everything guide

The Best Mascaras We’ve Ever Written About

Eyelashes have the impressive ability to transform your face. The Everything Guide to Eyelashes is a week of stories on the Cut about lashes, from all the mascaras we’ve obsessively tested to our personal feelings about why eyelashes matter.

Ask any woman if there’s one makeup product she always wears, and she’ll most likely say mascara. But finding the right one isn’t always easy. Over the past eight years, the Cut has obsessively tested and researched the best mascaras, from drugstore bargains to luxury finds. We’ve looked into the best ways to get natural-looking lashes, colored lashes, even clumpy lashes — because, yes, clumpy lashes were a trend.

Click or scroll through this round-up of the best mascaras we’ve ever written about, helpfully sorted by type: waterproof, tubular, smudge-proof, organic, lengthening, volumizing, curling, drugstore, colored, bottom lash, cult favorite, clumping, and conditioning.

The Best Waterproof Mascaras

L’Oréal Voluminous Volume Building Waterproof Mascara
$8 at Ulta

If you listen to no one else, heed professional mermaid Linden Wolbert’s advice and try the L’Oréal Paris Voluminous Volume Waterproof Building Mascara, which she says stays on through her 100-foot dives and underwater photo shoots.

Eyeko Sport Waterproof Mascara Catch & Curl
Photo: Courtesy of the Vendor
Eyeko Sport Waterproof Mascara Catch & Curl
$26 at Ulta

Alternatively, Eyeko’s Sport Waterproof Mascara can survive spin class and humid New York summer days, if you don’t need something quite as waterproof as a mermaid does.

Giorgio Armani Beauty Eyes To Kill Waterproof Mascara
Photo: Courtesy of the Vendor
Giorgio Armani Beauty Eyes To Kill Waterproof Mascara
$32 at Sephora

This mascara has gotten a redesign since we reviewed it, but the wand remains thin in case you just want a hint of waterproof mascara on your lashes.

Clinique High-Impact Waterproof Mascara
$18 at Sephora

If you don’t mind layering up, Clinique’s waterproof mascara can hold a curl all day.

L’Oréal Telescopic Shocking Extensions Waterproof Mascara
$10 at Amazon

One swipe is all you need for intense length; just don’t hop on the elliptical wearing this formula or it’ll end up running down your cheeks. This mascara is better suited for wearing to a movie where you’re not sure whether you’ll tear up or not.

Tarte Lights, Camera, Splashes Waterproof Mascara
$23 at Sephora

If you can get over the fact that this mascara comes in a quilted leather case, it’ll become a trusty volumizing option in your arsenal.

M.A.C False Lashes Waterproof Mascara
$24 at M.A.C Cosmetics

This one will give you lashes that look like falsies, though it’s not the best at staying put throughout the day.

Chanel Inimitable Waterproof Mascara
Photo: Courtesy of the Vendor
Chanel Inimitable Waterproof Mascara
$32 at Nordstrom

Kim Kardashian’s makeup artist recommended this one for its dramatic curling, lengthening, and volumizing effect after just one coat.

Lancôme Définicils Lengthening and Defining Waterproof Mascara
$28 at Sephora

To ward off tears like the iconic black ones Lauren Conrad shed on The Hills, reach for this thin wand and lengthening formula.

Dior Diorshow Iconic Waterproof Mascara
$30 at Sephora

This mascara stays on through runs, rainstorms, and endless humid summer days, all while being one of the easiest waterproof formulas to remove.

La Roche-Posay Respectissime Waterproof Mascara
Photo: Courtesy of the Vendor
La Roche-Posay Respectissime Waterproof Mascara
$25 at Dermstore

If Diorshow is your go-to mascara, this one has a brush as fluffy with bristles as plentiful as its luxury counterpart.

L’Oréal Paris Voluminous Million Lashes Waterproof Mascara
$8 at Amazon

A drugstore formula that’s almost comparable to Chanel’s.

Isehan Kiss Me Heroine Make Mascara
Photo: Courtesy of the Vendor
Isehan Kiss Me Heroine Make Mascara
$11 at Amazon

The cool kids in Tokyo, Japan swear by this Über-black mascara that doesn’t run … ever.

