The 12 Best Mascaras of 2022, Tested and Reviewed

Our Favorite Is the Too Faced Better Than Sex Mascara

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Mascara Lead

Byrdie / Jessica Juliao

Few beauty items are quite as personal as mascara. Why? Because several factors come into play when finding one that you can't put down. Lash type, desired look, formulation, and more will play a role in dictating whether or not a mascara suits your wants and needs. 

Byrdie Tested & Approved

Our top pick is the Too Faced Better Than Sex Mascara, thanks to the buildable formula, clump-free volume, and easy removal. But if you’re seeking out something that will deliver incredible lengthening benefits, we recommend the Tarte Tartelette Tubing Mascara.

So, we did our research and scoured the market to find the most popular and well-loved mascaras—and we put them to the test. We tried out 33 mascaras at our lab in NYC based on ease of use, wear, performance, overall look, and ease of removal—and we’re sharing our findings with you.

Keep scrolling to discover the best mascaras money can buy.

Best Overall: Too Faced Better Than Sex Mascara

5
Too Faced Better Than Sex Mascara

Ulta

What We Like
  • Hourglass-shaped brush

  • Intense volume

  • No smudging or flaking

  • Easy to remove

What We Don’t Like
  • Formula is a bit wet

This mascara didn’t reach icon status by accident—it lives up to the hype. It promises to deliver intense black volume while lengthening, curling, and separating the lashes—and it delivers. 

Our tester raved about how easy it layered on clump-free volume, and she loved that the hourglass-shaped brush helped her achieve separation. It gave her lashes a thickness without making them look overdone, and she was surprised by how easily she was able to remove it. While our tester took no issue with this mascara, some online reviews complained that the formula is a bit too wet. Overall though, we found it to be a great choice for every day if you like a bold lash look, and it also makes for a solid option if you’re creating a glam or event makeup look. 

Price at time of publish: $30

Benefits: Volumizing, Curling, Lengthening | Shades: 1 | Byrdie Clean: Yes | Cruelty-Free: Yes

Key Features

“It’s so easy to remove! I just needed one cotton pad with micellar water.” —Leslie Kelly, Tester

Best Drugstore: COVERGIRL Exhibitionist Uncensored Mascara

5

If you’re looking for a drugstore mascara that delivers dramatic volume, this one is worth picking up. It can be layered up to create intense fullness on the lashes, and we appreciate that it’s infused with coconut and jojoba oils

Our tester used the Extreme Black shade and loved how jet black it made her lashes look. She also noted that the formula wore well without smudging, transferring, or clumping, making it an excellent drugstore buy. And while some online reviewers reported some flaking, we think the pros far outweigh the cons.

Price at time of publish: $12.99

Benefits: Volumizing | Shades: 4 | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes

Best Volumizing: COVERGIRL Lash Blast Volume Mascara

5
COVERGIRL Lash Blast Volume Mascara

Amazon

What We Like
  • Provides clump-free volume

  • Buildable

  • Easy to remove

What We Don’t Like
  • Strong fragrance

Cruise the makeup aisle at any drugstore and you’re bound to see a display of this beloved mascara. For years, it’s been hailed a top-shelf volumizing mascara, and despite how many new formulations have hit the market since this one, it’s remained a fan favorite. It promises to add definition and thickness to each lash without clumping or smudging. 

Our tester loved that it delivered on its clump-free claim. She said her lashes looked full and voluminous while maintaining a natural appearance. She also noted that because it isn’t an overly thick or goopy formula, it’s great for defining the lower lashes. 

One con she found was that it had a strong paint-like smell, but if you’re not overly sensitive to fragrance, it shouldn’t be a deal-breaker. 

Price at time of publish: $7.25

Benefits: Volumizing | Shades: 4 | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes

Best Lengthening: Tarte Tartlette Tubing Mascara

5
Tarte Tartlette Tubing Mascara

Sephora

What We Like
  • Long-lasting and smudge-resistant

  • Narrow wand makes application easy

  • Easy to remove

What We Don’t Like
  • Could provide more volume

Tubing mascaras are excellent for creating elongated lashes—and this one delivers on that and more. The formula creates “tubes” that wrap around each lash to separate, define, and lengthen. While it also provides a bit of volume and curling action, it’s the lengthening benefit that truly stands out. 

