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The Best Mascaras

When it comes to mascara, the bigger the lashes, the better. We enlisted the help of eleven testers to try on 35 of the top consumer-rated mascaras to bring you the best mascara overall: Giorgio Armani – Eyes to Kill. In one quick swipe, it delivers everything you could want in a mascara: volume, length and definition. The Dior – Diorshow Waterproof is our best waterproof mascara. It gives you length, lift and separation for all day wear and is easy to remove at the end of the day.

Our Top Choices

Best Overall

Giorgio Armani

Eyes to Kill

Best Waterproof


Diorshow Waterproof

Best Drugstore


Healthy Lengths

Best Natural


When it comes to mascara, the bigger the lashes, the better. We enlisted the help of eleven testers to try on 35 of the top consumer-rated mascaras to bring you the best mascara overall: Giorgio Armani – Eyes to Kill. In one quick swipe, it delivers everything you could want in a mascara: volume, length and definition. The Dior – Diorshow Waterproof is our best waterproof mascara. It gives you length, lift and separation for all day wear and is easy to remove at the end of the day.

Table of Contents

How we selected finalists to test

Before deciding on which mascaras to test, we read up on the science and design of mascara. We researched mascara formulas, the importance of the brush and wiper (the inside lip of the bottle that determines how much product is left on the applicator) design and whether or not there’s a major difference between designer and drugstore mascaras (spoiler alert: it has nothing to do with the formula).

Once we understood the mechanics of mascara, and which features produce which desired effect, we delved into the consumer side of things. Mascara is one of the most-loved products, used by 59 percent of female consumers. What do consumers want most when choosing a mascara?

While washable mascara may be better for daily wear, some women have a personal preference for waterproof mascara. It’s more durable, and it’s better for a hot climate. We curated several waterproof mascaras to test in our roundup of finalists.

We looked at trends reported by Mintel’s global beauty analysts. We found that the industry is shifting towards natural and organic products, based on demand by consumers for environmentally-friendly products. The downside is that many of the natural mascaras do little to enhance lashes. We made sure to include several natural choices in the finalists we tested.

Our top pick for a natural mascara, the TetyanaNaturals – 4D Silk Fiber Lash, impressed us with its ability to make lashes longer, bolder and more defined.

Then, we narrowed down specific mascaras, gathering information via consumer reviews on Sephora and Ulta. Due to concerns about counterfeit products (more on that later), we put less weight on Amazon reviews. Once we curated a list of the 35 best mascaras, we used eleven staff testers to wear, remove and rate them.

Compare the four best mascaras

MascaraPriceTypeWaterproof?Brush Style
a. Giorgio Armani - Eyes to Kill$$$$DesignerNoJumbo
b. Dior - Diorshow Waterproof$$$DesignerYesJumbo
c. Neutrogena - Healthy Lengths$DrugstoreNoTapered
d. TetyanaNaturals - 4D Silk Fiber Lash$$NaturalYesTapered

Important features to consider

Armani Eyes to Kill Brush

Are designer brands really better than drugstore brands?

Nearly all mascaras use the same basic ingredients: wax, carbon-black or colored pigments and film formers to coat lashes and help the pigment stick. Waterproof mascaras contain additional waxes (since waxes repel water), isododecane and cyclopentasiloxane to prevent pigment from running down your cheeks.

One exception to the basic wax-pigment formula would be fiber mascaras, which use tiny fibers made of silk, nylon or rayon to temporarily lengthen lashes. The product (and resulting length) is washed away at the end of the night. If extreme length is a feature you desire, you may want to go beyond looking at brush design and consider a fiber mascara.

Claims of benefits from vitamins or botanical extracts in certain formulas are usually just for marketing purposes. The basic combination of wax and pigment make up the majority of the formula, and these ingredients are at low percentages that make little difference.

The magic happens when the brush, formula and wiper work together to create a certain look (be it more volume or more definition). Some brands even use the same formula, but a unique brush, wiper and bottle design yields dramatically different results.

Let’s break down the anatomy of a mascara:

Brush: These can be made of nylon or plastic bristles. The number of the bristles and their spacing, even the way the bristles are twisted and trimmed, can make a difference in the outcome. For example, bristles that are finely spaced will give more definition. Bristles that are further apart will give you thicker lashes with more volume.

Each brush is carefully designed by the manufacturer. Brands spend a large amount of money to patent their brushes, which goes to show that the design of the applicator is just as, if not more, important than the formula.

Wiper: The wiper is the plastic ring inside the mouth of the tube. It impacts the performance of the mascara by wiping off excess formula. A wiper that is too tight will remove most of the formula before you get a chance to apply it. A wiper that is too large will result in clumpy lashes that dry slowly and tend to smudge. Mascaras with adjustable wipers allow you to determine how much mascara you want to leave on the brush, less for definition and more for a dramatic look.