The Best Tubular Mascaras

Blinc Mascara
$26 at Sephora

Tubular mascaras are similar to waterproof ones, but they wrap tiny tubes around each lash, giving them a protective coating that keeps them from smudging but is also easy to wash off. The first brand to invent the tube technology was Blinc, and its classic mascara requires nothing but warm water to make the tubes gently slide off your lashes and into your hand.

Surratt Beauty Pointilliste Mascara
Photo: Courtesy of the Vendor
Surratt Beauty Pointilliste Mascara
$26 at Sephora

The microfibers in this mascara help lengthen lashes while the tube technology keeps it on even in the most humid cities.

M.A.C Extended Play Gigablack Lash Mascara
$19 at M.A.C Cosmetics

Even though Solange tends to let loose onstage and in the desert heat at Coachella, her makeup artist always recommends using this tube formula instead of a waterproof mascara.

L’Oréal Double Extend Lash Extension Effect Mascara
Photo: Courtesy of the Vendor
L’Oréal Double Extend Lash Extension Effect Mascara
$10 at Ulta

This one comes with a lash primer to add extra oomph to eyes.

The Best Smudge-Proof Mascaras

Horika Horika Over Magic Pole Mascara
Photo: Courtesy of the Vendor
Horika Horika Over Magic Pole Mascara
$38 at Amazon

If you wear glasses or have oily skin — or both — you know it can be hard to keep your mascara in place. How do you solve a makeup problem like eyeglasses? Celebrity makeup artist Walter Obal favors false lashes, but you could also try Horika Horika’s Magic Pole mascara, which won’t budge even if your lashes get too close to your lenses.

Clinique Lash Power Mascara Long-Wearing Formula
$18 at Sephora

You officially have permission to rub your eyes if you’re wearing this long-lasting formula.

The Best Organic Mascaras

Josie Maran Argan Black Oil Mascara
$22 at Sephora

Even non-hippies can learn to love organic mascaras, which are gentle on your eyes and don’t have a crunching, drying effect. After trying a few tubes, we found that the best was the conditioning Josie Maran Argan Black Oil Mascara.

Physicians Formula Fake Out Mascara
Photo: Courtesy of the Vendor
Physicians Formula Fake Out Mascara
$5 at Physicians Formula

For a conversely artificial and bold effect, Physicians Formula has you covered.

The Best Lengthening Mascaras

Benefit They’re Real Lengthening and Volumizing Mascara
$24 at Sephora

We’ve been singing the praises of Benefit’s They’re Real Mascara since before it became one of the most popular mascaras on the market. Back then, it was a cult favorite, but now it’s a classic for its ability to give lashes a naturally enhanced look (you can also build it up for a doe-eyed effect.)

Eyeko Lengthening Skinny Brush Mascara Long and Tall
Photo: Courtesy of the Vendor
Eyeko Lengthening Skinny Brush Mascara Long and Tall
$26 at Ulta

Eyeko’s ultra-slim wand combs through lashes to lengthen and separate, and the tube makes it easy to squeeze out more product.

Lash Control Black Lengthening Mascara
Photo: Courtesy of the Vendor
Lash Control Black Lengthening Mascara
$18 at Lash Control

Similarly, the pink squishy middle on this bottle provides total control over how much product goes on the brush.

Flower Beauty Lash Warrior Mascara
$10 at Ulta

The castor oil in this formula makes it easy to apply multiple coats for bold lashes that won’t flake.

Charlotte Tilbury Legendary Lashes Volume 2
$32 at Charlotte Tilbury

For eyelashes as long as your favorite bunny filter, Charlotte Tilbury’s Legendary Lashes Volume 2 from her Beauty Filters collection will do the trick.

The Balm Mad Lash Mascara
Photo: Courtesy of the Vendor
The Balm Mad Lash Mascara
$17 at Amazon

If you’ve never been asked if you’re wearing falsies, then you need to try this mascara.

NARS Audacious Mascara
$26 at Sephora

Here’s a mascara that will give you lashes so long you’ll see them when you blink.

The Best Volumizing Mascaras

Catrice Prêt-à-Volume Smokey Velvet Black Mascara
Photo: Courtesy of the Vendor
Catrice Prêt-à-Volume Smokey Velvet Black Mascara
$7 at Ulta

For a fluffy, “bushy” look (that’s a compliment, in this case), try the gigantic Catrice Prêt-à-Volume Smokey Velvet Black Mascara.

