Mascara Experimentation: Shu Uemura Ultimate Natural vs. Mascara Basic

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

This is my second of the Mascara Experimentation posts, all devoted to finding my "perfect" mascara. Here's part one, and just to recap, I'm looking for a clean, non-clumpy mascara that has enough body to add some oomph to my limp and wispy Asian lashes but not so heavy that it will weigh the curl down. If you've been reading my blog for a while, you'll know that my Holy Grail mascara is the Shu Uemura Mascara Basic used in conjunction with their eyelash curler. (For more on those two products, see my Everyday Lash Routine).

As I whined about on here earlier, Shu (I feel we're close enough for nicknames) has changed the Mascara Basic into the new and reformulated Ultimate Natural Mascara. Although I love my Basic (my go-to for several years now) my one complaint has always been that it doesn't do enough. In terms of holding a curl and not clumping, it can't be beat, but it doesn't give my puny lashes enough volume and drama. This particular post, then, is really to determine if Shu Uemura did a smart thing by reformulating or if they should have left my favorite mascara well enough alone.

So here we are bright and early with freshly curled lashes! (And the Tarte Emphaseyes Inner Rim Brightener on the waterline, in case you were wondering).

A coat of the Mascara Basic applied and....

Again, look at how flawlessly clean that is! Not a clump in sight, and it held the curl perfectly! Yes, there's some definition added, but it's really not very dramatic and not so noticeable unless you're close to my face. And then the Ultimate Natural had its turn!

It's perfect

As much as I griped about the change, it's almost as though Shu heard my mascara prayers and came out with this product with my qualifications in mind! While it's not as spick-and-span clean as the Basic, this newer model is definitely not clumpy, holds a curl just as well as its original self and now has the added bonus of more drama! I know the pictures don't seem very different, but in real life, my lashes are much darker and more defined--you can really see the distinction between the two. The Ultimate Natural (weird name, but whatever...) is also a lot wetter than the original Basic which will hopefully mean that it can go longer before drying up. In my experience, the ultra-dry formula of the Mascara Basic (drier even than Lancome Definicils) has a short shelf-life--I had to chuck mine every 2-3 months.

I didn't think I could actually find anything better than the Basic, but of course, Shu Uemura outdid themselves in the reformulation and I'm completely thrilled with the Ultimate Natural. This has absolutely replaced the Mascara Basic for me--it kind of has to, since they don't sell that anymore!--and now has a concrete place in my makeup bag. I even got a compliment on my eyelashes the first time I wore it out! Dare I say, the search for my perfect mascara just might be over!

Next post will probably be some unfinished business--short reviews of products I show here in hauls or at random but never actually talk about. There's quite a lot to cover, isn't there?

I'd love to hear about your Holy Grail mascara if you have one--leave me a comment!

Hope everyone is well!


  1. Now that it's been a few months, how do you find the Ultimate Natural mascara? Is it living up to your first impressions?
    (By the way, I came across you through Temptalia. Congrats on being named a Contributor!)

  2. yup! still loving it just as much!
    my one little quibble is the difference in the brush. the mascara basic was a very stiff one that felt more sturdy and higher quality, whereas the ultimate natural is the same size and shape, only furry. normally it's not something i'd notice, but after a few months of use, it sort of takes on that slightly roughed up texture of an "old mascara". usually by this time i'm about to chuck them anyway, but i just thought it was worth noting.

    much as i love the ultimate natural, shu uemura could absolutely perfect it if they gave it the mascara basic brush.

    thank you! i'm really enjoying being part of the temptalia team!

  3. Thank you so much for having this info about Shu Uemura's Natural mascara. I too was a huge, die hard fan of their "Basic"" formula and very, very upset that I cannot find it anymore. I am a professional makeup artist in Hollywood and this was one of my staples and now its gone. I have tried at least 25 different mascaras hoping that one of them would compare to the basic but of course non do. Again, thank you so much and I look forward to trying their Natural.

    Tammy A

    1. You're very welcome!

      Thanks for such a sweet comment--I hope you'll like the mascara as much as I do!

  4. Many, many thanks for this extremely informative post. I am in the same boat as Tammy A... Mascara Basic was my total holy grail for years, and I was shocked when it was discontinued. By the time I noticed, it was too late to grab up a few more tubes.

    In the interim, I have tried at least a dozen other mascaras, and of course none of them were even close to my beloved Basic. I had read many unhappy reviews of the 'reformulation' that is Ultimate Natural (saying it was not as good as Basic), and those reviews combined with my extreme annoyance at Shu for discontinuing my favorite product made me stubbornly unwilling to try the new version.

    However, after another new mascara this week, which yet again did not work out, I was so frustrated that I decided to scour the internet looking for some beloved Basic to purchase. I didn't find any, but I did find your blog, and your very informative post has convinced me to try the Ultimate Natural. I can't thank you enough, especially for posting actual photos, which really helped me to make up my mind.

    By the way, I adore the title of your blog, and your writing style is most enjoyable.


    1. My pleasure!

      This is the first I've heard of people not liking the ultimate natural as much as the basic! I might have a look around to see what everyone's talking about!

      And yes, I agree, I was so annoyed when I found out it was discontinued. Normally the products they're about to stop selling are in a "get it now" section of the site, or something like that, but the lack of warning was really upsetting.

      Thanks for the lovely comment!

      Hope you like the natural as much as I do!

    2. Mmm just had a look at makeupalley and am really surprised. Most of the complaints seem to be that the ultimate natural doesn't have the same feathery effect the basic did. I agree, but what you sacrifice in featheriness you get back with drama and definition--and the u.n. is not at all clumpy or heavy-looking.

      Some people also said that the u.n. doesn't hold curl as well, but I don't think that's true. I didn't notice any change in the longevity of the curl in my lashes as I switched from the natural to basic, and to this day I still haven't.

      Hope that helps!

    3. Yes, the curl holding and non-clumpiness were the aspects I liked best, and those clearly seem to be there from your analysis and photos. And it was Makeup Alley where I read the non-positive reviews.

      In the long run, I really think that my annoyance and betrayal with Shu (a dramatic word, I know, but that is how it felt) played a big part in my resistance to trying the new formulation.

      Also, I agree about them not warning people or having it on clearance. It was just suddenly gone, which shocked and annoyed me. I am actually really excited to try it now. I have been having zero luck with every other product, so I can hardly wait to get something as good as, or maybe even better than, the Mascara Basic.

  5. I'm wondering WHY a company would desert so many die-hard fans. I'm so disappointed in Shu over this still.

    1. Yes, believe me, I was furious when I first found out it was discontinued. Especially since they didn't give any warning so we could stock up! Have you tried the Ultimate Natural, though?

  6. I know, lashes should have at least a little drama right. Naturally or with a bit of help ;-)
    However, some mascaras can really turn you off the process because they do feel heavy, even though they might give the look that you desire.