The best waterproof mascara buys that'll stay put for smudge-free wear whatever the weather

Our tried and tested edit of the best waterproof mascaras will see you through a dip in the pool or the sea, or being caught in the rain

A collage of three of the best waterproof mascaras featured in this guide from Essence, Lancome, and Maybelline
(Image credit: Essence / Lancôme / Maybelline)

Lengthening, volumising and curling to an impressive degree, there’s just one area that mascara often doesn’t do well in: resisting water. That’s where the best waterproof mascaras come in very handy. 

Yes, some of the best mascara buys will withstand rain, tears, and even a dip in the ocean. And while we may once have had to compromise a little on the look of the mascara for it to withstand wetness, waterproof formulas have come on in leaps and bounds. Today, many look as good as their non-water-repelling counterparts. 

That said, there are some general downsides to these water-repelling buys. "Some waterproof mascaras can stick to the lashes like glue and are very difficult to remove at the end of the day," explains Nima Pourian, UKLASH founder. "This can lead to excessive rubbing of the eyes or even cause some mascara to stay on the eyelashes – both of which can cause unnecessary lash fall-out and can make your eyelashes weaker." Not only do you want a good-quality formula, therefore, but knowing how to remove waterproof mascara properly is also a must. 

If you aren't planning on swimming or shedding a few tears, makeup artist and podcast host Rose Gallagher actually recommends trying one of the best tubing mascaras for daily wear, as they're that little bit easier to remove and will resist smudging. However, she does note that: "If you’re going on holiday you’re going to need it, because if tubing mascara removes with water, a pool would obliterate it!" 

On that note, whether you're planning ahead for that summer holiday or you just want something that'll last through a weekly swim, below we've reviewed the best waterproof mascaras to help you find one that matches your preferences and budget.

The best waterproof mascaras reviewed by a beauty editor

Why you can trust Woman & Home Our expert reviewers spend hours testing and comparing products and services so you can choose the best for you. Find out more about how we test.

Benefit Badgal BANG Volumizing Waterproof Mascara

(Image credit: Benefit)

1. Benefit Badgal BANG! Waterproof Mascara

Best waterproof mascara for standout lashes

Specifications

RRP : $28 / £24.50
Key features: Provitamin B5 to condition, volumizing and lengthening
Colours: Black

Reasons to buy

+
Creates standout lashes
+
Tapered brush is great for angling into the inner corner
+
Promises up to 36 hours of wear

Reasons to avoid

-
Not for fans of natural-looking, fluttery lashes

Many waterproof versions of well-loved mascaras tend to have slightly different results to the original option, but we couldn't see much of a difference between Badgal BANG! and the non-waterproof edition. Not only that, but as well as not smudging all over the place when met with water the defined look stayed largely intact. As for how it feels to wear, the formula also contains provitamin B5 to condition your lashes, and indeed we found that it didn't feel drying throughout the day. 

Beauty contributor Lucy wearing Benefit's Badgal BANG! Waterproof Mascara

Beauty contributor Lucy wearing Benefit's Badgal BANG! Waterproof Mascara

(Image credit: Lucy Abbersteen)

We would say that if you prefer a fluttery, delicate and understated lash look, this probably won't be the right waterproof mascara for you. But if you like your lashes to have an impact with an ultra-black finish and you need them to resist pool water or tears, you can put your trust in this Benefit number. One of the best Benefit mascaras and one of the best waterproof mascaras all in one. 

Maybelline Sky High Waterproof Mascara

(Image credit: Maybelline)

2. Maybelline Sky High Waterproof Mascara

Best drugstore waterproof mascara

Specifications

RRP : $12.99 / £11.99
Key features: Flexible brush, bamboo extract, fiber-infused
Colours: Black

Reasons to buy

+
Lengthens and separates lashes well 
+
Affordable

Reasons to avoid

-
Doesn't add a lot of volume

Springing onto the makeup scene two and a half years ago, the original Maybelline Sky High Mascara quickly found viral fame on TikTok, and is now one of the go-to affordable options on the market, touted by many as one of the best lengthening mascaras. Its die-hard fans were no doubt as delighted as we were when its sky-high capabilities were made pool-ready, too, thanks to this waterproof edition. 

Like the original version, we found that it’s best for those who want length more than volume from their mascara, and while it does feel a little drier to apply we found that it still packs a great lengthening punch. Most importantly, though, it stayed on our lashes when met with water. This, combined with a slim brush makes it a great choice of mascara on bottom lashes, and we think it's a brilliant option if you can't afford to splash out on a more luxurious price tag. A worthy inclusion in your holiday bag!

