High-quality mascara is the best way to enhance the look of your lashes, both for special occasions and everyday use. dBut with so many different types of mascaras on the market (such as volumizing, lengthening, and waterproofing), it can take a lot of work to know what to look for.
To find the best mascara, we thoroughly researched dozens of options and summarized our recommendations based on type, formulation, available shades, and more. For expert advice, we spoke with Kirin Bhatty, a professional makeup artist and Catrice Cosmetics ambassador, who says it’s essential to consider brushes and formulas when looking for mascara.
“I like to use a fan brush on my lower lashes to coat each lash,” Bhatty says.” I also like to start at the base of my lashes and swing outward to coat each lash.” She also carries a spoolie to brush over her mascara to keep it from clumping.
Our go-to is GrandeMascara Treatment Peptide Mascara by Grande Cosmetics, an all-around mascara that won’t break the bank. We love its nourishing formula that still gives your lashes volume and length – and it even makes an impact if you swipe on a coat before running out the door.
Here are the best mascaras.
Our Top Picks
Best Overall Mascara: Grande Cosmetics Grande MASCARA Conditioning
Who it’s for—those seeking to volumize and lengthen their lashes while keeping them healthy.
Not for. Those who want mascara with multiple shades.
We love GrandeMascara’s Treatment Peptide Mascara for many reasons, but first and foremost, its formula is impressive. It contains peptides that strengthen lashes and improve their overall health. This mascara also contains Vitamin B5, which adds moisture, gives lashes a shine, and helps protect them from breakage. Finally, it includes a natural blend of soft beeswax (which promotes lash growth) and harder carnauba wax (which lengthens lashes).
Now, on to the good stuff – how this mascara looks on the lashes. Thanks to the many different ingredients in the formula, it gives you both fuller and longer lashes. It’s also a great mascara if you want to add an extra layer of lashes for a bolder look, as it doesn’t clump or appear too thick. That said, it also impacts if you want a quick coat before running out the door. This mascara is waterproof and won’t leave streaks on your cheeks if you sweat. (Even though it only comes in black, this mascara is still an excellent choice for anyone looking for a reliable mascara that will keep their lashes in place.
Best Drugstore Mascara: CoverGirl Lash Blast Clean Volume Mascara
Suitable for. People are looking for affordable mascara within their budget.
Not for people. Those who need only one coat to achieve significant volume.
Covergirl’s Lash Blast Clean Volume Mascara is less than half the price of our best option and is available at many drugstores if you’re looking for something more affordable. We especially like its cleansing formula, which is free of preservatives and sulfates. It’s also vegan, and Leaping Bunny certified, which means there’s no animal testing involved. The formula is also infused with argan oil and marula oil to moisturize and condition lashes, so they don’t break easily.
The brush is fluffy, but it has plenty of synthetic bristles, making it easy to apply to each lash while brushing away any unwanted clumps or buildup. Once applied, the mascara stays on well and helps lashes hold their shape for hours without smudging or flaking. It’s also nice that this product is available in a variety of colors, including various shades of black.
Best Mascara for Sensitive Eyes: Maybelline Volum’ Express Colossal Curl Bounce Washable Mascara
Suitable for. People with sensitive eyes want long-lasting, curl-enhancing mascara.
Not for people. Those who prefer a straight rather than a curved brush.
Maybelline’s The Colossal Curl Bounce Washable Mascara proves that the formula doesn’t have to be harsh to be effective. It earned a perfect score from SkinSafe, which means it’s free of common irritants like fragrances, preservatives, gluten, and even lanolin, an ingredient commonly used in products to retain moisture. This is also great when removing makeup – if a bit of mascara happens to get into your eyes, you’ll be less likely to experience any irritation.
Plus, this mascara won a Real Simple Beauty Award for its ability to curl and shape lashes. It lasts up to 24 hours, keeping you protected through long days and after-work activities. Even though it adds volume and length to your lashes, this mascara still has a weightless feel. It comes in two different versions: a long-lasting, waterproof formula and a washable version that is easy to remove and won’t pull excessively on your eyes. The brush is also worth mentioning because it has a slight curvature that makes it easier to get the finest lashes on the edge of your eyelid. It also has fine bristles that continue to the tip to help target individual lashes.
