obsessive tester

The 30 Best Mascaras of All Time, Tested and Reviewed

Photo-Illustration: by The Cut; Photos: Hanna Flanagan

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I know from personal experience that mascara can really make or break a makeup look — whether I’m going barefaced but still want my eyes to pop or I’m wearing full glam and don’t want my eyes to be totally washed out by heavy contour or cream blush. It’s the one product that completes my makeup routine and always makes me feel put together. And luckily, after testing (what feels like) hundreds of formulas over the years, I know which ones are worth the money.

The all-time best mascaras, below, 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, here are the 30 best mascaras for every preference and price point.

Our top picks:

The Overall Best Mascara

Photo: Courtesy of the Vendor

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 smudgeproof (thanks to its tubular formula), volumizing, thickening, and lengthening.

The Best Drugstore Mascara

Even though this is technically a mascara primer (meant to be applied before the Maybelline Lash Sensational), I’ve been using it on its own for months and my lashes have never looked better. It strikes the perfect balance between lengthening and volumizing, and I can apply several layers without it ever looking clumpy. This drugstore find works so well, in fact, that people often assume I’m wearing false lashes when I have it on.

The Best Sweat-Proof Mascara

Specifically designed to stand up against Miami heat, this brand-new mascara is smudgeproof, sweatproof, and flake-free for up to 12 hours. It yields thick, dramatic volume with just a single swipe, plus it’s easy to remove at the end of the day. I recently wore it to a summer wedding — where I was sweating and dancing all night long — and it didn’t budge. Sure, it’s expensive, but the sleek white tube has a nice weight to it that feels so luxurious.

The Best Tubing Mascara

I’m not really a tubing mascara girl, but if I was, this one would be my first choice. The formula helps lengthen and define my lashes without making them appear clumped together like other tubing mascaras on the market. It’s also waterproof, long-wearing, flakeproof, smudge-resistant, and, of course, so easy to remove.

The Best Fuss-Free Mascara

If I’m being honest, the dense bristles on this applicator scared me a bit when I first pulled it out of the tube. I was sure they would deposit too much product, leading to a messy and clumpy application. But I was wrong! This gel-hybrid mascara offers all the volumizing benefits of thick bristles with the separation capabilities of a flexible combing brush. It glides on effortlessly, provides structure and shape, and builds up like a dream.

The Best Volumizing Mascara

I love a curved mascara wand, and this one from Benefit is my new favorite. The applicator features a custom-engineered 40-degree angle that effectively coats and lifts lashes from left to right and root to tip. The weightless formula fans and separates my lashes, which creates the illusion of my eyes being wider than they actually are, much like when I apply individual false lashes to my outer corner. It’s also infused with nourishing ingredients like vitamin B5 and cranberry extract, so my eyes never feel dry or itchy, even after hours of wear.

The Best Lengthening Mascara

Justice for extra-long, spidery lashes! Sure, there’s a time and place for volumizing mascaras, but when I’m going to the office or running errands, I don’t want thick, heavy-looking lashes. I prefer a more natural, wispy look instead, and my beloved Maybelline Telescopic always delivers. It’s a drugstore classic I’ve been repurchasing for years. When I want long-lasting length, separation, and clump-free application, this is what I reach for.

The Best Mascara for Nighttime

If you’ve ever tried beauty influencer turned mogul Huda Kattan’s namesake brand, you know that most of her products are designed for those of us who love a full glam moment — and this mascara is no exception. It packs a punch that’s ideal for nighttime events, thanks to the dual-shaped brush that has a short side to lengthen lashes and a long side to separate them.

More options:

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 Best Flake-Free Mascara

The YSL Beauty Lash Clash mascara has the seal of approval of our beauty writer, Asia Milia Ware. She points out that not only is the packaging extremely sleek and chic (as you would expect from the French brand) but the formula is just as good. It provides all the length you want without flaking throughout the day.

The Best Viral Mascara

Last year, this Maybelline wand went viral on TikTok, the platform where all the best beauty hacks and product reviews live. And, yes, this one is worth the hype. It’s like a Pilates workout in mascara form that sculpts, defines, lengthens, and lifts limp lashes with just a few swipes.

