• Thrive Causemetics Liquid Lash Extensions Mascara

  • Milani Highly Rated 10-in-1 Volume Mascara

  • Tetyana 4D Silk Fiber

  • How We Tested

  • What You Should Know About Mascara

  • Other Mascara We Tested

  • More Articles You Might Enjoy

Our Favorite Mascaras of 2021

  1. Best Overall

    Thrive Causemetics Liquid Lash Extensions Mascara

    Pros

    • Easy to apply

    • Doesn’t clump

    • Holds up throughout the day

    Cons

    • None that we could find

    Skip to the full review below
  2. Best Value

    Milani Highly Rated 10-in-1 Volume Mascara

    Pros

    • Goes on smooth

    • Doesn’t clump

    • Only needs a single coat

    • Easy to remove

    Cons

    • Comes off with water and rubbing

    Skip to the full review below
Thrive Brigitt
Credit: Reviewed / Brigitt Earley

The Thrive Causemetics Liquid Lash Extensions Mascara is easy to apply and makes your lashes look like falsies.

Best Overall
Best Overall
Thrive Causemetics Liquid Lash Extensions Mascara

From first swipe, it was clear to me why this is an award-winning mascara with over 14,500 glowing reviews. Though the wand’s short, plastic bristles look unassuming, they make application a breeze. I’ve never before used a mascara that’s this easy to apply (and I’ve tested a lot of them). The short bristles let you get right up into the base of your lashes and the corners of your eyes without getting any formula on your lids. And even though the wand doesn’t appear to hold much formula, somehow it deposits enough to make the first coat look near perfect.

A second coat is where the magic really happens, though. It doesn’t clump at all and delivers what the brand promises: dramatic length, definition, and curl that instantly creates the look of lash extensions.

Just as importantly, there was no flaking or smudging throughout the day—and my lashes looked nearly as fabulous at 9 p.m. as they did at 9 a.m. with just signs of slight wear, as you’d expect from any cosmetic 12 hours later. Still, removal wasn’t difficult. With a little gentle rubbing and my eye makeup remover, the mascara came right off.

Those trying to “clean up” their beauty routine will appreciate that the formula is vegan, cruelty-free, and formulated without controversial ingredients like parabens, phthalates, sulfates, or fragrance.

Pros

  • Easy to apply

  • Doesn’t clump

  • Holds up throughout the day

Cons

  • None that we could find

Milani
Credit: Reviewed / Betsey Goldwasser

The Milani Highly Rated 10-in-1 Volume Mascara (on the model's right eye) offers darker, longer lashes in just one coat.

Best Value
Best Value
Milani Highly Rated 10-in-1 Volume Mascara

At just shy of $10, the Milani Highly Rated is the clear Best Value winner, and the Best Overall on our drugstore mascara roundup. Like the Thrive mascara, the application process is exactly what you want: The Milani wand holds the right amount of mascara to produce darker, longer lashes in one coat. But for those who want a more dramatic look, an additional coat elongates and adds intense volume to the lashes. The formula glides on smoothly, whether you go for one coat or two, with no clumping.

Just as importantly, this is one of the few mascaras we tested that looked just as good at the end of a more than 12-hour day. And although the formula stuck to the lashes without flaking or smudging, makeup remover took the Milani mascara off easily.

If you're wavering between our overall and value picks, know this: They are both excellent products, but the Thrive was a bit easier to apply and had a lengthening edge that couldn’t be beaten.

Pros

  • Goes on smooth

  • Doesn’t clump

  • Only needs a single coat

  • Easy to remove

Cons

  • Comes off with water and rubbing

Related content

Tetyana 4D Silk Fiber Lash Mascara
Credit: Reviewed / Betsey Goldwasser

The Tetyana 4D Silk Fiber Lash Mascara (on the model's right eye) not only lengthens the lashes but resists all water.

Best Waterproof Mascara
Best Waterproof Mascara
Tetyana 4D Silk Fiber

If waterproof mascara is your jam, the Tetyana 4D Silk Fiber is the best of all 16 we tested. Application is a breeze—the formula goes on smoothly, doesn’t clump (even during the second coat), and it delivers the bold, voluminous, long lashes it advertises. Just as important, the mascara was one of the highest performers in waterproof tests, not budging at all through spritzes of water, sweaty exercise, or full-on submersion.

