The 19 Best Mascaras for Gorgeous, Gorgeous Lashes

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Byrdie / Chloe Jeong

Finding the best mascara is a very personal thing. After all, there are many variables involved: the shape of your eyes, the quality of your lashes, the look you want to achieve, the mascara formula and the type of wand you prefer. And believe it or not, we see the same mascaras crop up in beauty editors’ makeup bags and best-mascara compilations time and again. That said, we discovered the mascaras that really deliver.

Byrdie Researched & Approved

Top honors go to the Kiss Me Heroine Make Long & Curl Mascara, a bold mascara that creates lash curls that hold all day. For a more budget-friendly pick, the iconic Great Lash Mascara by Maybelline provides impressive volume for a full lash look.

From luxury options to inexpensive go-to's, mascaras don’t have to cost a lot of money. All you want them to do is make your lashes as incredible as possible without having to reach for the falsies (unless you’d like to!).

Here, we’ve narrowed down the best mascaras on the market.

Best Overall: Kiss Me Heroine Make Long & Curl Mascara Waterproof

heroine make mascara

Courtesy of Amazon 

What We Like
  • Waterproof and won't smudge

  • Richly pigmented

  • Conditioning formula

What We Don't Like
  • Can be difficult to remove

What do buyers say? 80% of 6,800+ Amazon reviewers rated this product 4 stars or above.

This Japanese mascara holds curl all day, lengthens, separates and coats lashes in the blackest black we've seen from nearly any mascara, ever. It's also waterproof, so you can expect the formula to stay put all day no matter the climate. No, really—it's quite impressive how little this mascara budges once it's on. Prepare to be seriously wowed.

Benefits: Separates, curls, lengthens | Size: 0.2 fl. oz | Shades: 1 | Waterproof: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes

Best Budget: Maybelline Great Lash Waterproof Mascara

4.7
Maybelline Great Lash Waterproof Mascara

Maybelline

What We Like
  • Richly pigmented

  • Volumizes

  • Lashes look naturally long

What We Don't Like
  • Tube may dry out quickly

This recognizable (and iconic) pink-and-green tube has been a beauty favorite since it launched 45 years ago (yep, you read that right). It thickens lashes, and the Very Black shade really helps to define the eyes. It’s affordable, too.

Benefits: Volumizes, lengthens | Size: 0.4 fl. oz | Shades: 3 | Waterproof: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: No

Best Budget, Runner-Up: Essence Cosmetics Lash Princess False Lash Effect Mascara

4.8
Essence Lash Princess False Lash Effect Mascara
What We Like
  • Very affordable

  • Wand coats and separates each lash

  • Lasts without flaking

What We Don't Like
  • Doesn't curl lashes much

This bestselling mascara delivers major volume at an ultra-affordable price point. Its cone-shaped fiber brush helps build thickness and length for all-day wear—no flaking or fading, here. Plus, it's ophthalmologist-tested and certified cruelty-free.

Benefits: Volumizes, separates, lengthens | Size: 0.3 fl. oz | Shades: 1 | Waterproof: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes

essence lash princess mascara

 Byrdie / Ashley Rebecca

What Our Testers Say

"My lashes immediately looked longer, fuller, and separated. I did not notice much of a curl with this formula, but the biggest takeaway was how long my lashes looked and the instant definition." — Ashley Rebecca, Product Tester

Best Drugstore: L'Oréal Paris Voluminous Lash Paradise Mascara

4.8
L’Oréal Paris Voluminous Lash Paradise Washable Mascara
What We Like
  • Can be reapplied throughout the day

  • Doesn't clump when applied

  • Dries quickly without flaking

What We Don't Like
  • Product gathers on wand and clumps

While slightly pricier than other drugstore mascaras, this one from L’Oreal is impressive. This mascara volumizes and leaves you with feathery, long lashes. It doesn’t flake or clump, though you can add extra coats if you prefer spidery lashes. Though not technically waterproof, the mascara is generally found to be long-wearing anyway. Packaged in a metallic pink tube, this is a well-formulated mascara that stacks up against higher-end mascaras.

