cake mascara outlasts a tube of mascara, not only because a tube should be disposed of after a month of use but also because the cake type allows for no waste of product.

Today, it is Marilyn Monroe who is perhaps most remembered for her long eye lashes. These memorable lashes are credited to cake mascara. Though not as popular as it once was due to its application process, cake mascara still offers the flawless look it did decades ago.

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Discussion Comments

By Sara007 — On Dec 28, 2011

@Mae82 - Cake mascara is one of the best mascaras in my opinion because it is really versatile and comes in oodles of colors. You should have no trouble finding any shade you want online, though I will admit it is trickier to find what you want in drug stores. It seems that they usually just carry black cake mascara.

As far as clear mascara goes, I have never seen it in cake form. For days when you want a really natural look you will probably have to stick with the wand mascara. That shouldn't be a problem though as I have found that clear mascara doesn't clump anyway.

By Mae82 — On Dec 28, 2011

I have been considering switching over to cake mascara as I hate how badly my wand mascara is clumping. My only concern though comes to color. Does cake mascara come in a variety of colors?

Right now I am using a clear mascara for when I need just a bit of definition on my lashes and want a natural look. Usually though I like to wear a blue mascara because I think it compliments my eyes and adds a bit of interest to my eyes. I think it is boring if you just use brown and black the whole time. I really like to experiment with various colors.

By Monika — On Dec 27, 2011

I have a good friend who does burlesque and works as a pin up model. She swears by this stuff! She says it makes her eyes looks so much better and more dramatic than tube mascara and I believe her. I've seen the pictures and I always used to wonder how she got her eyes to look that good.

Anyway, my friend had a really great tip to make cake mascara a bit more waterproof. After she applies her cake mascara, she applies a coat of waterproof clear mascara. It doesn't affect the way her eyes look, but it makes the mascara a bit more waterproof.

This is obviously really helpful for when she does burlesque shows, as she's constantly moving around and get a bit sweaty.

By Azuza — On Dec 26, 2011

@KaBoom - Now that I think about it, I'm pretty sure you should be able to find cake mascara at a high end makeup store. I don't frequent those places too often, but whenever I've gone into one, it seems like they carry everything!

Anyway, it's funny I stumbled on this article because my grandmother was just talking about cake mascara the other day. She was saying how much she missed using it because of a lot of reasons mentioned in the article. It lasts longer and looks better than the max factor mascara out of the tube she usually uses.

However, when I offered to see if I could find her some, she said she didn't want to put that much effort into doing her eye makeup anymore. I guess she was just feeling nostalgic for a second!

By KaBoom — On Dec 26, 2011

I've never seen or heard of cake mascara before, but it sounds awesome. Usually I use black colored mascara from the drugstore, and I'm not picky about it. I just buy whatever is on sale! However, I have a few special events coming up and I'd really like to look my best for them.

I think I'm going to look for cake mascara at a few high end cosmetic stores near me. That way I can get a sales person to explain the whole process a bit better and help me pick out the right tools. I really prefer shopping in person to shopping online, so hopefully I can find a store that carries this stuff!

By golf07 — On Dec 25, 2011

I am very interested in trying some of this cake mascara. I have very light eyelashes, but have eye problems with almost every kind of mascara I have tried.

When I need to dress up and want to accent my eyes, I will wear false eyelashes, but they can be a pain to use. I don't like messing with the glue, and always have a fear they are going to fall off at the wrong time.

Would using a cake mascara give the same effect as wearing false eyelashes? It sounds like you can apply as many coats as you need without your lashes clumping together.

This sounds like it might be the perfect solution for me.

By bagley79 — On Dec 24, 2011

I have always loved long, thick eyelashes and mascara is my best friend. I was using tube mascara for many years before I even knew about cake mascara.

I keep both kinds around, but I prefer to use the cake mascara. Not only is it more sanitary, but the results are much more dramatic.

My favorite brand is La Femme cake mascara, and I usually order it online. It lasts a long time though, so I don't need to order very often.

Another thing I like to use this for is a liquid eyeliner. This way I use the same product for both my lashes and as an eyeliner. It doesn't clump or get flaky and the quality can't be beat.

By honeybees — On Dec 24, 2011

I have heard from several different sources how important it is to change your tube of mascara on a regular basis.

Because I have never had any problems using this type of mascara, I am bad about keeping tubes of mascara around until they are dry.

I have never been one to spend a lot of money on mascara. I seem to have the same results whether I use my pink tube of Maybelline mascara or buy it from a high end department store.

I just like to add some color to my lashes and some days will go out the door without putting any mascara on. I don't think I would ever go to the time or trouble to use cake mascara.

By turquoise — On Dec 23, 2011

@simrin-- I agree with everything that @fify said. I don't really think of cake mascara as something that can be used everyday. Yes, it gives good results, but it takes a lot of time and precision with your hands. I don't know about you but I don't have that kind of time or patience in the mornings.

Cake mascara is fantastic for special occasions. It's a must have for performers but it's also great if you're going out for a special event, are dressing in a costume or just want a vintage look. I wouldn't wear it in the day-time either because it will look over-the-top.

Also when you use cake mascara, you need to use an eyelash curler before. Cake mascara is almost like painting so it gives lashes a lot of color, length and volume but not so much shape.

By fify — On Dec 22, 2011

@simrin-- Try beauty stores and online cosmetic shops. I use one that is from a high-end cosmetics brand so it probably costs more than usual but I think it's affordable.

The advantages are that it gives much better results than tube mascara, and doesn't flake as much or cling eyelashes together as you also mentioned. The other advantage is that it is milder than tube mascara which makes it more suitable for people with allergies and sensitive eyes. I've had an allergic reaction to almost every tube mascara I tried. Cake mascara is the only thing I can use.

The only disadvantages I can think of is the preparation time and that it's not waterproof. You can't really pull out your cake mascara at a party and fix your makeup. It's something you have to do at home. It's also not waterproof. Usually that doesn't matter for me but there have been times in the summer and on rainy days that I really wished it was waterproof.

By SteamLouis — On Dec 22, 2011

Where can I get cake mascara?

This is the first time I'm hearing about it but it sounds fantastic. I use tube mascara daily and experience the problems article mentioned all the time. Tube mascara is not very hygienic at all and I hate how my lashes clump together. And the best tube mascara still manages to flake at the end of the day.

It would be great to have something that works better than what I'm using now and cake mascara definitely sounds much better. I like the idea of being able to take off excess mascara after applying and that each individual lash is emphasized.

Does anyone use cake mascara regularly? Where do you get it, what is the price like and what would you say the pros and cons are?

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