Mascara is the one makeup item that almost every woman owns. For many of us, it might be the only item we’ll wear if we’re in a rush: a quick swipe of mascara, optionally followed by applying a bit of lip gloss to the lips. This is no surprise – long lashes are, for some reason, closely associated with femininity. If you draw a simple smiley face everyone will assume it’s male, but a few lines to mimic lashes will instantly turn it female.
Few makeup products do so much in so little time, helping to make the eyes look larger and in turn making us appear more youthful! It’s no surprise that most of us have gone through the effort of furiously searching for the best mascara. We are here to help – below, you can find the best options for lengthening, curling, volumizing and defining your lashes in no time.
Your Guide to the Best Mascaras: Contents
In this section, we’ve reviewed the 19 best mascaras you can buy at any price point and for every eyelash type.
As one of the creamier options on this list, this is the best mascara to use if you find that most formulas get flakey or clumpy on your lashes. It will give your lashes natural definition without extremes – if your lashes are already long or thick, this might be an excellent choice. As an added benefit, there are many conditioning ingredients in this formula to get your lashes soft and healthy. It is available at Sephora in black.
With a name like that, this mascara has to deliver. What makes this one of the best mascaras on the market is its incredible volumizing and lengthening ability. The wand itself is hourglass-shaped with traditional bristles, so it helps keep the lashes curled. The smudge-proof formula is enriched with peptides to fortify the lashes, and it comes in a deep black shade, because really, who needs other colors? Buy it at Sephora!
Volumizing, lengthening, and yet also seriously separating? Indeed, this is a true workhorse that definitely deserves recognition as one of the best mascaras all around. The formula is fairly long-lasting without ever getting “crunchy” or “spidery”, and it has a straight bristle brush for the traditionalists. This mascara is available in 6 fun colors at Nordstrom.
This might be the best mascara with a plastic wand – a wand that is especially excellent for lash separation. While it does that beautifully, it still manages to give the lashes a long, voluminous look, which is what we all crave. Some people do find it to be on the heavy side, and prefer a lighter mascara for a better curl. Find it in black or deep brown at Sephora!
This gorgeous black mascara from Glossier is a big crowd-pleaser. If you like a tiny, delicate wand but don’t want to give up the lengthening effect of a bigger brush, then this would be the best mascara for you. It has little fibers that grab on to the lashes and add length in a film-forming formula that holds a curl very well. It is not super-volumizing, so give it a try if you find other mascaras make your lashes look too thick or bulky. Get this mascara directly from Glossier!
This is another one of the best mascaras for the drama lovers! It thickens, separates and lengthens with a unique brush that has bristles at different lengths for full lash coverage. It’s easy to build up and layer, and at the end of the day it should come off with ease. Purchase your best fit from three colors at Nordstrom!
From Lancôme we have a mascara with an itty-bitty brush and a big impact. The thin bristle wand is perfect for those who like a precise application and maximum lash separation, as the formula itself works double time to give gorgeous volume. It’s quite buildable for those who like layering it on, and contains a touch of panthenol to keep the lashes hydrated. Order it in brown or black from Sephora!
Maybelline is one of the first brands to release mascara commercially, so it’d be quite an issue if they didn’t have some of the best mascaras in their catalog. They prove that you don’t have to break your piggy bank to rock awesome lashes.
Lash Sensation, in particular, is great for those who want real drama. It’s a buildable, super lengthening and volumizing formula that still manages to keep some separation. The wand itself is curved for a better curling and fanning effect, which is favored by those with straight lashes. Find this Maybelline mascara at Ulta Beauty!
There is a lot of buzz around this hemp oil-infused mascara. While we really like hemp oil for skin, we don’t think it’s the secret to the magic of this mascara. No, the reason why this mascara is so good is its intensely black formula and big, volumizing bristle brush. It gives serious volume and length, although we’ll admit it’s a little heavy for some. It comes out super wet at first, so you might want to give it a bit of time to dry before you can really fall in love. You can get it from Sephora.
If the words you look for when choosing a new mascara are “length” and “separation”, then this might be the one. It has a precise bristle wand that is of a medium size, and a formula that stays soft and lush without ever getting dry or clumpy. It does provide some volume, but it also holds a curl very well. As with other mascaras from older brands, it comes in both black and brown. It is sold at Nordstrom.
When you need something that is guaranteed not to budge or smudge, the best mascara to try would definitely be a tubing mascara. While not amazing on the volume side of things (despite their name), they are excellent for giving lash and separation. The removal itself is easy as well, since they come off in little tubes with just a bit of warm water. The brush on this mascara is super thin, making precise application a breeze. It is available online through Nordstrom.
