It's easy to forget how personal a thing mascara is. After all, it's a lash-catching brush laced with inky black goo (for lack of better word—it's a Monday morning). Thus, all mascara formulas set out to accomplish the pretty much the same goals: length, definition, curl, volume… all of the above.
But that doesn't mean every person's lashes have the same needs. My lashes, for example, are naturally dark, long, and straight, so I pretty much steer clear of formulas that are too heavy, yielding gloopy or saggy results. Instead, I look for lightweight formulas that lengthen and volumize (I'm addicted to any tube that will make my lashes look like extensions) while also giving a bit of curl.
However, some of my fellow editors have different mascara requirements—dramatic thickness, waterproofing, a wide range of hues (aka not just black), and so on. Turns out finding the perfect mascara is a heck of a lot more complicated than you'd think. Luckily, 2018 was a year rich in new mascara launches—some we honestly loved and some we admittedly didn't. (We'll ignore that latter category today.)
Ahead, see the 11 mascaras team Byrdie loved, worshipped, and swiped on above all others.
"Beyond the sexual-looking tube, I was immediately attracted to the Nars Climax mascara for the thick, fluffy brush. I know my lashes, and my lashes love this type of brush. Sure enough, after I curled my lashes and swiped the formula through, I was happy to see instant volume after just one coat. But one is never enough, so I kept applying and applying and applying. This stuff does not clump, no matter how many layers you apply. I probably applied about 10 layers before my arm got tired, and still, my lashes looked nice and airy and not at all spidery." — Faith Xue, editorial director
"While other brush-on fiber formulas have either weighed my lashes down or resulted in a sprinkling of noticeable fibers all over my eyes and cheeks—not cute—ModelCo's antidote is 100% mess-free and definitely one of the best mascaras I've ever tried. First, you layer on the Extension Mascara (which looks gorgeous on its own, by the way) before following it up with a healthy coating of the white Fibre Lash Extensions. Then you finish the look off with yet another coating of the Extension Mascara. And if you want to be a true rule breaker (like me), you might even layer the brand's Lashxtend Mascara ($25) on top of that. Whenever I'm wearing it people, ask me if my lashes are real—which I love." — Erin Jahns, assistant editor
"This drugstore gem is a newer addition to my everyday makeup routine. The spoolie separates my lashes perfectly, and in just one coat, I have super-voluminous lashes. I like to go for the natural look with the rest of my makeup and go dramatic with my lashes. I'm all for the falsie effect achieved from this mascara, which draws so much attention to my eyes and brows. I don't have time to apply multiple coats to my lashes in the morning. In about 30 seconds, my lashes look on point, and it's all thanks to this mascara." — Maya Allen, assistant editor
"As far as my knowledge, this mascara from Almay has flown fairly under the radar compared to its buzzier drugstore counterparts. But I've tried the competition, and this is the only mascara that actually lifts my lashes, fans them out, and keeps them in place. This is probably due to the unique shape of the mascara wand—it's shaped like a megaphone, which seems weird, but somehow manages to grab and lift every single lash and lift them up and out. I curl my lashes with my trusty Shu Uemura Lash Curler ($22), then swipe on a few coats of this baby." — Faith
"Makeup artist Emily Wright put me on to this mascara earlier this year, and I've been hooked ever since. She did my makeup for my 26th birthday and absolutely slayed my face. It was this magical little wand that gave me the fluttery lashes of my dreams in 10 seconds flat. Emily was saying how amazed she was because it lifts and lengthens lashes so fast. She was right. On a daily basis, I stick to coating my upper lashes only to avoid the mess that is raccoon eyes after a long day of fallout with my lower lashes. This teeny bristle is made especially for curling your upper lashes. In short, it saves me in the morning when I have zero time to do my makeup." — Maya
"Milk's new hemp-infused mascara (which launched on April 20, of course) is like the Rolls-Royce of lash products, starting with the badass silver tube, which is so heavy I could curl it. But the formula is undoubtedly the best part: so lengthening; so clump-free. It was my favorite mascara for 2018 for sure." — Amanda Montell, features editor
"I typically have a different mascara aesthetic depending on whether I'm wearing it for day or night. Currently, this CBD-infused mascara from Milk Makeup is my go-to for evening wear." — Hallie Gould, senior editor
"IsaDora is Sweden's best-selling makeup brand, and it just recently made its way stateside. This new mascara is one of the best I swiped in 2018, and it effortlessly enhances my lash line with perfect length, separation, and wispiness for a bright-eyed look. I've worn it every day since discovering it." — Kaitlyn McLintock, contributing editor
"I've heard celebrity makeup artists tout how incredible this formula is for ages and finally got around to trying it last month. (It's technically a 2017 launch, though.) I didn't look in the mirror much after applying it, so the first time its lengthening, volumizing prowess really jumped out at me was when I went to wash up at the end of the night, ironically. As I bent over the sink, I was stopped in the mirror by how lengthy and full my naturally short and sparse lashes looked. An added bonus: I didn't have those annoying black flecks of product I'll get from some mascaras underneath my eyes." — Lindsey Metrus, managing editor
"Usually my mascara application is the most painfully drawn-out part of my routine. But with emails, meetings, and deadlines beckoning, most mornings I need definition, fluttery length, and separation—fast. Lash Slick doesn't offer voluptuous thickness or volume, but it does offer a flattering, doe-eyed look that was on par with my daytime aesthetic. It's my go-to for minimal makeup days, and it's actually one of the few mascaras to not weigh my lashes down after I curl them. I'm obsessed and get tons of compliments on my lashes whenever I'm wearing it." — Erin
"I love this mascara for daytime because not only does it look really natural, it literally doesn't budge which is one of my all-time biggest pet peeves when it comes to most mascaras I try. Usually, I like more volume, but since this formula lengthens and separates so nicely, it feels okay to have less drama and thickness." — Hallie
"When it comes to mascara, water-resistance isn't just the ideal for me—it's a non-negotiable, thanks to my hopelessly sensitive eyes, which tear up in a gentle breeze. But the issue I've faced with many waterproof mascaras is that they're ultra-clumpy, near-impossible to remove (read: I lose a few lashes every time I wash my face) or both. That's why I was immediately hooked on Eyeko's Beach Mascara when it was released earlier this year. It's ultra lengthening but goes on so lightly, the effect is very natural but noticeable all the same. And while it definitely stays put (even during quick dips in the ocean, hence the name), an oil-based cleanser is all I need to remove every last bit of residue." — Victoria Hoff, wellness editor
"I actually found myself using Neutrogena's Healthy Volume almost by accident—I realized I was out of a couple makeup essentials one morning and made an emergency trip to Target's drugstore beauty aisle. It's been my go-to for daily wear ever since. I picked it up in the brown color, which really emphasizes the formula's natural effect. But most importantly, it's smudge-proof and very defining (it NEVER clumps—it's amazing)." — Victoria