The small downside to this mascara is that it takes a little longer—a minute or two—to dry compared to other formulas that set instantly.

See more of our best waterproof mascaras reviews.

Pros

  • Lifts and extends lashes

  • Goes on smooth

Cons

  • May require brushing for a flawless finish

How We Tested

Courtney
Credit: Reviewed / Jackson Ruckar

Tests show you don’t need a fancy wand shape to achieve a flawless finish.

The Tester

I'm Brigitt Earley, a lifestyle writer and editor for more than 10 years. It goes without saying that I have extensive experience testing beauty products, including face cleansing brushes and eyelash curlers for Reviewed. I am also an expectant mom with two very busy toddlers, so I need a product that delivers great, long-lasting results with minimal effort and—ideally—a reasonable price tag.

The Tests

We scoured best-seller lists across retailers, beauty blogs, social media, and other best-of lists to find the top mascaras on the market. Then, we glammed it up, pitting the top-rated brands against one another to find a winner.

Like a lot of beauty products, what makes a good mascara is rather subjective, depending on your goals: Do you want a dramatic look? A smooth application? Something that'll stay put no matter what? Or is price the be-all and end-all (especially considering mascara should be replaced every three months)?

I tested the mascara the same way you might: I applied the product during my normally-frenzied morning rush, wore each one all day (about 12 hours) without touching up, and removed the mascara with StriVectin Multi-Action Bi-Phase R&R eye makeup remover before bed.

Unlike the way you might test, though, I also teamed up with Reviewed’s senior scientist Julia MacDougall to score and weight results on a scientifically calibrated rubric. I also swatched each mascara on my arm to measure drying time and execute some durability tests.

But to find which mascara really is best, I answered questions like:

Application: Does the wand hold enough mascara to easily apply it in one stroke? Does the mascara go on smoothly? How well does the mascara separate lashes? How many coats do you need to apply for the optimal dramatic look?

Wear: Does the mascara achieve its stated claim? Does the mascara flake, transfer, or smudge throughout the day? Compared to a fresh application, how does the mascara look at the end of the day?

When I ran my experience from each mascara test through the scoring rubric, the results weren’t surprising. The scoring reflected my instincts during testing: The majority of these mascaras were perfectly suitable products, with a few standouts worthy of our accolades.

Many of the products I tested held their own in all of the most important areas: ease of application, end result (how it lengthened, curled, and added volume), longevity of wear, and ease of removal. In fact, I walked away from this series of tests understanding that price isn’t always the best determinant of quality. At the end of the day, I’d be happy stashing either of our top picks in my makeup bag.

What You Should Know About Mascara

What to Know
Credit: Reviewed / Betsey Goldwasser

Not every mascara lives up to the grand claims on its tube.

Our tests show it’s hard to go wrong with a top-rated mascara, and many beauty editors and makeup artists land on these products as their go-tos for a reason. Still, there are a few things you should know that may influence your purchasing decision:

Cost: Prices vary widely among the beauty products, and mascara is no different. But some good news: You don’t need to spend upwards of $30 to find a stellar option. Plenty of drugstore mascaras tested just as well as higher-cost ones—a savings that can add up, as experts recommend replacing mascara every three months for hygiene and efficacy.

Wand shape: Or tests show you don’t need a fancy wand or specialized bristles to achieve a flawless look. In fact, the more "unique" wand shapes felt gimmicky to me—and often more difficult to use, leading to clumps and smudges during application. Stick with what you know and are comfortable with.

Performance: Though every tube of mascara tested had grand claims (10 times the volume! 80% longer lashes!), I found these hard to quantify and, in many cases, there wasn’t a discernible difference among products. Instead, I recommend defaulting to a wand shape that looks familiar and is easy to maneuver, as already suggested.

Formula: This is where I noticed the biggest discrepancy amongst mascaras tested. Is the formula gloppy and thick such that lashes stick together? Is it so dry that it crumbles and flakes off when you layer a second coat? If either answer is yes, you're going to end up with clumpy, stiff lashes and/or black soot speckled under your eyes.

Removal: Though we didn’t test anything specifically billed as waterproof mascara for this roundup, some resisted water better than others. When I submerged my face, some formulas came off immediately, while others didn’t budge unless rubbed a bit. Curiously, this didn’t seem to correlate to whether the makeup smudged, flaked, or wore off entirely throughout the day. It did, however, mean some mascaras were harder to remove at the end of the day—a deciding factor for some.