Since the applicator design is the major component of a mascara’s performance, the amount of money a brand pours into the design of a bottle and wiper can make a difference in the end result. So even though the formulas in drugstore and designer mascaras are essentially the same, the designer mascaras we tested ranked higher overall than the drugstore versions.

However, choosing the right mascara doesn’t mean you need to make a large investment. Many of the drugstore mascaras we tested were low-rated by our panel of testers. Yet a drugstore mascara, the Neutrogena – Healthy Lengths, easily rivals its designer counterparts.

How to choose the right mascara

Neutrogena Healthy Lengths

It can be tempting to stroll into a beauty store to try out a mascara before you buy, especially since the high-end designer brands can be expensive. However, testing in stores isn’t recommended. Since the brush and wiper play a major part in the final results, the disposable wand doesn’t give you an accurate assessment of the mascara. Also, other testers may have double-dipped, so there’s no guarantee the wand is free of bacteria.

Your best option is to focus on which brush style fits your needs, which we’ll detail in the next section.

For sensitive eyes

Even if a mascara claims to be opthamologist tested, you should always check to see if it causes you sensitivity by testing it on your arm first. If you do have a reaction, you don’t want to find out when it’s already left your eyes inflamed and bloodshot. Mascara gets the closest to the eyeball of any makeup, so it’s the most likely to be a culprit for dermatitis or allergies.

If you have sensitive eyes, you’ll want to steer away from waterproof mascaras. The ingredients that make these formulas waterproof or water resistant can dry out your lashes and cause them to fall out over time. This process is hastened when you sleep with mascara on, which happens more often with waterproof mascara because it can be difficult to remove.

You may also need to avoid mascaras with extension fibers or colored pigments; the fewer ingredients, the less likely the mascara is to cause irritation. That doesn’t mean you have to give up lashes with staying power: magnetic lashes are a great option for a natural day look or a night on the town.

No matter which mascara you choose, you should replace your mascara every three months. The more times you use a tube, the more potential it has to be infected with bacteria that can lead to irritation or eye infection.

If you’re hesitant to discard your mascara so frequently, you may feel better knowing there’s a wildlife organization that wants your used wands to help save the lives of animals.

Brush styles

Classic: These are best for volume and separation. If the style of wand has thicker bristles, it will give your lashes even more volume. A plastic bristle brush will give you more definition and less clumping than a nylon bristle brush.

Hourglass: If you want lashes so dramatic they look like falsies, an hourglass shape can provide tons of volume while also lifting your lashes.

Tapered: Also known as a cone brush, the thinner end helps you reach the small lashes toward the inner and outer corners of your eye.

Inverted cone: If you want a wide-eyed look with volume and length, this brush will help you reach your goals. The smaller bristles grab onto the root of your lashes, pulling them upwards and outwards.

Pointed: This wand has a dual use for full coverage. You can apply it as you normally would on the outer lashes. Then you can turn it and use the pointed end to lengthen.

Curved: The main purpose of a curved brush is to curl your lashes. It mimics the natural curl of the lashes, hugging your lashes from the waterline to the tip. To add even more curl and prevent drooping, start with an eyelash curler and coat with a waterproof formula.

Comb: If you have short and thin lashes, this type of wand will help grab and coat individual lashes without clumping.

Skinny: This is another style for those with shorter lashes. A skinny brush helps coat lashes from the very root, giving your lashes more definition and making them appear longer.

Jumbo: On the opposite end of the spectrum is the jumbo brush, which is best for thickening. It can give you thicker and fuller lashes in half the time of other brush styles.

Rectangle: This style is best for volume and length, as the bristles stretch and pull your lashes to greater heights. The downside is it won’t easily reach the smaller lashes at the corners of your eye.

Spiral: If you want curl, but also volume, this brush gives you the best of both worlds. It lifts the lashes as you roll, without losing out on any volume.

Ball: Larger brushes don’t always reach the root of the lash, so if your lashes are blond or fair, you may want to consider a mascara with a ball brush. It concentrates on a few lashes at a time, for root to tip coverage and can coat all the lashes that traditional brushes have trouble reaching.

Miniature: It may seem extra, but if you want a whole mascara just for your bottom lashes, there’s a brush for that. Paired with a long wear formula, you can avoid smudging using one of these super small brushes.

Be wary of counterfeit products

Diorshow Waterproof Brush

Counterfeit products made big news in 2017 when Amazon recalled thousands of eclipse glasses that could not be verified as authentic. Just as it can be hazardous to look directly at the sun without proper eye protection, counterfeit is also a concern with beauty products. It can be dangerous to apply counterfeit products to your hair or skin.