Best Waterproof Mascara: Too Faced Better Than Sex Waterproof Mascara
Suitable for. Those who are looking for a waterproof mascara that stays put.
Not for people. Those who want to be able to wash off their eye makeup easily.
Unlike waterproof makeup, this volumizing mascara from Too Faced is entirely waterproof. Similar to the brand’s original Better Than Sex formula, this waterproof version offers the same curling effect but lasts longer. While some waterproof mascaras skimp on volume and lengthening effects, this mascara contains Acacia Senegal extract, an ingredient that sets and maintains volume.
The formula also contains collagen, which has a volumizing effect on lashes, and peptides, which are great for conditioning lashes. The fluffy hourglass-shaped brush makes it easy to cover your entire lash line in one go, and it also targets short lashes in the corners of your eyes to give your eyelids an extra lifted look. The only downside is that it can be challenging to take off (like most waterproof mascaras), so make sure you have an oil or cream makeup remover on hand.
Best Splurge Mascara: Sisley Paris Mascara So Stretch
Suitable for. Those who want a high-end mascara with rich effects.
Not for people. People who would rather spend money on something other than makeup.
Sisley’s Mascara So Stretch is the most expensive option on our list, but it’s worth the splurge for those looking for a high-end product. In addition to adding length and volume to lashes, the formula helps improve the overall health of each hair strand. This is thanks to castor oil, vitamin peptides, and ceramides, which add and retain moisture. Over time, this will make your lashes look and feel softer.
Best of all, this mascara works great with a little. If you only have the time (and patience) to apply one coat and run out, this mascara will meet your needs. It also doesn’t clump if you want to use one coat for a bolder look. It lasts and doesn’t smudge well, which is excellent for people who sweat or accidentally rub their eyes throughout the day. The brush is broad at the base and narrow at the tip, which makes it easier to brush your lashes on your lower eyelid or in the corners of your eyes. In addition, this mascara comes in three deep shades: black, brown, and navy.
Best Lengthening Mascara: Charlotte Tilbury Pillow Talk Push Up Lashes Mascara
Suitable for. Those are looking for super fluffy, long lashes.
Not for people. Those who want a subtle effect with a thin layer.
Charlotte Tilbury’s Pillow Talk Push-Up Lashes! Mascara contains a lash-lifting polymer that helps maintain a curled, lengthened shape. It contains carnauba wax and microcrystalline wax, which form on each lash. It also has Kerestore, a keratin protein that conditions lashes, making them look thicker and healthier over time. The formula is also free of sulfates, parabens, formaldehyde, and other ingredients that are typically irritating.
In addition to the lengthening formula, this mascara stands out for its unique brush. It has a rounded tip and edge, but the sides are flat. The meeting also has small silicone bristles around it. Unlike more fluffy brushes, this brush controls the application process so you can target specific lashes. This brush also delivers a large amount of product at once, which is excellent for those who want visible results with a quick application.
Best Volumizing Mascara: Benefit Bad Gal Bang Volumizing Mascara
Suitable for. Those are seeking bold, standout lashes.
Not for people. Those who prefer to keep a natural look.
This mascara from Benefit Cosmetics has excellent volume and stays on for up to 36 hours. This mascara adds effect depending on the look you’re going for. Just one coat provides more lengthening while defining and adding volume to each lash. If you apply more than one coat, you’ll get a bolder, fuller look. While some mascaras can look caked or heavy after multiple coats, this formula contains airline particles that help keep it ultra-light.
TikTok-viral mascara also contains waxes that can be applied to the lashes to help the curl last longer. The brush is a big part of this mascara’s success, as it has a 360-degree reach to coat every lash, even those hard-to-reach corners.
Best Clean Mascara: ILIA Fullest Volumizing Mascara
Applicable to. Those who prioritize the use of cosmetics with cleansing formulas.
Not for people. Those are seeking a variety of color options.