Our tester appreciated the thin, plastic wand because it allowed her to coat her lashes in hard-to-reach areas, like the inner corners. She loved the length that this mascara created, that it lasted all day with no smearing, and how simple it was to remove. 

Price at time of publish: $24

Benefits: Lengthening | Shades: 1 | Byrdie Clean: Yes | Cruelty-Free: Yes

Tarte Tartlette Tubing Mascara

Byrdie / Jessica Juliao

What Our Testers Say

“I have straight light lashes and this lengthened them and made them look naturally long and dark. I think this is a great everyday mascara that can be thrown on quickly without worrying about clumping.” —Elizabeth Hecht, Product Tester

Best Splurge: Charlotte Tilbury Pillow Talk Push Up Lashes Volumizing & Lengthening Mascara

4.8
What We Like
  • Dual-sided brush

  • Clump-free

  • Wispy finish

What We Don’t Like
  • Uneven application

Charlotte Tilbury’s Pillow Talk line is iconic, and this mascara is too. Created to provide length and volume, it features a unique double-sided paddle brush that works to load and comb product onto the lashes while giving them a lift. It’s also smudge-proof and humidity-proof, making it a fitting choice if you’re traveling or you live in a humid climate. 

In addition to providing impressive length, our tester found that it worked wonders in terms of giving her the appearance of curled, lifted lashes. She also raved about the fluttery look she achieved with it. 

If you struggle to coat your inner lashes as our tester does, this could be just the mascara you need. She explained that while she usually struggles to lengthen the small lashes at her inner corners, this product eliminates that problem. Our tester did note that she wished the application was more even but admitted that the issue could be attributed to the shape of her eye, so everyone may not have the same experience. 

Price at time of publish: $29

Benefits: Volumizing, Lengthening | Shades: 2 | Byrdie Clean: Yes | Cruelty-Free: Yes

Charlotte Tilbury Pillow Talk Mascara

Byrdie / Jessica Juliao

What Our Testers Say

"This mascara definitely does wonders for the inner part of my eye. This is the longest my innermost lashes have ever looked.” —Julia Fields, Product Tester

Best 2-in-1: Honest Beauty Extreme Length Mascara + Lash Primer

4.9
Honest Beauty Extreme Length 2-in-1 Mascara and Lash Primer

Amazon

What We Like
  • Provides clean length and volume

  • Primer and mascara layer well

  • Transfer-resistant

What We Don’t Like
  • Grip on the primer side is short and awkward to hold

Mascara primers can be great for separating and thickening the lashes prior to applying mascara, but having to keep a separate tube in your makeup bag can feel a bit excessive. This 2-in-1 product works to condition and prep the lashes, and create length and volume—without adding excess weight or clutter to your collection. 

The brush is narrow with short plastic bristles, making it easy to reach each lash, and the formula delivers natural-looking length and volume. It’s formulated with jojoba esters to nourish the lashes, and the primer formula helps to prolong the wear of the mascara in addition to conditioning.

Our tester loved the look she achieved with it, but her one downside was that the grip on the primer side is very short, making it difficult to maneuver without getting product on her hands or skin near her eyes. 

Price at time of publish: $17.99

Benefits: Priming, Lengthening, Volumizing | Shades: 1 | Byrdie Clean: Yes | Cruelty-Free: Yes

Honest Beauty 2-in-1 Extreme Length Mascara + Lash Primer

Byrdie / Jessica Juliao

Best for Glam Looks: Uoma Beauty Drama Bomb Extreme Volume Nourishing Mascara

4.8
Uoma Beauty Drama Bomb Extreme Volume Mascara

Ulta

What We Like
  • Provides intense volume

  • Long wand makes coating every lash easy

What We Don’t Like
  • Could be easier to remove

As you can see from this list so far, some mascaras are meant to create naturally defined lashes while others deliver dramatic results—and this one falls into the latter category. The formula contains nourishing ingredients, like avocado oil, castor oil, jojoba oil, and a blend of vegan waxes to keep the lashes hydrated, prevent breakage, and add volume. 

