The Best Curling Mascaras for Insta-Worthy Lashes

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If your lashes tend to stick straight out or fall flat, choosing the right mascara can go a long way. You're probably familiar with products that lengthen and volumize, but if you haven't tried a curling formula yet, allow us to welcome you to the world of brilliantly contoured lashes with gravity-defying curl.

"When choosing a curling mascara, the wand is very important, but also the formula," advises Paris-based makeup artist Andreea Ali, who also adds that waterproof formulas tend to hold a curl much better than regular ones. To help you sift through all the curling formulas on the market, we did the research to bring you the best options.

Are your lashes ready to get their curl on? Here are the best curling mascaras available today.

Best Overall: Benefit Cosmetics Roller Lash Curling Mascara

Benefit Roller Lash Curling & Lifting Mascara

Courtesy of Sephora

What We Like
  • Long-lasting

  • Easy to remove

  • Coats every lash

What We Don't Like
  • Reviewers note packaging is flimsy

You can't go wrong with the Benefit's top-selling Roller Lash. Beauty stans love how this mascara curls and lifts the lashes. Seriously, though, you don't even need an eyelash curler! Just swipe in an upward motion and revel as it coats and curls every single lash.

Benefits: Lifts, curls | Size: 0.3 ounces, 0.14 ounces | Shades: 1 | Waterproof: No, but is water-resistant | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: No

Best Budget: Maybelline Lash Sensational Washable Mascara

Maybelline Lash Sensational Washable Mascara
What We Like
  • Affordable

  • Coats every lash

  • Ophthalmologist-tested

What We Don't Like
  • Can clump

Looking for something a little more wallet-friendly? Maybelline's Lash Sensational is a pretty impressive product. For one, the rockstar brush reaches every last lash and creates a fanned-out effect. Plus, the curl-boosting formula helps them maintain a perfect swoop.

Benefits: Conditions, curls | Size: 0.32 fluid ounces | Shades: 4 | Waterproof: No | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: No

Best Drugstore: L'Oréal Paris Voluminous Curved Brush Mascara

L'Oreal Paris Voluminous Curved Brush Mascara
What We Like
  • Affordable

  • Buildable

  • Long-lasting

What We Don't Like
  • Can clump

If there's one makeup category that's always held its own against high-end brands, it's mascara—and curling mascaras are no exception. This little guy from L'Oréal Paris has a curved wand that lifts and fans out your lashes while the buildable formula creates a va-va-voom look we all know and want.

Benefits: Curls, thickens | Size: 0.28 fluid ounces | Shades: 2 | Waterproof: No | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: No

Best Splurge: Lancôme Grandiose Multi-Benefit Lengthening, Lifting and Volumizing Mascara

Lancôme Grandiose Multi-Benefit Lengthening, Lifting and Volumizing Mascara
What We Like
  • Coats every lash

  • Doesn't flake

  • Dries quickly

What We Don't Like
  • Pricey

If you can swing the price tag, it might be worth treating yourself to a tube of Lancôme Grandiose. The swan-neck wand is designed to work with the shape of your face, allowing you to access every lash with little effort. Also, the smudge-free, no-flake formula lifts your lashes and leaves them with a soft, subtle curl.

Benefits: Curls, lengthens, lifts, volumizes | Size: 0.35 ounces | Shades: 1 | Waterproof: No | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: No

Best Waterproof: Dior Diorshow Iconic Overcurl Waterproof Mascara

DiorShow Overcurl Mascara

Courtesy of Nordstrom

What We Like
  • Long-lasting

  • Doesn't smudge

  • Lightweight

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

Diorshow has a well-deserved cult-like following, and the Overcurl edition is just as amazing as you'd expect. This waterproof mascara glides over your lashes with a curved, high-precision wand. And the runway-worthy formula offers oversized volume with a dramatic curl.

Benefits: Curls, defines, nourishes, strengthens | Size: 0.33 ounces | Shades: 1 | Waterproof: Yes | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Best Natural: Kosas The Big Clean Volumizing + Lash Care Mascara

Kosas The Big Clean Volumizing + Lash Care Mascara

 Courtesy of Credo Beauty

What We Like
  • Ophthalmologist-tested

  • Lightweight

What We Don't Like
  • Can transfer

If you prefer natural makeup products, your best bet is The Big Clean by Kosas. It has moisturizing castor oil, strengthening vitamins, and volumizing botanical waxes. When you swipe it on using the jumbo rainbow brush, you'll notice longer, fuller lashes with a brilliant curl.

