These are the 15 best mascaras, as tested by our beauty team

Our top 15 picks of the best mascaras on the market at any budget, for your longest, fullest, most defined lashes

Collage of three of the best mascaras by VIEVE, Loreal and Pat McGrath
(Image credit: Future)

When it comes to finding the best mascara, we’re spoilt for choice. Some mascaras lengthen and lift, while others curl and add volume – and many claim to do it all. This can make narrowing down ‘the one’ a tricky task. 

Working out whether you need the best volumizing mascara or the best lengthening mascara primarily comes down to lash type. "If you have fine lashes, you want a volumizing, buildable formula that will give a fuller look that you can customize," says Bobbi Brown Senior Pro Artist, Warren Dowdall. "If you have fuller, thicker lashes, go for a good curling and lengthening mascara that won’t weigh down the lashes and make them droop," he continues. 

Don't be afraid to layer up. If you find something that offers the curl you’ve spent years looking for, but that doesn’t have the sooty black pigment you crave (or vice versa), swipe on both. “When lashes are shorter, using two mascara types can sometimes be beneficial. Apply a lengthening mascara first, then build up the volume and thickness with a coat or two of the best volumizing mascara," advises Dowdall. Whatever your lash type and desired look is, take your pick from our edit of the very best mascaras for every budget.   

The 15 best mascaras, reviewed by our beauty team

How we tested the best mascaras

A selection of the mascaras we tested for this guide

A selection of the mascaras we tested for this guide

(Image credit: Fiona McKim)

To whittle down our list of the best mascara we tested dozens of formulas, wearing each for at least a 12-hour day and assessing them based on these criteria:

  • Ingredients and packaging
  • Mascara brush type and style 
  • Ease of application 
  • The finished look on the lashes 
  • Longevity and smudge-proof powers
  • Ease of removal                   

Shade range was another consideration, as brown vs black mascara can offer pretty different results, while price and value for money were also important factors.  

After reading countless rave reviews, we were a little (ok, a lot) excited to give this mascara a whirl. Leaving out ingredients that damage lashes including animal derivatives, alcohol, fragrance, palm oil, parabens, and more, the ‘clean’ formula opts for nourishing ingredients instead. We’re talking shea butter for conditioning, niacinamide to reduce breakage and panthenol to hydrate. After a week’s use, our lashes felt softer and looked healthier. 

Asides from impressive ingredients, the formula lengthens, lifts, and separates lashes for a fluttery, full finish that’s perfect for everyday wear. It doesn't offer a dramatic look and doesn’t add heaps of volume, but we found that if we kept wiggling the curved brush at the root we could gradually build it up. It survived all day wear without budging and even stayed resolutely smudge-free when we forgot we had mascara on and gave our eye a good old rub. Impressive. 

Finally, what impressed us even more about this was the fact it’s so easy to remove. Thanks to it being a tubing mascara with water-activated instant removal technology. You simply use warm water to wash your face and the tubes of mascara gently slip off without the need for scrubbing or stingy eye makeup removers. While we've rated this one as the best smudge-proof mascara, it also makes our list of the best natural looking mascaras

How to choose the best mascara

When shopping for the best mascara, there are a few things you should look out for:

  • Wand type: The results you get from a mascara depend largely on the type of wand that the product has. Whilst volumising mascaras tend to have thicker, more hourglass-shaped wands, lengthening products typically have thinner, tapered wands. Silicone wands are great for separation and definition; nylon ones are great for volume and length and plastic wands are easy to hold and great for building upon. Think about what look you are going for and pay attention to different brushes. 
  • Formula: If you have hooded eyes or oily eyelids or struggle with smudging, you’ll want to opt for a drier formula to avoid smudging. If you have drier eyes, you may want something wetter and more moveable. Some formulas are light and buildable - like tubing mascara - which is ideal for straight or sparse lashes, while others will be heavier, for a more impactful look. Finally, if you’re in a warm (or wet) climate, you might want a waterproof formula.
  • Ingredients: Particularly if you have sensitive eyes, pay close attention to the ingredients list. For example, if you are prone to irritation or want to improve your lash health, you may want to go for a mascara that contains nourishing oils. Do some research to find out the best ingredients to target your concerns. 
  • Budget: Many of the best mascaras on this list are drugstore mascaras, so it’s possible to get a brilliant mascara without digging too deep in your pockets. However, if you are seeking a specific formula, color or ingredient, you’ll most likely have to pay a little bit extra. The packaging for higher-end picks tends to look and feel more luxurious too.
Fiona McKim
Beauty Editor,

 As woman&home's Beauty Channel Editor, Fiona Mckim has tried more products than she’s had hot dinners and nothing makes her happier than raving about brilliant finds on or her instagram grid (@fionamckim if you like hair experiments and cute shih-tzus). Fiona joined woman&home as Assistant Beauty Editor in 2013 under industry legend Jo GB, who taught her everything she needed to know (learn about ingredients and employ extreme cynicism). She has since covered every corner of the industry, from interviewing dermatologists and celebrities to reporting backstage at Fashion Week and judging the w&h Beauty Awards.

With contributions from