All Beauty, All the Time—For Everyone.

The 6 Best Water-Based Mascaras to Keep Your Lash Extensions Intact

gif of 3 different mascaras

Getty Images/Graphic by Cristina Cianci

As a recent convert to lash extensions, one of the things I oddly miss in my makeup routine is using mascara; there's something therapeutic about brushing lashes that calmed me as I got ready in the morning. As any lash expert will tell you, you must try to avoid using mascara to make your extensions last as long as possible. But if you're desperately wanting to add volume and color to them, turn to water-based mascaras.

"It is the only type that is safe to use with lash extensions," says celebrity makeup artist Brigitte Reiss-Andersen. "An oil-based mascara would break down the glue and loosen the extensions."

So what exactly is a water-based mascara? "Water-based mascaras are free of added oils and are a neutral pH, which also means they are chemical-free," says celebrity makeup artist Lisa Aharon.

They also have a lot of benefits other than being lash extension– and false lash–friendly. "Water-based mascaras contain fewer additives and chemicals than most mascaras, which usually are easier to wear for people with sensitive or people with allergic reactions to eyes," says celebrity makeup artist Robert Sesnek. "It [also] removes easily and quickly and dries faster than an oil-based/waterproof mascara, but it may take more coats to lengthen and build and have to be reapplied more often."

We asked several makeup artists to share with us their favorite water-based mascara, and we also picked a few of our own.

Maybelline Great Lash
Maybelline Great Lash $7

"Maybelline Great Lash is a classic. It coats beautifully but won't give you much else. It's great for a natural look," says celebrity makeup artist Jamie Greenberg.

"A classic that looks light and natural—almost like a soft lash tint. No fillers or waxes and wearable for the most sensitive eyes," says Sesnek.

"I have been using Great Lash by Maybelline for years. No, make that decades. It's reliable because it works on literally everyone. It can be layered and layered again, and it's jet black," says Reiss-Andersen.

Benefit BADgal Lash
Benefit BADgal Lash $20

"It can be hard to find a water-based mascara that will also build your lashes and create volume. This brush and formula allows a range from natural to a false lash effect—I like to have options," says Aharon.

MASCARA VOLUME EFFET FAUX CILS - Luxurious Mascara Purple 4
Yves Saint Laurent Mascara Volume Effet Faux Cils $29

"YSL Volume Effet Faux Cils is another amazing mascara. The Black is super black and incredibly rich. It's a great mascara for people who really want to build a lash that after a few coats really gives the look of false lashes. Plus the Brush is incredibly full for building tons of volume," says Sesnek.

Key Ingredients

Vitamin B5 is a water-soluble vitamin that nourishes and strengthens eyelashes to prevent breakage.

Définicils Volume Effet Faux Cils
Lancome Définicils Volume Effet Faux Cils $28

"Lancôme Defenecils mascara is a great one! Builds very good volume and density and has an amazing brush to define and separate each lash and hair," says Sesnek.

Naturally Glossy Mascara Jet Black 0.2 oz/ 6 mL
Clinique Naturally Glossy Mascara Jet Black $20

This mascara lengthens and glosses lashes, but we love that it is flake-free and does not clump.

Beauty Garde Oil Free Mascara
Beauty Garde Oil-Free Mascara $26

Great by itself or for when you have lash extensions or false lashes, this oil-free mascara gives your lashes major volume.


Related Stories