The 12 Best Waterproof Mascaras to Avoid Smudges and Smears

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If the last year taught us anything, it’s that mascara is a beauty staple. On days filled with Zoom call after call while working from home, just one swipe of mascara worked wonders to our face filled with minimal makeup. But before you decide on whether you want a volumizing, curling, lengthening, or natural formula, you should consider one thing: waterproof or regular

There’s no doubt the latter is easier to find, but waterproof is the obvious choice for its hardcore staying power, especially during your toughest of workout classes, saddest of movies, and worst of weather (looking at your humidity and sudden downpours). Not convinced yet? Well, they’ll also help avoid the dreaded smudging, smearing, and constant reapplication that some mascara requires, thanks to higher amounts of waxes and polymers (AKA the ingredients that keep your mascara gripped to your lashes) in the formula. The only caveat? Make sure you proceed with caution when taking it off since you don’t want to scrub too hard and risk damaging your precious lashes. 

Ahead, the best waterproof mascaras that’ll keep your lashes looking A+ through it all.

Best Overall: Tarte Lights, Camera Splashes Waterproof Mascara

4.8
Tarte Lights, Camera Splashes Waterproof Mascara

 Courtesy of Sephora

What We Like
  • Lightweight

  • Doesn’t clump

  • Tug-free application

What We Don't Like
  • Difficult to remove

For instances when the likelihood of smudges and smears are high (an outdoor wedding, intense workout classes, viewing of a super sad movie, the like), look no further than this Tarte mascara. It packs enough punch to lengthen, curl, condition, and volumize your lashes without budging a single inch. Thanks to the carnauba wax in its waterproof formula, it also ensures an ultra-smooth, tug-free application. So cue the waterworks—without the fear of mascara streaking down your entire face.

Benefits: Lifts, curls, volumizes, lengths, conditions, nourishes | Size: 0.33 ounces | Shades: 1 | Waterproof: Yes | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: No

Best Budget: Maybelline Great Lash Waterproof Mascara

4.7
Maybelline Great Lash Waterproof Mascara

Maybelline

What We Like
  • Applies evenly

  • Affordable

  • Doesn't clump

What We Don't Like
  • Dries out quickly and flakes

  • Difficult to remove

Maybelline is best known for its incredible line-up of mascaras, and this OG is no exception. This classic pink and green tube launched in 1971 and remains a cult favorite year after year with one tube selling every 5 seconds worldwide. Don’t be scared of its waterproof addition; it offers ample definition, separation, and lift without the risk of clumping. Did we mention it costs less than $10? 

Benefits: Lifts, defines, volumizes | Size: 0.43 ounces | Shades: 1 | Waterproof: Yes | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: No

Best Drugstore: L'Oréal Voluminous Lash Paradise Washable Mascara in 202 Black Brown

L'Oréal Voluminous Lash Paradise Washable Mascara in Black Brown

Courtesy of Walmart

What We Like
  • Applies evenly 

  • Soft wave bristle brush 

  • Affordable

What We Don't Like
  • Dries out quickly and flakes

While the OG version of this formula is a Byrdie-editor favorite, this waterproof version may just be our new go-to. With over 200 bristles, it lengthens lashes, creates sky-high volume, and leaves you without the fear of stressing about smudging. Better yet, this formula is a top pick of Lori Taylor Davis, Global Lead Pro-Artist At Smashbox Cosmetics, too. 

Benefits: Volumizes, conditions, lengthens | Size: 0.28 ounces | Shades: 4 | Waterproof: Yes | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: No

l'oreal paris voluminous lash paradise mascara

Byrdie / Ashley Rebecca 

Best Volumizing: Covergirl LashBlast Volume Waterproof Mascara

CoverGirl Lash Blast Volume Waterproof Mascara

Courtesy of Ulta

What We Like
  • Long-lasting

  • Affordable

  • Doesn't clump

What We Don't Like
  • Difficult to remove

  • Sometimes smudges 

Built with a patented brush and formula, this waterproof mascara provides immediate volume and fullness. With just a few wiggles, its brush applicator adds heaps of volume, envious of those with lash extensions. It certainly doesn’t hurt that its formula is stay-proof and budge-proof, too.