Our tester shared that the tube is easy and comfortable to hold, and the wand is long, making it simple to coat each lash—even the hard-to-reach ones at the corners of the eyes. If you’re in the market for a mascara that creates striking lashes to pair with a bold makeup look—and you prefer sticking to vegan formulas—you can’t go wrong with this one.  

Price at time of publish: $19.50

Benefits: Volumizing, Lengthening, Lifting | Shades: 1 | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes

Uoma Beauty Drama Bomb Mascara Test

Byrdie / Jessica Juliao

What Our Testers Say

“The product provided the drama it promises—and I received high compliments from those around me.” —Kiara Timo, Product Tester

Best Smudge-Free: IT Cosmetics Lash Blowout Volumizing Mascara

4.8
IT Cosmetics Lash Blowout Volumizing Mascara

Amazon

What We Like
  • No smudging or flaking

  • Delivers intense volume

  • Can be built-up quickly

What We Don’t Like
  • Packaging is a bit bulky

A mascara that can give the lashes volume and lift that resembles a salon blowout? Count us in. The brand nailed it with the name of this mascara—it truly creates gorgeous volume and a lifting effect on the lashes. 

Unlike many formulas that are too wet or thick or all too dry when you crack open the tube, our reviewer appreciated that this one had the perfect consistency right from the start. She also noted that she was able to build up the intensity quickly—so much so that she was able to achieve a false-lash effect. But the best part is that despite how much she was able to build it up, she experienced absolutely no smudging or flaking. 

One thing we would change about this one is the size of the packaging. While it adorably mimics a round brush, it’s a bit bulky and cumbersome to hold. 

Price at time of publish: $21.50

Benefits: Volumizing | Shades: 1 | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes

IT Cosmetics Lash Blowout Volumizing Mascara

Byrdie / Jessica Juliao

What Our Testers Say

“I loved this mascara. It was super nice right out of the tube—not too wet or goopy. It applied easily and gave tons of volume and length in just a few swipes.” —Shannon Bauer, Product Tester

Best Clean: ILIA Beauty Limitless Lash Mascara

4.8
ILIA Limitless Lash Lengthening Mascara

Sephora

What We Like
  • Dual-sided brush

  • Rich black color

  • Easy to remove

What We Don’t Like
  • Minimal smudging

If you keep up with what’s popular in the clean beauty space, then chances are you’re familiar with this ultra-popular clean mascara. According to our test results, it deserves the high praise it receives. Formulated with a conditioning blend of waxes, it works to nourish the lashes while lengthening and lifting them. It has a unique dual-sided wand that contains short bristles to curl and add subtle volume to the lashes, and long bristles to lift, lengthen, and separate them. 

Aside from how much she enjoyed the wand and the results it gave her, our tester loved that this mascara delivered rich black pigmentation that was still easy to remove. She did note that she experienced just a bit of smudging on her upper eyelid, so if you’re prone to smudging, keep that in mind. 

Price at time of publish: $28

Benefits: Lengthening, Lifting | Shades: 1 | Byrdie Clean: Yes | Cruelty-Free: Yes

ILIA Limitless Lash Lengthening Mascara

Best False Lash Dupe: Milk Makeup Kush High Volume Mascara

4.8
MILK MAKEUP KUSH High Volumizing Mascara

Milk Makeup

What We Like
  • Weighted packaging allows for controlled application

  • Easy to build intense volume

  • Easy to remove

  • Recyclable packaging

What We Don’t Like
  • Slightly clumpy

Applying false lashes can be tricky and time-consuming, so finding a mascara that provides a false lash effect is a great alternative. This volumizing formula packed with hemp-derived cannabis seed oil works to coat the lashes in dramatic volume while conditioning them and maintaining a soft feel. 

