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As someone who cringes at the sight of my high-school photos—all featuring spiky spider lashes, dark under-eye makeup, and muted lips—I can confidently say that clumpy, streaky mascara is no longer my thing. Sure, it was fun when I was young, and it always resurges every few seasons on the runways, but when it comes to an everyday look, natural-looking length, definition, and curl wins for me every time.
Indeed, clumpy mascara can also be the result of your technique. With excess product on the mascara wand, too much pressure, numerous coats, and an expired formula, you, too, could end up with clumpy-looking lashes. Yet for the most part, there are some magic wands out there that make it extremely hard to mess up because of their wand design and formulation. In other words, they're mistake-proof, and you can swipe with abandon without fearing spider lashes.
Ahead, check out the best non-clumping mascaras on the market right now, all approved by Team Byrdie.
Best Overall: Benefit Cosmetics They're Real! Lengthening Mascara
Defines and separates lashes
Brush grips lashes close to the roots
A little difficult to remove
Who else recommends it? The Strategist and StyleCraze both picked the Benefit Cosmetics They're Real! Lengthening Mascara.
What do buyers say? 15,600+ Sephora reviewers rated this product 4 stars or higher.
This is my original go-to for separating lashes. This Benefit mascara brush design has staggering bristles that grab each individual lash so close to the root to lift it up and out.
Benefits: Defines, separates, lengthens | Size: 0.1 / 0.3 fl. oz | Shades: 1 | Waterproof: No | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: No
Best for Straight Lashes: Almay Mega Volume Mascara
Holds a curl
Lashes look lifted
Brush can be difficult to use
For seriously stick-straight lashes that need a lift, Byrdie's editorial director Faith Xue reaches for Almay Mega Volume Mascara. It's the only mascara that completely lifted and fanned out her lashes with no clumps.
Benefits: Defines, separates, curls, volumizes | Size: 0.3 fl. oz | Shades: 3 | Waterproof: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: No
Best Lengthening: La Roche-Posay Toleriane Extension Lengthening Mascara
Goes on smoothly
Separates and lengthens
Easy to remove
This super-lengthening pick from La Roche-Posay is a favorite of senior editor Hallie Gould. The wand separates each lash while it simultaneously sculpts every hair, extending them far beyond their natural length.
Benefits: Defines, separates, lengthens | Size: 0.8 fl. oz | Shades: 1 | Waterproof: No | Cruelty-Free: No
Best Volumizing: Benefit Bad Gal Bang Volumizing Mascara
Comb wand separates each lash
Long-wearing, weightless formula
Better at lengthening than volumizing
According to editorial director Faith, this Benefit mascara brings your lashes to sky-scraping heights with its lengthening abilities. A few swipes is all it takes to get a falsie effect, without any clumping. Plus, the shape of the wang allows you to preserve your lash length and build subtle volume without any drooping.
Benefits: Defines, separates, lengthens | Size: 0.1 / 0.3 fl. oz | Shades: 2 | Waterproof: No | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: No
What Our Testers Say
“It delivers on the promise of length, definition, and subtle volume—plus, it wears incredibly well.” — Emily Algar, Product Tester
Best Drugstore: COVERGIRL Lash Blast Volume Mascara
Keeps lashes soft
Could be more lengthening
If you’re looking for a drugstore option, this beloved classic is a hit—no miss. Its fiery color stands out on the shelves, but the real trophy has everything to do with its cushion-y, silicone brush that adds volume and maxes out every single lash, cluster-free.
Benefits: Defines, separates, lengthens | Size: 0.4 fl. oz | Shades: 3 | Waterproof: No | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes
Best Budget: Maybelline The Falsies Push Up Angel Washable Mascara
Lashes look lifted
Brush can be difficult to use
Quoted as the “push-up bra for your lashes” by Maybelline makeup artist Grace Lee, this mascara serves up incomparable curling and lifting abilities. Hallie and Faith both love it because it’s good for building volume on top of other mascaras and lifting lashes after your first initial coat.