MUD Volumizing Mascara Black
Photo: Courtesy of the Vendor
MUD Volumizing Mascara Black
$18 at MUD

This buildable mascara was modeled after paint tubes to make it easier to hold.

Giorgio Armani Beauty Eccentrico Mascara
Photo: Courtesy of the Vendor
Giorgio Armani Beauty Eccentrico Mascara
$32 at Sephora

The Giorgio Armani Beauty Eccentrico Mascara also adds maximum volume to lashes — just don’t add another layer during the middle of the day because, sadly, it will clump. If lashes do clump, Dior’s creative and image director Peter Philips suggests taking a small comb to separate them until they’re fluttery. (Tip: Go to the Clinique section at Sephora and collect a few of their free combs and spoolies.)

L’Oréal Voluminous Superstar Mascara
Photo: Courtesy of the Vendor
L’Oréal Voluminous Superstar Mascara
$11 at Ulta

While the white straight brush applies a priming formula, the black curved brush lifts and adds volume to lashes.

Essence Lash Princess False Lash Effect Mascara
$5 at Ulta

For lashes that would make Twiggy do a double take.

IT Cosmetics Superhero Elastic Stretch Volumizing Mascara
Photo: Courtesy of the Vendor
IT Cosmetics Superhero Elastic Stretch Volumizing Mascara
$24 at Sephora

Who doesn’t want to have eyelashes like feathers? If you want to live the life of a woman whose lashes do all the talking, get this IT Cosmetics mascara.

Dior Diorshow PumpnVolume Instant Volume Squeezable Mascara
Photo: Courtesy of the Vendor
Dior Diorshow PumpnVolume Instant Volume Squeezable Mascara
$25 at Nordstrom

This one’s a favorite of makeup artist Peter Philips, and for good reason. This mascara coats lashes in a sooty, rich formula and gives the volume that Diorshow is known for.

Kiko Milano Extra Sculpt Volume Mascara
Photo: Courtesy of the Vendor
Kiko Milano Extra Sculpt Volume Mascara
$9 at Kiko Milano

The Italian drugstore brand Kiko Milano’s mascara is popular among those in the know and is an affordable alternative to Lancôme mascaras.

Elizabeth Mott It’s So Big Volumizing Mascara
$13 at Amazon

If excess oil around your eye is a problem, Elizabeth Mott’s It’s So Big Volumizing Mascara might be your best bet for voluminous lashes that don’t fade as the day goes on. One writer enthusiastically described it as a “GODSEND.”

CoverGirl Lash Blast Volume Mascara
$9 at Ulta

Legendary makeup artist Pat McGrath designed this brush to add volume while preventing clumping so the product doesn’t weigh down lashes and ruin any curl you might have.

L’Oréal Voluminous Lash Paradise Mascara
Photo: Courtesy of the Vendor
L’Oréal Voluminous Lash Paradise Mascara
$10 at Ulta

This one’s thick, cheap, and doesn’t clump. No wonder one writer called it the “bomb diggity.”

Maybelline Full ‘N Soft Mascara
Photo: Courtesy of the Vendor
Maybelline Full ‘N Soft Mascara
$8 at Ulta

Most volumizing mascaras deliver on their claims, but usually at the cost of crunchy lashes. This one keeps them soft, fluttery, and natural-looking.

Simply Naked Beauty 3D Fiber Mascara
Photo: Courtesy of the Vendor
Simply Naked Beauty 3D Fiber Mascara
$20 at Amazon

After using this duo, you may never feel the need to apply falsies ever again.

Lash Star Beauty Full Control Lash Sculpting Mascara
Photo: Courtesy of the Vendor
Lash Star Beauty Full Control Lash Sculpting Mascara
$35 at Lash Star Beauty

The tiny side of this wand grabs each and every last lash while the bigger brush adds volume. If you take the time and coat each of your lashes, you’ll look like you got 14 hours of sleep last ngiht.

Milk Makeup Kush High Volume Mascara
Photo: Courtesy of the Vendor
Milk Makeup Kush High Volume Mascara
$24 at Sephora

For lashes that curl really high, try Milk Makeup’s KUSH High Volume Mascara.

L’Oréal Voluminous Lash Primer
Photo: Courtesy of the Vendor
L’Oréal Voluminous Lash Primer
$8 at Ulta

After curling, the next step to getting enviable lashes is applying a primer. The L’Oréal primer won’t make it look like you’ve been on a steady diet of Latisse, but it will make those with a barely-there look like they actually have some.