Benefits: Curls, volumizes, promotes growth | Size: 0.32 ounces, 0.17 ounces | Shades: 1 | Waterproof: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Best Clean: Tarte SEA Surfer Curl Volumizing Mascara

tarte SEA Surfer Curl Volumizing Mascara
What We Like
  • Long-lasting

  • Doesn't flake

  • Great for short lashes

What We Don't Like
  • Can clump

We're also loving Tarte's Surfer Curl, a curling mascara with incredible volumizing action. Formulated with soothing algae extract and emolliating vitamin E, this clean product creates a nourishing, weightless, sweatproof lift. And you don't have to worry about sulfates, parabens, or phthalates.

Benefits: Curls, volumizes | Size: 0.30 fluid ounces | Shades: 1 | Waterproof: No, but is sweatproof | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Best Lifting: Fenty Beauty Full Frontal Volume, Lift & Curl Mascara

FENTY
What We Like
  • Flat-to-fat brush

  • Instant results

  • Coats every lash

What We Don't Like
  • Can transfer

This all-star mascara from Fenty lifts, volumizes, lengthens, and curls in an instant. We also appreciate the "flat-to-fat" brush. The flat side curls and defines your lashes, and the fat side loads them up and lifts them to the sky.

Benefits: Volumizes, lifts, lengthens, curls | Size: 0.42 fluid ounces | Shades: 1 | Waterproof: No, but is water-resistant | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No

Best Tubing: Trish McEvoy Lash Curling Tubular Mascara

Trish McEvoy Lash Curling Mascara

Courtesy of Nordstrom

What We Like
  • Easy to remove

  • Long-lasting

  • Coats every lash

What We Don't Like
  • Pricey

We're big fans of Trish McEvoy's curling formula, too. This water-resistant tubing mascara perks up your lashes creating a natural-looking curl and holds them in place until you're ready to wash off the day.

Benefits: Curls | Size: 0.18 ounces | Shades: 1 | Waterproof: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No

Best Lengthening: Marc Jacobs Beauty At Lash'd Lengthening and Curling Mascara

Marc Jacobs Beauty At Lash'd Lengthening and Curling Mascara
What We Like
  • Long-lasting

  • Lightweight

  • Buildable

What We Don't Like
  • Can flake

"Marc Jacobs At Lash'd Mascara is another great option if you are looking for those spiky, well-separated, and curled lashes," says Ali. This long-wear option works to lengthen and curl every lash, providing that sought-after falsies look. Not only that, but it contains conditioning biotin, nourishing vitamin B5, and vegan plant waxes for lightweight, buildable volume.

Benefits: Curls, lengthens, volumizes | Size: 0.36 ounces | Shades: 1 | Waterproof: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No

Best Volumizing: Pat McGrath Labs Dark Star Volumizing Mascara

PAT McGRATH LABS Dark Star Volumizing Mascara
What We Like
  • Great color payoff

  • Long-lasting

  • Lightweight

What We Don't Like
  • Can clump

Looking for a little extra drama? This super-pigmented, inky black mascara from Pat McGrath delivers exaggerated length and maximum fullness while leaving your lashes pushed up and sculpted with a fanned-out curl.

Benefits: Volumizes, lifts, curls, lengthens | Size: 0.43 ounces | Shades: 1 | Waterproof: No | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: No

Best Buildable: Sweed Lash Lift Mascara

SWEED LASHES LASH LIFT MASCARA
What We Like
  • Long-lasting

  • Coats every lash

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

"I am currently crazy about the Sweed Mascara Pro Lash Lift," says Ali. "It has a very unusual brush, but I promise it takes your lashes up to the gods. It's not waterproof, but it's so long-lasting, and the curl will stay all day!" Plus, the skinny brush makes it easy to coat your lashes from the roots while providing show-stopping length. Whether you want a more natural look or the drama of false lashes, the buildable formula allows you to achieve your desired effect.

Benefits: Curls, lengthens, defines | Size: 0.27 fluid ounces | Shades: 2 | Waterproof: No, but is water-resistant | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Best Conditioning: Eyeko Black Magic Mascara Drama & Curl

Eyeko Black Magic Mascara Drama & Curl
What We Like
  • Coats evert lash

  • Great color payoff

  • Long-lasting

What We Don't Like
  • Dries slow

Frequent perms and daily curling iron use can damage your hair, but a good conditioner is an excellent defense. Similarly, the conditioning formula of Eyeko Black Magic nourishes and repairs your lashes with keratin and shea butter. As for the curl? This water-resistant tubing mascara glides onto your lashes with its curved brush, coats them in a dramatic black pigment, and leaves them with a 90-degree swoop.