Thirty-four percent of beauty consumers discovered they were using a fake after having a bad reaction. Not only could you be applying toxic metals such as arsenic or mercury to your skin, you don’t know what other kinds of illegal operations you are funding.

Even though both brands and online marketplaces take measures to keep counterfeits off the market, it’s still a good idea to be aware when shopping online. That doesn’t mean you should never buy products online, but you should protect yourself by using the following tips to avoid purchasing (and applying) counterfeit beauty products:

  • The only way to be absolutely sure you’re getting the real deal is to buy directly from the company’s website or official retailer.
  • If you order from an online marketplace such as Amazon or Walmart, avoid third-party vendors (sellers other than the brand or authorized retailer). Check the seller’s name next to the “ships from and sold by” information.
  • If the price seems too good to be true, you should be cautious. Verify the current retail price on the brand’s website or their authorized dealers (often found on the brand’s site). Even a small discount may be an indication that it’s a fake.

How we tested

Tetyana naturals brush

Once we had our 35 mascara finalists in hand, we tested each mascara using a panel of 11 women of varying ages, ethnicities and beauty routines. We conducted tests for sensitivity, performance and wearability and how easily the mascaras were removed at the end of the day.

The skin patch test

Before our testers put the wands to their eyes, they patch-tested the product on their inner forearm in the morning. We asked them to use a cotton swab to swipe excess product from the base of the wand, then dab it on their skin. They covered it with an adhesive bandage and then checked it for redness at the end of the day.

None of our mascara finalists caused an allergic reaction on any of our eleven testers. However, since the experience is subjective (for example, those who wear contacts or are prone to allergies are more susceptible), there’s no guarantee these mascaras won’t make your eyes itchy or watery. You should always do your own patch-test first.

The performance test

In order to gain insight into the effect of each mascara on different peoples’ lashes, we had our testers wear their designated mascaras for a 12-hour period. Our testers applied the mascara at 9 am and wore it until 9 pm. Immediately after applying mascara, they rated it on a scale of one to five (with five as best) on the following metrics:

  • How evenly the mascara applies
  • How well it defines and separates
  • How much volume it adds
  • The length of the lashes after application

Later in the day, they reported on the following metrics using the same scale:

  • Whether the mascara flakes
  • Whether the mascara smudges or runs
  • Whether the mascara is heavy or sticky
  • Whether the lashes are crunchy or remain soft
  • How well the mascara lasts through the day

Then we averaged the ratings to see which mascaras performed best across the board. Mascaras often focus on one attribute, such as extreme volume or extreme length. This process allowed us to find the mascaras that did it all: providing volume, length and definition while remaining clump and smudge free.

While some of us may desire lift and others live for lengthening, the Giorgio Armani – Eyes to Kill ranked high in every category, making it an ideal choice for most consumers. The TetyanaNaturals – 4D Silk Fiber Lash was a close second, making it an excellent option if you desire length along with definition and don’t have a sensitivity to fiber extensions.

Another top contender for a mascara that doesn’t skimp on volume, definition or length is the M.A.C. – In Extreme Dimension Lash. However, it didn’t rank in the highest averages because it tends to be sticky after application and crunchy when it dries, while our top finalists left our lashes soft and fluttery.

Long lash lovers will appreciate the TetyanaNaturals – 4D Silk Fiber Lash, INIKI Organic – Long Lash Vegan, Too Faced – Better Than Sex and Dior – Diorshow Waterproof.

If you are looking for more volume, the Neutrogena – Healthy Lengths and M.A.C. – In Extreme Dimension Lash make lashes appear thicker without sacrificing definition. The Giorgio Armani – Eyes to Kill and Too Faced – Better Than Sex Waterproof are also extreme volume-boosters.

Those that want every lash to stand out will appreciate the TetyanaNaturals – 4D Silk Fiber Lash and Neutrogena – Healthy Lengths.

The removability test

The harder it is for a mascara to remove, the more tempting it is to go to bed with it still on our eyes. We all know it’s a terrible habit that stains your pillowcases and your cheeks, but you may become more disciplined once you learn that crashing with your mascara still on can contribute to blepharitis (inflammation of the eyelid that leaves your eyes looking greasy and crusted).

Some mascaras we expect to be harder to remove; the same ingredients that make a waterproof mascara stay all day make it more difficult to take off at night. But no one wants a mascara that fades by five o’clock and still requires some tugging to remove.

We had our testers gently wipe Cetaphil makeup remover wipes over their eyes after wearing their mascara for a 12-hour period. We asked them to count the number of wipes needed to fully remove mascara and then rate the mascara as easy or difficult to remove.