Other Mascara We Tested

Almay Thickening Mascara

The packaging of Almay Thickening touts this product as a “one-coat mascara.” I largely agree: The smooth, jet black formula yields an impressive first coat that would likely satisfy most, but I’m partial to a second coat to get a look that really pops. Applying a second coat isn’t troublesome, either, because the added formula causes very little clumping or lash tangling. The slim tube makes this mascara easy to wield, and the tapered end of the wand means you don’t end up with any excess mascara on your eyelids or inner corners, even when you’re applying in a rush.

If there’s any downside to this product, it’s that it’s not waterproof in any capacity—as soon as my face came into contact with water, I had black streaks down my cheeks. While it’s important to note that the product doesn’t claim to be waterproof, my testing showed that many non-waterproof mascaras can withstand a little bit of rain or sweat without immediately melting down your face.

Pros

  • Smooth formula

  • Only requires one coat

  • Easy to hold

Cons

  • Not at all waterproof

Rimmel Lash Accelerator Mascara

Though the Rimmel Lash Accelerator’s wand initially looks quite dry, it supplies a pretty good first coat with the little formula it picks up. I wouldn’t exactly call it an “instant wow,” as the packaging promises, but a second coat doesn’t clump or tangle and results in beautiful, long, full lashes. The tube is nice and narrow, which makes it easy to hold—a must if you want a clean application without fuss.

My biggest qualm was that this mascara took a little longer than other formulas to dry, meaning I had to be more patient in between coats, which is not always my strong suit.

One of this product’s biggest claims is that it “helps lashes look 117 percent longer in 30 days” with an ingredient called procapil that supposedly stimulates hair growth, but the duration of our testing did not allow me to test whether or not this is true. Furthermore, that’s not exactly my goal when applying mascara—instead, I’m looking for my daily swipe to give my lashes an instant pick-me-up.

Pros

  • Doesn’t clump

  • Easy to hold

Cons

  • Takes a few minutes to dry

  • Not at all waterproof

Covergirl Lash Blast Volume Waterproof Mascara

Previously the Best Overall pick on our best drugstore mascara list, the Covergirl Lash Blast Volume is a reliable option that lengthens and separates in just one coat. In previous tests, this was enough to separate the mascara from the rest of the pack, but other picks on this list, including the ones above, fulfill this and offer other benefits, like an easier-to-wield wand.

The plastic, spiky bristles are shorter and stubbier than the nylon brush of a classic wand, meaning application requires a steady, patient hand and more precision, but I found the wand easy enough to maneuver. The bristles don’t pick up too much formula, either, which makes for a smooth and clump-free application in a breeze.

And although it was relatively easy to remove, this mascara had serious staying power. It didn’t flake or smudge at all throughout the day—despite how many times this tired mom rubbed her eyes.

Pros

  • Goes on smooth

  • Only requires one coat

  • Long-lasting

Cons

  • Requires more drying time

Joah Lash Uprising Mascara

Though the wand initially seemed a bit dry, the formula that the wand picked up went on very smoothly, and I didn’t have to worry about accidentally smudging it on my lids. Still, a first coat didn’t live up to the claim that it “dramatically lengthens and lifts.” I was even skeptical that a light second coat would be enough to do the trick. Fortunately, I was wrong: The second coat of the “conditioning formula” swiped on so easily—no clumping whatsoever—and the difference was staggering. The results were so beautiful—the longest lashes of any product I tried—that I literally said “wow” out loud when I was done.

Though the Joah Lash Uprising needs two coats, I wouldn’t hesitate to use this mascara as my go-to product. It yields soft, but long, lush lashes—plus, the “cruelty-free” formula doesn’t contain any parabens or phthalates, ingredients that some folks look to avoid. This mascara ultimately ended up a bit further down the list because other mascaras we tested could deliver similar-looking results in just one coat, but it’s still a great option.

Pros

  • Lightweight

  • Doesn’t clump

  • Lengthens effectively

Cons

  • Requires two coats

Too Faced Better Than Sex Volumizing Mascara

The Too Faced Better Than Sex is a highly beloved mascara with more than 16,000 reviews on Sephora’s site. Although the mascara did make my eyelashes look full and deeply pigmented with two coats, it lost points in tests due to some issues I experienced during application. The formula is a bit thick and goopy, and the curvy wand tends to pick up a little too much. This makes application more tedious than it should be because you have to proceed very cautiously and deliberately to avoid clumping and getting black smudges on your eyelid.