Benefits: Curls, conditions, defines | Size: 0.27 ounces, 0.13 ounces | Shades: 2 | Waterproof: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No

Best Long-Wearing: MAC Extended Play Perm Me Up Lash Mascara

MAC Extended Play Perm Me Up Lash Mascara
What We Like
  • Long-lasting

  • Doesn't flake

  • Easy to remove

What We Don't Like
  • Can be drying

If you want an all-day curl, MAC's Perm Me Up is all you need. This smudge-proof, clump-free, no-flake mascara delivers an instant lift and some serious curl, which you can count on to last for up to 16 hours. At the end of the day, the washable formula comes off easily with warm water.

Benefits: Curls, lifts, volumizes, lengthens | Size: 0.28 ounces | Shades: 1 | Waterproof: No, but is sweat- and humidity-resistant | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: No

Best Brush: Yves Saint Laurent The Curler Lengthening and Curling Mascara

Yves Saint Laurent The Curler Lengthening and Curling Mascara
What We Like
  • Hybrid wand

  • Smells good

  • Great color payoff

What We Don't Like
  • Pricey

As Ali mentioned, the brush shouldn't be overlooked when purchasing curling mascara. Yves Saint Laurent's The Curler has a special hybrid wand with curved elastomer combs for defining your lashes and rounded fiber bristles for curl and dimension. The result? Dramatic lift, a flirty swoop, and an unbeatable fanned-out effect.

Benefits: Curls, defines | Size: 0.22 ounces | Shades: 1 | Waterproof: No | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: No

Final Verdict

When it comes to curling mascaras, the best option is Benefit Cosmetics Roller Lash Curling & Lifting Mascara on account of its dual-action lifting and curling formula and superstar wand that coats every lash. That said, Yves Saint Laurent's The Curler Lengthening and Curling Mascara has an unbeatable hybrid brush that defines and curls for striking dimension. Looking for a more affordable pick? Maybelline's Lash Sensational Washable Mascara is an excellent choice, too.

What to Look For in a Curling Mascara

Wand

Curling mascaras often have curved wands, which helps you achieve the desired curl while lifting your lashes. Beyond that, some are designed with comb-like bristles for precision and definition, some help deliver exaggeration and volume, and others are angled for easy application.

Formula

You'll also want to consider the formula. Look for something that glides on easily, resists clumping, and provides long-lasting hold. Additionally, Ali recommends opting for a somewhat lightweight formula. "I think that when the mascara is too heavy and too dense, it will probably give you a lot of volume, but the curl won't last long because the lashes are too heavy," she says. "It's like when you're using a lot of hair styling products when your hair is very thin. It will weigh it down."

Waterproof vs. Washable

Waterproof versus non-waterproof mascara is generally a matter of preference, though Ali notes waterproof formulas tend to hold a curl better. Having said that, you can find long-wear smudge-proof curling mascaras that wash off easily with warm water.

FAQ
  • Can mascara actually curl your lashes?

    Mascara itself will not fully curl your lashes, but the brush you use with the mascara can add curl, especially if you turn it at the top and hold it there a few seconds to allow the mascara to dry. Using a curling wand can add additional curling to your lashes.

  • How do you apply mascara so it stays curled?

    First, use a curling wand on your lashes, then use mascara and a brush designed for holding a curl. Start at the base of your lashes with the brush and push it in, then swipe up to the tips of your lashes, slightly pushing the tips back to keep their curl.

  • Does waterproof mascara hold a curl better?

    Waterproof mascaras may hold a curl better than some other types. For best results, use a waterproof mascara that is also designed to hold a curl. Some mascaras, such as those that thicken and add volume, can weigh your lashes down instead of allowing your curl to show. In this case, a waterproof mascara will be better for holding a curl.

Why Trust Byrdie

This roundup was written by Theresa Holland, a freelance beauty writer with extensive experience researching, testing, and reviewing makeup and skincare products. With a life-long mission to achieve the perfect lash, she's tried several items on this list. You can find more of her work on The Spruce, MyDomaine, and Verywell Health.

According to our Diversity Pledge, 15% of products in our newly-published market roundups will feature Black-owned and/or Black-founded brands. At the time of publishing, we were not able to find enough curling mascaras from a Black-owned and/or Black-founded business to meet this percentage. If you know of one we should consider, please email us at contact@byrdie.com and we will evaluate the product ASAP.

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