Benefits: Volumizes, defines, lengthens | Size: 0.44 ounces | Shades: 5 | Waterproof: Yes | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No

Best Volumizing, Runner-Up: Lancôme Monsieur Big Waterproof Mascara

Lancôme Monsieur Big Waterproof Mascara

 Courtesy of Ulta

What We Like
  • Lightweight 

  • Long-lasting

  • Doesn't flake

What We Don't Like
  • Distributes excess product and clumps

  • Not for contact lens wearers 

For extremely voluminous lashes, grab this pick from Lancôme. Its combination of wavy bristles and an extra-large brush grab each lash, making for plenty of volume. Unlike some other waterproof formulas, it’ll hold in place for 24 hours while remaining silky and lightweight.

Benefits: Volumizes, lengthens | Size: 0.33 ounces | Shades: 1 | Waterproof: Yes | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: No

Best Lengthening: Smashbox Full Exposure Waterproof Mascara

Smashbox Full Exposure Waterproof Mascara
What We Like
  • Great for rigorous activities 

  • Can be worn every day 

  • Doesn't clump

What We Don't Like
  • Difficult to remove

  • Dries out quickly and flakes

Craving a waterproof mascara that makes your lashes look like falsies? Snag this one from Smashbox. Its large tapered brush grabs each lash to add natural-looking length and build thickness, while its nourishing olive-oil-infused formula keeps lashes feeling soft. It certainly doesn't hurt that its formula won’t clump or smudge—no matter how many coats you apply. “Its applicator lays the right amount of product without clumping,” says Davis.

Benefits: Volumizes, lengthens, nourishes | Size: 0.27 ounces | Shades: 1 | Waterproof: Yes | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Best Curling: Dior Diorshow Iconic Waterproof Mascara

Dior Diorshow Iconic Waterproof Mascara

 Courtesy of Sephora

What We Like
  • Doesn't flake

  • Long-lasting

  • Oblique cut brush

What We Don't Like
  • Not made for straight lashes 

  • Needs multiple coats 

This mascara gained its iconic status from fashion shows and red carpets events, so you know its waterproof version is worth the hype. Built with an extra-hold, water- and smudge-proof formula, it’ll have 24 hours of curl worth shouting from the rooftop. However, it’s really all about its oblique cut shape brush, which coats each lash one by one into a runway-ready fan effect. 

Benefits: Curls, lengthens, thickens | Size: 0.27 ounces | Shades: 1 | Waterproof: Yes | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: No

Best Natural: Ere Perez Avocado Waterproof Mascara

Ere Perez Avocado Waterproof Mascara

Credo

What We Like
  • Buildable

  • Lightweight

  • Long-lasting

What We Don't Like
  • Not made for oily eyelids 

  • Doesn't curl 

Let’s be honest: it’s no easy feat to find a mascara that’s both waterproof and clean, especially since the ingredients needed to make it waterproof aren’t natural. With a shortlist of ingredients, this pick is a hidden gem free of chemicals. By using avocado and other natural oils, it’ll wear up to 24 hours while conditioning and strengthening. Apply in upwards strokes to achieve the full effect. 

Benefits: Conditions, strengthens, promotes growth | Size: 0.64 ounces | Shades: 1 | Waterproof: Yes | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Best All-In-One: Giorgio Armani Eyes to Kill Wet Waterproof Mascara

Giorgio Armani Eyes to Kill Wet Waterproof Mascara
What We Like
  • Tug-free application

  • Easy to remove 

  • Oversized brush

What We Don't Like
  • Not made for short lashes 

  • Needs multiple coats 

If you’re a fan of the cult-favorite Eyes to Kill, you’ll adore its waterproof counterpart. By using micro-fine waxes in the formula, this waterproof mascara allows for smooth and easy application, ensuring tons of volume, definition, and length. Its oversized patented brush uses a bristle weave design to keep every lash looking striking.

To apply, wiggle the brush through your lashes from the root to the tip. 

Benefits: Volumizes, lengthens, defines | Size: 0.22 ounces | Shades: 1 | Waterproof: Yes | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: No

Best Splurge: Byredo Waterproof Mascara

Byredo Waterproof Mascara
What We Like
  • Long-lasting 

  • Buildable 

  • Ergonomically designed tube 

What We Don't Like
  • Needs multiple coats

  • Distributes excess product and clumps

Sure, this waterproof mascara is a splurge, but it’s worth its price tag. Dubbed as sweat, tear, and water-proof, this mascara will stay on through literally everything. It’s formulated with 89% natural ingredients and creates both definition and volume. The best part? The tube is ergonomically designed to fit comfortably in your hand as well. Apply one coat for a natural effect or several for fuller lashes.

