Makeup Products » Best Mascaras

12 Best Mascaras for 2023

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Mascara is a fundamental beauty product. Even infrequent makeup wearers keep a tube around. With just a quick swipe, it immediately defines the lashes and enhances the eyes. 

Finding a formula and wand that’ll work perfectly for you can be a struggle, which is why we curated this list of the best mascaras of all time. We’ve selected all types of mascaras — with different wands, formulas, and effects to suit your precise needs. 

Whether you want bold volume, intense length, or subtle definition, there will be a mascara here for you.

Best mascaras overview:

How we chose the best mascaras

To compile this list, we researched manufacturer specifications, including formulas, materials, and more to create a short list of the top mascaras. Then, we combed through detailed product descriptions, ratings, and reviews to find the best mascara for each category.

Our picks for the best mascaras

1
Best overall
Maybelline Lash Sensational Washable Mascara
$8.98

What we love

  • Gorgeous volume and length
  • Fans out and separates lashes
  • Budget-friendly

What we don’t love

  • Brush takes some trial and error

This mascara does the impossible: It volumizes, lengthens, and holds a curl while keeping the lashes looking very separated. It can be hard to find a mascara that thickens so well without clumping, so that’s the real standout feature. 

Part of the secret to this product’s fluttery results is the rubbery wand. It’s curved with long bristles on one side for better separation and short ones on the other for control. This unique combination allows you to capture and fan out every lash. That said, it might take a bit of practice to figure out the best way to use the brush based on your eye shape and lash distribution.

Benefits: Volumizing, curling, lengthening, separating | Shades: 4 | Washable: Yes, waterproof available | Brush type: Curved, dual-sided silicone with long and short bristles

2
Best budget
Essence Lash Princess False Lash Mascara
$11

What we love

  • Dramatic length and volume
  • Easy to remove
  • Popular among users

What we don’t love

  • Can smudge
  • Not very separating

If you’re a fan of the makeup looks you see on TikTok, Essence Lash Princess is the mascara to pick up. This budget-friendly mascara has become a huge social media hit, thanks to its low price and intense volumizing and lengthening effects. 

It doesn’t have the separation factor of Lash Sensational, but that’s a bonus for anyone who likes a more noticeable or doll-eyed mascara look. 

It’s one of the easiest to remove mascaras on our list, but watch out for smudging during the day.

Benefits: Volumizing, lifting, lengthening | Shades: 1 | Washable: Yes, waterproof available | Brush type: Conical nylon

3
Best splurge
Too Faced Better Than Sex Volumizing Mascara
$28

What we love

  • Intense volume and length
  • Very buildable
  • Good longevity

What we don’t love

  • Pricey
  • Not a natural look

Too Faced’s Better Than Sex is memorable for its name. Like our pick from Essence, this is another mascara that brings drama by the boatload. It volumizes and lengthens on the first coat, but it’s buildable should you want even more intensity. 

The hourglass-shaped nylon wand deposits a healthy amount of product and effectively coats every lash. Though washable, this mascara has decent longevity and mostly resists smudging. The result is anything but natural, so it won’t be for everyone.

Benefits: Volumizing, curling, lengthening | Shades: 1 | Washable: Yes, waterproof available | Brush type: Nylon hourglass

4
Best waterproof
Lancôme Monsieur Big Waterproof Volume Mascara
$27

What we love

  • Extremely volumizing
  • Buildable
  • Smudge-proof

What we don’t love

  • Can clump
  • Pricey

With a name like Monsieur Big, you know you can expect a lot of volume. This waterproof mascara doesn’t hold punches and is for anyone who wants to turn heads come summertime. It’s long-wearing and smudge-proof, so it’s a safe bet for hot days by the pool. 

The dense bristles coat the lashes with a thick mascara application for a very noticeable look. While it’s buildable, you may want a clean lash spoolie on hand to maintain separation.

Benefits: Volumizing, curling, lengthening | Shades: 1 | Washable: No, Waterproof | Brush type: Nylon with densely packed bristles

5
Best lengthening
Benefit They’re Real! Lengthening Mascara
$27

What we love

  • Very lengthening
  • Spiky wand provides both volume and separation
  • Long-lasting and non-smudging

What we don’t love

  • Pricey

When it comes to length, few mascaras outdo Benefit’s They’re Real! This mascara has a unique brush that combines a couple things we love: It almost has the density of a nylon brush, which helps volumize the lashes, but the silicone bristles are spiky and outspread to prevent clumpiness. 

The result is a little more volume and less separation than Maybelline’s Lash Sensational, and better separation but less volume than Too Faced’s Better Than Sex. While this mascara is washable, reviewers noted that it holds up well and resists smudging.

