The 30 Best Mascaras for Every Lash Type and NeedDecember 14, 2022
What Is Mascara?
The history of mascara goes back centuries, but the first mascara to resemble modern formulas came in the late 1800s, specially created for Queen Victoria by Eugène Rimmel. Since then the purpose of mascara hasn’t changed much; we, and apparently monarchs, have loved it for how easily it darkens lashes. What has changed are the ingredients we rely on for it to accomplish this purpose. Once upon a time, coal dust was the main ingredient — but now you’ll most likely find less questionable alternatives, such as carbon black or iron oxide pigment mixed with a thickening wax or oil, like petroleum jelly, and polymers that create a film to coat lashes.
Today, mascaras can do a whole lot more than make your lashes look darker, too. They can lengthen, thicken and curl, among other things. Not to mention the fact that some mascaras come in a range of colors, not just black.
How to Apply Mascara
A standard technique for applying mascara is to hold the mascara wand horizontally and swipe it though your lashes from root to tip, slightly wiggling the brush as you go. Some people prefer to only wiggle the brush at the root to distribute more pigment to the lash line before swiping it through in one swift motion. Depending on the brush’s shape, you may want to hold the wand at an angle or vertically to target hard-to-reach lashes located at the inner and outer corners of the eyes.
How to Remove Mascara
To easily remove mascara, you’ll want to have a makeup remover on hand, like the Garnier SkinActive Micellar Cleansing Water All-in-1, and cotton rounds. Instead of disposable cotton rounds, we like using the reusable Garnier SkinActive Micellar Cleansing Eco Pads, which last up to 1,000 uses. Coat the cotton round with makeup remover and then press the cotton round to your eyelashes. Hold it there for a few seconds so that the makeup remover saturates the lashes. Then, gently (and we do mean gently!) swipe the pad down and away from your eye. To prevent lash fallout and protect the delicate skin in this area, you should avoid harsh and aggressive rubbing.
If you’re wearing a waterproof mascara, you’ll want to use a makeup remover specifically designed to remove waterproof makeup, like the Garnier SkinActive Micellar Cleansing Water All-in-1 Waterproof Makeup Remover.
Best Mascara for Length
The key to long, lush lashes is a mascara that grabs your lashes at the root. The Maybelline New York Lash Sensational Sky High Mascara does just that while adding massive volume and definition. The flake-resistant formula can be found in both washable and waterproof versions. Want an even bolder look? Pair this pick with the Lash Sensational Sky High Tinted Primer Mascara to amplify the effect. The primer is infused with ceramides and vitamin B5 to help nourish your lashes at the same time.
Your jaw will drop when you hear the stats associated with the L’Oréal Paris Telescopic Lift Mascara. Thanks to a patented double hook bristle brush, the formula easily grabs on to each lash to lift, volumize and offer up to five extra millimeters in length. That glorious length and definition sticks around, too, for up to 36 hours. It’s also available in a waterproof version.
For exceptional length, we also love the IT Cosmetics Superhero Elastic Stretch Volumizing and Lengthening Mascara. This formula includes biotin, collagen and peptides, all of which help create stronger, healthier lashes.
We love this Lancôme formula for days when you want your lashes to look longer but not quite as dramatic as a set of falses. Natural-looking length is the name of the game with this tube.
If you’re in the market for a splurge-worthy mascara, try starting with the PAT McGRATH LABS FetishEyes™ Lengthening Mascara. Although it boasts a heftier price tag than some of the others on our list, reviewers say it’s money well spent. For starters, it’s formulated with conditioning peptides that strengthen and protect each lash, while hydrating panthenol keeps them luxuriously soft. Of course, this mascara also delivers dramatic length and volume and offers buildable coverage for a customized lash look.
Best Mascara for Straight Lashes
If your eyelashes are naturally straight, it’s likely you’ve struggled with finding a mascara that will hold a curl. We recommend using a lash curler before applying a waterproof, curl-enhancing formula, like this one from Maybelline New York. This product has a curved brush designed to lift, volumize and lengthen even the straightest of lashes from root to tip.
Best Mascara for Volume
For enviable, voluminous lashes, the YSL Beauty Lash Clash Extreme Volume Mascara is one that won’t disappoint — it’s even in the name. It claims to deliver 200 percent more volume with up to 24-hour smudge-proof wear all while providing intense color from root to tip.
Those blessed with naturally curled lashes are likely looking for a formula that offers volume and length. Luckily, lots of formulas are designed with those goals in mind. Our personal favorite? The L’Oréal Paris Voluminous Lash Paradise Mascara, which offers dramatic volume and elongates every lash for a fluttery, fanned-out effect.
This pretty red tube delivers 15 times more volume to your lashes and a 24 hour wear. The soft bristle brush picks up the perfect amount of pigment and distributes it from root to tip in one simple swipe. Of course, you can also layer it on for a bolder effect.
For the stubby-lashed among us, don’t worry — it’s easy to cheat with a good lengthening mascara. We recommend opting for a formula that offers length and definition, which will make lashes look longer and fuller than they naturally are. Our go-to? The TikTok-famous Lancôme Le 8 Hypnôse Serum-Infused Volumizing Mascara, which is infused with eight amino acids for stronger, healthier-looking lashes.
