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Finding the best mascara is a very personal thing. After all, there are many variables involved: the shape of your eyes, the quality of your lashes, the look you want to achieve, the mascara formula and the type of wand you prefer. And believe it or not, we see the same mascaras crop up in beauty editors’ makeup bags and best-mascara compilations time and again. That said, we discovered the mascaras that really deliver.
From luxury options to inexpensive go-to's, mascaras don’t have to cost a lot to money. All you want them to do is make your lashes as incredible as possible without having to reach for the falsies (unless you’d like to!).
Here, we’ve narrowed down the best mascaras on the market.
Best Overall: Isehan Heroine Make Long and Curl Super Waterproof Mascara
This Japanese mascara holds curl all day, lengthens, separates and coats lashes in the blackest black we've seen from nearly any mascara, ever. It's also waterproof, so you can expect the formula to stay put all day no matter the climate. No, really—it's quite impressive how little this mascara budges once it's on. Prepare to be seriously wowed.
Runner-Up, Best Budget: Essence Lash Princess False Lash Effect Mascara
This bestselling mascara delivers major volume at an ultra-affordable price point. Its cone-shaped fiber brush helps build thickness and length for all-day wear—no flaking or fading, here. Plus, it's ophthalmologist-tested and certified cruelty-free.
Best Drugstore: L’Oreal Voluminous Lash Paradise Lengthening Washable Mascara
While slightly pricier than other drugstore mascaras, this one from L’Oreal is impressive. This mascara volumizes and leaves you with feathery, long lashes. It doesn’t flake or clump, though you can add extra coats if you prefer spidery lashes. Though not technically waterproof, the mascara is generally found to be long-wearing anyway. Packaged in a metallic pink tube, this is a well-formulated mascara that stacks up against higher-end mascaras.
Runner-Up, Best Drugstore: L'Oréal Paris Voluminous Original Volume Building Mascara
We'd be remiss not to mention this tried-and-true volume-building option from L'Oreal Paris, too. Designed to build lashes up to five times their usual thickness, this formula contains panthenol and ceramide-R to protect and condition, while its brush separates lashes to build volume evenly (and sans any clumping).
Runner-Up, Best Lengthening: Revlon Super Length Mascara
Whether you have naturally long lashes or struggle with shorter ones, this super-affordable mascara lengthens and separates in just a few swipes. It coat lashes in a true black without weighing them down for a fluttery fringe that doesn’t flake or clump. What's more, the highly portable pill-shaped container stands up well to being tossed around in your bag, making this choice great for travelers or gym-goers.
Best for Sensitive Eyes: Tarte Lights, Camera, Lashes 4-in-1 Mascara
If you have sensitive eyes, this popular vegan mascara is the perfect pick. It’s ophthalmologist- and dermatologist-tested, as well as hypoallergenic—plus it's free of mineral oil, parabens, and phthalates, and is safe for those who wear contacts. But that's hardly the only reason why it has nearly 4K five-star reviews on Sephora: Its formula curls, lengthens, volumizes, and conditions the lashes, and its 360-degree wand makes application a snap (no flaking or clumping, here).
Best Waterproof: Lancôme Hypnôse Drama Waterproof Mascara
This mascara from Lancome manages to incorporate the long-wearing properties of waterproof mascara with the volumizing and lengthening qualities of regular formulas. The curvy wand thickens eyelashes in one swipe, but you can double up on coats for even more dramatic lashes. Reviewers said this mascara helped their eyelashes remained curled without transferring onto their skin.
Best Natural: Thrive Causemetics Liquid Lash Extensions Mascara
Formulated without parabens, phthalates, sulfates, and fragrance, this cult-favorite mascara gives your lashes the length and curl of falsies—just with all-natural ingredients. Buildable fibers add volume while Korean flower extracts strengthen, vitamin B5 and sodium hyaluronate moisturize, and castor seed oil and shea butter condition. Also, like all Thrive Causemetics products, this formula vegan and cruelty-free.
Best Volumizing: Pat McGrath Labs FetishEyes Mascara
The first mascara from legendary makeup artist Pat McGrath is basically like lash extensions in a tube. When Byrdie senior editor Hallie Gould tried it, she immediately fell in love. "While the brush is tightly packed with thick bristles (and packs a punch when it comes to volume), it still lengthens really, really nicely," she said in her review of the product. "I wore it all night long and it didn’t smudge, flake, or run once."
Best Curling: Clinique High Impact Curling Mascara
For long-lasting upturned lashes, try out this curl-forming mascara from Clinique. As the name suggests, the wand’s arched shape allows you to achieve your boldest, most fluttery lashes without pinching, tugging, or tearing. The curved wand lifts every last lash, imparting a beautiful onyx-colored formula that’s smudge-, flake-, and smear-resistant and that lasts for up to 24-hours.
Runner-Up, Best Curling: FENTY Beauty By Rihanna Full Frontal Volume, Lift & Curl Mascara
Rihanna is slowly taking over the world of beauty, one lash at a time. This do it all mascara delivers a fully exposed lash by lifting, lengthening, volumizing and curling. The brush has a unique flat-to-fat brush that leaves lashes with an eye opening look.
Best Wand: IT Cosmetics Lash Blowout Volumizing Mascara
When Byrdie associate editor Holly Rhue wore this mascara out in public for the first time, a total stranger actually asked her if she had lash extensions. The reason? This mascara, a collab between IT Cosmetics and the blowout salon chain Drybar. In fact, the applicator is designed using the same technology as a barrel brush (Drybar's Half Pint brush, to be exact) to create lift, separation, and lasting volume for your lashes—just like a round brush would do for your hair. What's more, the formula is made with hair-friendly ingredients like vitamin E, jojoba oil, and biotin to help condition and strengthen lashes over time.
Best Cruelty-Free: ILIA Limitless Lash Mascara
Byrdie contributor Rebecca Dancer didn't expect her new holy grail mascara to be this cruelty-free (and 99% natural) formula, but that's definitely what happened. In her thorough review, she raves about its dual-sided brush—one side for building, the other for separating lashes—which helped her create a smooth, clump-free finish. The formula itself is no slouch, either: Made with beeswax and shea butter for flexibility and hold, it's lightweight while providing just the right amount of volume and lift. Oh, and the before and after photos speak for themselves.
Best Innovation: Milk Makeup Kush High Volume Mascara
By now, we're used to all CBD everything here at Byrdie HQ, but even we wouldn't have thought of mascara and cannabis as a likely combo—that is, until we met this Milk Makeup mascara. Its formula contains hemp-derived cannabis seed oil, which fuses heart-shaped fibers to your lashes while conditioning them; The result is lots of volume without feeling weighed down. We also love that a little goes a long way and that the packaging is super chic.
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 mascaras from Black-owned and/or Black-founded businesses to meet this percentage. If you know of one we should consider, please email us at email@example.com and we will evaluate the product ASAP.