The Best Lengthening Mascaras That Mimic Extensions

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Byrdie / Sabrina Jiang

We have yet to meet someone who doesn’t want longer lashes. It’s a seemingly never-ending, universal quest, as evidenced by the dizzying amount of mascaras on the market, not to mention alternative options such as falsies and extensions. On that note, extensions undoubtedly deliver the most dramatic results, though require lots of time, upkeep, and can be pricey. Falsies are great, but the struggle is real when it comes to gluing on a strip. This brings us back to mascaras, the easiest, most effective, fastest way to add length to your lashes. But, per our point about the dizzying amount of options available, how do you separate the ones that actually deliver on their lash-lengthening claims? All you have to do is keep reading because we rounded up the top tubes out there (many of which do even more than just lengthen). 

Here, the best lengthening mascaras at every price point.

Best Overall: Glossier Lash Slick

4.5
Lash Slick

 Courtesy of Glossier

What We Like
  • Great for sensitive eyes

  • Long-lasting

What We Don't Like
  • Only comes in one shade

Who else recommends it? Elle and The Strategist both picked the Glossier Lash Slick.

What do buyers say? 3,900+ Glossier reviewers rated this product 4.4 stars or above.

This mascara is a go-to for Byrdie Editorial Director Hallie Gould, and it also happens to be one of the brand’s best-rated products—and for good reason. Tiny fibers make for natural-looking length and lift, and the finish is gorgeously glossy. Also nice: It is dermatologist- and ophthalmologist-tested, a great pick for those with sensitive eyes.

Shades: 1 | Size: 0.29 ounces | Waterproof: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No

Glossier Lash Slick Mascara

Byrdie / Avery Stone

What Our Editors Say

"If you love your mascara to have a thickening, volumizing effect, then this probably isn't the one for you. But if a natural, off-duty look is what you're after instead, you can't go wrong with Lash Slick. Its innovative formula, clump-free applicator, and chic packaging are all major wins in our book." — Byrdie Editors

Best Budget: Maybelline The Falsies Lash Lift Mascara

MAYBELLINE the Falsies Lash Lift
What We Like
  • Also adds lift and curl

  • Affordable

  • Comes in three shades

What We Don't Like
  • Not clean or cruelty-free

Maybelline is arguably best known for an amazing line-up of mascaras. And nothing against the iconic Great Lash or other stand-outs in the portfolio, but this one takes the cake for delivering XL length. It offers gorgeous lift and curl, too, thanks to a double-curved brush. The black shade is great, but try the blackest black if you really want to up the drama factor.

Shades: 3 | Size: 0.32 ounces | Waterproof: No | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: No

Best Drugstore: L'Oréal Paris Telescopic Original Mascara

4
L'Oreal Paris Telescopic Original Mascara

Courtesy of Amazon

What We Like
  • Ophthalmologist- and allergy-tested

  • No clumping

  • Affordable

What We Don't Like
  • Dries out fairly quickly

Look closely, and you’ll see that the brush on this mascara has two different sides. Use the flat side first; it imparts major length, leaving lashes looking up to 60% longer, according to the brand. Then turn it over and use the comb side to brush through lashes; it separates each and every one, ensuring there are no clumps and lashes look even longer.

Shades: 3 | Size: 0.27 ounces | Waterproof: No | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: No

Best Volumizing: Kevyn Aucoin The Volume Mascara

4.1
Kevyn Aucoin The Volume Mascara

Courtesy of Sephora

What We Like
  • Moisturizes

  • Also adds volume

What We Don't Like
  • Expensive

Your search for a mascara that both lengthens and volumizes ends here. The tubing formula coats each and every lash in tiny tubes that make them look both fuller and longer without any clumping. Added jojoba oil also leaves lashes looking healthy and glossy for an end result that’s very natural-looking, making this formula choice for every day.

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

Kevyn Aucoin the Volume Mascara

Byrdie / Ashley Rebecca

What Our Testers Say

“For those with shorter eyelashes, the brush really helps to define and elongate without a messy application.” — Ashley Rebecca, Product Tester

Best Long-Lasting: Hourglass Unlocked Instant Extensions Mascara

4
Hourglass Unlocked Instant Extensions Mascara

Courtesy of Sephora

What We Like
  • No clumping

  • Long-lasting

What We Don't Like
  • Hard to remove

This formula may be brand new, but we’re already obsessed. Byrdie Senior Editor Holly Rhue loves it, as does actress Daisy Edgar-Jones, who recently partnered with the brand. As the name suggests, it delivers a legit extension-esque look with just one coat, so much so that we audibly gasped when we first tried it. Credit lightweight fibers and a film-forming technology that also helps ensure it stays smudge-proof all day. Though FYI, it does require a little bit of elbow grease to remove.