The vast majority of our finalists were easy or moderately easy to remove with the wipes. Notably, the Too Faced – Better Than Sex Waterproof, Maybelline – Full N’ Soft Waterproof and Dior – Diorshow Waterproof were easy to remove, despite their waterproof capability.

The fiber mascaras, TetyanaNaturals – 4D Silk Fiber Lash, AsaVea – 4D Silk Fiber Eyelash and Thrive Causemetics – Liquid Lash Extensions, were easy enough to remove from the lashes but the extending fibers would clump and ball and stick to the cheeks.

The Buxom – Lash Waterproof, Essence – Lash Princess False Lash Effect and M.A.C. – In Extreme Dimension Lash all had great staying power, but were difficult to remove before bed.

Best mascara overall

Armani Eyes To Kill

The fat asymmetrical brush and blend of hard and soft waxes makes the Giorgio Armani – Eyes to Kill a jack-of-all-trades mascara. This mascara is great for someone who wants big lashes and doesn’t want to have to watch a YouTube tutorial to make it happen.

The Giorgio Armani is a designer mascara, and it’s on the higher end of the price range of the finalists we tested. Even with blind-testing our mascaras to avoid bias, the Giorgio Armani emerged as the highest-rated mascara by our panel of testers.

It’s not too dry or too wet, and it glides through lashes easily. It has a Goldilocks sized wiper, so it leaves the right amount of product on the brush. That means that you can swipe it quickly and have big, bad lashes, but it doesn’t leave you with clumps.

We loved the buildable volume; one coat is perfect for a natural day look. Thanks to the oversized bristle weave brush, this mascara goes on faster than others. Since it gives you full and even coverage with just a swipe, you can apply it while multitasking in the morning (meaning you can get big, fluttery lashes before your toddler tips the cereal bowl all over his clean shirt).

You can ramp it up in the evening with two coats for a false lash effect. It lifts lashes and doesn’t droop or wear off, so even if you are making a quick transition between work and a night out, you can leave the tube at home and feel confident your lashes are still long, thick and lifted.

Armani on Model
Our model wearing Giorgio Armani – Eyes to Kill

Contact wearers will rejoice that it doesn’t leave a film on the lens or flake into the eyes, making it comfortable for a 12-hour stretch. It has only minimal smudging, so you don’t end up with mascara on your cheeks, even after a full day of wear.

Another top rated mascara that we recommend as an excellent overall choice is the M.A.C. – In Extreme Dimension Lash. It leaves lashes crunchier than our top pick and is more difficult to remove, but the volume, length and definition will have you batting your lashes all day.

Top Pick: Giorgio Armani - Eyes to Kill

The best all-in-one amplifies your lashes with visible volume, length and definition. At the same time, lashes remain flexible and soft for a natural effect. The look lasts all day without smudging, flaking or drooping.

Key takeaways:

  • The jumbo, asymmetrical brush of the Giorgio Armani – Eyes to Kill delivers just the right amount for an even application and defined lashes.
  • Length and volume are buildable, for instantaneous results that can be optimized with more swipes.
  • Lashes are soft and feel natural, while still appearing as long as lash extensions.
  • It is remarkably long-lasting and still washes off easily at night.

Best waterproof mascara

Diorshow Waterproof

While waterproof mascaras can be notoriously hard on your lashes, the Dior – Diorshow Waterproof is our top pick for those days when you need your mascara to be extra. It holds up through splashing, swimming and watching your best friend walk down the aisle.

Women who prize long, fat and spidery lashes will especially love the Diorshow. It lifts, lengthens and separates using an extra wide brush with bristles that are grouped closely together. This means you can swipe it through quickly and finish applying without agonizing over every little lash. It has an inky-black pigment that gives your eyes a dramatic appearance, making it a definite go-to for a special occasion.

Our testers reported that the wiper is slightly too tight, so you may need more than one coat to get the right amount of product on your lashes. However, the fat brush gives you an instantly full effect. What the testers loved most is that it isn’t heavy at all, leaves the lashes very soft and, most importantly, lasts all day with no smudging or flaking.

Diorshow Waterproof on Model
Our model wearing Diorshow – Waterproof

It’s also easy to remove when you decide to turn in, so you won’t be tempted to sleep with it on overnight.

Another good choice for a waterproof mascara is the TetyanaNaturals – 4D Silk Fiber Lash (which also happens to be our top pick for a natural mascara). We also like the Buxom – Lash Waterproof, although it does tend to leave lashes crunchier than our top pick.

