When it comes to makeup, there are few things that give you the same instant perk as a swipe of mascara. But what if your day is spent working under the hot summer sun, you’re an avid exerciser, or you’re attending an emotional event—like a funeral or a wedding? Though you might consider tabling your standard drugstore mascara for the time being, you don’t have to skip that magic inky wand all together. Waterproof mascara offers the same benefits as any other tube, plus the confidence that it’ll stay put through rigorous use.
Overall, the news is good: All so-called waterproof mascaras resisted water very well. In fact, the largest discrepancy in scoring was in application. Some mascaras yielded smoother, more defined, clump-free results, propelling them to the top of the list, because—at the end of the day—what good is a waterproof mascara if it doesn’t look good? With these conditions in mind, our top pick is the Tetyana 4D Silk Fiber(available at Amazon for $17.99), which goes on smoothly, makes lashes look full and long, and holds up exceptionally well to water. And if you want to save a little cash, the Revlon Volumazing (available at Amazon) is, well, amazing. It performs just as well—gliding on without clumps and staying put, despite any outside forces. Plus, it costs a fraction of the price of our Best Overall.
These are the best waterproof mascaras we tested ranked, in order:
Tetyana 4D Silk Fiber is the best waterproof mascara we tested. Application is a breeze—the formula goes on smoothly, doesn’t clump (even during the second coat), and 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.
If there was any downside to this mascara, it’s that it took a little longer—a minute or two, rather than instantly—than some other formulas to dry.
The Revlon Volumazing is a fantastic choice for anyone who prefers to spend less on makeup or the convenience of grabbing makeup while out on a typical errand. It’s just as waterproof as its expensive counterparts, goes on smoothly, and enhances the overall look of your lashes.
I loved the size and shape of this tube. It was easy to hold in my hands, making application feel easy. However, I had to go a little slower than normal due to the slight wave in the wand. While it hugged my lash line nicely, ensuring even coverage, the fuller parts of the wand got a little too close to my eyelid, so I had to be cautious with the wand to avoid getting mascara on my skin. With a slow, steady hand, the end result was impressive. One coat yielded a beautiful everyday look, but two really made my lashes stand out as dark, full, and long.
My biggest complaint about this mascara is that I noticed some flaking throughout the day. That said, it was very slight, and, as soon as I noticed it, I was able to easily flick the small crumble off my skin with my fingertip.
The bottom line: You can’t beat the quality of this waterproof mascara at this price point.
I'm Brigitt Earley, a freelance writer and editor with extensive experience testing beauty products over the course of my more-than-10-year career. I previously tested drugstore mascaras for Reviewed, but have also tested dozens of cosmetics and personal care products for other lifestyle brands.
Mascara holds a special place in my makeup bag. As a mom of two toddlers (with twins on the way!), I don’t have time for a lengthy makeup routine (to say the least!). I depend on the right mascara to instantly perk up my lashes, making me look much more put together and awake than I really am. To me, price is important, but dependable and lasting results are paramount.
We perused bestseller lists across retailers, beauty blogs, and social media to find the most popular waterproof mascaras on the market. Then, I tested out each product the same way you might: I swiped on each mascara at the start of my day, considering how swift and effective the application process was. I also swatched each mascara on my arm to measure drying time and execute durability tests. Then, I periodically checked in on my look throughout the day—was it smudging or flaking? Finally, I used my normal makeup remover, the StriVectin Multi-Action R&R Bi-Phase Eye Makeup Remover, to determine how difficult (or not!) each brand was to take off before hitting the hay.
Unlike the way you might test, though, I also put each mascara through rigorous waterproof tests, including spraying myself in the face with a spray bottle, getting my sweat on, and submerging my face in water.