Benefits: Volumizes, defines | Size: 0.47 ounces | Shades: 1 | Waterproof: Yes | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Best Non-Clumping: Too Faced Better Than Sex Waterproof Mascara

too faced better than sex waterproof mascara

Courtesy of Too Faced

What We Like
  • Hour-glass shaped brush

  • Doesn’t clump

  • No stickiness

What We Don't Like
  • Irritating to sensitive eyes 

  • Can cause minor smudging 

Chances are you’ve seen the OG Better Than Sex Mascara rake in award after award. This waterproof version mimics all the attributes people love—with the added benefit of serious staying power. Its hourglass-shaped brush, volumizing prowess, and intensely black color only add to the appeal. Plus, unlike other waterproof formulas, this one easily swipes on without any clumps or stickiness. 

Benefits: Volumizes, curls, thickens | Size: 0.27 ounces | Shades: 1 | Waterproof: Yes | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: No

Best Brush: MAC In Extreme Dimension Waterproof Mascara

MAC In Extreme Dimension Waterproof Mascara
What We Like
  • Doesn’t clump

  • Long-lasting

  • Lightweight

What We Don't Like
  • Difficult to remove

  • Dries out quickly and flakes

It can be quite the challenge to find a brush that truly grabs every single lash, but this MAC waterproof mascara excels at it. Thanks to its applicator, the formula enhances volume, extends lashes, creates curls, and stays put through it all. Plus, you’ll avoid the dreadful clumping and smudging from all types of moisture-induced scenarios (hello, spin classes, sweaty summer days, etc.). 

Benefits: Volumizes, lengthens, curls, conditions | Size: 0.47 ounces | Shades: 1 | Waterproof: Yes | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Final Verdict

While you can’t go wrong with any of the above, we’d recommended going for our overall favorite, Tarte Lights, Camera, Splashes Waterproof Mascara (view at Sephora). It’ll stay put through just about any scenario and give you tons of volume, definition, and fullness. When we’re looking for a drugstore pick, we’re forever choosing Maybelline Great Lash Waterproof Mascara (view at Ulta). It’s a vamped oldie but goodie that offers ample definition, separation, and lift without any clumping whatsoever. Looking for a splurge-worthy option? We’d forever select Byredo Waterproof Mascara (view at Saks Fifth Avenue) for its sweat, tear, and water-proof formula and ergonomically designed tube. 

What to Look for in a Waterproof Mascara

Conditioning Ingredients

Look for formulas that contain conditioning ingredients, explains Davis. “It’ll help cut the drying effect that happens with some waterproof mascaras.” 

Formula

When choosing a waterproof mascara, says Davis, opt for formulas that are lightweight, non-clumping, and have a good brush/applicator to layer on the product. “Formulas that stay in place but are easy to remove, cut down the tugging and pulling on the lashes.” 

FAQ
  • How do you apply waterproof mascara?

    To give eyes a more awake look, explains Davis, apply an extra coat to the lashes at the top/center of the eye as well as the outer corner. In addition, she recommends pairing it with a lash primer. "This will not only help ensure lash health but also help with the overall look of the waterproof mascara."

  • How long does waterproof mascara last?

    Since waterproof mascara is different from regular mascara, purchasing a new tube every three to five months is best, explains Davis. “It ensures that the formula stays slick and buildable.”

  • Is waterproof mascara safe for contact lenses?

    You should avoid getting waterproof mascara on your contact lenses, says Davis. “You’ll need a special bi-phase makeup remover to get it off of eyelashes, which will make it not friendly for contact lenses.” 

Why Trust Byrdie?

Byrdie contributor, Rachel Dube, has written for some of the biggest beauty publications out there. She has tested hundreds of beauty products during her career and knows a thing or two about a great waterproof mascara. As someone whose mascara is always smudging or smearing, she can attest to how a good waterproof mascara can be truly life-changing. In fact, she’s tested many, many on this list and uses some of them weekly. 

Meet the Expert

Lori Taylor Davis is the Global Pro Lead Artist at Smashbox Cosmetics. 

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 any waterproof mascaras from a Black-owned and/or Black-founded business. If you know of one we should consider, please email us at contact@byrdie.com and we will evaluate the product ASAP.

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