Dior - Diorshow Waterproof

You’ll want to add this mascara to your spring and summertime beauty routine, as it gives you killer volume and soft lashes that can hold up to rain showers and pool parties. The thickness and length last until you say when, and can be easily removed with before bed.

Key takeaways:

  • The super wide brush gives you instantly full, fat lashes without clumping, and the formula does not budge all day.
  • Unlike waterproof mascaras that can leave your lashes crunchy, the Dior – Diorshow Waterproof gives you soft, lush-looking lashes.
  • The overall effect of the length, fullness and carbon-black pigment gives you a dramatic and intense look.
  • Waterproof mascaras can be hard on your lashes, because they require tugging and pulling to remove, but the Diorshow Waterproof removes easily.

Best drugstore mascara

Neutrogena Healthy Lengths

If you want long and natural looking lashes without splurging, the Neutrogena – Healthy Lengths gives results that rival the more expensive designer options.

If you love the separated lash look, the Neutrogena is your best bet for a drugstore mascara. It has a plastic bristle brush that’s skinny enough to reach the lashes at the corners of the eye. Our testers gave a rating of four out of five to the Neutrogena for length, but a five-out-of-five rating for definition and separation as well as volume. The formula is thin and buildable, so if you want extra length, you can apply more coats of mascara and it won’t cake up on your lashes.

The wiper is just the right size, so the formula applies evenly. It gives you fluttery, soft and separated lashes that last all day without smudging or flaking. If you want to pass yourself off as genetically blessed with good lashes (at a fraction of the price of high-end mascaras), this is the mascara you’ll love best.

One drawback is that the name may be a misnomer, as the Environmental Working Group rates this mascara as a six (one is best) in terms of hazardous ingredients. It has the poorest EWG ranking of all our mascara finalists, with fragrance being the main culprit for concern. If you have sensitive eyes or are keen on an environmentally friendly mascara, this may not be the right choice for you. Unless you are sensitive to fragrances, this may be a non issue for you.

Model wearing Neutrogena Healthy Lengths
Our model wearing Neutrogena – Healthy Lengths

If natural products are important to you, you’ll want to check out the Tetyana Naturals – 4D Silk Fiber Lash, which we cover in the next section. Our other drugstore finalists ranked low on our list, but the Maybelline – Lash Sensational would be our next choice for a drugstore mascara.

Neutrogena - Healthy Lengths

The thin formula, plastic bristles and slim wand work together to ensure all of your lashes (even at the corners of your eye) are long, defined and clump-free. With this mascara, you don’t need to pay high prices for a high-end look.

Key takeaways:

  • For a third of the price as our other finalists, the Neutrogena – Healthy Lengths gives you length, volume and definition.
  • With a thin formula and slim applicator, this mascara is ideal for those who are looking for definition.
  • It gives you a more natural look that lasts all day, without sacrificing length or volume.
  • The formula is buildable, so you can extend your lashes with additional coats.

Best natural mascara

Tetyana Naturals

The TetyanaNaturals – 4D Silk Fiber Lash is a good choice if you want long, bold lashes and don’t have a sensitivity to extending fiber particles (you may want to stay away from this one if you wear contacts as the particles can get into your eyes). It has a cone-shaped brush with plastic bristles, making it a good choice if you want to reach every last lash.

This mascara is waterproof, which makes it an excellent choice for days at the beach or special occasions. The TetyanaNaturals can be difficult to remove and leave fiber particles on your cheeks, so be sure you’re committed to a longer nighttime routine if you purchase this product.

It gets the right amount on the lashes, and applies evenly. However, there is a small trail of product on the tip of the brush, so we find we need to wipe it off before applying to avoid getting product on our cheeks.

If you apply the mascara with a simple swipe, you get natural-looking and well-defined lashes with extra length. We find that if you use a zig-zag motion to apply the mascara (wiggle it back and forth as you swipe upwards), you’ll have a lot more volume with this mascara. So depending on how you apply it, you have multiple options for how your lashes look.

While TetyanaNaturals isn’t rated by the Environmental Working Group (or the Think Dirty app), we researched individual ingredients, and the majority were rated low for concern. Only the last ingredient (triethanolamine) was listed with a moderate concern.

Model wearing Tetyana naturals
Our model wearing TetyanaNaturals – 4D Silk Fiber Lash

The mascara is also free from any of the dangerous chemicals that you probably don’t want on your face. In comparison, none of the mascaras that are top rated by EWG were as effective as we would like, so despite an official EWG rating, we feel the TetyanaNaturals is a good choice for a natural mascara.

The INIKI Organic – Long Lash Vegan is well-rated EWG mascara that we would recommend as another good natural choice.