When all was said and done, I teamed up with Reviewed’s senior scientist to score and weight the results of my daily tests on a scientifically calibrated rubric. During this process I answered weighted questions related to:
Degree of waterproofing: If you’re on the hunt for a waterproof mascara, chances are it’s because your lifestyle or upcoming activity requires that durability. To test each product’s staying power through showering, swimming, exercising, or crying, I completed a variety of tests designed to mimic such activities. Initially, I used a spray bottle to saturate my mascara-coated lashes. The resulting amount of water was similar to what you might experience during a good cry. Next, I completed an activity that caused me to sweat (in my case, pushing my two toddlers–a combined 50 pounds—in a 30-pound stroller in the height of the summer. Finally, I submerged my face in a large bowl of water for at least 5 seconds—not actually like going for a swim, but if a mascara smeared from just that, it clearly wouldn’t hold up in the pool.
Application: As I used each mascara, I jotted down notes about how easy it was to apply. How much mascara does the wand hold? Is there enough product to get the job done in one swipe, or does it take multiple coats? Perhaps even more importantly, I assessed how smoothly the mascara coated each hair. Did it separate my lashes well or clump together in a gloppy mess?
Wear: In this section of testing, I made notes about how well the mascara held up throughout normal daily activities. Did the mascara flake, transfer, or smudge? How did my eyes look at the end of the day compared to when the makeup was fresh?
Ease of removal: All waterproof mascaras are inherently more difficult to remove—a necessary price to pay for the durability. Still, I set out to find out whether some brands were more difficult than others. I used my regular dual-phase makeup remover to assess how much more difficult each product was to remove than a standard non-waterproof mascara. In some cases, I used a bit of coconut oil to remove any really stubborn bits. It’s one of the best beauty tricks in the book—works like a charm every time.
What Should You Know About Waterproof Mascara
Though these products don’t differ wildly—the vast majority of mascaras tout the same benefits—the price of this cosmetic is by no means stable. There are drugstore staples for less than $5 and beauty counter splurges that retail over $25 per tube.
As our tests show, price isn’t the be-all and end-all. Nor should it be. For hygienic purposes, you should swap out your mascara every two to three months—or sooner if you experience any sort of eye irritation. Even if you try to stretch past the expiration, the mascara will dry out from air exposure with each use. That could be a tough pill to swallow if you purchase one of the higher-end options, which is why we tested and recommend some budget and mid-level picks that perform just as well.
Instead of using price as your guide, the same advice we gave in our drugstore mascara tests applies: Stick with what you know and are comfortable with—you really don’t need any fancy wand shape to get lush, long lashes. In fact, tests have shown that these shapes can actually make application more cumbersome. When choosing a mascara, the most important factor is really the formula. If it’s dry and crumbly or thick and gloppy, pass. What you really want is something that fills the wand, but not in excess, so it glides on smoothly and efficiently.
Finally, it’s not worth your time or effort to scour reviews for hints about the removal process. As noted earlier, all waterproof mascara is inherently more difficult to remove. No matter which formula you choose, make sure you have a good dual-phase or oil-based makeup remover on hand—even just plain coconut oil can do the trick. It’ll likely take a little longer than removing non-waterproof, but take your time and let your remover sit on lashes to break down the formula. Above all, resist the urge to scrub vigorously, as that can damage lashes.
Other Waterproof Mascaras We Tested
Christian Dior Diorshow Waterproof
As the second most expensive pick on our list, the Dior Diorshow is undoubtedly an investment. And with other worthy picks for half the price (or more), it may be a hard one to justify. Still, it was a favorite of mine, scoring top honors in nearly all of our tests.
The tube has a traditional cylinder shape that holds well in the hand and the long, fat wand holds just the right amount of formula for a plentiful, even single swipe. It’s not at all gloppy, but during testing, I found it useful to tap just a little bit of excess formula off the tip of the wand prior to application for best results.
Application is smooth, so there was no need to brush through the final look to separate my lashes—a step I find laborious. And, just as important, the final result matched touted claims to lengthen, thicken, and curve.
When it comes to durability, this mascara holds its own. There was no smudging, flaking, or transferring throughout the day, and it earned perfect scores in all waterproof tests.
This one was a pleasant surprise for me, because I’m not a huge fan of the original Lash Paradise formula. In our drugstore mascara tests, I found this mascara to be gloppy, resulting in clumps and tangled lashes.
