There are so many mascaras out there. Possibly too many. Thankfully, we’ve tried them all, and below, we round up our 22 favorites. These lash paints truly shine in a variety of situations, whether you want to look like you’re wearing faux lashes, look like you’re wearing lash extensions, look like you were born with long lashes, cry without looking like a Kardashian, or simply look bright-eyed when having to interact with people in public. Don’t fall into the black hole of choices; regardless of what kind of lashes you have, there’s something here for you.
The All-Around Crowd Pleaser
The jury’s still out on whether this best-selling product is truly better than sex, but it’s definitely better than a lot of other mascaras. The hourglass-shaped brush ensures that you can coat every single lash from every single angle, so you can build and enhance to your heart’s desire.
The Best Vegan Mascara
Made from vegan ingredients, most notably hemp-derived cannabis seed oil, this mascara may sound “crunchy” in the metaphorical granola sense, but it leaves lashes anything but. The nourishing formula never gets crispy or stiff; instead, it gives you lashes that are long, soft, and pliable, like a leave-in conditioner for your eye hair.
The Best Mascara for Volume
Leave it to Pat McGrath — a.k.a. Mother Makeup — to basically bottle Twiggy’s lashes in a tube. This mascara has no intention of tricking people into thinking you’re born with it. It’s so good at lengthening and plumping that it’s slightly alarming at first swipe, but the creamy formula is so fun to build, it’s hard to stop.
The Best Mascara for Excerise
The Best Drugstore Mascara
Mascara is notoriously hard to get off, but this wax-free formula was designed for easy removal without sacrificing your lashes, eyeball comfort, or time. It coats the lashes in tiny wrap-around fibers that stay put all day but wash off at the end of the night without even a double cleanse.
The Best Clean Mascara
The Well-Rounded One
This horny mascara does it all — lengthens, volumizes, plumps, paints lashes the blackest of blacks — which is why people always end up going back to it. If you don’t know where to start or you’re suffering from current wand-fatigue, hit up Perversion to shake things up or revisit it to remember why you hooked up with in the first place.
The Best Mascara for Lower Lashes
A lot of mascara attention is given to the upper lashes, but the lower lashes need special care too. This mascara has an itty-bitty brush with fine bristles that perfectly paint the shorter and more delicate lashes below your eyes. The formula is wax-free, coating each baby lash in a tiny tube of black that washes off easily with water and doesn’t smudge.
The One That’s Like a Push-Up Bra
The bend and snap of mascaras, this one was inspired by the makeup artist hack of bending wands for better control and better access to the lashes. The bent angle gets you way closer to your lashes than usual, which allows you to create much more of a lift, especially on those annoying, hard-to-reach corner lashes.
The Sure Thing
Ask many people (like, say, the 15,000 people who have reviewed this online) for their favorite mascara and they’ll mention this one. It really is like lash insurance; a few swipes will totally deliver, and it won’t fleck or get everywhere. It’s great for a slightly dressier, fancy occasion day.
The One That’s Like Lash Extensions
If putting on false lashes is like wearing a lash wig, then swiping on this mascara is like getting lash extensions. The wand separates and lengthens, creating a pretty, feathery effect that doesn’t look over-the-top.
The Japanese Drugstore Favorite
This Japanese mascara is so long-lasting that it’s almost kind of scary. It’s the No. 1 best-selling mascara at multiple Japanese drugstores, and is beloved for its true black color (it’s true, one writer went on a quest to confirm its absolute black pigment), durability, and dramatic effect. It is so long-lasting that it’s often sold in a package deal with its own makeup remover.
The Best Waterproof Mascara (Luxury Edition)
When Kim Kardashian West’s crying face went viral a few years ago and everyone noticed it was smudge-free, it was thanks to this mascara. Her makeup artist Mario Dedivanovic proclaimed this his favorite because it gives you everything you want in one single swipe. “It’s waterproof but also curls, lengthens, and gives volume in just one coat. A lot of waterproof-mascara formulas tend to be drying, but this one feels soft and is conditioning,” he said.
The Best Budget Waterproof Mascara
Zoe Hay, the makeup head for This Is Us, the show that seems to require at least one actor to cry per episode, told us that this is her favorite waterproof mascara. She praised it for its abilities to hold up during emotional scenes, and its soft texture which beautifully separates and elongates lashes without clumping. Plus, it’s at a great price point.
The One That Will Never Give You Raccoon Eyes
If you’ve lost faith in mascaras because they all give you big smudges below your eyes, try this. This is another one of those wax-free tubular mascaras, which wraps your lashes in tiny black “straws” that make them look longer and more defined. And miraculously, it washes off with water but is somehow still waterproof.
The Best Mascara for People With Allergies
If you hate compromise and want it all, Goldilocks-style, this is for you. From a new clean beauty brand, it checks the very many boxes that we’ve come to expect from high-performance mascara. It’s eco-friendly, won’t smudge, lengthens, thickens, defines, softens, doesn’t flake, and adds volume. And it works great with sensitive eyes, whether you’re a contact lens wearer, a cold sufferer, or someone with regular allergies.
The Flirty One
The Best Budget Mascara
The One That Expands Both Ways
If you prize thiccness in all areas, you’ll love this mascara. This one beefs up both the length and width of your lashes, making them look just that much more impactful and robust.
The Sleek One
This mascara is like Olivia Chantecaille, the brand’s creative director: elegant, impeccable (no messy gobs of formula!), and tall, if you imagine “tall” lashes to just be very long ones.
The Best Mascara for Asian Lashes
The Overall Best Mascara Out There
Drumroll please. This mascara is the universally agreed-upon best of the bunch because it works the best on all types of eyelashes and for all types of people. If, after reading the whole list, you still aren’t sure which one to try, just buy this one. It resides in the center of that perfect mascara Venn diagram of being smudge-proof (thanks to its tubular formula), volumizing, thickening, and lengthening.
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