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No matter whether you keep your look clean and natural, or prefer to go full-on glam, we’re willing to bet good money that mascara is a mainstay in your daily makeup routine. Whether you’re looking to add length, volume, or curl to your lashes (or some combination of all of the above), the right mascara can do just that. The one drawback to all these fringe benefits mascaras deliver? The likelihood of smudges and smears, particularly if it’s a muggy day, you’re working out, or you feel a good cry coming on. Enter waterproof formulas and their exceptional staying power.
Using higher levels of polymers and waxes than their traditional counterparts, these grip onto lashes, mitigating your risk of ending up with raccoon eyes. The one caveat? Because they are so good at staying on, be sure to use a dedicated eye makeup remover when it comes time to take them off; simply washing your face as usual won’t cut it, and you don’t want to risk damaging your lashes by aggressively scrubbing in an attempt to get your mascara off. Also important: You need to replace your mascara every three months, for both hygiene and efficacy purposes, making this one product category where opting for affordable options is even more satisfying than usual. Enter these top waterproof mascaras that will not only last all day, but are also all available at the drugstore.
Best Overall: L’Oréal Paris Voluminous Volume Building Waterproof Mascara
The original version of this mascara is an oldie but goodie, beloved by makeup artists, beauty editors, and consumers alike. The waterproof variant delivers the same volumizing and lash-plumping effects, making your natural lashes look three times as thick. Conditioning panthenol and ceramides protect delicate lashes, and the formula is also fragrance-free and non-irritating, even if you have sensitive eyes or wear contacts.
Best Budget: Wet n’ Wild Mega Length Waterproof Mascara
Granted, all seven of these mascaras are completely affordable (after all, that’s the beauty of shopping at the drugstore), but for less than your morning coffee, this option is the most wallet-friendly of them all. Still, saving your hard-earned money doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice any kind of efficacy or quality. This newbie is highly-pigmented, packing a punch of bold black color, that won’t run or smudge (or clump, for that matter). The precision comb brush makes it easy to reach, define, and lengthen every little hair, and the formula also contains vitamin E to soften and moisturize lashes, too.
Best Volumizing: Revlon Volumazing Waterproof Mascara
While some waterproof formulas can skew towards the drier side, this one is pleasantly creamy, thanks to the addition of carnauba wax. The unique brush helps make for a majorly volumizing effect; the wavy filaments (AKA bristles) are specially designed to hug each and every lash, while simultaneously delivering the optimal amount of product. The end result? Crazy full and luscious-looking lashes.
Best Lengthening: CoverGirl Total Tease Waterproof Mascara
We’ve never seen a mascara brush quite like this one. The dual-sided applicator features a teeny-tiny lash teasing comb on one side, which you can easily use to separate and define even the smallest lashes on the inner and outer corners of your ease. While this helps amp up the lengthened look, the formula also contains a thickening complex that helps add volume and defines the shape of your lashes (and hey, who doesn’t want that). Also nice: All CoverGirl products were recently certified cruelty-free.
Best Curling: Maybelline New York The Falsies Push Up Angel Waterproof Mascara
As any makeup artist will tell you, curling your lashes is a foolproof way to create an eye-opening, wide awake, youthful effect. Or, you could opt for a curling mascara, like this one. With its unique winged brush—slightly curved, with bristles just on one side—it sweeps lashes from side-to-side, while simultaneously lifting them up at the root. And not only is the formula waterproof, it also acts almost like hairspray, helping to hold the lift, curl, and fanned-out lashes in place. Happy reviewers rave about how well it holds a curl, even on super straight lashes, and repeatedly comment on its exceptional staying power as well.
Best Top Coat: NYX Professional Makeup Proof It! Mascara Top Coat
Ever wish your favorite regular mascara formula came in a waterproof version? Now it can, thanks to this transformative top coat. Two swipes of the clear gel layered over any regular mascara instantly make it waterproof, while also helping to prevent clumps. Yes, it’s that easy. It’s the perfect alternative for anyone who doesn’t necessarily want or need a waterproof mascara for every day, but still would like an option for special occasions.
Best for Healthy Lashes: Neutrogena Hydro Boost Plumping Waterproof Mascara
Waterproof mascaras often get a bad rap not only for how hard they can be to take off, but also for being more drying and damaging on your lashes than traditional formulas. This option counteracts all of those issues; hyaluronic acid, an ingredient you’re more likely to find in your moisturizer than your mascara, hydrates lashes and leaves them looking healthy and shiny. There’s also nourishing vitamin E, and strengthening keratin, a protein that’s one of the main components of hair. Lashes are left plump and glossy, perfect for that no-makeup makeup look.
Our writers spent 6 hours researching the most popular drugstore waterproof mascaras on the market. Before making their final recommendations, they considered 40 different mascaras overall, screened options from 30 different brands and manufacturers, read over 35 user reviews (both positive and negative) and tested 10 of the mascaras themselves. All of this research adds up to recommendations you can trust.