Dior Diorshow Maximizer 3D Triple Volume Plumping Lash Primer
Photo: Courtesy of the Vendor
Dior Diorshow Maximizer 3D Triple Volume Plumping Lash Primer
$30 at Nordstrom

Now this Dior primer, on the other hand, can definitely make lashes visible and even exaggerated.

The Best Curling Mascaras

Elizabeth Arden Grand Entrance Mascara
Photo: Courtesy of the Vendor
Elizabeth Arden Grand Entrance Mascara
$25 at Ulta

Elizabeth Arden’s Grand Entrance Mascara acts like a hair product, using a gel-like formula to hold a curl in place so your lashes don’t start to droop after an hour or two.

Rimmel London 24Hr Supercurler Mascara
Photo: Courtesy of the Vendor
Rimmel London 24Hr Supercurler Mascara
$4 at Target

While this one does tend to clump and doesn’t offer that much in the curl department, it does actually stay on for 24 hours, which is a feat in itself.

Eyeko Black Magic Mascara Drama & Curl
Photo: Courtesy of the Vendor
Eyeko Black Magic Mascara Drama & Curl
$26 at Ulta

Padma Laskshmi’s makeup artist uses Eyeko’s curved wand to lift lashes from the roots to emphasize the curl.

Clinique High-Impact Curling Mascara
Photo: Courtesy of the Vendor
Clinique High-Impact Curling Mascara
$18 at Ulta

If using an eyelash curler is less than ideal for you, the polymers in Clinique’s formula add a subtle curl.

The Best Drugstore Mascaras

CoverGirl Bombshell Volume by LashBlast Mascara Very Black
Photo: Courtesy of the Vendor
CoverGirl Bombshell Volume by LashBlast Mascara Very Black
$9 at Amazon

For a mascara that stays on as long as you can sleep in on Saturdays, reach for the CoverGirl Bombshell Volume LashBlast Mascara. But, please, don’t actually sleep with your makeup on. We all know better than that!

Almay One Coat Get Up and Grow Mascara
Photo: Courtesy of the Vendor
Almay One Coat Get Up and Grow Mascara
$6 at Amazon

This mascara has a serumlike formula that’s infused with vitamins B5, C, and E to promote lash growth.

Maybelline Great Lash Mascara
Photo: Courtesy of the Vendor
Maybelline Great Lash Mascara
$6 at Ulta

The classic pink-and-green and always accessible Maybelline Great Lash mascara was the one virtually everyone owned when they were 15, and is a safe choice for anyone who wants a subtle enhancement that might belong in a Glossier ad.

Maybelline Lash Sensational Mascara
Photo: Courtesy of the Vendor
Maybelline Lash Sensational Mascara
$9 at Ulta

This brush uses ten layers of bristles to fan out lashes to give them a wide-eyed and winged effect.

CoverGirl Full Lash Bloom
Photo: Courtesy of the Vendor
CoverGirl Full Lash Bloom
$6 at Amazon

This heavy formula might hamper curls, but it delivers length and volume, which sort of makes up for it.

Maybelline Volum’ Express The Falsies Push Up Drama Mascara
Photo: Courtesy of the Vendor
Maybelline Volum’ Express The Falsies Push Up Drama Mascara
$9 at Ulta

Anyone with blonde lashes can benefit from this brush that completely coats lashes from roots to tips, so there’s no ombré effect.

Avon Mega Effects Mascara with Keratin
Photo: Courtesy of the Vendor
Avon Mega Effects Mascara with Keratin
$8 at Avon

This looks like an intimidating apparatus, but it’s actually a brush that’s curved to fit your lash line so every lash gets some attention.

Physicians Formula Eye Booster Instant Lash Extension Kit
$10 at Amazon

This two-step mascara will give you lashes so long you might think about cutting them, which please don’t. That’s just the lovely mascara doing its job.

L’Oréal Voluminous Butterfly Mascara
Photo: Courtesy of the Vendor
L’Oréal Voluminous Butterfly Mascara
$9 at Ulta

While there’s probably a technological reason this brush is shaped this way, all you need to know is if you use a rolling motion when applying the mascara, it’ll make your lashes look like a butterfly.