Despite this, a little patience and a quick swipe of a clean spoolie yields a rather nice result that’s close to what the packaging promises: defined, multidimensional lashes.

Pros

  • Yields dark and defined lashes

  • Lasts all day

Cons

  • Formula is thick

  • Some clumping occurs

Milk Makeup Kush High Volumizing Mascara

I was immediately drawn to the Milk Makeup Kush Highly Volumizing Mascara because it has a “cleaner” formula (it’s billed as a “Clean at Sephora” product, which means it’s formulated without over 50 ingredients deemed by the company as potentially harmful or irritating, including sulfates, parabens, phthalates, and more) yet still has more than 6,000 glowing reviews—a combination that’s not as easy to find as you might hope.

I ran into a few initial hiccups, though—namely the tapered wand is rather fat and comes out of the tube coated in a very large amount of formula. It’s way too much for a swift application, so you have to pause to wipe some formula off on the side of the tube to prevent a potentially clumpy, messy application. Even still, there is some clumping even on the first coat, which makes it important to take the extra step of using a clean spoolie to brush through your lashes to keep them separated and looking neat.

Once lashes dry sufficiently, though, the jet black, lengthened look holds up pretty well throughout the day with no visible smudging or transfer.

Pros

  • Lengthens and darkens well

  • Holds up throughout the day

Cons

  • Wand is short and squat

  • Formula clumps slightly

Maybelline Full 'N Soft Washable Mascara

The Maybelline Full ‘N Soft Washable performs exactly as it claims to. It keeps lashes full and soft all day—a nice perk, considering many other formulas that deliver similar results leave lashes feeling coarse and brittle. The lightweight formula swipes on easily and quickly without clumps. The bristled wand is long and skinny, with a slight taper at the end, making it easy to maneuver even to the tougher-to-reach inner-corner lashes.

The downside is that those who want a fuller or more dramatic look will need to apply two or three coats, and because it takes a minute or so to dry, that adds time to your routine. The trade-off is soft, natural-looking lashes that stay full all day long, as claimed.

Pros

  • Easy to apply

  • No clumping

  • Lasts all day

Cons

  • Needs multiple coats

Lancôme Monsieur Big Volumizing Mascara

The wand on the Lancôme Monsieur Big Volumizing Mascara is short, which makes it easy to get a good, sturdy grip for the ultimate precision when applying the formula. Unfortunately, though, the wand itself holds a little bit too much formula, which means you have to go slowly to avoid getting any dark black product on your lids. You also have to do quite a few passes through to straighten out any clumping lashes.

On the plus side, the first coat deposits enough mascara to both lengthen and thicken. Still, because I typically only wear mascara and some tinted moisturizer, I prefer a second coat for real drama on my eyes.

Pros

  • Easy to hold

  • Holds up throughout the day

  • Easy to remove

Cons

  • Wand holds too much formula

  • Clumps slightly during application

Benefit Cosmetics They're Real! Lengthening Mascara

The Benefit Cosmetics They’re Real! Lengthening and Volumizing Mascara’s wand has short plastic bristles that don’t hang on to excess formula, making application mess-free—a very important factor for anyone who has just a few minutes to spare when getting ready.

That said, you need to apply at least two coats to achieve proper lengthening and volume. Because there’s very minimal clumping upon a second coat, this isn’t too much of a time sucker—just something worth considering because it slightly cancels out the time you save initially.

The biggest drawback to this mascara was in its longevity. It was one of the few mascaras that flaked slightly throughout the day. This was not only an inconvenience, but also affected the look over time.

Pros

  • Formula doesn’t clump

  • Lengthens and volumizes

Cons

  • Requires two coats

  • Flakes slightly throughout the day

e.l.f. Mineral Infused Mascara

The E.L.F. Cosmetics Mineral Infused is a quality mascara, especially when you consider that it’s one of the cheapest finds on the list and at the drugstore. The tube is easy to hold, the wand separates lashes well, and the formula goes on smoothly. As was the case with most of the mascaras I tested, I preferred the more dramatic look of two coats and I appreciated that there was minimal clumping or tangling when depositing the extra formula from the additional coat.