Best for lengthening: TetyanaNaturals - 4D Silk Fiber Lash

This mascara gives you an ideal amount of length and definition, thanks to extending fibers and a plastic tapered brush that reaches into the corners for full coverage. It’s also waterproof, so your luxuriously long lashes will hold up through special occasions.

Key takeaways:

  • Extending fiber particles make the TetyanaNaturals a good choice whether you have short and sparse lashes or are naturally blessed.
  • The ingredients are listed by the EWG as low to moderate concern for the environment and your health.
  • This mascara is waterproof and lasts all day without flaking or smudging; however, it can be difficult to remove before bed.
  • Our testers report how soft and fluttery this lightweight formula leaves their lashes.

Finalists we recommend

tubes of mascara we recommend

INIKI Organic – Long Lash Vegan

If you want a natural mascara that’s big on lengthening and don’t mind a little less volume, the INIKI Organic – Long Lash Vegan is a good choice. Our testers remarked on its fluid formula; thicker mascaras can add volume but can also give them a tendency to clump. The wetness of the INIKI mascara ensures a smooth application. Because the lashes are so long and the formula is on the wet side, it can smudge on your eyelids if you don’t give it enough time to dry.

Animal testing isn’t the only thing to look out for when buying vegan-friendly cosmetics. Beeswax is commonly the first or second ingredient in mascaras, but INIKI Organic uses carnauba wax (obtained from the leaves of the Brazilian tropical palm tree).

Thrive Causemetics – Liquid Lash Extensions

If you have short lashes, you’ll appreciate the skinny wand and extending fibers of the Thrive Causemetics – Liquid Lash Extensions. This type of brush helps you reach the very root, for longer-appearing lashes. It applies evenly and gives you volume and length, but leaves room for improvement in the area of definition. The Thrive Causemetics is long wearing, although the fibers tend to clump into little balls when you’re trying to remove the mascara at night.

Thrive Causemetics is “Beauty with a Purpose”: for every product purchased, they donate to help a woman thrive.

Benefit Cosmetics – Roller Lash

The curved skinny wand of the Benefit Cosmetics – Roller Lash makes it best for lift and separation, especially if you have short lashes. It earns top marks for adding volume and length. It doesn’t flake, smudge or run and gives you soft-feeling lashes. The Roller Lash leaves the right amount on the wand, so there’s no need to wipe off extra or apply multiple coats, but it does tend to clump on lashes.

BUXOM – Lash Volumizing

The company touts the BUXOM – Lash Volumizing brush as an hourglass shape, but our testers feel it functions more as an inverted cone (wider at the top and shorter bristles packed closely together at the bottom).

An hourglass shape is best for volume and lift, while an inverted cone gives you volume and length. Either way, our testers report that it doesn’t give enough volume, perhaps because there is too little product on the brush. What it excels at is making your lashes longer, darker and more lifted. It is durable and lasts all day without smudging or running.

M.A.C. – In Extreme Dimension Lash

The M.A.C. – In Extreme Dimension Lash lost points for making lashes feel heavy and sticky, but it excelled in every other category. In fact, one of our testers was so impressed, she says she’s never using anything else again. The brush is extra long and the bristles are spread out so you can reach every lash. It has a ball tip to get root to tip coverage on each individual lash. On the flip side of all this praise, the M.A.C. is extremely difficult to remove.

C’est Moi – Muse Mascara

The C’est Moi – Muse Mascara is a top scoring natural mascara on EWG, meaning that the ingredients don’t pose any concern for you and the environment. The formula tends to be heavy, but it still leaves lashes soft. There’s no flaking or smudging, and it lasts all day.

The wiper leaves just the right amount of product on the applicator, but even though the brush separates lashes, the formula causes them to stick together again, and you have to work at definition.

Dior – Diorshow

The Dior – Diorshow has a pointed tip on a fat brush, so once you coat all your lashes, you can go back and focus on lengthening. It does leave a little too much product on the brush, so it doesn’t apply as evenly as we would like. We wouldn’t recommend this mascara for achieving volume or flexible lashes, but if you’re looking for definition (and don’t mind a floral scent), this could be a good choice.

Buxom – Lash Waterproof

The Buxom – Lash Waterproof is an excellent runner up to our top pick for a waterproof mascara. It leaves lashes a little too much on the sticky and crunchy side to be our first choice, but it receives high marks across the board for even application, definition, volume and length.
Like the other Buxom mascara we tested, it has an hourglass brush, but the waterproof formula delivers better results in terms of volume.

Urban Decay – Perversion

The fat brush and tight wiper of the Urban Decay – Perversion gets just the right amount of product on the brush and applies evenly, but the formula leaves something to be desired. There is little definition, separating or lengthening. It does add volume and lasts all day, so if that’s a priority, you might still consider the Urban Decay.