My experience with the waterproof version of the L'Oreal Paris Lash Paradise waterproof formula was quite the opposite. The application was one of the best: The wand held a really nice amount of formula so that one coat looked great, two looked even better, and there were no clumps or tangles to contend with.
When comparing the two products side by side to figure out how this could be, I noticed a clear difference in the amount of formula on the wands. The non-waterproof offered enough excess to be responsible for the difference in application.
Where both formulas converged? They are both very difficult to remove. A con for a standard mascara, but a characteristic typical and expected of waterproof formulas.
If you’re searching for a great everyday mascara, Covergirl Lash Blast Volume is it. I didn’t have any complaints about the application. The formula goes on smooth, doesn’t clump or tangle lashes together, and delivers a reliable result that doesn’t look too done up.
I’m not surprised by these results, as the non-waterproof version was my top drugstore pick in previous tests. Like the regular formula, the waterproof one has a short, stubby plastic wand that’s easy to maneuver, resulting in noticeably longer, more voluminous lashes in just a single swipe.
There’s serious staying power, too—both in tests on water resistance and longevity. I didn’t notice any flaking, smudging, or transferring in any durability tests.
The one downside is that the formula takes a few minutes to dry—much longer than the average formula on this list, and enough of a detractant that it didn’t earn our Best Value honors.
Chanel’s Inimitable is the most expensive pick on this list. It performed well enough to solidify one of the higher spots on our list, but I don’t see enough of a reason to choose it over other more high-performing brands, most of which cost a lot less.
The wand looked like it had the perfect amount of formula on it, but it felt dry when I applied the mascara to my lashes. Maybe that’s not such a bad thing, as the result was dark, defined lashes with no clumps. Similar to other products tested, one coat produces a nice everyday finish, but two coats is what it takes to really say “wow.”
Overall, I didn’t have any qualms with application or wearability, but this was one of the few products to lose points in the water tests. Though the formula performed in spritz and exercise tests, a lot of water appeared to be its downfall. When I submerged my face, I noticed a fleck deposited under my eye.
At first glance, this mascara looks ideal. It has a long wand with a medium width that has an ever-so-slight curve to help hug lashes. The amount and texture of formula on the wand is promising as well—not too dry and not too gloppy. As a result, the first coat went on great.
Unfortunately, a second coat is warranted to seal the deal in terms of looks, but this is where things start to go awry. The second swipe causes some clumping. It’s nothing that can’t be fixed with a swipe of a clean spoolie, but it was an annoyance for a busy person like me.
The other negative: This was one of the few mascaras that didn’t appear to be fully waterproof. Though it held up in spritz and exercise tests, I noticed a slight halo of product beneath my eyes after submerging my face.
Though the original formula is a shopper favorite, the waterproof version of Too Faced Better Than Sex isn’t quite as beloved, with just three out of five stars on Sephora’s site. Still, we figured it was worth testing, due to the popularity of the original.
And now I understand why the product falls short in reviews. The waterproof version has a short, squat, curvy wand that picks up an excess amount of the thick formula. As a result, application is very difficult. Despite my best attempt, I ended up with too much product on my eyelids and clumpy lashes.
The positive? After a few swipes of a spoolie, my eyelashes looked rather nice—deeply pigmented and full. When it comes down to it, I don’t think the extra fuss is worth the effort—especially because some of the mascara came off during submersion tests.
Though the slim profile of Benefit BADgal is very appealing—it’s comfortable in your hand and space-saving in a makeup bag—the similarly sparse wand doesn’t seem to hold quite enough formula. It goes on smoothly, but multiple coats are required to achieve a look you’re proud of. And, the more coats you need, the more prone your lashes become to some clumping or tangling.
If you have the patience to sit through multiple coats and take a final pass through with a spoolie, it’s not a bad pick. Overall, it does the job and offers adequate protection from the elements.
The waterproof version of this classic fell right in the middle of the pack, just as the original performed on our drugstore mascara tests. Though Maybelline Great Lash isn’t a clear winner, it’s not a clear loser, either. I think this says a lot about why we still see this long-standing favorite in so many makeup bags. It’s an affordable product people are familiar with that performs well enough to stand by.
