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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
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.
Best Budget: Maybelline Lash Sensational Washable Mascara
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.
Best Drugstore: L'Oréal Paris Voluminous Curved Brush Mascara
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.
Best Splurge: Lancôme Grandiose Multi-Benefit Lengthening, Lifting and Volumizing Mascara
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.e
Best Waterproof: Dior Diorshow Iconic Overcurl Waterproof Mascara
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.
Best Natural: Kosas The Big Clean Volumizing + Lash Care Mascara
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.
Best Clean: Tarte SEA Surfer Curl Volumizing Mascara
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.
Best Lifting: Fenty Beauty Full Frontal Volume, Lift & Curl Mascara
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.
Best Tubing: Trish McEvoy Lash Curling Tubular Mascara
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.
Best Lengthening: Marc Jacobs Beauty At Lash'd Lengthening and Curling Mascara
"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.
Best Volumizing: Pat McGrath Labs Dark Star Volumizing Mascara
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.
Best Buildable: Sweed Lash Lift Mascara
"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.
Best Conditioning: Eyeko Black Magic Mascara Drama & Curl
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.
Best Long-Wearing: MAC Extended Play Perm Me Up Lash Mascara
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.
Best Brush: Yves Saint Laurent The Curler Lengthening and Curling Mascara
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.
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
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.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org and we will evaluate the product ASAP.