Benefit – They’re Real!

The Benefit – They’re Real! has a pointed brush for lengthening, and it really does an incredible job at giving you long, natural-looking lashes. If you were lucky enough to be born with lush lashes, it enhances them. If your lashes are on the shorter and sparser side, the Benefit makes them appear longer and thicker. It stays all day, but is difficult to remove at night. The other downside is that it tends to leave lashes slightly crunchy, rather than fluttery.

Glossier – Lash Slick

The Glossier – Lash Slick is fine if you want separation and lengthening, but don’t mind less volume and little definition. The tapered brush helps you get into the corners of the eye, and the wiper leaves the right amount of product on the brush for an even application. There is some slight smudging, and the mascara is less noticeable by evening.

Hourglass – Caution Extreme Lash

The Hourglass – Caution Extreme Lash has a slightly fatter brush that coats your lashes with the right amount of formula. It applies evenly, but it doesn’t provide the definition, volume or length we are looking for. It has a tendency to smudge, and only lasts halfway through the day.

Mineral Fusion – Volumizing Mascara

The wiper of the Mineral Fusion – Volumizing Mascara is tight, so there is little product left on the brush, and it requires multiple coats. If you’re looking for volume or length, you’ll want to steer away from this one, as it leaves a lot to be desired in these areas.

Too Faced – Better Than Sex Waterproof

This brand was the first to come out with the hourglass-shaped brush, which gets every last lash and has been copied by other brands since its arrival on the market. However, the Too Faced – Better Than Sex Waterproof leaves a little too much product on the brush and therefore tends to smudge. If you want volume and length and can take a little more time to carefully apply your mascara, this is a good one.

Maybelline – Lash Sensational

One tester reported that despite passing the sensitivity test on her arm, the Maybelline – Lash Sensational irritated her eyes. The wiper is overly large and leaves too much product on the wand, which leads to an uneven application and clumping. It defines but doesn’t separate lashes. It adds volume and length and looks the same at the end of the day as when you first apply it.

Too Faced – Better Than Sex

The Too Faced – Better Than Sex ran into a similar issue as the waterproof formula. Despite the volumizing effects of the hourglass brush, the wiper is too big. This leads to too much product, clumping and sticky lashes that feel crunchy when dry. We do love the staying power and big lashes this mascara gives us!

Essence – Lash Princess False Lash Effect

The best thing about the Essence – Lash Princess False Lash Effect is that it doesn’t run, even with teary eyes. It didn’t make it as a contender for top pick, because it leaves too much formula on the lashes. One of our testers found she has to use her finger to get the lashes to separate. It clumps, flakes and doesn’t add enough volume or length to make up for the zealous amount of product.

theBalm – Mad Lash

If lifting is what you want, theBalm – Mad Lash delivers with its curved brush. The product applies evenly, but you may need to go over your lashes a few times to get the desired look. It separates well, has decent volume and a good length. It leaves your lashes soft and isn’t heavy, but it does leave little flakes and can get on your lid pretty easily when applying.

Finalists we do not recommend 

No7 – Lash Impact Ultra

The No7 – Lash Impact Ultra left us feeling a little meh. Despite a tapered brush, this mascara does little to define or separate. It adds an okay amount of volume and length, but wears off by the end of the day and left our lashes looking droopy. The best thing we can say about it is that it doesn’t flake or smudge.

CoverGirl – LashBlast Volume

The CoverGirl – LashBlast Volume has a plump brush with defined bristles, and delivers a little bit extra formula than you need. Because of this, it’s easy to get mascara on the top of your lid when applying but it doesn’t smudge once dry. It gives a little more volume than other drugstore mascaras, but doesn’t do much to lengthen or define. Our testers had to use the tip of the brush to separate lashes.

Vivienne Sabó – Cabaret Première

The Vivienne Sabó – Cabaret Première is a good all-around mascara, although it adds more length than it does volume. It does not apply evenly, has a tendency to clump on the lashes and doesn’t stay put, so there’s some slight smudging throughout the day. In our ratings, this mascara earns an average of four out of five, but it doesn’t have the wow factor.

Peter Thomas Roth – Lashes to Die For

The wiper of the Peter Thomas Roth – Lashes to Die For could use some minimizing, as it leaves too much product on the brush, causing the mascara to smudge onto our lashes and cheeks. It defines lashes but doesn’t separate them, again because there is too much product. It adds a minimal amount of length and volume, but it does last most of the day.