If you have straight eyelashes like our tester, this mascara could be the perfect pick for you. She explained that it added so much drama to her lashes that they almost looked fake. And although she was able to achieve a bold look, the formula didn’t weigh her straight lashes down. She also loved the weighted packaging as it helped her to nail a controlled application.

Our one con with this mascara is that it can get slightly clumpy. But if you’re looking for a falsies effect, this might not bother you. To remove clumps, we suggest taking an eyelash comb and gently combing your lashes after applying the mascara to remove excess product. 

Price at time of publish: $18.49

Benefits: Volumizing | Shades: 1 | Byrdie Clean: Yes | Cruelty-Free: Yes

Milk Makeup Kush High Volume Mascara

Byrdie / Jessica Juliao

What Our Testers Say

“I think it looked really great and I don't normally love volumizing mascaras. It went on easily to both the top and bottom lashes.” —Elizabeth Hecht, Product Tester

Best Wand: Benefit Cosmetics They're Real! Lengthening Mascara

4.8
Benefit Cosmetics They're Real! Lengthening Mascara

Ulta

What We Like
  • Flexible wand

  • Doesn’t smudge or transfer

  • Great for separating

What We Don’t Like
  • Slightly difficult to remove

The shape and size of a mascara wand can make or break the outcome of your look, not to mention significantly impact your experience using the product. While there are tons of different types of wands, and varying opinions on which kind is best, the truth is that it’s very personal. However, tons of consumer reviews and our tester agree that the wand on this mascara is fantastic. 

The formula and brush work together to lengthen and volumize the lashes while giving them a lifted effect. The wand contains staggered bristles to effectively grip each lash, and our tester found that the bristles did a great job of separating her lashes for a more wide-eyed look. She also noted that the bristles on the tip of the brush helped to coat the lashes in hard-to-reach areas, making for a full, even application. 

If we could change one thing about this mascara, it wouldn’t be anything having to do with the brush. Rather, we wish it was a bit easier to remove. 

Price at time of publish: $27

Benefits: Lengthening, Volumizing | Shades: 2 | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: No

Benefit Cosmetics They're Real! Lengthening Mascara

Byrdie / Jessica Juliao

Best Flake-Free: Rare Beauty by Selena Gomez Perfect Strokes Universal Volumizing Mascara

4.4
Rare Beauty Perfect Strokes Mascara

Sephora

What We Like
  • Can be built up quickly

  • Holds a curl

  • No transferring or flaking

What We Don’t Like
  • Wand is a bit too big for the bottom lashes

  • Slightly clumpy

Selena Gomez and the Rare Beauty team have created some incredible products, and this is one of them. It promises to volumize, lengthen, and curl the lashes while maintaining its condition throughout the day—and it does. 

Our tester shared that with this formula, she believes less is more as it built up very quickly and created minor clumps. However, after cleaning it up a bit, she loved that her lashes looked defined, remained curled, and best of all, were completely flake-free as she wore it. 

While this formula is a great option if you experience flaking or smudging on your lower lash line, our tester noted that the brush is a bit big for the area which can make application tricky. 

Price at time of publish: $20.63

Benefits: Volumizing, Curling, and Lengthening | Shades: 1 | Byrdie Clean: Yes | Cruelty-Free: Yes

Rare Beauty Perfect Strokes Mascara

Byrdie / Jessica Juliao

Final Verdict

Our top pick is the Too Faced Better Than Sex Mascara, thanks to the buildable formula, clump-free volume, and easy removal. But if you’re seeking out something that will deliver incredible lengthening benefits, we recommend the Tarte Tartelette Tubing Mascara.

How We Tested

Byrdie editors did extensive research on popular mascaras, taking expert recommendations and consumer reviews into account before choosing 33 to test out first-hand. Our testers assessed each one based on ease of use, wear, performance, overall look, and ease of removal before deciding on a rating from one to five. Those with the highest scores made the list. All tests were performed in The Lab, our Manhattan product testing facility.