As far as prestige mascaras go, this one has certainly managed to achieve icon status. This is likely because of its ability to give massive, doll-like lashes to just about anyone, thanks to the microfibers embedded in the formula. While some find it heavy, others swear by it. The brush is large, so it’s very volumizing and separating but also a little unwieldy. Purchase one in black, blue, or brown from Sephora!
This is another one of the best mascaras for those who want a false lash effect. It lengthens beautifully and gives some volume, in a buildable formula that doesn’t clump. It has a classic bristle brush that works for most lash types, and a gold tube that is oh-so-luxe. You can get it at Sephora.
This unique mascara gives length, separation and precise control, and it stands as one of the best mascaras out there even though it’s just a drugstore product. The plastic brush is very skinny with small, spikey bristles, so it can be easily used to reach small lashes in the inner corner of the eye or for applying mascara to the lower lashes. It’s not as volumizing as L’Oreal’s Lash Paradise mascara, but not everyone wants volume. Pop into Ulta Beauty to buy it!
Thick, long lashes in one swipe? Yup, it’s possible. This ultra-volumizing mascara stands out for its ability to give massive lashes quickly without feeling heavy on the eyes. It is comparable to Better Than Sex, but in sleek black packaging and without the cringey name. As long as you’re careful to wipe the brush before using you shouldn’t experience any clumpiness – just joy. It is available at Sephora.
I’m a sucker for unique packaging, so this squeeze-tube mascara got me intrigued right off the bat. There are lots of great mascara options from Eyeko, but we loved this one for its lash-boosting ingredients and its phenomenal longevity. It gives long, voluminous and separated lashes that last all day, even through rain or tears. Order it online from Net-a-Porter!
This Covergirl mascara got popular as a dupe for Benefit’s They’re Real, but the truth is it’s best to judge it all on its own merits. The curved plastic brush gives maximum curl and separation, with a formula that easily thickens and lengthens the lashes. It works for nearly everyone and reaches a nice mid-point between natural and dramatic. You can buy it from Ulta Beauty.
As fuss-free as a mascara can be! This mascara goes on easily, giving lashes a perfect thickened and lengthened effect without the need for wiping or building up layers. The brush is hourglass-shaped, which is on-brand but also fabulous for holding a curl. It keeps the lashes flexible throughout the day and stays natural. It is available at Nordstrom.
This mascara gives all of the volume of a nylon bristle brush but the separation of a plastic brush. It is also one of the best mascaras for those with sensitive eyes, as it doesn’t cause issues if it gets in the eye and it’s easy to remove at the end of the day. If you don’t mind the packaging, you really cannot go wrong. Find it at Ulta Beauty!
This mascara is famous for giving incredibly dramatic lash definition. Its formula is primarily volumizing, but it also has respectful lengthening effects. This drama, combined with the hourglass-shaped wand, has made many proclaim it as a drugstore dupe for the Too Faced Better Than Sex mascara. If you love that mascara but prefer drugstore pricing, we definitely recommend giving it a try! The results are truly incredible, but be aware that it may cause clumping for some. This mascara comes in black, blackest black, or brown in either washable or waterproof formulas. Order it from Amazon!
Essence is our favorite budget makeup brand! Even though its products are affordable, the company is quite legit, with wonderful, cruelty-free makeup made in Germany. This mascara is one of their cult items because it gives big lashes in seconds, and it costs a fraction of what most other mascaras cost. The wand itself is simple and no-fuss classic nylon, but it still does the job of covering the lashes in a thick and dramatic coat of volumizing, lengthening mascara, albeit without significant separation. Find it on Amazon!
This Japanese mascara is absurdly waterproof. It’s so waterproof that some shoppers complain about how difficult it is to remove it! If you’re a swimmer or just someone whose mascara smudges on the regular, give Heroine Make a try, either alone or as a sealant over your go-to mascara. The formula also does a lovely job of separating, lengthening, and keeping a curl, although it’s not particularly volumizing. Get it from Amazon!
Fenty is our favorite brand when it comes to off-beat, inclusive makeup, so it’s no surprise that their colorful mascara is a winner. In addition to black, this mascara is also available in ivy green and burgundy. The wand design on this mascara is especially unique, with a fat side for building up volume and a thinner side for defining and curling. The result is lush but fanned-out lashes and a lot of room for customization. We also love that the formula is water-resistant! It’s available at Sephora.