I don’t often stop long enough to check my makeup throughout the day, but I noticed a bit of flaking throughout the day. If you’re someone who doesn’t mind a quick touch-up, this might not bother you, but for me, it knocked this mascara down a few notches.

Pros

  • Very affordable

  • Separates lashes well

Cons

  • Flakes some throughout the day

Revlon Volumazing Mascara

As its waterproof counterpart was one of my favorites when we tested waterproof mascaras, it didn’t surprise me to find the Revlon Volumazing toward the top of my rankings.

I loved the size and shape of the tube—it was easy to hold in my hands and I was able to wield the slightly wavy wand without much error. But the standard formula is wetter and gloppier than its waterproof version, which meant I had to apply this at a slower pace than usual, otherwise the dense and fluffy wand occasionally brushed against my eyelid and left some formula behind.

I also had to brush through lashes with a clean spoolie to ensure a tangle- and clump-free finished look. The extra step made the difference in a flash, but was just that—an extra step for someone who doesn’t have spare time to waste.

Pros

  • Easy to hold

Cons

  • Requires brushing to remove clumps

Dior Diorshow Black Out

As the most expensive pick on our list, the Dior Diorshow is undoubtedly an investment. And with other worthy picks for just a fraction of the price, it may be a hard one to justify.

The tube has a traditional cylinder shape that sits well in the hand and a long, tapered wand that holds just the right amount of formula for a plentiful, even single swipe. And unlike some other formulas, there was no need to brush through the final look to separate my lashes.

The problem with this mascara is its durability. I noticed some transfer under my bottom lashes throughout the day, and the overall look significantly diminished by the time I went to wash my face eight or nine hours later. (Interestingly, the waterproof version of this mascara was extremely durable in tests, so if you’re a Dior fan, it may be worth looking into that instead.)

Pros

  • Easy to hold

  • Only one coat necessary

  • Doesn’t clump

Cons

  • Smudges throughout the day

  • Doesn’t hold up

Maybelline Lash Sensational Sky High Washable Mascara

The Maybelline Sky High Mascara gained many fans, thanks to viral TikTok videos showing amazing lengthening results. Both influencers and the packaging promise the same thing: full volume and intense length, delivered with a flexible wand that bends to help extend individual lashes from root to tip. But does it live up to the hype? For the most part, yes.

The wand is the most flexible I've used—if you hold it against the side of the mascara tube, it can bend to a 90° angle. Though the wand doesn’t appear to hold much product because of its short silicone bristles, it deposits just the right amount of a very smooth formula that glides right onto the lashes. After a single coat, my lashes were noticeably longer, but it was a very natural look best suited for that everyday “no-makeup makeup” look.

The second coat is where I began to see the brand’s promise of “limitless length,” but the trouble is that the formula clumps at this stage, causing lashes to stick together. A third coat amps up the length even more, but causes even more sticking.

In the end, the look is very attractive—full and long lashes—and the product stayed put for a solid 12 hours before I removed it. But the clumping you have to contend with is enough to steer me back to some of the products higher up on the list.

Pros

  • Extremely lengthening

  • Long-lasting

  • Easy to remove

Cons

  • Clumps after one coat

L'Oréal Paris Double Extend Beauty Tubes Mascara

Because the container is double-sided, the L’Oreal Double Extend Beauty Tubes technically requires two swipes at minimum (one of the primer and one of the tinted color), but you won’t need more than that. The bristled wands hold enough formula to get the job done the first time, without clumping. Plus, the wands are long and skinny, which makes them easy to wield.

The first-step formula is a primer that’s infused with Ceramide R and D-Panthenol—ingredients that claim to protect and strengthen lashes—while the second-step formula (the actual mascara) promises to lengthen and, of course, coat the lashes in the dark pigment. Indeed, it added considerable length to my lashes—I could see how the white formula actually sticks to the tips of each hair. But applying the two formulas makes lashes feel a bit crunchy when they dry, which bothered me a bit.

And though the mascara held up throughout the day with little-to-no flaking, you'll have to consider if it’s worth the extra time. For a special event? Probably. For everyday wear? I’m usually in too much of a rush.