Benefits: Lengthening, volumizing, separating, lifting | Shades: 1 | Washable: Yes | Brush type: Silicone with dense, spiky bristles

6
Best tubing
Thrive Causemetics Liquid Lash Extensions Mascara
$15.99

What we love

  • Long-wearing
  • Easy to remove
  • Lengthening and slightly volumizing

What we don’t love

  • Pricey
  • Not as dramatic as some other mascaras

Nothing beats a tubing mascara if you have sensitive eyes. Formulas like this create elongating polymers, which are totally water-resistant, over each lash. Then, they come off effortlessly with a bit of warm water and some rubbing. That means no makeup removal irritation and no smudging if allergies make your eyes tear up. 

From Thrive Causemetics, this is one of the best tubing mascaras. Not only is it elongating, but it also provides a fair amount of volume. It’s not as thickening as a traditional mascara formula, but it’s still impressive. Plus, it’s available in three shades in case you get tired of black.

Benefits: Lengthening, volumizing | Shades: 3 | Washable: Water-resistant | Brush type: Silicone with short bristles

7
Best washable
L’Oréal Voluminous Original Washable Bold Eye Mascara
$15.49

What we love

  • Buildable length and volume
  • Easy to remove
  • Many color options

What we don’t love

  • Not as dramatic as many newer mascaras

L’Oréal’s original Voluminous has been around for a long time with a tried-and-true formula adored by thousands of loyal fans. 

This mascara certainly volumizes but not to the same extent as newer additions to the range, like Lash Paradise or Noir Balm. It’s not over the top, and the volume and length are both buildable, so you can add a few coats to achieve your desired look. 

This makes for a flexible mascara useful for both subtle and more glamorous looks. It also comes in many different shades, so you can go extra-natural with brown or stand out with the unique cobalt blue. 

Since it’s washable, removal is quick and easy. Despite that, reviewers said it wore well throughout the day with minimal smudging. 

Benefits: Lengthening, buildable volume | Shades: 8 | Washable: Yes, waterproof available | Brush type: Classic nylon wand

8
Best natural
Ilia Limitless Lash Mascara
$28

What we love

  • 99% naturally-derived ingredients
  • Impressive volume and length
  • Dual-sided wand for controllable separation

What we don’t love

  • Pricey

If you only buy natural or green makeup products, you’ve probably tried a few mascaras that tint your lashes at most. In comes Ilia’s Limitless Lash. 

This mascara is made with 99% naturally-derived ingredients, but it manages to provide an intense lash definition. It thickens and extends with a unique dual-sided brush that allows you to focus on either volume or separation.

Benefits: Volumizing, lengthening, separating | Shades: 1 | Washable: Yes | Brush type: Silicone with dual-sided bristles

9
Best for sensitive eyes
Clinique High Impact Mascara
$23

What we love

  • Very volumizing
  • Easy to remove
  • Hypoallergenic

What we don’t love

  • Can be a little clumpy

Clinique made a name for itself by producing gentle, hypoallergenic products. If your eyes are sensitive, this gentle mascara is a safe bet. It’s washable, so you won’t need to irritate your eyes when removing it at the end of the day. And you won’t need to compromise on effects, either: This formula creates bold, thick, and long lashes. That said, it can look clumpy if over-applied.

Benefits: Volumizing, lengthening | Shades: 2 | Washable: Yes | Brush type: Cylindrical nylon

10
Best long-lasting
KissMe Heroine Make Long & Curl Mascara Super WP
$17.98

What we love

  • Extremely waterproof
  • Maintains a curl
  • Lengthens

What we don’t love

  • Not very volumizing

There’s waterproof, and then there’s disaster-proof. According to legend, the only thing left at the end of the world will be cockroaches and a coat of Heroine Make. This mascara is notoriously long-wearing. It has an elongating effect and does an excellent job of maintaining a curl, but the volume is a little lacking.

Benefits: Lengthening, curling | Shades: 2 | Washable: Waterproof | Brush type: Curved nylon

11
Best for daily wear
Glossier Lash Slick
$18

What we love

  • Natural-looking definition
  • Fibers for added length
  • Long-wearing but easy to remove

What we don’t love

  • Minimal volume

The best mascara doesn’t have to be extremely noticeable. Glossier’s one and only mascara is a subtle lash definer that’s perfect for day-to-day wear. It’s a tubing mascara, so it offers more length than volume. There are even fibers embedded in the formula to further enhance length. The silicone wand prevents any clumpiness, so the result looks natural but lengthy. 

Since it’s a tubing formula, you can expect a glorious combination of water resistance and effortless removal that makes life a little easier.