Benefits: Volumizes, lengthens | Size: 0.3 fl. oz | Shades: 4 | Waterproof: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: No

l'oreal paris voluminous lash paradise mascara

Byrdie / Ashley Rebecca 

What Our Testers Say

"When I re-applied this mascara just for fun, it made them look darker and thicker, but it didn’t clump at all." — Ashley Rebecca, Product Tester

Best Drugstore, Runner-Up: L'Oréal Paris Voluminous Original Mascara

4.4
loreal paris voluminous original mascara

Courtesy of Amazon

What We Like
  • Range of available shades

  • Richly pigmented

  • Lightweight

What We Don't Like
  • Can smear

Key Ingredients

Panthenol is the provitamin—a precursor, or substance that the body can convert into a specific vitamin—for B5. It binds to and holds water effectively, moisturizing the skin and helping it maintain softness and elasticity.

We'd be remiss not to mention this tried-and-true volume-building option from L'Oreal Paris, too. Designed to build lashes up to five times their usual thickness, this formula contains panthenol and ceramide-R to protect and condition, while its brush separates lashes to build volume evenly (and sans any clumping).

Benefits: Separates, volumizes | Size: 0.3 fl. oz | Shades: 7 | Waterproof: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: No

Best Lengthening: Benefit Cosmetics They're Real! Lengthening Mascara

4.7
Benefit They're Real! Lengthening & Volumizing Mascara

Courtesy of Nordstrom

What We Like
  • Holds a curl

  • Lengthens

  • Formula isn't runny

What We Don't Like
  • Can be difficult to remove

This is Benefit’s best-selling mascara—and for good reason. As a does-it-all option, this mascara lengthens, thickens and separates lashes. The clever wand has bristles on the tip so you can zero in on even the smallest lashes.

Benefits: Separates, curls, lengthens | Size: 0.3 fl. oz | Shades: 1 | Waterproof: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: No

Best Lengthening, Runner-Up: Revlon Super Length Mascara

revlon super length mascara

Courtesy of Revlon

What We Like
  • Separates and lengthens

  • Doesn't flake

  • Portable packaging

What We Don't Like
  • Contains parabens

Whether you have naturally long lashes or struggle with shorter ones, this super-affordable mascara lengthens and separates in just a few swipes. It coat lashes in a true black without weighing them down for a fluttery fringe that doesn’t flake or clump. What's more, the highly portable pill-shaped container stands up well to being tossed around in your bag, making this choice great for travelers or gym-goers.

Benefits: Separates, lengthens | Size: 0.3 fl. oz | Shades: 2 | Waterproof: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: No

Best for Sensitive Eyes: Tarte Lights, Camera, Lashes 4-in-1 Mascara

Tarte Lights, Camera, Lashes 4-in-1 Mascara

 Courtesy of Amazon

What We Like
  • Doesn't irritate eyes

  • Vegan

  • Lengthens and separates

What We Don't Like
  • Can smear

Key Ingredients

Mineral oil is a colorless and odorless petrolatum derivative; when used in cosmetics, it's highly refined and purified and therefore does not contain the contaminants that unrefined petroleum has been known for. Because it sits on top of the skin, it's quite comedogenic (pore-clogging).

If you have sensitive eyes, this popular vegan mascara is the perfect pick. It’s ophthalmologist- and dermatologist-tested, as well as hypoallergenic—plus it's free of mineral oil, parabens, and phthalates, and is safe for those who wear contacts. But that's hardly the only reason why it has nearly 4K five-star reviews on Sephora: Its formula curls, lengthens, volumizes, and conditions the lashes, and its 360-degree wand makes application a snap (no flaking or clumping, here).