Pros

  • Lengthening

  • Only needs one coat

  • Lasts well throughout the day

Cons

  • Two-step application

Maybelline Lash Sensational Washable Mascara

The Maybelline Lash Sensational Washable is tricky to apply but has impressive staying power. The plastic wand isn't very intuitive to use—it’s a crescent moon shape, with longer bristles on the outside of the curve and shorter ones on the inside. Because of this, there’s definitely a learning curve, and it takes some precision and patience at first. (I’m still not 100% sure I’m doing it right!)

Despite that, there’s enough formula on the wand to leave your lashes looking polished at one swipe. The trouble is that I think most people, myself included, will want that second swipe for a more defined look. And because this mascara was one of the slowest to dry (it took more than a few minutes), that second coat will cost you time.

Perhaps it’s worth the extra effort though: This mascara held up remarkably well during an extremely long day—from 6:45 a.m. to 11 p.m.—with no touch-ups.

Pros

  • Only need one coat

  • Lasts all day

Cons

  • Difficult to apply

  • Dries slowly

Fenty Beauty Full Frontal Volume, Lift & Curl Mascara

Fenty Beauty by Rihanna entered the market to much acclaim just a few years ago and has remained an extremely popular choice across the board, from foundation to mascara. It’s not surprising, really, given Rihanna’s fame and the buzz it caused when releasing 50 foundation shades at first launch. But there’s much more to this formula than the celebrity name.

The wand holds the perfect amount of formula—and said formula glides on smoothly, effectively separating lashes despite multiple coats. The result is a relatively natural look—long, just-dark-enough lashes—that’s great for everyday wear.

Where the mascara doesn’t hold up to the competition: longevity. In tests, my eyelashes looked almost naked at the end of the day. And, even though the Fenty Beauty Full Frontal Volume, Lift, and Curl Mascara makes no claims about being waterproof or even water-resistant, it runs very easily on contact with water. Perhaps too easily, as I experienced streaking due to a small tear in my eye from the wind.

Pros

  • Easy to apply

  • Doesn’t clump

Cons

  • Doesn’t hold up

  • Runs very easily

Marc Jacobs Beauty Velvet Noir Major Volume Mascara

Like many of the other mascaras that landed squarely in the middle of the pack, the Marc Jacobs Velvet Noir Major Volume Mascara scored extremely well in tests surrounding application. The wand held just enough formula to expertly glide onto lashes with little to no clumping. A first coat was perfectly sufficient, but a second coat truly wowed in the volumizing department. And the formula dried quickly, so I could go about my business quickly.

The problem was in durability tests. Though the initial look largely delivered on claims to be extra volumizing, I noticed some smudging under my eye about halfway through the day, and the final look wasn’t quite as stellar as it was earlier in the day. Given the less-than-stellar performance throughout the day, there are more affordable options that’ll get the job done better.

Pros

  • Easy to apply

  • Very volumizing

Cons

  • Doesn’t hold up

Neutrogena Healthy Lengths Mascara

The Neutrogena Healthy Lengths piqued my interest immediately because of its unique packaging. The tube is capped and the wand was packaged separately. At first, this seems like a nice bonus—you get to see the shape and texture of the actual wand, not just a picture of it, before buying. The problem: It’s difficult to open the package, which resulted in me bending the wand while trying to get to the goods. Luckily, it bent back into place without much effort, but I was a bit concerned I damaged it in some way.

The application was so-so. While it looks like the wand holds the perfect amount of formula, it doesn’t quite glide onto lashes. Instead, the formula feels a bit dry. Interestingly though, a single coat looks quite nice and holds up very well throughout the day—the mascara looks almost as good more than 12 hours later.

Pros

  • Long-lasting

  • Drier formula

Cons

  • Cumbersome packaging

Burt's Bees Nourishing Mascara

This mascara immediately threw me for a loop because the tube is a chocolate-brown color. I wondered: Did I order the wrong shade? Closer inspection revealed that I did, in fact, receive the “classic black.”

Of course, the packaging color is not a deal-breaker. Where the Burt’s Bees Nourishing mascara really lost points was wand shape. Though its applicator has a tapered shape that looked like it would hug lashes well, the bristles are too firm, making application difficult and rather unpleasant—it felt like I was scratching my eyelid with each stroke of the wand. Additionally, it held some excess formula that was difficult to keep off of my eyelids without intense concentration. If you can get past that, you’ll be pleased by the formula itself. It’s smooth and doesn’t clump or tangle in the lashes, even with a second coat.