The small brush makes application easy and smooth. The resulting look isn’t bad, either: You end up with nice lifted lashes in just one or two swipes. But don’t expect anything dramatic—there’s not quite enough formula on the wand to add a ton of volume or dark pigment.
I was immediately turned off by the packaging of Tarte’s Lights, Camera, Splashes. Instead of the typical plastic tube, this mascara is encased in seamed fabric that does not feel natural in your hand. As a result, I fumbled a bit during application as I struggled to get a solid grip on the tube itself.
If you can get over that, there’s not much else to complain about in terms of application. Sure, two or three coats looks better than one, but that’s typically the case. And the formula doesn’t clump on the second and third applications, which is more than some other mascaras can tout. The resulting look is pretty nice, too. It appears to lengthen, curl, and volumize in the way it says it will.
Additionally, I didn’t run into any problems during durability and water tests, but the formula was even harder to remove than some of the others—a pain, considering none of the other waterproof mascaras are easy to begin with.
There’s not much to say one way or the other about the NYX Worth the Hype. It’s a fine pick, especially for the bargain price.
Don’t expect flawless results with one coat. The wand is a little dry during application, which makes a second coat almost necessary and a third coat preferable. Because of this, there is some clumping on subsequent swipes, though it’s fixed with a post-application brushing.
When it comes to durability, I also have no real complaints. The look deteriorated slightly over the course of the day, but it was no more dramatic than anything other formulas on the list. And, importantly, there were no issues during water tests.
I was not surprised to see the essence Lash Princess False Lash at the bottom of the list, as this was also my least favorite drugstore mascara.
Though Redditors praise the affordable formula, in both reviews, I found that the short bristles and the thick formula were at odds with one another, making application a challenge. Because the wand feels much wetter than others, it requires a steady hand to avoid getting any on your eyelids. Additionally, there is some clumping, especially with multiple coats. If you can overlook the fuss, the resulting look is an attractive, richly pigmented one, and the waterproof formula performed fine in durability tests. But ultimately, this mascara isn’t a great choice for anyone who wants to keep their beauty routine quick and easy. It may, however, be a decent selection for the budget-minded.
I was surprised to see Maybelline Lash Sensational end up at the bottom of the list, because it’s one that was closer to the front of the pack in our drugstore tests. Upon reflection, it’s not necessarily a result of the quality of this mascara—it’s a testament to how strong the other contenders are.
Many of the touted benefits of this mascara hold true—it’s long-lasting and has impressive staying power, even in water tests. But where it falls short is in the application process. The wand has a crescent moon shape that takes some getting used to. If you’re not precise, the plastic bristles get in the way more than they enhance application.
If you’re not thrown off by that and some extra time fluffing and weeding out any clumps with a spoolie, the result is, admittedly, a nice one with plenty of length.
Lancôme Monsieur Big requires more fuss than it’s worth. The fat wand holds a fair amount of mascara—it looks good to the eye—but it tends to clump during application. A shame, especially considering multiple coats are needed to get a full-lashed look. If you don’t take the time to really brush through each coat, you’ll end up with a tangled mess of lashes. For me, it just isn’t worth the effort when there are other very worthy choices.
I didn’t like the Covergirl Peacock Flare from the start. There is nothing about the application process that feels intuitive or easy. The plastic wand looks innocuous enough, with bristles that wrap around the wand and jut out at a variety of lengths, but somehow it feels as though you’re stabbing yourself in the eye when applying the formula.
Additionally, the formula is gloppy and clumps during application, which requires more brushing, resulting in more painstaking strokes of the wand. It’s not worth the trouble.
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.
We use standardized and scientific testing methods to scrutinize every product and provide you with objectively accurate results. If you’ve found different results in your own research, email us and we’ll compare notes. If it looks substantial, we’ll gladly re-test a product to try and reproduce these results. After all, peer reviews are a critical part of any scientific process.