Mascara is the one makeup item that almost every woman owns. For many of us, it might be the only item we’ll wear if we’re in a rush: a quick swipe of mascara, optionally followed by applying a bit of lip gloss to the lips. This is no surprise – long lashes are, for some reason, closely associated with femininity. If you draw a simple smiley face everyone will assume it’s male, but a few lines to mimic lashes will instantly turn it female.
Few makeup products do so much in so little time, helping to make the eyes look larger and in turn making us appear more youthful! It’s no surprise then that most of us have gone through the effort of furiously searching for the best mascara.
We go on to explain the history of mascara, and then get into a comprehensive mascara guide, in which we let you know which mascaras are best for each eye and eyelash type based on formula and wand. I’ve written out the ultimate step-by-step guide to applying mascara flawlessly, along with some additional advice based on eye shape.
You’ll want to get all of that mascara off at the end of the day, of course, so we’ve given instructions for easy mascara removal that won’t irritate your eyes. I added a few more mascara hacks to really elevate your application, and I also answer some key questions about expiration dates, colored mascaras, and more!
Your Mascara Makeup Guide: Contents
19 Best Mascaras on the Market to Shop Now
In this section, we’ve reviewed the 19 best mascaras you can buy at any price point and for every eyelash type.
1. Too Faced Better Than Sex Mascara
With a name like that, this mascara has to deliver. What makes this one of the best mascaras on the market is its incredible volumizing and lengthening ability. The wand itself is hourglass-shaped with traditional bristles, so it helps keep the lashes curled. The smudge-proof formula is enriched with peptides to fortify the lashes, and it comes in a deep black shade, because really, who needs other colors? Buy it at Sephora!
2. YSL Volume Effet Faux Cils Mascara
Volumizing, lengthening, and yet also seriously separating? Indeed, this is a true workhorse that definitely deserves recognition as one of the best mascaras all around. The formula is fairly long-lasting without ever getting “crunchy” or “spidery”, and it has a straight bristle brush for the traditionalists. This mascara is available in 6 fun colors at Nordstrom.
3. Benefit Cosmetics They’re Real! Lengthening & Volumizing Mascara
This might be the best mascara with a plastic wand – a wand that is especially excellent for lash separation. While it does that beautifully, it still manages to give the lashes a long, voluminous look, which is what we all crave. Some people do find it to be on the heavy side, and prefer a lighter mascara for a better curl. Find it in black or deep brown at Sephora!
4. Glossier Lash Slick
This gorgeous black mascara from Glossier is a big crowd-pleaser. If you like a tiny, delicate wand but don’t want to give up the lengthening effect of a bigger brush, then this would be the best mascara for you. It has little fibers that grab on to the lashes and add length in a film-forming formula that holds a curl very well. It is not super-volumizing, so give it a try if you find other mascaras make your lashes look too thick or bulky. Get this mascara directly from Glossier!
5. Urban Decay Perversion Mascara
As one of the creamier options on this list, this is the best mascara to use if you find that most formulas get flakey or clumpy on your lashes. It will give your lashes natural definition without extremes – if your lashes are already long or thick, this might be an excellent choice. As an added benefit, there are many conditioning ingredients in this formula to get your lashes soft and healthy. It is available at Sephora in black.
6. Chanel Le Volume de Chanel Mascara
This is another one of the best mascaras for the drama lovers! It thickens, separates and lengthens with a unique brush that has bristles at different lengths for full lash coverage. It’s easy to build up and layer, and at the end of the day it should come off with ease. Purchase your best fit from three colors at Nordstrom!
7. Lancôme Hypnôse Custom Volume Mascara
From Lancôme we have a mascara with an itty-bitty brush and a big impact. The thin bristle wand is perfect for those who like a precise application and maximum lash separation, as the formula itself works double time to give gorgeous volume. It’s quite buildable for those who like layering it on, and contains a touch of panthenol to keep the lashes hydrated. Order it in brown or black from Sephora!
8. Maybelline Lash Sensational Mascara
Maybelline is one of the first brands to release mascara commercially, so it’d be quite an issue if they didn’t have some of the best mascaras in their catalog. They prove that you don’t have to break your piggy bank to rock awesome lashes.