Maybelline Volum’ Express the Falsies Big Eyes Washable Mascara
Photo: Courtesy of the Vendor
Maybelline Volum’ Express the Falsies Big Eyes Washable Mascara
$9 at Maybelline New York

Maybelline’s Falsies works best on those who already have thick lashes and takes them to falsie-territory.

The Best Colored Mascaras

Tom Ford Lash and Brow Tint
Photo: Courtesy of the Vendor
Tom Ford Lash and Brow Tint
$49 at Bergdorf Goodman

Mullets weren’t cool until Rihanna made the case for them, and the saying goes for colored mascara. During her Fenty fall 2017 fashion show, Rihanna and Pat McGrath sent models down the runway with orange mascara and proved it’s not childish or clownish. Like all things Rihanna touches, it became a trend, and brands like Tom Ford are rolling out their own versions for the masses.

Maybelline Great Lash Royal Blue Washable Mascara
Photo: Courtesy of the Vendor
Maybelline Great Lash Royal Blue Washable Mascara
$5 at Amazon

For a more affordable alternative to a trend that, let’s face it, you probably won’t wear that often, Maybelline’s Great Lash comes in a variety of colors.

NYX Color Mascara
Photo: Courtesy of the Vendor
NYX Color Mascara
$7 at NYX

Like the Maybelline mascara, NYX’s have been out for a while, but the pink hue is a standout among other colored mascaras on the market.

The Best Bottom Lash Mascaras

Clinique Bottom Lash Mascara
$12 at Sephora

There’s a mascara for every concern. Straight lashes? Get the Essence Lash Princess mascara. Limp lashes? Use a vibrating one that wiggles them into shape. Darn near invisible bottom lashes? Use this tiny Clinique one that’s made specifically for the neglected sisters.

CoverGirl Total Tease Mascara
$9 at Ulta

This CoverGirl mascara brush was made for tiny upper lashes, but works best on the bottom.

Surratt Beauty Relevée Mascara
Photo: Courtesy of the Vendor
Surratt Beauty Relevée Mascara
$30 at Sephora

To just tint lower lashes, use Surratt Beauty’s mascara to keep them from looking spidery.

The Best Cult Favorites

Trish McEvoy Lash-Curling Mascara
$32 at Nordstrom

You’ve probably never heard of this next mascara what with the hype surrounding Benefit’s They’re Real and Too Faced’s Better Than Sex, but Trish McEvoy’s Lash-Curling Mascara has 24-hour wear and quashes any concerns of raccoon eyes.

Kevyn Aucoin The Volume Mascara
Photo: Courtesy of the Vendor
Kevyn Aucoin The Volume Mascara
$28 at Sephora

For baby-fine lashes, this classic mascara lives up to the hype and can stand up to any modern mascara innovation.

e.l.f. Lash Tint Mascara
Photo: Courtesy of the Vendor
e.l.f. Lash Tint Mascara
$3 at Target

If spending $30 on the Kevin Aucoin mascara is out of your ideal price range, this dupe from e.l.f. has a super-skinny wand that is foolproof.

The Best Clumping Mascaras

Maybelline Volum’ Express The Colossal Spider Effect Mascara
Photo: Courtesy of the Vendor
Maybelline Volum’ Express The Colossal Spider Effect Mascara
$7 at Ulta

Even though New York Fashion Week in February 2014 had us worried mascara was “out,” the Milan shows proved otherwise and ushered in the trend of clumpy lashes. The best mascara that lends itself to a flattering clump is the Maybelline Colossal mascara.

Clé de Peau Beauté Perfect Lash Mascara
$50 at Bergdorf Goodman

While not naturally spidery, if you pinch lashes together after you apply the Clé de Peau Beauté mascara, you’ve got yourself a worthy clump.

Dior Diorshow Iconic Overcurl Mascara
$30 at Sephora

To get the punk-inspired look from Dior’s Fall 2016 Paris Fashion Week show, use the label’s Overcurl mascara and point the wand up to get the same effect.

Urban Decay Mascara Resurrection
Photo: Courtesy of the Vendor
Urban Decay Mascara Resurrection
$16 at Urban Decay

If you somehow go overboard with the polarizing trend, reach for Urban Decay’s Mascara Resurrection, which clears away unwanted clumps.

The Best Eyelash Conditioner

Talika Lipocils Legendary Eyelash Conditioning Gel
Photo: Courtesy of the Vendor
Talika Lipocils Legendary Eyelash Conditioning Gel
$45 at Dermstore