Ilia is one of the most exciting clean beauty brands around. They consistently manage to compete against the mainstream brands when it comes to product performance, despite eschewing most synthetic ingredients. One of this mascara’s standout features is a signature wand with long, lengthening bristles on one side and smaller, separating bristles on the other. The formula itself is non-clumping, with a focus on length and lift. Pick it up from Sephora!
This mascara offers the best of all mascara wands! It has a great multi-use design with two types of wand ends and formulas to help you separate, build, lengthen, and volumize the lashes methodically. One side features a larger wand with a grippy, fiber formula that doesn’t weigh the lashes down but still gives them heft. The second side features a slim, separating wand with a curve and a formula that elongates the lashes gently. You can double up or stick to just one side, depending on your mood! You can buy it at Sephora.
This is another phenomenal clean mascara that also gives the lashes a major boost, with a curvy nylon wand that grabs each lash for dramatic effects. From Kosas, this natural mascara is infused with ingredients that are said to help improve lash growth, either traditional or science. Those include castor oil as well as a few follicle-fortifying peptides. The formula is free from controversial ingredients, so the clean beauty fanatics amongst you can use it freely. Shop for it at Sephora!
IT Cosmetics definitely won the packaging game with this mascara, which comes in a tube designed to look like a round brush. Now, the packaging is enough to intrigue us, but it’s not enough to impress. What does impress is just how much volume this mascara gives with just a single coat! It’s a great one-and-done for those who like drama, although additionally, layers can start to look a little spidery. It’s sold at Sephora.
Mascara doesn’t have to be dramatic to be amazing. This lovely old-school mascara gives the lashes some really lovely definition and volume that’s not over the top. It’s just a nice, subtle enhancement that’s awesome for day-to-day wear. The formula is intentionally washable, so you can take it off easily at the end of the day, making it a total lifesaver if you have sensitive eyes. Get it from Amazon!
The goddess of makeup herself graced us with this incredible mascara. This formula brings the drama, y’all. It’s extremely volumizing and lengthening, but it’s also more separating than many other volumizing mascaras. The result is lashes that look really fluffy and BIG. While this mascara never induces clumpiness, it can make the lashes look a little spidery, which is worth keeping in mind. Thankfully, it’s easy to avoid if you’re careful about your application. The formula is also enriched with peptides and panthenol to fortify and condition the lashes, which we certainly appreciate. Buy it at Sephora.
How to Choose the Best Mascara for You
There are a lot of factors to consider when shopping for mascara, so here are our tips to help you out!
Clumpiness vs. Volume
One of the biggest factors to consider when shopping for mascara is whether you prefer dramatic volume and thickness or lash separation. It’s rare to find a mascara that manages to both separate and volumize, although if you ask us, we think Maybelline Lash Sensational comes pretty close.
Some shoppers love the look of really dramatic, thickened lashes even if they’re slightly clumpy, and if that’s you, look for a mascara that’s advertised primarily as volumizing.
On the other hand, if you want your lashes to look enhanced but not made up, then look for a mascara with a separating effect. Plastic wands with spiky fibers are usually the best for the job!
Almost all mascaras lengthen, so there’s not a ton to say on this topic. Some do a better job than others, especially if they’re enhanced with fibers or a tubing formula. Benefit’s They’re Real, and Glossier’s Lash Slick are two favorites when it comes to length.
If you’re one of those people who have long lashes naturally, length might not be something you really desire – especially if you also wear glasses, in which case massively long lashes can become quite a hassle. In that case, we love the subtle enhancement that Maybelline Great Lash offers.
Do you want a mascara that comes off in seconds at the end of the night, or do you prefer a mascara that can weather the harshest storms? Unfortunately, it’s rare that mascara offers the best of both of these worlds.
If your priority is a mascara that won’t smudge no matter what, we definitely recommend Heroine Make’s Super Waterproof mascara. Not only does it resist water, but it also tends to stay put in the face of oils.
On the other hand, if your eyes are sensitive and you can’t handle all the rubbing come time for bed, we recommend choosing a gentler washable mascara like Tarte Maneater.
Finally, another option is to try a tubing mascara like Kevyn Aucoin The Volume Mascara, which usually holds up well against oils but comes off easily with a bit of warm water.
Blackest black is our usual go-to when it comes to mascara, but if you like to change things up a little, colorful mascara might appeal to you. Brown mascara is the classic when you want to keep things soft, natural, and simple, for instance.
On the other hand, if you want to play around with colors, blue, green, or burgundy mascara can have a really interesting effect, especially if you combine them with matching eyeshadow colors.