Revlon Super Length Mascara

Byrdie / Jessica Juliao

Other Options We Tested

Kosas The Big Clean Longwear Volumizing + Lash Care Mascara

While our tester loved the packaging and final look of this clean formula, she took issue with how heavy it felt on her lashes. She also shared that she experienced pretty significant smudging on her upper and lower lashes. 

Kosas The Big Clean Longwear Volumizing + Lash Care Mascara

Byrdie / Jessica Juliao

e.l.f. Big Mood Mega Volume & Lifting Mascara

While this drugstore mascara delivered rich pigmentation and remained smudge-free, our tester felt that it didn’t provide the dramatic length or volume it promised. 

e.l.f. Big Mood Mega Volume & Lifting Mascara

Byrdie / Jessica Juliao

MAC Macstack Mascara Superstack

Despite this popular pick being easily buildable and painless to remove, our tester wasn’t pleased with how clumpy it made her lashes look.

MAC Macstack Mascara Superstack

Byrdie / Jessica Juliao

What to Look For in Mascara

Benefits

Finding the best mascara for you will depend on the natural state of your lashes as well as what you’re looking for. If you already have long, curled lashes, then perhaps reaching for a volumizing mascara, like the COVERGIRL Lash Blast Volume Mascara, makes the most sense for you. If you’re looking to fake the appearance of longer lashes, seek out formulas that focus primarily on lengthening benefits. If you want a bit of everything—length, curl, volume—while still maintaining a natural appearance, a pick like the ILIA Limitless Lash Lengthening Mascara is a great choice.

Wand

The formula and the wand are the most important aspects of a mascara. A formula might be lightweight, silky, and nourishing, but if the wand can’t apply it to your lashes effectively then it won’t matter. Some wands feature spoolie-like bristles that tend to be long and densely packed, while others have plastic or rubber bristles that make for a more uniform application. For example, if you have long, curled lashes, a big mascara wand will give you dramatic, fluttery lashes. But if you’re working with short lashes, a long, skinny rubber wand will allow you to easily grip and coat your lashes. It may take some trial and error to figure out which type of wand is right for you, so don’t be afraid to experiment. 

Shade 

Black mascara is classic, but there are other options. If you’re looking to create a no-makeup, makeup look, opting for brown mascara will give your look a more subtle finish. And if you like to get creative with your looks or enhance your eye color, try reaching for a colored mascara to change things up.

FAQ
  • Which is the best mascara?

    Based on our test results and personal experience, the Too Faced Better Than Sex Mascara is the best. The hourglass brush helps to grip the lashes, it provides buildable volume, lengthens the lashes, and it’s easy to remove. We also appreciate how versatile it is—it’s great for everyday use as well as for dramatic makeup looks

  • What is mascara used for?

    Mascara is used to define the lashes and make them appear thicker, longer, and more pigmented. It can also help to separate the lashes and condition them if the mascara has nourishing ingredients in the formula. 

  • Is it ok to wear mascara every day?

    It is ok to wear mascara daily, however, it’s extremely important to properly remove it before bed. Not removing mascara may damage your lashes and interfere with their natural growth cycle.

What Is Byrdie Verified?

Did you notice the Byrdie Verified seal of approval at the top of this story? This seal means that our team has researched and tested every product on this list using a unique methodology that’s designed to focus on what our readers really want to know—and to deliver insights that you can’t find anywhere else. Occasionally, beauty brands and PR agencies will send us samples for coverage consideration, but our thoughts and opinions are fully our own. If you visit links within our content, we may receive commissions from your purchases, but we never receive any compensation or consideration for the content of our recommendations. In short, the Byrdie Verified seal stands for product recommendations you can trust.

Why Trust Byrdie

Alyssa Kaplan is an experienced writer in the beauty industry and product tester specializing in cosmetics. She has tested dozens of mascaras—including several on this list. Alyssa has been a commerce writer at Byrdie since 2022, where she covers all things beauty.

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. Kadri R, Achar A, Tantry TP, Parameshwar D, Kudva A, Hegde S. Mascara induced milphosis, an etiological evaluationInt J Trichology. 2013;5(3):144-147. doi:10.4103/0974-7753.125611

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