Even before everyone started wearing face masks to help slow the spread of Covid-19, I rarely left my apartment without swiping on some mascara. Now I literally never leave my home without layering on a couple coats. Like, if my eyes are basically the only thing that anyone is going to see when I step outside, they better look really damn good. But the thing is, finding the perfect mascara that thickens, lengthens, and curls your lashes and lasts for hours without smudging or flaking is low-key difficult. And since I’m actually obsessed with mascaras—seriously, I’ve probably tried a billion and one mascaras in my lifetime—I’ve decided to help you out. Ahead, the 22 best mascaras of all time (so you can stop wasting your $$$).
Psst: Check out a quick preview of the best mascaras of 2020, below, then keep scrolling for the full review.
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Best Vegan Mascara
Marc Jacobs Beauty At Lash’d Lengthening and Curling Mascara
This mascara is my current obsession—all it takes is a couple of coats to get your lashes long, full, and insanely curly. And you don’t have to worry about clumping or flaking either—the vegan formula is lightweight, giving you super-black lashes without any fallout.
Best Mascara for Short Lashes
Pat McGrath Dark Star Volumizing Mascara
With tiny, dense bristles, this lash-catching brush grips and coats every lash—even the smallest and shortest ones—giving you fanned-out and full-looking lashes. Plus, the gel-hybrid formula offers major length and color, without any of the weight.
Best Colored Mascara
Sephora Collection Volume On Mascara
It’s time to give your black mascara a break and experiment with a colored hue on your lashes. The bb bristles on this one coat every lash in a vibrant shade, adding volume and length. You can go ahead and skip the lipstick—this bold look is enough to make people do a double take.
Best Waterproof Mascara
Too Faced Better Than Sex Waterproof Mascara
This cult-favorite formula has an hourglass-shaped wand that separates and curls each lash, giving you an intense and doe-eyed finish. Your lashes are going to be curly (not clumpy) and very long (not spidery). Plus, the waterproof formula is gentle and easy to remove—AKA you won’t be stuck scrubbing your lashes with soap in the PM.
Best Lengthening Mascara
Benefit Cosmetics They’re Real! Lengthening Mascara
Best Organic Mascara
Juice Beauty Phyto-Pigments Ultra-Natural Mascara
Don’t think that just because this mascara is made with organic ingredients (hi, aloe leaf juice, argan powder, and plant wax), it doesn’t work. This mascara won’t clump or flake, and it’ll give you long, full, va-va-voom lashes.
Best Fiber Mascara
Milk Makeup Kush High Volume Mascara
Not only is this mascara’s formula filled with conditioning CBD oil, it also has little bb fibers that legit lock onto your lashes, leaving you with volume, length, and curl. Plus, the wand has teeny-tiny bristles at the top, perfect for reaching those inner-corner lashes.
Best Tubing Mascara
You’re probably wondering WTF a tubing mascara even is, right? Well, tubing mascaras wrap each lash in tubelike polymers—it sounds strange, but it works so well. After you swipe it on, your lashes won’t budge until it’s time to wipe it off. This one gives you volume and length without making your lashes look spidery.
Best Non-Smudging Mascara
Nars Climax Mascara
This mascara is my absolute go-to—I literally wear it every day. The full wand has ribbed bristles that coat every single one of my lashes for realistic lift and curl without clumps. I can wear it through a full day of work (or a full night out) and I never end up with flakes or smudges under my eyes.
Best Mascara for a Natural Look
Glossier Lash Slick
Best Volumizing Mascara
Lancôme Monsieur Big Mascara
My makeup-obsessed friend swears by this mascara, and for good reason: The super-voluminous formula amps up her lashes without smearing onto her hooded eyelids throughout the day. The fat brush also makes it easy to load on the pigments, yet its tightly packed bristles help comb out clumps before they happen. Basically, it’s a game changer.
Best Lightweight Mascara
Benefit Cosmetics BadGal Bang! Volumizing Mascara
One swipe of this long-wear mascara (it’s supposed to last 36 hours, but hell no—wash your face!) will make your lashes look instantly voluminous and long AF. And if you hate the feeling of thick, heavy mascara, don’t worry—this formula uses incredibly light particles (derived from ~space~ technology) that feel like nothing on your lashes. Really.
Best Cruelty-Free Mascara
Tarte Maneater Voluptuous Mascara
This lengthening, curling, and volumizing cruelty-free mascara has a soft-flex brush (translation: its bristles are super wiggly, which helps them slide around your lashes) along with an ultra-dark jet-black finish. The result? Thick, smokey lashes that almost demand a sultry, movie-level squint.
Best Drugstore Mascara
Covergirl Clump Crusher Extensions Mascara
Want to look like you have lash extensions without dealing with any of the upkeep? Meet your new fave mascara. Its curved brush cups your lashes to lightly curl them while building volume and length. This mascara is also meant to be layered, so you can really wriggle it on without worrying about clumps.
The Best Mascara for Super-Thick Lashes
Urban Decay Perversion Mascara
The bristles on this mascara are twisted, meaning they latch on to each and every lash to separate and define them. The result? Big-ass lashes—i.e., longer and thicker with more intense definition, as if you’re wearing a set of falsies.
Best Strengthening Mascara
IT Cosmetics Superhero Elastic Stretch Volumizing Mascara
This mascara is kind of insane. The formula contains peptides and proteins to make your lashes stronger over time along with lash-lifting polymers to help thicken them as soon as you swipe it on. The bristles are short and densely packed—you can get close to the root of your lash without smudging your eyelid.
Best Mascara for a Custom Finish
L’Oréal Paris Voluminous Lash Paradise Washable Mascara
With an hourglass shape, this mascara is perfect for customizing how much product you want to apply. The longer bristles on the ends deposit more pigment onto the lash, while the smaller bristles deposit less. Basically, you’ll be able to create any lash look, from the seriously dramatic to the very chill, depending on how you hold your brush.
Best Mascara for Thin Lashes
Pixi by Petra Lash Lift 188
If this dual-chamber mascara looks intense, it’s because it is—in the best of ways. Unscrew the middle of the wand, and you’ve got a volumizing brush for your top lashes. Then unscrew just the top of the bottle, and you’ll find a skinny precision spoolie that’s perfect for grabbing onto all the itty-bitty lashes the first brush couldn’t reach.
Best Clump-Free Mascara
Grande Cosmetics Grande Mascara
With strengthening peptides, moisturizing panthenol, and special waxes and emollients that help seal in moisture, this mascara’s formula delivers a clump-free application that will leave your lashes looking insanely thick and glossy.
Best Mascara for Sensitive Eyes
BareMinerals Lashtopia Mega Volume Mineral-Based Mascara
Looking for a mascara that gives you super-long lashes with lots of volume and a fanned-out finish? This paraben-, sulfate-, and phthalate-free pitch-black formula has you covered, thanks to its 600 staggered bristles that coat each and every lash. And its cruelty-free, mineral formula makes it extra gentle on sensitive eyes.
Best Mascara That Curls Lashes
Maybelline Volum’ Express The Falsies Push Up Mascara
Like a push-up bra for your lashes, this wand will do the job of your lash curler (so go ahead and skip that step in your routine). The brush cups and lifts your lashes from root to tip, giving you the perfect ultra-dramatic look.
Best Mascara for a Dramatic Look
Dior Diorshow Pump’N’Volume Mascara
Talk about a truly custom lash look. This mascara’s packaging has a squeezable base that, with every pump, builds the formula onto the brush, giving you a more dramatic finish. Want a regular, everyday look? Skip pumping the bottle or give it one baby pump and then apply.
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