Too Faced Better Than Sex Waterproof Mascara

(Image credit: Too Faced)

3. Too Faced Better Than Sex Waterproof Mascara

Best waterproof mascara for volume

Specifications

RRP: $28 / £25
Key features: Formula contains collagen, peptides, porcelain flower to nourish lashes
Colours: Black

Reasons to buy

+
Hourglass-shaped wand that catches all lashes
+
Moisturizing ingredients
+
Very volumizing 

Reasons to avoid

-
Could be too volumising for some

One of the best volumising mascaras, the original Better Than Sex mascara has a stellar reputation, and those mega lifting and volumizing capabilities also come in a waterproof edition. Just like the original, the hourglass-shaped wand catches sparser lashes in the inner and outer corners of the eye brilliantly and lifts all of them up to add a great amount of volume to lashes. 

The formula has also been designed with your lashes in mind, thanks to moisturizing porcelain flower extract, and has an ultra-black finish. If volume is your number one priority, you can rest easy knowing that this one will last you through any occasions where waterproof mascara is required. And on a completely aesthetic note, the bubbled design of the packaging is pretty satisfying, no? 

Essence Lash Princess Waterproof Mascara

(Image credit: Essence)

4. Essence Lash Princess Waterproof Mascara

Best cheap waterproof mascara

Specifications

RRP : $4.99 / £3.30
Key features: fiber brush, perfume, alcohol and parabens free
Colours: Black

Reasons to buy

+
Very affordable 
+
Great balance of length and volume

Reasons to avoid

-
There are more premium-feeling options out there

We don't think that anybody out there would test this mascara and not be wowed given its almost ridiculously low price tag. The original Essence Lash Princess mascara is consistently the number one best-selling mascara on Amazon, so we had high expectations for its waterproof little sister; thankfully, she delivers! 

Lash Princess Waterproof strikes that great balance between adding length and volume with a lovely jet-black finish. Sure, there are more luxuriously-packaged mascaras out there, but we believe it's all about the performance, and this mascara withstands water without getting too clumpy. So, if the budget is small and you want to spend as little as possible on your waterproof mascara, give this a whirl. 

Beauty contributor Lucy wearing Essence Lash Princess Waterproof Mascara

(Image credit: Lucy Abbersteen)

Read our original Essence Lash Princess False Eyelash Effect mascara review to find out more about the original viral product. 

Milk Makeup Waterproof Mascara

(Image credit: Milk Makeup)

5. Milk Makeup Waterproof Mascara

Best waterproof mascara for a fluttery look

Specifications

RRP : $28 / £25
Key features: Monoi oil, marigold extract
Colours: Black

Reasons to buy

+
Doesn't feel harsh or drying on the lashes when wearing
+
Curved brush makes for easy lifted application
+
Creates a pretty, fluttery look

Reasons to avoid

-
Won't add tons of volume, if that's the look you're after

New for 2023 is the waterproof answer to Milk Makeup's popular Rise mascara. The first thing we appreciated when we unscrewed it is the curved brush, which mimicks the shape of the eye and is therefore ideal for wiggling into the roots of lashes to really lift them and open up the eyes. We also really noticed the formula's buildability. 

As for its wear, it feels super gentle on the lashes – absolutely no harsh feel or crispiness here – which is no doubt to the nourishing monoi oil in the formula, and they retain some flexibility for a fluttery look.

Lucy wearing the Milk Makeup Waterproof Mascara

(Image credit: Lucy Abbersteen)

It's not designed to be the most volumizing, so if that's your number one priority for your mascara, you might get on better with Benefit's or MAC's offering. But for a pretty, fluttery, eye-opening effect, this really impressed us. 

MAC MACStack Waterproof Mascara

(Image credit: MAC)

6. MAC MACStack Waterproof Mascara

Best buildable waterproof mascara

Specifications

RRP : $28 / £26
Key features: Promises to be endlessly stackable
Colours: Black

Reasons to buy

+
Very buildable
+
Promises 24 hours of wear
+
Creates fanned-out volume

Reasons to avoid

-
Can be tricky to remove

New for 2023 is the waterproof edition of MAC's much-raved-about MACStack mascara, which launched last year. What sets it apart is that it's described as being infinitely buildable – or "stackable" – with some users demonstrating the ability to apply up to 40 or even 100 stacks, which we're sure you'll be glad to hear has carried through to the waterproof edition. 

What we like most about this mascara, as well as its buildability, is the fanned-out volume it creates. As is common with many waterproof mascaras, we'd note that it can be a little tricky to get off (a testament to its staying power), but it's nothing that a couple of rounds with a good bi-phase remover can't handle – see our guide on how to remove waterproof mascara for help in that department. In short, if you want to really be able to build volume with your mascara without the risk of clumping, we say this is a great one for the job. 