Pros

  • Smooth formula

Cons

  • Misleading packaging

  • Rough wand

  • A bit gloppy

Maybelline Great Lash Washable Mascara

Like so many people, this cult-favorite mascara was the first one I was ever introduced to. And all these years later, the Maybelline Great Lash is still a strong contender and one of the most inexpensive mascaras we tested.

It has a small brush that makes application really easy, even for beginners. And it goes on smooth, separating and lifting lashes in just one swipe. Unfortunately, this isn’t a great choice for anyone who prefers volume or a bold look, as you will begin to see clumping with more than one swipe. It’s a very reliable choice, especially for the price, but not the best you can find.

Pros

  • Easy to apply

  • Separates lashes

Cons

  • Clumps with additional coats

L'Oréal Paris Voluminous Butterfly Mascara

I wasn’t sure whether to love or hate the shape of L’Oreal Voluminous Butterfly’s plastic wand: The “wing-tip brush” claims to elongate lashes and prevent clumping, but because each side of the wand is dramatically different (one side is an inverted arch and another is an arch with all different bristle sizes), it’s not clear where to begin to get the best results—or even how to hold the wand in the first place!

The long and well-separated results suggest the wand shape helps to give lashes that winged-out look the product promises, but it’s not easy to maneuver—especially if you’re a beginner. The formula also looks a bit clumpy on the eyes, though (again) that could be a result of improper application.

Besides the initial challenges, this mascara didn’t stand out in a good or a bad way—it delivered satisfactory results, lasted fine throughout the day, and was relatively easy to remove.

Pros

  • Lasts well throughout the day

Cons

  • Difficult to apply

Urban Decay Perversion Mascara

Overall, the best way to describe the Urban Decay Perversion mascara is fine. It received generally mediocre scores across the board. Application was easy enough, but not seamless because there was some clumping throughout, which caused me to have to pass through the lashes a few more times than typically necessary, plus break out a clean spoolie to perfect the look. What’s more, the end look wasn’t as eye-popping as I prefer. It didn’t look like I had “dramatic false lashes” as promised—rather relatively denser, longer lashes.

Longevity didn’t delight or disappoint, either. Though I didn’t notice smudging, flaking, or transferring throughout the day, the end-of-day look was mediocre at best.

Pros

  • Easy to apply

Cons

  • Some clumping

  • Doesn’t hold up as well as others

  • Pricey

Maybelline Volum' Express The Colossal Washable Mascara

The Maybelline Volum’express: The Colossal promises “nine times the volume” with its collagen-infused formula. The wand doesn’t hold much formula, which can be both a good and bad thing: On the negative side, there’s not much coverage until the second or third swipe. On the positive side, the formula doesn’t clump—even with multiple coats—making it fool-proof.

The brush has very long bristles and is also tapered at the end, making it easier than most to get into the tight corners of your eyelid without smudging. Despite being lightweight, the formula boasts serious staying power—so much so that I was able to take a midday power nap without any smudging or flaking.

Unfortunately, I paid the price for this when it was time to remove the mascara—there was still some residue on my lashes even after washing my face and using makeup remover.

Pros

  • Easy to apply

  • No clumping

Cons

  • Needs multiple coats

  • Hard to remove

L'Oréal Paris Voluminous Original Mascara

The L’Oreal Voluminous Carbon Black has all the makings of the best mascara—it goes on very smooth and doesn’t clump, it fans lashes nicely, and it has great coverage on the first swipe. The only noticeable drawback during application is the fact that a noticeable amount of formula sticks to the tip of the wand, making it easy to smudge the corners of your lids with formula.

After taking my time, though, I was very happy with the results. I wondered if this could be a strong contender, but this mascara plummeted in rankings because it didn’t last on the lashes the way other formulas did—it was one of the few mascaras I tested that flaked noticeably throughout the day.

Pros

  • Applies smoothly

  • No clumping

Cons

  • Wears off throughout the day

Buxom Lash Volumizing Mascara

The combination of short, plastic bristles on the wand and a drier formula make the Buxom Lash Volumizing Mascara very light upon application. You really need at least two coats to achieve the brand promises of dramatically defined, lengthened, and lifted fuller-looking lashes. Not a deal-breaker, just a bit of a time suck for anyone who prefers the convenience of a speedier routine.

