The 29 Best Mascaras for the Thickest, Longest Lashes of Your Life


Hot take: Shopping for the best mascaras is way more challenging than finding the perfect, say, foundation. Think about it—at least you can use the foundation testers at the makeup counter check your undertones and see how it feels on your skin, but mascara? Uh, swiping that ish on your hand doesn’t tell you anything about how long the formula lasts, how well it curls, or holds, or volumizes, or (my biggest pet peeve) flakes off. So what are you left to do? Read a billion reviews, ask all of your friends, and ultimately stay paralyzed with indecision. So that’s where we come in. Because shopping for mascara is tricky, so we came up with a helpful shopping guide for you below with our favorite top-rated mascaras of all time.

Take it from someone who rarely meets a mascara they like: Finding the best mascara for your lashes takes lots of trial and error. Use this guide with tips from makeup artist Jenna Nicole to help you weed out the ones you definitely won’t like, so you can find your perfect match. Here’s exactly what to examine in a mascara before making your purchase:

First, choose whether you want volumizing, thickening, curling, or lengthening benefits. While some offer multiple benefits, most mascaras fall into one of those categories. According to Nicole, the main difference between the formulas is how much pigment or wax it contains, but the main factor that contributes to the end results of your lashes is the brush. This leads us to the next important step to do:

Sometimes, a formula can be excellent, but the brush is worthless, so you won’t ever get the look you want. “It really comes down to the wand applicator to give you the difference of a lengthened, curled, or voluminous look,” Nicole says. Like unique little snowflakes, mascara brushes come in every size, shape, bristle length, and material, and each design helps you achieve different end results.

Here’s a helpful tip from Nicole to keep in mind when basing your decision around the applicator: The size of the brush will mirror the effect it has on your lashes. “A fat and fluffy applicator will give you voluminous, fat and fluffy lashes,” Nicole explains. “A long, skinny, more-precise wand will give you long, skinny, clump-free lashes.”

Waterproof, tubing, regular—the formula you choose will determine how long your mascara lasts and how well it wears throughout the day. Waterproof is the best option if you know you’ll be doing one of the three S-words: sweating, swimming, or shedding tears. These formulas can be stubborn to remove, so when you need budge-proof or smudge-proof mascara, but not necessarily the lasting power of a waterproof formula, go with a tubing mascara.

Tubing mascaras coat your lashes in polymers and come off like little tubes with your fingers and water. And lastly, regular mascara. These are the most likely to flake, run, and smear, but they’re also very flexible on the lashes, comfortable to wear, and easy to remove, so they all have their pros and cons.

Black is always a classic choice, but it’s not the only choice, so don’t waste an opportunity to really amplify and enhance your eye makeup look with a colored mascara instead. Nicole suggests, “playing with a midnight blue or deep plum mascara next time you do a smokey eye” to elevate your look and make your eyes pop. Opting for brown instead of blackest black will give your eyes a softer, less dramatic look that’s perfect for low-key days.

Got a better idea of what you’re looking for in a formula? Then let’s get to shopping!

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