Shades: 1 | Size: 0.35 ounces | Waterproof: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No

hourglass unlocked extension mascara

Byrdie / Ashley Rebecca

What Our Testers Say

"While applying the first coat helped to add length and definition to my eyelashes, I kept going to achieve the thickness and fullness I was after. I really like the wand and how short the bristles are, which made it easy to avoid any kind of clumping." — Ashley Rebecca, Product Tester

Best Natural Effect: MERIT Clean Lash Lengthening Mascara

MERIT Clean Lash Lengthening Mascara

Sephora

What We Like
  • Subtle, natural effect

  • No clumping

What We Don't Like
  • Expensive

This newish brand is all about keeping your makeup routine simple, clean, and minimal, and this mascara does indeed check all of those boxes. The tubing film formers in the formula define, lengthen, and separate lashes in one fell swipe, leaving them looking fluttery and enhanced, but never overly so. It’s our go-to for those ‘no makeup makeup’ kind of days, and it doesn’t hurt that it’s also super clump-proof.

Shades: 1 | Size: 0.275 ounces | Waterproof: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Best Thickening: Jones Road The Mascara

4.1
jones road
What We Like
  • Buildable

  • Non-smudging

  • Also adds lift and separation

What We Don't Like
  • Expensive

  • Can sometimes clump on the brush

While this pick—from beauty legend Bobbi Brown’s latest brand—definitely does bulk up even the puniest of lashes, it also does so much more (hence the name). The multi-tasking mascara lengthens, too, hence its appearance on this list, but also separates and lifts. Plus, it’s beautifully buildable, so you can easily customize it to your liking. Bonus points for the curved brush, which helps you capture even the tiniest corners on the inside and outside of every lash for maximum impact.

Shades: 1 | Size: 0.3 ounces | Waterproof: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Best Buildable: Pat McGrath Labs FetishEyes Mascara

Pat McGrath Labs FetishEYES Mascara

Courtesy of Net-a-Porter 

What We Like
  • Buildable

  • Nourishes and strengthens lashes

  • Creates a dramatic, fanned out look

What We Don't Like
  • Expensive

Anything that comes from legendary makeup artist Pat McGrath is destined to be gold, which holds true for this runway-approved lengthening mascara from her eponymous cosmetics line. Described as "lash extensions in a tube," this mascara will build, define, and elongate each individual lash sans clumps thanks to its proprietary staggered brush. At the same time, the formula nourishes with peptides and panthenol.

But what we love most about this formula is the fact that it's buildable: One swipe will deliver a feathery, fanned-out look, but you can build it up to your desired effect, no matter how extreme.

Shades: 1 | Size: 0.27 ounces | Waterproof: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Best Lifting: Mary Kay Lash Love Fanorama Mascara

Mary Kay Lash Love Fanorama Mascara

Mary Kay

What We Like
  • Dermatologist- and ophthalmologist-tested

  • Good value

  • Also adds lift

What We Don't Like
  • Only comes in one shade

This newbie features the same beloved Lash Love formula from the iconic brand but with an entirely new brush that ups the lifted, fanned, extra fluttery effect. The hourglass-shaped brush features zigzagged rows of silicone bristles to cover each hair from root to tip and each and every lash, too. In fact, the brush actually has three distinct ‘zones’ that help you coat, comb, and fan lashes respectively, making for a supremely lengthened and lifted end result.

Shades: 1 | Size: 0.28 ounces | Waterproof: No | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: No

Best All-in-One: Kjaer Weis Im-Possible Mascara

Kjaer Weis Im-Possible Mascara

Kjaer Weis

What We Like
  • Multi-tasking formula

  • Certified organic

  • Refillable

What We Don't Like
  • Expensive

There’s really not much that this mascara can’t do, choice for anyone who wants to enhance their lashes overall. It lifts and volumizes just as well as it lengthens (credit a dual-sided brush which is both curved and flat), which is even more impressive considering that it’s the first certified organic mascara, too. (See our previous point about finding clean mascaras.) Our favorite part? It’s refillable, so you can minimize your impact on the environment while maximizing the look of your lashes.

Shades: 1 | Size: 0.24 ounces | Waterproof: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Best Clean: ILIA Beauty Limitless Lash Mascara

4.2
ILIA Limitless Lash Mascara

ILIA Beauty

What We Like
  • Also adds volume

  • Non-smudging

  • Buildable

What We Don't Like
  • Expensive

We’ve sung the praises of this mascara hundreds of times but will continue doing so because it’s just that darn good. There’s the clean formula to talk about; mascaras are notorious for containing lots of potentially questionable chemicals, making this even more noteworthy. It relies on a litany of natural ingredients such as beeswax, shea butter, aloe, jojoba seed oil (you get the picture) and imparts both gorgeous length and volume with its dual-sided brush. Easily buildable and clump-free, it stays put all day but still comes off super easily with just soap and water.