This Urban Decay mascara has one of the most innovative brushes we’ve ever seen. The tip is coated with fine bristles to help target those baby lashes near the inner and outer corners of your eyes. The brush is also asymmetrical, with a curved side that’s meant to be gently pressed against the root to provide a lift to lashes. Overall, you can count on it for eye-opening volume, length and all-day wear.
Best Mascara for Short Lashes
For those with short lashes looking for both length and volume, we highly recommend the Urban Decay Perversion Mascara. It layers well, allowing you to build up to the look you want, and creates a fluttery, fanned-out effect.
This vegan mascara features a rounded hourglass-shaped brush that provides a lifting effect and tons of volume. Plus, the high-impact black pigment will make your lashes pop even more.
Best Mascara to Prevent Clumpy Lashes
For an effective, long-wearing mascara that resists clumps, look no further than the Lancôme Lash Idôle Lash-Lifting & Volumizing Mascara. The brush features micro bristles that pick up just the right amount of pigment to distribute to your lashes. It also boasts 24-hour, smudge-free coverage with expert lift and length.
If your lashes tend to stick together, try the L'Oréal Paris Telescopic Mascara. It does wonders to separate and lengthen each individual lash for a feathery, full look. It also features a patented flexible precision brush that lengthens lashes up to 60 percent. If you have sensitive eyes, fear not. This formula is fragrance-free, ophthalmologist- and allergy-tested.
The long, flexible bristles on this mascara brush help to evenly coat each lash with pigment, therefore lengthening the lashes while preventing globs of pigment from settling into one spot. It’s incredibly buildable (yes, without clumping!) and is one of our favorites for a falsie-like look.
Best Mascara for Thin Lashes
If you’re looking for bold, dramatic lashes, the Lancôme Monsieur Big Volumizing Mascara will get the job done. Some reviewers say their lashes mimicked falsies after just a few coats. The unique wand is what sets this mascara apart, namely its varying sizes of bristles. This feature allows you to work the applicator in multiple angles, making sure you reach every lash — even in the tiny corners. It also boasts a super-rich black color for inky, pigmented results.
Best Mascara for Dry Lashes
This serum-infused mascara, infused with ingredients like biotin, argan oil and jojoba oil, prioritizes lash health while providing lashes with enviable volume and definition.
Say goodbye to crunchy lashes with the Giorgio Armani Beauty Eyes to Kill Classico Mascara. This lengthening formula is filled with a mix of soft waxes and oils, such as palm oil and jojoba oil, designed to leave your eyelashes flexible and moisturized.
Designed for the specific needs of over-50-year-olds, the L'Oréal Paris Age Perfect Lash Magnifying Mascara is gentle on sensitive eyes with an easy-to-remove formula. It cares for your lashes with ingredients like conditioning serum and jojoba oil. Although it’s gentle, it’s powerful enough to leave lashes soft, defined and instantly volumized.
Best Colored Mascara
A fan favorite in black, the L’Oréal Paris Makeup Voluminous Original Volume Building Mascara is also available in a variety of bold colors, such as cobalt blue, forest green and deep violet. It’s an easy way to switch up your usual makeup look without compromising lash length and volume.
Another colored mascara to try is the Hince Ambience Color Mascara. This K-beauty option has plenty of hues to choose from and each one promises clump-free and long-lasting lifted lashes.
Best Clear Mascara
Whether you’re using it to tame flyaways, give your lashes a super natural look or combing your eyebrows, clear mascara is an essential product in every makeup bag. Our go-to is the Maybelline Great Lash Clear Mascara. No matter how you use it, the formula glides on smooth and helps hair and lashes alike stay in place.
Best Clean Mascara
Products in Maybelline New York’s Green Edition line, like this vegan mascara, are formulated with a minimum of 70% ingredients of natural origin. We especially love this mascara because it provides noticeable volume to lashes but feels light as air. It’s also incredibly easy to remove.
Free of sulfates SLS and SLES, parabens, formaldehydes, formaldehyde-releasing agents, phthalates, mineral oil, retinyl palmitate, oxybenzone, coal tar, hydroquinone and triclosa (and with less than one percent of synthetic fragrances), the ILIA Limitless Lash Lengthening Clean Mascara is also cruelty- and gluten-free and even comes in recyclable packaging. Better yet, it delivers fantastic results, lifting, lengthening and helping your lashes hold major curl.
Not only is the Milk Makeup Kush High Volumizing Mascara entirely vegan, it’s also infused with hemp-derived cannabis oil that adds significant volume and claims to condition and moisturize for healthier lashes. The creamy texture glides on easily and features "heart-shaped fibers" that allow the formula to stay on all day while giving your lashes impressive curl.
Best Mascara for Bottom Lashes
This mascara’s super thin brush makes targeting tiny bottom lashes a breeze. The waterproof formula is also ideal for avoiding smears and smudges throughout the day.