Lash Sensation, in particular, is great for those who want real drama. It’s a buildable, super lengthening and volumizing formula that still manages to keep some separation. The wand itself is curved for a better curling and fanning effect, which is favored by those with straight lashes. Find this Maybelline mascara at Ulta Beauty!
9. Milk Makeup KUSH High Volume Mascara
There is a lot of buzz around this hemp oil-infused mascara. While we really like hemp oil for skin, we don’t think it’s the secret to the magic of this mascara. No, the reason why this mascara is so good is its intensely black formula and big, volumizing bristle brush. It gives serious volume and length, although we’ll admit it’s a little heavy for some. It comes out super wet at first, so you might want to give it a bit of time to dry before you can really fall in love. You can get it from Sephora.
10. Clinique High Impact Mascara
If the words you look for when choosing a new mascara are “length” and “separation”, then this might be the one. It has a precise bristle wand that is of a medium size, and a formula that stays soft and lush without ever getting dry or clumpy. It does provide some volume, but it also holds a curl very well. As with other mascaras from older brands, it comes in both black and brown. It is sold at Nordstrom.
11. Kevyn Aucoin The Volume Mascara in Rich Pitch Black
When you need something that is guaranteed not to budge or smudge, the best mascara to try would definitely be a tubing mascara. While not amazing on the volume side of things (despite their name), they are excellent for giving lash and separation. The removal itself is easy as well, since they come off in little tubes with just a bit of warm water. The brush on this mascara is super thin, making precise application a breeze. It is available online through Net-a-Porter.
12. Dior Diorshow Mascara
As far as prestige mascaras go, this one has certainly managed to achieve icon status. This is likely because of its ability to give massive, doll-like lashes to just about anyone, thanks to the microfibers embedded in the formula. While some find it heavy, others swear by it. The brush is large, so it’s very volumizing and separating but also a little unwieldy. Purchase one in black, blue, or brown from Sephora!
13. Estée Lauder Sumptuous Extreme Lash Multiplying Volume Mascara
This is another one of the best mascaras for those who want a false lash effect. It lengthens beautifully and gives some volume, in a buildable formula that doesn’t clump. It has a classic bristle brush that works for most lash types, and a gold tube that is oh-so-luxe. You can get it at Nordstrom.
14. L’Oréal Telescopic Carbon Black Mascara
This unique mascara gives length, separation and precise control, and it stands as one of the best mascaras out there even though it’s just a drugstore product. The plastic brush is very skinny with small, spikey bristles, so it can be easily used to reach small lashes in the inner corner of the eye or for applying mascara to the lower lashes. It’s not as volumizing as L’Oreal’s Lash Paradise mascara, but not everyone wants volume. Pop into Ulta Beauty to buy it!
15. Make Up For Ever Smoky Lash Mascara
Thick, long lashes in one swipe? Yup, it’s possible. This ultra-volumizing mascara stands out for its ability to give massive lashes quickly without feeling heavy on the eyes. It is comparable to Better Than Sex, but in sleek black packaging and without the cringey name. As long as you’re careful to wipe the brush before using you shouldn’t experience any clumpiness – just joy. It is available at Sephora.
16. Eyeko Lash Alert Mascara in Black
I’m a sucker for unique packaging, so this squeeze-tube mascara got me intrigued right off the bat. There are lots of great mascara options from Eyeko, but we loved this one for its lash-boosting ingredients and its phenomenal longevity. It gives long, voluminous and separate lashes that last all day, even through rain or tears. Order it online from Net-a-Porter!
17. Covergirl Clump Crusher Mascara
This Covergirl mascara got popular as a dupe for Benefit’s They’re Real, but the truth is it’s best to judge it all on its own merits. The curved plastic brush gives maximum curl and separation, with a formula that easily thickens and lengthens the lashes. It works for nearly everyone and reaches a nice mid-point between natural and dramatic. You can buy it from Ulta Beauty.
18. Hourglass Film Noir Full Spectrum Mascara
As fuss-free as a mascara can be! This mascara goes on easily, giving lashes a perfect thickened and lengthened effect without the need for wiping or building up layers. The brush is hourglass-shaped, which…