everything guide

The Best Mascaras We’ve Ever Written About

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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

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.

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Eyeko Sport Waterproof Mascara Catch & Curl

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.

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Giorgio Armani Beauty Eyes To Kill Waterproof Mascara

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

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

L’Oréal Telescopic Shocking Extensions Waterproof Mascara

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

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

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

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Chanel Inimitable Waterproof Mascara

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

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

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

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La Roche-Posay Respectissime Waterproof Mascara

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

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

Isehan Kiss Me Heroine Make Mascara

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

The Best Tubular Mascaras

Blinc Mascara

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.

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Surratt Beauty Pointilliste Mascara

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

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.

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L’Oréal Double Extend Lash Extension Effect Mascara

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

The Best Smudge-Proof Mascaras

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Horika Horika Over Magic Pole Mascara

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

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

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.

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Physicians Formula Fake Out Mascara

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

The Best Lengthening Mascaras

Benefit They’re Real Lengthening and Volumizing Mascara

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.)

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Eyeko Lengthening Skinny Brush Mascara Long and Tall

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

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Lash Control Black Lengthening Mascara

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

Flower Beauty Lash Warrior Mascara

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

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.

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The Balm Mad Lash Mascara

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

NARS Audacious Mascara

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

The Best Volumizing Mascaras

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Catrice Prêt-à-Volume Smokey Velvet Black Mascara

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

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MUD Volumizing Mascara Black

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

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Giorgio Armani Beauty Eccentrico Mascara

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.)

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L’Oréal Voluminous Superstar Mascara

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

For lashes that would make Twiggy do a double take.

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IT Cosmetics Superhero Elastic Stretch Volumizing Mascara

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.

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Dior Diorshow PumpnVolume Instant Volume Squeezable Mascara

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.

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Kiko Milano Extra Sculpt Volume Mascara

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

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

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.

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L’Oréal Voluminous Lash Paradise Mascara

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

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Maybelline Full ‘N Soft Mascara

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

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

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Lash Star Beauty Full Control Lash Sculpting Mascara

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.

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Milk Makeup Kush High Volume Mascara

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

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L’Oréal Voluminous Lash Primer

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.

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Dior Diorshow Maximizer 3D Triple Volume Plumping Lash Primer

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

The Best Curling Mascaras

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Elizabeth Arden Grand Entrance Mascara

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.

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Rimmel London 24Hr Supercurler Mascara

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.

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Eyeko Black Magic Mascara Drama & Curl

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

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Clinique High-Impact Curling Mascara

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

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CoverGirl Bombshell Volume by LashBlast Mascara Very Black

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

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

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Maybelline Great Lash Mascara

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.

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Maybelline Lash Sensational Mascara

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

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CoverGirl Full Lash Bloom

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

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Maybelline Volum’ Express The Falsies Push Up Drama Mascara

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

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Avon Mega Effects Mascara with Keratin

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

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.

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L’Oréal Voluminous Butterfly Mascara

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.

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Maybelline Volum’ Express the Falsies Big Eyes Washable Mascara

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

The Best Colored Mascaras

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Tom Ford Lash and Brow Tint

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.

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Maybelline Great Lash Royal Blue Washable Mascara

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.

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NYX Color Mascara

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

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

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

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Surratt Beauty Relevée Mascara

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

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.

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Kevyn Aucoin The Volume Mascara

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

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e.l.f. Lash Tint Mascara

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

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Maybelline Volum’ Express The Colossal Spider Effect Mascara

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

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

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.

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Urban Decay Mascara Resurrection

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

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Talika Lipocils Legendary Eyelash Conditioning Gel

Most importantly, make sure to care for your eyelashes just like everything else. They’re still hair and they do benefit from conditioning and gentle makeup removers that don’t result in any lash casualties.

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The Best Mascaras We’ve Ever Written About