UKLASH Volume Boost Mascara

(Image credit: UKLASH)

7. UKLash Volume Boost Mascara

Best waterproof mascara for fluttery lashes

Specifications

RRP : $17 / £12.99
Key features: Vitamins E and B5, keratin, oil-free
Colours: Black

Reasons to buy

+
Natural-looking volume 
+
Curved brush gets right into the root
+
Flexible wear
+
Oil-free

Reasons to avoid

-
Not mega volumizing 

If the thought – let alone the feel – of rock-hard lashes makes you cringe, this option from UKLASH is a very worthy contender for your new waterproof mascara. With a handy curved brush that fits easily into the roots for easy application that builds well, we found that lashes feel soft and feather-like while wearing, so there's no danger of crispy-feeling, dried-out lashes here. 

Despite its name, do note that the volume this mascara gives is on the understated side, so if you prefer standout dramatic volume to a more natural look you may want to look into one of the volumizing options further up our list. But if fluttery and elegant-looking lashes are your bag, this lovely buy will see you through a trip to the beach and then some. 

SUQQU Eyelash Waterproof Mascara

(Image credit: SUQQU)

8. I’m SUQQU Eyelash Waterproof Mascara

Best waterproof mascara in colourful options

Specifications

RRP : $31 / £29
Key features: Oil-based formula
Colours: Black, taupe, dark brown

Reasons to buy

+
Available in multiple color options 
+
Nourishing formula 

Reasons to avoid

-
Quite expensive

As well as its waterproof credentials, SUQQU's Eyelash Waterproof Mascara builds impressively easily and doesn't feel at all dry, no doubt thanks to its oil-based formula. We found that it added a lovely amount of definition and volume to our lashes and the curl lasted well. 

Not only did the formula perform well, but looks-wise we loved the pitch black shade that made our eyes pop – but this one is also worth checking out if you're interested in mascara shades other than black, as it comes in other options such as taupe and burgundy. It'll cost you a pretty penny, so won't be an option for those who can't splash out on their mascara, but if that's not a problem for you, we say go for it.

Lancome Lash Idole Waterproof Mascara

(Image credit: Lancôme)

9. Lancôme Lash Idôle Waterproof Mascara

Best waterproof mascara for straight lashes

Specifications

RRP : $30 / £24
Key features: 125 different bristle lengths, gel emulsion formula
Colors: Black

Reasons to buy

+
Curved brush lifts lashes well
+
Lashes feel slightly flexible
+
Promises up to 24 hours of wear

Reasons to avoid

-
Could be more lengthening 

There are so many brilliant Lancôme mascaras that one of the brand's waterproof options had to make the cut. Like its non-water-withstanding counterpart, Lash Idôle Waterproof creates beautiful fluttery lashes thanks to multi-length bristles that catch on to every lash to add length and definition. 

While we always recommend curling your lashes first, thanks to its angled brush head you can really wiggle this wand into the root of the lashes to lift them, making it one of the best mascaras for straight lashes in particular. The formula is a little drier than the original, as is common with waterproof mascaras, but the results are still really pretty and left our lashes feeling slightly flexible. Best of all, though, it didn't smudge all over the place when met with water, so it's one that you can rely on. Kudos!

How we tested the best waterproof mascaras 

A selection of the best waterproof mascaras tested for this feature from Too Faced, Benefit, Lancome, MAC, Essence, and Maybelline

(Image credit: Lucy Abbersteen)

First and foremost, all of these mascaras have been tested to see how well they stay in place when faced with water. But during the rigorous testing process, our beauty expert took note of all of the following factors to determine how good of a mascara it is overall and to decide if it's worthy of a place in our edit. 

  • How well it withstood water
  • Ease of application
  • If it clumped or flaked
  • How well it wore throughout the day
  • Number of shades available
  • Packaging 
  • Price

How to choose the best waterproof mascara

  • Formula: Waterproof mascaras can be seriously drying, so look for formulas with nourishing ingredients to avoid causing unnecessary damage to your lashes.
  • Consider how waterproof you need it to be: If you plan to go swimming, you want a robust waterproof formula. But if you're looking for something sweat resistant, for example, you might be better off reaching for a tubing mascara. This will be less damaging and could be more suitable for your needs. 
  • Price point: Always a key consideration, but if you want a stellar formula that won't flake and nourishes your lashes, consider spending just a bit more - it really is worth it. 
  • Make up remover: Even the best cleansers don't always cut the mustard when it comes to removing waterproof mascaras. Instead, invest in a dedicated make-up remover. Your lashes will thank you. 
  • Color: Most waterproof mascaras only come in black. If you're looking for a lighter shade, your choices become a little more restricted - for brown lashes, we recommend SUQQU's Eyelash Waterproof Mascara.

What is the difference between waterproof and water-resistant mascara? 

The clue is in the name: waterproof mascaras are designed to survive very wet situations, like swimming in the sea or a pool, and can take being completely submerged. Water-resistant formulas, on the other hand, can handle a bit of moisture, such as sweat or slightly watery eyes, but aren't quite as hardy.