Shades: 1 | Size: 0.27 ounces | Waterproof: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes

close up of ilia limitless lash mascara applicator

Khera Alexander

What Our Testers Say

"When I opened the ILIA mascara, I was immediately drawn to its design: I don’t use mascaras that have a brush on one side and a comb on the other too often. I immediately knew this product placed emphasis on having clearly defined, separated lashes." — Khera Alexander, Product Tester

Best Waterproof: Beauty Bakerie Eyelash Icing Mascara

Beauty Bakerie
What We Like
  • Also adds volume

  • Waterproof

  • Long-lasting

What We Don't Like
  • Can feel a bit stiff

For those instances when you know the likelihood of mascara smears and smudges is high (a summertime wedding, beach day, a viewing of The Notebook), opting for a waterproof formula is ideal. More specifically, make it this one. It adds a ton of length and definition, and once dry isn’t going anywhere. Cue the waterworks.

Shades: 2 | Size: 0.34 ounces | Waterproof: Yes | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Unknown

Best Tubing: Thrive Causemetics Liquid Lash Extensions Mascara

4.6
Thrive Cosmetics Liquid Lash Extensions Mascara

Courtesy of Thrive Cosmetics

What We Like
  • Contains hydrating and strengthening ingredients

  • Bigger size than most

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

Once hard to find in the beauty world, tubing technology is now mainstream, and there are plenty of tubing mascaras you could choose from. But we strongly suggest you go for this one, a fave among beauty editors. Film-forming polymers (AKA little tubes) coat lashes from root to tip, making them look noticeably longer and more defined. (And the tapered, conical brush helps you reach every lash.) Plus, the formula is also chock full of hydrating and strengthening ingredients to improve the condition of your lashes over time.

Shades: 2 | Size: 0.38 ounces | Waterproof: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Final Verdict

In your quest for longer lashes, a good lengthening mascara is your best friend. We repeatedly gasp at how well the Hourglass Unlocked Instant Extensions Mascara works, which gets our vote for overall best. It’s on the pricier side but worth it, though if you want a more affordable option, try Maybelline The Falsies Lash Lift Mascara and L’Oréal Paris Telescopic Original Mascara, two drugstore staples. And if you’re looking for a formula that isn’t only going to lengthen but also lifts and volumizes, try the new Kjaer Weis Im-Possible Mascara, which just happens to be the first certified organic mascara.

Meet the Expert

Erika La Pearl is a celebrity makeup artist whose clientele includes Cardi B, Kandi Burruss, and Marlo Hampton.

What to Look For in a Lengthening Mascara

Long-Lasting

First and foremost, celebrity makeup artist Erika La Pearl recommends lengthening mascaras that are long-wearing and smudge-proof. “It’s super important to not have to worry about your mascara running throughout the day, especially when you’re in high humidity,” she says.

Buildable

Another must from La Pearl is a formula that’s buildable and customizable; this way, you can adjust the intensity and length of your lashes with each application. She also stresses the importance of a formula that can be layered on without clumping—no one wants their lashes to look clumpy!

High-Impact Wand

If you’re looking to add major length, La Pearl recommends products with high-impact wands that will help shape your lashes and evenly distribute product sans clumping with each application. 

FAQ
  • How do lengthening mascaras work?

    This depends on the particular formula. Many use tubing technology, which features little tubes that wrap around each lash. Others rely on thin brushes with uniquely designed and placed bristles to help completely coat each and every lash for maximum length.

  • How do you apply lengthening mascara?

    The same way as you would any other mascara. Make sure your lashes are nice and dry (free of any eye cream or other residue) and start by curling them if you so choose. Wiggle the wand through your lashes, starting at the base, and working all the way to the tip. Do both eyes, then repeat if you want another coat.

  • Do lengthening mascaras expire?

    The short answer? Yes. Just like any other mascara, it can start to go bad in as little as three to six months, which means this is one product you really should be replacing on the regular.

Why Trust Byrdie

Byrdie contributor Melanie Rud has over a decade of experience in the beauty industry, writing for some of the biggest magazines and websites out there. In the nearly 15 years she’s spent working as a beauty editor, she has yet to meet a mascara she won’t try—she’s constantly on the quest to find her favorite formula. Her lashes are blond and short, meaning she loves lengthening formulas and is currently rotating through many (Jones Road, Kjaer Weis, Hourglass, Glossier, Merit) featured on this list.

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. The 29 best lengthening mascaras that are love at first swipe. Elle. https://www.elle.com/beauty/makeup-skin-care/g39817557/best-mascara-for-length

  2. The 26 very best mascaras. The Strategist. https://nymag.com/strategist/article/best-mascaras.html

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