Benefits: Separates, curls, lengthens | Size: 0.2 fl. oz | Shades: 1 | Waterproof: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes

Best Waterproof: Lancôme Hypnôse Drama Waterproof Mascara

lancome hypnose mascara

Courtesy of Lancome

What We Like
  • Richly pigmented

  • Adds major volume

  • Holds a curl

What We Don't Like
  • Curved brush may not be for some

This mascara from Lancome manages to incorporate the long-wearing properties of waterproof mascara with the volumizing and lengthening qualities of regular formulas. The curvy wand thickens eyelashes in one swipe, but you can double up on coats for even more dramatic lashes. Reviewers said this mascara helped their eyelashes remained curled without transferring onto their skin.

Benefits: Volumizes, curls | Size: 0.2 fl. oz | Shades: 1 | Waterproof: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: No

Best Natural: Thrive Causemetics Liquid Lash Extensions Mascara

4.6
Thrive Cosmetics Liquid Lash Extensions Mascara

Courtesy of Thrive Cosmetics

What We Like
  • Very lengthening

  • Conditioning formula

  • Vegan

What We Don't Like
  • Can irritate sensitive eyes

Key Ingredients

Sodium hyaluronate is a water-soluble salt that's derived from hyaluronic acid, which can be found naturally in the body. Like hyaluronic acid, sodium hyaluronate binds up to 1,000 times its own weight in water, but this form can penetrate deeper into the skin due to its lower molecular weight and is more stable.

Formulated without parabens, phthalates, sulfates, and fragrance, this cult-favorite mascara gives your lashes the length and curl of falsies—just with all-natural ingredients. Buildable fibers add volume while Korean flower extracts strengthen, vitamin B5 and sodium hyaluronate moisturize, and castor seed oil and shea butter condition. Also, like all Thrive Causemetics products, this formula vegan and cruelty-free.

Benefits: Curls, lengthens | Size: 0.4 fl. oz | Shades: 3 | Waterproof: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes | Cruelty-Free: Yes

Best Volumizing: Pat McGrath Labs FetishEyes Mascara

Pat McGrath Labs FetishEYES Mascara

Courtesy of Net-a-Porter 

What We Like
  • Volumizes without skimping on length

  • Defines lashes

  • Conditioning formula

What We Don't Like
  • Brush can be difficult to maneuver

The first mascara from legendary makeup artist Pat McGrath is basically like lash extensions in a tube. When Byrdie senior editor Hallie Gould tried it, she immediately fell in love. "While the brush is tightly packed with thick bristles (and packs a punch when it comes to volume), it still lengthens really, really nicely," she said in her review of the product. "I wore it all night long and it didn’t smudge, flake, or run once."

Benefits: Defines, lengthens | Size: 0.3 fl. oz | Shades: 1 | Waterproof: No | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: No

Best Volumizing, Runner-Up: Too Faced Better Than Sex Waterproof Mascara

too faced better than sex waterproof mascara

Courtesy of Too Faced

What We Like
  • Volumizes

  • Doesn't smear or run

  • Can be reapplied without flaking

What We Don't Like
  • Could add more length

This is a serious lash-boosting mascara that’s enriched with collagen. One coat will give you volume and length, and by three coats, you’ll look like you’re wearing false lashes. Seriously.

Benefits: Volumizes | Size: 0.3 fl. oz | Shades: 1 | Waterproof: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes

Best Curling: Clinique High Impact Curling Mascara

What We Like
  • Curved brush boosts curl

  • Richly pigmented

  • Applies smoothly

What We Don't Like
  • Can be difficult to remove

For long-lasting upturned lashes, try out this curl-forming mascara from Clinique. As the name suggests, the wand’s arched shape allows you to achieve your boldest, most fluttery lashes without pinching, tugging, or tearing. The curved wand lifts every last lash, imparting a beautiful onyx-colored formula that’s smudge-, flake-, and smear-resistant and that lasts for up to 24-hours.