L’Oreal Paris – Voluminous Butterfly

The purpose of the wing-tip applicator from L’Oreal Paris – Voluminous Butterfly has an asymmetrical lash line shape to extend and lift corner lashes. It’s also supposed to volumize lashes by reaching the roots and stretching lashes outward, but our testers found it didn’t add any volume. They reported that it only adds a little length, as well. The primary benefits they found are definition and separation. It leaves lashes soft, lasts all day and doesn’t smudge.

Lancôme – Définicils

The Lancôme – Définicils is overly enthusiastic with its delivery of product, so it does not apply evenly and leaves lashes somewhat crunchy. It has good longevity and stays where it should, but doesn’t do much in the first place to add volume, definition or length.

AsaVea – 4D Silk Fiber Eyelash

The AsaVea – 4D Silk Fiber Eyelash has a tapered plastic bristle brush, so it applies evenly and separates fairly well. It takes a couple of coats to get the desired effect, but the end result is lengthy lashes with some volume and no flaking or smudging. It does have a sticky feel upon application and is slightly crunchy when dry. Like our other fiber mascaras, it is somewhat difficult to remove.

Milk Makeup – Kush High Volume

There was way too much product on the Milk Makeup – Kush High Volume, to the point where we had to wipe it against the tube. Because of this, it was difficult to apply and lashes clump. It smudges throughout the day for the same reason. The most disappointing part was that for all the extra formula, it does little to add volume or length.

W3LL People – Expressionist

If you’re going for a bare-faced makeup-free look, you’ll appreciate the slight enhancement of the W3LL People – Expressionist. It leaves just the right amount of product on the applicator and separates lashes. Since it doesn’t add much volume, it doesn’t define them as much as it separates. Our testers reported that it is comfortable to wear until it starts to smudge (and it does), then it starts to feel sticky under your bottom lashes.

Tarte – Lights, Camera, Lashes

The Tarte – Lights, Camera, Lashes does little more than darken lashes and tends to wear off by the end of the day. It leaves the right amount of product on the wand and applies evenly, but does little to separate or define. It adds minimal length and volume and flakes during the day.

CoverGirl – Clump Crusher

The curved brush of the CoverGirl – Clump Crusher makes it good for lifting, and it’s great at applying evenly and giving lashes definition. It doesn’t add volume or length, so it’s a better mascara for those who want lift and a natural look. You may be able to get a little more effect with multiple coats, as the wiper is tight and leaves little product on the brush.

Marc Jacobs Beauty – O!Mega Lash Volumizing

The Marc Jacobs Beauty – O!Mega Lash Volumizing doesn’t really do much for us in any of the metrics we considered. It delivers the right amount of product, but is just moderate across the board: length, volume and definition were not what we anticipated. The formula is heavy and leaves lashes crunchy when dry. The good news is that it’s easy to remove.

Maybelline – Full N’ Soft Waterproof

Our testers report that the brush of the Maybelline – Full N’ Soft Waterproof feels cheap and flimsy. It delivers the right amount, but you have to use multiple coats for any effect. It doesn’t define or separate unless you use the tip of the brush. It doesn’t feel heavy or sticky, but it won’t last you all day, either.

IT Cosmetics – Superhero

The IT Cosmetics – Superhero was the lowest rated of the mascara finalists we tested. It delivers too much product, so the lashes end up stuck together rather than defined or separated. They feel crunchy when dry, as well. It does add a lot of volume, but very little length.

The bottom line

We all want something specific when it comes to our lashes, be it a higher lift or longer lashes. However, the Giorgio Armani – Eyes to Kill is a real crowd pleaser and caters to a wide demographic with its ability to volumize, define and lengthen lashes. We consider it a one-size-fits-most mascara with mass appeal, especially since it has enough longevity to last from dawn to dusk and is still easy to remove.

For those who need more staying power, the Dior – Diorshow Waterproof is our recommendation. The hourglass shape gives you volume and length for bold, stunning lashes that stay coated through rain, sweat or tears.

If there’s one beauty item you don’t need to splurge on to look good, it’s mascara. The Neutrogena – Healthy Lengths proves this point by defining lashes and adding volume almost as well as its designer competition. Despite its name, it adds more definition than length, but it is without a doubt the mascara you’ll want to grab the next time you’re in the beauty aisle of your local drugstore.

P.s. if you want even longer, fuller lashes, check out our review of the best magnetic eyelashes.

Top Pick: Giorgio Armani - Eyes to Kill

The brush, formula and wiper work in harmony to ensure the perfect amount of product ends up on the brush, so you can texturize lashes quickly without the dreaded clumps.

Bethany Wilk, Editor

Bethany Wilk loves words like you love bacon. Or soy bacon, if that's how you roll. From writing to reading, Bethany is happiest immersed in the world made possible by letters on page--book or web. She brings this passion to her work for Your Best Digs.

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