The Best Lash-Thickening Mascara

Inspired by the technology used to create Drybar’s signature brushes, the wand on this mascara coats and combs through every single lash for maximum volume, lift, and definition. As for the formula? It’s infused with biotin, which promotes stronger and healthier lashes with every use.

The Best Mascara for Straight Lashes

This mascara is equipped with a two-sided brush (the flat side helps coat the lashes, while the bristle side helps comb through them from root to tip) for a precise and defined application. It creates body, volume, and length — without weighing down your lashes. If you have straight lashes, you’ll love the natural lifted effect.

The Most Lightweight Mascara

When it comes to makeup, using a clean formula doesn’t have to mean comprising on quality — and no beauty brand proves that quite like Ilia. The cult-favorite brand’s Limitless Lash Mascara is natural, weightless, buildable, and smudge- and flake-resistant. It adds lift and volume without irritating the eye area or making you feel like you’re wearing loads of makeup. If you need a comfortable mascara for long days at the office, this is it.

The Longest-Lasting Mascara

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 Luxury Mascara

We’ve invested in multiple tubes of this mascara that brings stubby lashes to life. This is the one you want to grab if you want to add length and volume without flaking or smudging. The XXL brush with a slightly tapered end helps you coat and volumize your lashes without the extra effort. The only caveat: It dries out fast, so keep the top on this closed tight.

The Best Mascara With a Metal Applicator

Yes, you read that correctly. This K-beauty mascara has a metal applicator that actually works wonders. One initially skeptical TikToker was amazed at how it actually accentuates each lash.

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 that beautifully separates and elongates lashes without clumping. Plus it’s at a great price point.

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-shape brush seems gimmicky, but reviewers say it ensures you can coat every single lash from every single angle to build and enhance to your heart’s desire.

The Best Waterproof Mascara (Luxury Edition)

When Kim Kardashian’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 for Fluttery, Natural Lashes

Let this do for your lashes what the cult-favorite lip oil does for your lips. It’s your lashes but better, lengthy, and volumized without clumping even after adding a few extra layers. The dense tapered brush helps reach every lash (even the tiny ones) to add volume. The results are fluttery lashes you can pair with fresh, glowing skin like their models.

The Best Mascara for Dramatic Length

If length is your main objective when it comes to lashes, this award-winning tubing mascara is what you seek. It’s excellent at dramatically extending every little hair on your lash line by capping them off with little lengthening polymers that easily wash off at the end of the day.

The One If You Have Straight Lashes

Cut fashion-news writer Danya Issawi swears by this mascara. If you’re in the market for a new lash paint that makes your straight lashes hold a curl so high they’ll almost touch your brows (evidence here), she highly recommends this one from Tarte.

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 Best Buildable Mascara

Gucci’s layer-friendly formula is perfect for customizing your own personal lash look, whether that happens to be demure, smooth, and natural-looking or dramatic, thick, and borderline clumpy. Since the spiky, rubbery brush is super-flexible, it grabs every single lash and coats them with a smudgeproof formula that doesn’t leave them feeling heavy or crispy, even after many, many, many coats.

The Best Mascara for Asian Lashes

Asian lashes tend to be fine, thin, sparse, and stick-straight, making them especially prone to smudging. This mascara works staggeringly well on them. If you need more proof, check out the Reddit before-and-after photos.

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 ecofriendly, 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 Best Clean Mascara

This is for anyone who wants lashes that are long but not fake looking. It colors and extends lashes to a reasonable length without looking like serious makeup — and it’s made without ingredients such as silicones, parabens, phthalates, or synthetic fragrances. It also doesn’t test on animals.

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 Flirtatious One


Anyone who used to be a huge Sex and the City fan will appreciate the name of this mascara. But even if you weren’t, you’ll like how nicely it darkens and lengthens your lashes so that they look extra coquettish and doelike.

Our Experts:

The 30 Best Mascaras of All Time, Tested and Reviewed