Benefits: Volumizes, curls | Size: 0.3 fl. oz | Shades: 1 | Waterproof: No | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: No

Best Curling, Runner-Up: Fenty Beauty Full Frontal Volume, Lift & Curl Mascara

FENTY
What We Like
  • Dual-sided brush

  • Fans out lashes

  • Removes easily

What We Don't Like
  • Can smear

Rihanna is slowly taking over the world of beauty, one lash at a time. This do it all mascara delivers a fully exposed lash by lifting, lengthening, volumizing and curling. The brush has a unique flat-to-fat brush that leaves lashes with an eye opening look.

Benefits: Volumizes, curls, lengthens | Size: 0.2 fl. oz | Shades: 1 | Waterproof: No | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes

Best Wand: IT Cosmetics Lash Blowout Mascara

4.5
IT Cosmetics Lash Blowout Volumizing Mascara

Courtesy of Ulta

What We Like
  • Lifts and separates lashes

  • Cute packaging

  • Strengthening formula

What We Don't Like
  • Wet formula can transfer

When Byrdie associate editor Holly Rhue wore this mascara out in public for the first time, a total stranger actually asked her if she had lash extensions. The reason? This mascara, a collab between IT Cosmetics and the blowout salon chain Drybar. In fact, the applicator is designed using the same technology as a barrel brush (Drybar's Half Pint brush, to be exact) to create lift, separation, and lasting volume for your lashes—just like a round brush would do for your hair. What's more, the formula is made with hair-friendly ingredients like vitamin E, jojoba oil, and biotin to help condition and strengthen lashes over time.

Benefits: Separates, lengthens | Size: 0.2 fl. oz | Shades: 1 | Waterproof: No | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes

Best Clean: Jones Road The Mascara

4.1
jones road
What We Like
  • Richly pigmented

  • Large applicator

  • Lashes look fuller and curled

What We Don't Like
  • Can clump

Then there's The Mascara, from Bobbi Brown’s line, which is full of ingredients like vitamin E, moisturizing vitamin B, and sodium hyaluronate (a moisture-boosting humectant). All of which makes this formula clean, cruelty-free and vegan. Aside from the formula, the brand swears by the curved wand that perfectly captures every baby lash, from inner to outer corner.

Benefits: Separates, curls, lengthens | Size: 0.3 fl. oz | Shades: 1 | Waterproof: No | Byrdie Clean: Yes | Cruelty-Free: Yes

jones road the mascara

Byrdie / Joline Buscemi

What Our Testers Say

"I’ve tried a lot of mascaras, jumping around to whatever catches my eye when I need to pick up a new tube. So when I say I was impressed at first swipe—that means something. Immediately, my lashes were fully coated and lifted without using an eyelash curler. — Joline Buscemi, Product Tester

Best Cruelty-Free: ILIA Beauty Limitless Lash Mascara

4.2
ILIA Limitless Lash Mascara

ILIA Beauty

What We Like
  • Defines lashes

  • Lifts and curls

  • Easy to remove

What We Don't Like
  • Could be more volumizing

Byrdie contributor Rebecca Dancer didn't expect her new holy grail mascara to be this cruelty-free (and 99% natural) formula, but that's definitely what happened. In her thorough review, she raves about its dual-sided brush—one side for building, the other for separating lashes—which helped her create a smooth, clump-free finish. The formula itself is no slouch, either: Made with beeswax and shea butter for flexibility and hold, it's lightweight while providing just the right amount of volume and lift. Oh, and the before and after photos speak for themselves.

Benefits: Separates, curls, lengthens | Size: 0.3 fl. oz | Shades: 1 | Waterproof: No | Byrdie Clean: Yes | Cruelty-Free: Yes

close up of ilia limitless lash mascara applicator

Khera Alexander

What Our Testers Say

"Once I finished adding the last layer of the ILIA mascara, I was left with full lashes that had great lift, definition, and curl." — Khera Alexander, Product Tester

Best Innovation: Milk Makeup Kush High Volume Mascara

Milk Makeup Kush High Volume Mascara

Courtesy of Milk Makeup

What We Like
  • Conditioning formula

  • Volumizes

  • Vegan

What We Don't Like
  • Doesn't hold a curl

By now, we're used to all CBD everything here at Byrdie HQ, but even we wouldn't have thought of mascara and cannabis as a likely combo—that is, until we met this Milk Makeup mascara. Its formula contains hemp-derived cannabis seed oil, which fuses heart-shaped fibers to your lashes while conditioning them; The result is lots of volume without feeling weighed down. We also love that a little goes a long way and that the packaging is super chic.