Benefits: Lengthening, separating | Shades: 1 | Washable: Water-resistant | Brush type: Tapered silicone with densely-packed bristles

12
Best 2-in-1
Honest Extreme Length Mascara + Lash Primer
$35.28

What we love

  • Primer and mascara in one
  • Clean formula
  • Volumizes and lengthens

What we don’t love

  • Can smudge

Can’t go without a lash primer? This mascara from Honest comes with a built-in primer, saving you the need to buy multiple products. 

With its slim nylon wand, the primer adds a base of thickness and length. Then, the mascara adds that final layer of dark definition. The mascara’s molded wand is packed with dense, short bristles, which is excellent for separation. And you can always use it alone for a more natural look. 

The formula is free from controversial ingredients like parabens, paraffin, and mineral oil, so it’s a great choice for green or clean beauty shoppers. Some reviewers found it smudged on them, though, so it might not be ideal for rainy days.

Benefits: Volumizing, lifting, lengthening | Shades: 1 | Washable: Yes | Brush type: Silicone with short bristles

Bat your lashes 

Every person has their unique style and preferences, which means that there isn’t one best mascara out there that’ll please everyone. Your ideal volumizing formula could look like a clumpy mess to someone else. 

Our top pick, Maybelline Lash Sensational, hits a fine balance, offering trendy volume while keeping lashes fluttery and separated. That said, as you browse through our list, consider your personal needs to find the mascara that’ll deliver what you want.

How to pick the right mascara for you

To find the best mascara for you, take into account your personal preferences when it comes to effects, brush type, shade, and formula. 

Main effects

Mascaras are usually advertised based on one or two specific effects: lengthening, volumizing, or separating. With the exception of our top choice, Maybelline Lash Sensational, most mascaras struggle to do it all. 

Right now, volumizing mascaras that enhance lash thickness are extremely popular. That said, they can make the lashes look clumpy if you’re not careful, and they’re not suitable for a natural look. On the other hand, separating mascaras will usually add less volume, but they’ll fan out the lashes for a fluttery, more natural look. 

Lengthening mascaras extend the lashes and usually offer volume or separation as well. They’re a great choice for everyone unless your lashes are already naturally long, in which case they might be overwhelming. 

Brush type and material

Mascara brushes come in all shapes and sizes. The key difference is material. Molded wands made of silicone or rubber are becoming more common these days. They offer great coverage and better separation. Nylon wands are a little old-school, but they excel when it comes to volume.

The bristle design will also have an impact. Longer bristles tend to provide better coverage and volume, while shorter ones are ideal for hard-to-reach lashes. Dense bristles will also offer more thickness, while medium-dense bristles provide better separation. If the bristles are spaced out, expect a more natural look.

Shade

Mascaras come in all sorts of colors. Black is the classic choice, offering intense definition. Black lashes are sensible for all occasions and tend to suit most makeup lovers. Today, black mascaras also come with different depth levels and finishes. 

Brown is another popular choice. Black-brown is usually just a hint more subtle than black, while true brown is excellent for those with very light natural coloring. It’s a subtle choice and may be more flattering on maturing eyes. 

Then, we have colors like purple, blue, and green. These mascaras can be brightly colored for playful, casual looks or darker for subtle enhancement. For example, deep purple mascara can emphasize green eyes, while navy can contrast with warm brown eyes. 

Formula

Mascaras are made of pigments blended into a viscous solution of waxes, oils, or polymers. According to formulators, they’re split into two main categories: washable mascaras that are usually made with water and wax or oils and waterless waterproof formulas.

The balance of ingredients will impact the mascara in all kinds of ways. Some formulas are thicker, which means they tend to offer more pronounced volume right from the outset, while others are thinner, meaning they’ll offer more separation (until they dry down a little, of course). 

You’ll also want to consider whether you have personal ingredient preferences. Many shoppers avoid mascaras with paraffin and mineral oil for their environmental impact, while others may want a vegan mascara without beeswax. 

FAQs

What mascara do eye doctors recommend? 

Many mascaras are ophthalmologist-tested, so eye doctors recommend options from a wide range of brands. According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, the key is never to use mascara past the expiration date, always apply it to clean lashes, and remove it thoroughly at the end of the day. 

Which mascara gives you the most volume?

On our list, the most volumizing mascaras are Essence’s Lash Princess and Too Faced’s Better Than Sex. Just watch out with your application — the more volumizing your mascara, the higher the chances of clumpy or spidery lashes. 

What’s the best mascara for mature eyes?

As you get older, your makeup priorities might shift. Many people switch to natural-looking mascaras as they mature, which often lends a more youthful look. If that’s the case for you, the brown Voluminous Original mascara from L’Oréal might be a good fit. 

Others may focus on non-smudging or gentle formulas, as the skin tends to lose elasticity and strength with age. In that case, you’ll want a tubing mascara, such as our pick from Thrive Causemetics