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The number one true sign of a good friend is one who doesn’t gatekeep the product that keeps them looking their best. Here at ELLE, we’re all about sharing. Along with perfumes, foundations, and favorite methods of hair removal, once you find the thing that works for you, odds are you’ll become loyal and preachy about it. I love a beauty product that much, I gush so hard I’m in fear of somehow landing on the board of the company. Even if my friend has the exact opposite lash goals that I do, I won’t stop until they acquiesce to my choices. After all, it takes years of testing to find the best mascara for length or volume, are smudge-free, and all those other minute details we focus on. My personal preference is a product that separates my lashes, will last all day, and come off easily with a cleansing balm. When I found that, I wasn’t letting it go.
But ELLE.com editors know that not all mascaras are created equally; some of us are on the hunt for lengthening formulas that rebuild damaged lashes from botched extensions, and some of us just want to give our little hairs the thiccc life they deserve. So in an effort to get more followers to our specific must-haves, we’ve banded together to try to win over some converts. Ahead, we share our 12 all-time favorite mascaras, from drugstore finds, Amazon bestsellers, vegan formulas, chicly packaged investments, and all-time cult favorites. And it’s not just us–we’ve recruited Melinda Solares, a Sephora Beauty Director to give us the inside scoop on how to find your new favorite mascara. If your lashes are in desperate need of some T.L.C., maybe you’ll find your new best friend on this list.
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For A Drugstore Staple
Voluminous Original Mascara 2
For Dramatic Lashes
Magnificent Mascara in 01 Nero 3
Best Longwear Mascara
Volume Stylist 18hr Lash Extension Mascara 4
Best Drugstore Mascara
Lash Princess False Lash Effect Mascara 5
Best Lengthening Mascara
Telescopic Mascara 6
Best for Fanned-Out Lashes
MakeWaves Lengthening + Volumizing Mascara 7
Drama Bomb Extreme Volume Nourishing Mascara 8
Best For Volume
Kush High Volume Mascara 9
For Easy Removal
Liquid Lash Extensions Mascara™ 10
Best Waterproof Mascara
Inimitable Waterproof Mascara 11
For the Minimalist
Rare Beauty by Selena Gomez
Perfect Strokes Universal Volumizing Mascara 12
Best For Weak Lashes
Strength & Length Serum Infused Mascara 13
For The Perfect Balance
LashCraft Big Volume Mascara 14
For A Game-Changer
Better Than Sex Mascara 15
Best for All Lash Types
LashBlast Volume Mascara 16
Best for Defined Lashes
Lash Amplifying Mascara 17
Best Clean Mascara
Spectator Sport Mascara 18
For the Lazy Beauty
How do different mascara wands achieve different looks?
“There are considerations when choosing a mascara, just like there are for curating your skincare routine or selecting a foundation,” says Solares. “A mascara wand with a comb can be best for defining/separating, one with an hourglass shape is best for volumizing, a fluffy wand is great for thickening, a cone shape can help with lengthening, and of course, a curved wand will help with curling.” It’s also important to look at the ingredients in your mascara. “Mascara benefits do not just depend on the type of wand, they also depend on the formula. Conditioning your lashes with skincare-like ingredients—found within some mascara formulas— will ultimately give you the best lash look, as it helps to create the best canvas for your mascara. Finally, you also have considerations like Clean at Sephora, long-wearing/transfer-proof, and waterproof.”
What are your favorite types of mascara?
“My go-to mascara recommendation as of late is the Sephora Collection Big By Definition Defining & Volumizing Mascara because it is truly a catch-all of mascara benefits. It has a rectangular spoolie that not only defines and volumizes, but it seems to work well on all lash-types and even has lash-conditioning ingredients,” says Solares. “In fact, all my recommendations have lash-conditioning formulas because I am a big fan of getting 2-for-1.
If you’re looking for volume and thickening, look no further than the Milk Makeup KUSH High Volumizing Mascara. This stuff takes my lashes to the next level, was a trailblazer in the Clean at Sephora category, and has been a personal favorite for years.
Maybe your lashes require a bit of taming and you’re looking for definition and length. I’m obsessed with the Ilia Limitless Lash Lengthening Mascara for this. The wand is quite innovative, as it features a comb for separation, tapering for length, and it is even slightly hourglass for volume. If you’re looking to size up your lashes and create the ultimate curl, you’ve got to try the Sephora Collection Size Up Volumizing Mascara—it is magic and only $12.
Finally, the question [I’m] asked most frequently is, ‘which is the best waterproof mascara?’ There seems to be quite a bit of debate on waterproof formulas, but the Lancôme Monsieur Big Waterproof Mascara is a favorite amongst myself and fellow Sephora Beauty Directors, who turned me onto it!”
Are there any tricks to making your mascara look its best?
“I have two lash-care tricks that, if done consistently, can make a world of difference in how your lashes look,” says Solares. “The first is quite simple: brush your lashes after washing your face. I use the clean spoolie on my Sephora Collection PRO Brow Brush #20 to brush through my damp lashes, the same way I would for the hair on my head.”
You may not immediately notice how messy your lashes look after each wash. Solares says combing through your wet lashes “helps them to grow in the correct direction over time and helps separate and define them before you even start with your mascara.” Of course, investing in a lash serum is super important. “The second tip is incorporating a lash enhancing serum that is formulated with good-for-your-lashes ingredients like the new Lilly Lashes Level Up Lash Conditioning Serum,” she adds.
Is it okay to wear mascara every day?
“Yes, you can absolutely wear mascara every day! Again, just like your skin, it is just important to take the right prep and removal steps,” says Solares. “I mentioned my tricks for lash care, but that can only do so much if you aren’t properly removing your mascara.” Solares warns against becoming a “mascara-picker”—someone who picks at their lashes when one hair becomes unruly, ultimately causing them to pick at other hairs that stick out.
“Mascara should be removed gently with makeup remover and light, circular motions. I like to take the Sephora Collection Waterproof Eye Makeup Remover on a cotton pad and press it gently against my eye to allow the formula to begin breaking down the mascara. Thereafter, use light, circular motions to remove and finish with your regular face wash. Pat dry, don’t rub,” she explains.
What do you look for in a mascara?
With so many formulas out there, Solares’ only advice is to explore as much as possible. “Mascara can seem complicated, but ultimately, there are no rules in makeup and there is so much to explore and have fun with,” she says. “Try a few or maybe even build a mascara wardrobe that you can dip into depending on your mood. If you’re still feeling stumped, you can always experiment with the Sephora Favorites Mini Clean Mascara Lashstash to Go Set, which offers five mini mascaras for you to try and a voucher to redeem a full size of your favorite at no additional cost.”
Tatjana Freund Beauty Commerce Writer Tatjana Freund is a Beauty Commerce Writer, covering makeup, skincare, and haircare products and trends.
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