Benefits: Volumizes | Size: 0.3 fl. oz | Shades: 1 | Waterproof: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes

Best for Bottom Lashes: Beauty Bakerie Eyelash Icing Mascara

Beauty Bakerie
What We Like
  • Separates and lengthens

  • Easy to apply

  • Richly pigmented

What We Don't Like
  • Can irritate sensitive eyes

This ink black waterproof mascara is great for lengthening and defining lashes. The signature wand has lash-extending fibers that separate for a clump-free look, and it also extends bottom lashes effortlessly.

Beauty Bakerie founder, Cashmere Nicole, says, "I'm a big proponent of painting bottom lashes. I designed the whisk-inspired want to grip and coat even the tiniest, stubborn lash hairs, without creating a mess under the eyelid."

Benefits: Separates, curls, lengthens | Size: 0.3 fl. oz | Shades: 1 | Waterproof: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes

Final Verdict

There are many things to consider when searching for the best mascara: there's the shape of your eyes, wand preferences, eye sensitivities, and of course the look you want to achieve whether that's lengthening, volumizing, or curling. A great everyday choice is Maybelline's Great Lash Mascara. Not only is it affordable, but it's effective too—having stood the test of time. Prefer to amp up your lashes with mega volume? Reviewers swear by Too Faced's Better Than Sex Mascara, claiming that the lengthening and definition rivals that of falsies with just one sweep.

What to Look For in Mascara

Benefits

One of the top considerations when choosing a mascara are the benefits. For instance, some mascaras will lengthen while others thicken, and some can do both. Look for a mascara that appeals to your desired look.

You may want a false-lashes look for nights out, but you might prefer a more subdued color with a bit of thickness for work. Look for mascaras with benefits that will suit your needs. Some will even have nutritive benefits to help your lashes stay healthy or grow.

Waterproof

Choose waterproof mascara if you live in a humid environment or tend to get teary-eyed or experience smudging. Some people prefer to avoid waterproof mascara as it can be more difficult to remove.

Shade

Mascara comes in various shades. Dark black may suit those with darker hair or complexions, while browns may be best for fairer tones. Consider looking for shades that compliment your eye color, such as violet for green eyes or navy for blue eyes.

Cruelty-Free and Eco-Friendly

Look for mascara brands that guarantee clean ingredients, eco-friendly production, and cruelty-free formulation and testing if these things are important to you. There are so many clean and cruelty-free options available now that you can find a fantastic mascara that fits the bill.

FAQ
  • Which is the best mascara?

    The best mascara, in our opinion, is the Kiss Me Heroine Make Long & Curl Mascara in waterproof. This mascara is richly pigmented, water- and smudge-proof, and conditions your lashes while you wear it.

  • What is mascara used for?

    Mascara is used for darkening, thickening, and extending your lashes. It can also create separation and provide additional benefits such as conditioning. Some people use mascara to add a bold pop of color to their makeup look.

  • Is it ok to wear mascara every day?

    It is ok to wear mascara every day, but it is essential to remove it at the end of the day. Not removing mascara may damage your lashes and interfere with their natural growth cycle. Aiming to have some mascara-free days could also offer some benefits for your lash growth.

Article Sources
Byrdie takes every opportunity to use high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial guidelines to learn more about how we keep our content accurate, reliable and trustworthy.
  1. Kadri R, Achar A, Tantry TP, Parameshwar D, Kudva A, Hegde S. Mascara induced milphosis, an etiological evaluationInt J Trichology. 2013;5(3):144-147. doi:10.4103/0974-7753.125611

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