Benefits: Defines, separates, lengthens | Size: 0.3 fl. oz | Shades: 3 | Waterproof: No | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: No
Best Flake-Free: Glossier Lash Slick
Defines and lengthens lashes
Keeps lashes soft
Gives subtle results
Senior editor Hallie doubted this Glossier mascara at first, then was completely swooning over it by the end of her week of trying Glossier products. Lash Slick won’t give you huge night-out-on-the-town lashes, but it does offer powder-puff, fluffy length to your existing lashes and doesn't cake or flake.
Benefits: Defines, separates, lengthens | Size: 0.3 fl. oz | Shades: 1 | Waterproof: No | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes
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 Waterproof: Mary Kay Lash Love Mascara
Won't flake or smudge
Mary Kay products have withstood the test of time, and it's safe to say that this Lash Love Mascara is one of the brand's best. Byrdie senior editor Lindsey Metrus can attest that this water-resistant formula is clump-resistant and flake-free—she even has senior editor Hallie hooked.
Benefits: Defines, separates, lengthens | Size: 0.3 fl. oz | Shades: 1 | Waterproof: No | Cruelty-Free: No
Best Wand: Tarte Lights, Camera, Lashes 4-in-1 Mascara
Keeps lashes soft and fluttery
Not for dramatic volume
The unique brush in this mascaras has two different sides, both of which work wonders at separating lashes for a completely clump-free look. If you want major volume you might have to double up, but for natural-looking length, this is a winner.
Benefits: Defines, separates, lengthens | Size: 0.2 fl. oz | Shades: 1 | Waterproof: No | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes
Best for a Cat-Eye: Burberry Cat Lashes Mascara
Holds a curl
Creating a cat-eye doesn’t always have to do with eyeliner—you can certainly channel a more feline effect with a fuller lash line. This mascara from Burberry lifts every lash and curls them upwards and outwards.
Benefits: Lifts, lengthens, volumizes | Size: 0.2 fl. oz | Shades: 4 | Waterproof: No | Cruelty-Free: No
What to Look For in Non-Clumping Mascaras
Even within the category of non-clumping mascaras, there are different wand types. Wands can vary in shape, size, number of bristles, and material from which they are made. If you struggle to use wands that are curved or thick-bristled, remember to check the wand included with the non-clumping mascaras you’re considering. Otherwise, you’ll find your non-clumping mascara isn’t as effective as it could be.
It’s all about personal preference. Some people swear by jet black mascara, while others might find coffee-colored mascara to be more complementary. If mascara color is of great importance to you, don’t forget to look at the shades available in every non-clumping mascara you’re considering. For a more dramatic look, opt for dark black.
On what occasions will you be wearing your non-clumping mascara? And what look are you trying to achieve? If you’re purchasing non-clumping mascara to wear every day, for instance, extreme volume might not be a top priority. Of course, if subtlety isn’t your flavor, you’ll want a non-clumping mascara that makes your lashes stand out when applied.
How do non-clumping mascaras work?
Non-clumping mascara is designed to evenly coat each of your lashes so that they don’t cling to each other.
How do you apply and remove non-clumping mascaras?
To apply, wiggle the wand horizontally from the root to the tip of your lashes. Then, run the wand upward from root to tip until your lashes are covered. You can layer as much as you’d like.
How do you remove non-clumping mascara?
It depends. If your non-clumping mascara is waterproof, you’ll likely need a standard makeup remover. If it’s water-resistant or not designed to withstand getting wet, you may be able to remove it with soap and water, or perhaps even water alone.
Do non-clumping mascaras expire?
Non-clumping mascara should be replaced more often than other makeup products because of the dangers of microbial growth and the chance of eye infection. The FDA suggests you replace your mascara three months after purchase.
Pay special attention to non-clumping mascara made of only natural ingredients as it might lack preservatives, making it more susceptible to microbial growth. If your non-clumping mascara feels dry or as though it’s expired before the three-month mark, you shouldn’t hesitate to replace it.
The 26 very best mascaras. The Strategist. https://nymag.com/strategist/article/best-mascaras.html
13 best non-clumping mascaras of all time – 2022’s top picks. StyleCraze. https://www.stylecraze.com/articles/best-non-clumping-mascara