The bigger drawback is that there is some flaking throughout the day—perhaps because I wound up with multiple coats on my lashes in pursuit of a fuller look. As a result, the look at the end of the day is not what you might hope—it largely looks like you never even applied mascara in the first place.

Pros

  • Wand is easy to wield

  • Doesn’t clump

Cons

  • Needs multiple coats

  • Flakes a bit throughout the day

  • Doesn’t hold up

Wet n Wild Mega Volume Mascara

As the cheapest on our list by a couple of dollars, the Wet n Wild Mega Volume has a low price tag anyone would love. Unfortunately, it misses the mark on ease of application. The wand doesn’t taper enough at the tip, making it difficult to get into the corners of your eye in your initial swipe. The formula itself is also goopy, which causes enough excess product to clump at the end of the wand that even an initial wipe on the side of the tube isn’t sufficient to ensure mascara doesn’t smear onto your eyelids. Strangely, despite the thick formula, the wand felt a bit dry in other areas, making it hard to get even coverage with just one coat.

Although we weren’t specifically testing waterproof mascaras, this one promises to be “waterproof, sweat-proof, humidity-resistant, and smudge-resistant.” The problem: In my tests, the mascara ran with water and a bit of rubbing, so while you might get a bit more protection, the product isn’t reliable if you’re looking for something truly waterproof.

Pros

  • Very affordable

Cons

  • Gloppy

  • Clumps

  • Runs despite waterproof claims

L'Oréal Paris Voluminous Lash Paradise Washable Mascara

This rose-colored tube is widely known as a dupe for the cult-favorite Better Than Sex mascara by Too Faced, but as you can tell from the rankings on this list, the L’Oreal Voluminous Lash Paradise is not much more than a pretty tube, if you ask me. The hourglass-shaped brush is rather fat and is attached to a short wand, so swiping with the slimmer part of the wand means hitting your lid with the thicker part. It doesn't feel effortless and natural. Because the formula is very thick, lashes clump and tangle during application. That makes it tempting to apply more coats to even things out—but this exacerbates the problem, increases drying time, and creates a caked-on feel that bothered me throughout the day. This was also one of the only formulas to flake periodically throughout the day, likely because I applied so much formula to my lashes. On top of that, this mascara was incredibly difficult to remove. After washing my face, using makeup remover, and washing my face again in the morning, I still noticed some residue. Bottom line: If you love Too Faced Better Than Sex, stick with it. Though tempting to save a few bucks, chances are you won’t be as satisfied as you are with the original.

Pros

  • Beautiful design

Cons

  • Difficult to apply

  • Difficult to remove

  • Lashes clump

Honest Beauty Extreme Length Mascara + Lash Primer

The Honest Beauty Extreme Length gave me trouble from the start. Typically, when you untwist the wand from a tube of mascara, you end up with a short handle attached to a lengthy wand. When you unscrew this product, you end up with a very long handle with a short wand attached to it. Initially, it might seem like this would give you more precision, as there’s more to grip, but I found the opposite to be true. The long handle is clunky and hard to get a good grip on, which makes it harder to get a precise, mess-free application. The mascara also goes on very thick, which leads to a lot of clumping and a web of tangled lashes.

If you can get past the cumbersome wand and have the patience to take very slow, intentional strokes and brush through your lashes with a clean spoolie after each coat, you may like the longevity this product offers—the final look held up throughout the day.

Pros

  • Long-lasting

Cons

  • Difficult to hold

  • Clumpy

Essence Lash Princess False Lash Effect Mascara

The Essence Lash Princess mascara exploded in popularity on Reddit, but I found the combination of the wand’s short bristles and the thick formula makes application challenging. The formula gets stuck on the end of the brush, which easily transferred to my eyelid during application, requiring touch-ups as I went. The formula also tends to clump a bit, making it extra important to be slow and precise—not a good thing for anyone who wants to fast track their beauty routine. The upside is that all that the formula delivers impressive results that last all day. Plain and simple: There are better options.

Pros

  • Great for volume

Cons

  • Difficult to apply

Meet the tester

Brigitt Earley

Brigitt Earley

Writer

@@brigitt_earley

Brigitt Earley is a freelance writer and editor based in NJ. Her work has appeared in a number of lifestyle publications, including Real Simple and Apartment Therapy. She’s a new mom, runs an Instagram account full of the most delicious food she can find, and loves to hate a good barre class.

See all of Brigitt Earley's reviews

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