If you’re looking for a clean mascara that also gives your lashes some oomph, Ilia’s Fullest Volumizing Mascara is worth checking out. It adds volume and length without clumping, thanks to a weightless wax blend that coats lashes and maintains good composition. The formula also contains Vitamin B5, which helps improve the health of the lashes, so they look good on their own. The procedure is clean, so it’s completely free of sulfates, parabens, and dozens of other common irritants.
The brush of this mascara is what the brand calls violin-shaped, meaning it is wide at the ends and thin in the middle. It is covered with bristles throughout and at the tip, so it is easy to apply to each lash. Overall, this clean mascara makes it easy to achieve full, voluminous lashes that last all day.
Best Curling Mascara: Lancôme Lash Idôle Lash-Lifting & Volumizing Waterproof Mascara
Suitable for. People who are worried about clumping eyelashes and want to skip the eyelash curler.
Not for people. People who like the traditional shape of the brush.
This curling mascara from Lancôme lasts 24 hours, so it’s for long-term use. This brush is unique because of its curved shape covered by 360 small silicone bristles. It’s thin, even thinner at the ends, making it easy to target specific areas. As for the formula, it applies smoothly and is easy to layer if you want a bolder look. No matter how many layers you use, this mascara avoids clumping or flaking – even after hours of application. It also feels lightweight, giving your lashes a feathery, fan-like appearance.
The formula contains white tea extract, an antioxidant that conditions the lash to feel moisturized and nourished even after mascara. In addition, it washes off easily with a cleanser, especially an oil-based cleanser. Overall, this mascara is excellent for those who want to curl and define their lashes without needing an eyelash curler.
GrandeMascara Treatment Peptide Mascara by Grande Cosmetics is our best overall choice because it does so much with just one coat. It’s formulated with peptides and vitamins to keep your lashes healthy and look long and voluminous. We recommend Covergirl’s Lash Blast Clean Volume Mascara for something more affordable. We love that this drugstore mascara has a clean formula and comes in various black and brown shades.
How to Shop for Mascara
Mascaras are often sold as volumizing, lengthening, curling, etc., so you should consider which aspects of your natural lashes you want to play up with and the results you are looking for. For example, if you already have super-long lashes, you may want to choose a volumizing mascara to make them look fuller. Those with thicker, fuller lashes may prefer a lengthening or curling mascara. If you’re going to be outdoors all day, consider using waterproof mascara that will hold up even if you sweat.
This is important for everyone but needs to be noticed. Make sure to avoid harmful ingredients like sulfates and parabens that can damage your lashes, causing them to thin and irritate sensitive eyes. This is also an essential consideration if you like to remove makeup easily, as some formulas are thick and may require a bit of scrubbing.
Whichever type of mascara you choose, make sure it has some nourishing ingredients like shea butter or niacinamide – so you can improve the look and health of your lashes.
Since most people choose some variation of black, it’s easy to forget that other natural shades are available. If you’re a blonde or redhead and want to match your natural lashes, a mascara with brown and clear versions may be just what you’re looking for. Many brands produce colored mascaras (think: navy and purple), which would be a fun way to mix things up.
Questions You Might Ask
What’s the best way to remove mascara?
To remove mascara at the end of the day, apply a generous amount of remover to a cotton pad, cotton ball, or reusable remover pad. Place it on your eyes for a few seconds to give it time to soak in and soften the mascara. Then, gently wipe away the mascara in the direction of your lashes. An oil-based cleanser or micellar water will work well if you don’t want to use a makeup remover. Make sure you massage the cleanser into your lashes as you wash your face.
How long does mascara last before it expires?
Mascara should be replaced every three months, so make sure you know how long your tube has been floating around in your makeup bag.
How do you prevent mascara from smudging?
If you find that your mascara smudges a lot, using a little setting powder can help prevent this. Put a fine layer of powder on your brush and apply it centrally along your under-eye area. The powder will absorb any oil or moisture, which is usually the culprit of smudging.
Take Our Word for It
This article was written by Brittany Loggins, a contributing writer for Real Simple magazine with years of experience writing about beauty products. To compile this list, she thoroughly researched the various mascaras on the market and narrowed down her choices based on factors such as formulation, type, and available shades. For expert advice, Brittany spoke with Kirin Bhatty, a professional makeup artist and Catrice Cosmetics ambassador.