Mascara with fibers: what they are, why they're different, plus our 7 best picks

The 411 on mascara with fibers, and why this formulation can potentially change your approach to eye makeup

mascara with fibers
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Before the latter-day boom of false lashes, semi-permanent varieties, magnetic strip lashes, or a regular lash tint and lift, Maybelline was thinking a step ahead when it came to bigger lashes. Back in 2003, a Maybelline researcher filed a patent request for a formula for what was essentially a mascara with fibers.

Then positioned as a "lash builder"—described as a "tacky substance filled with tiny fibers," according to The New York Times report about the patent—it was subsequently first marketed in Asia to address the needs of Asian women who wanted a solution for shorter lashes. A few other niche brands, such as the luxury makeup brand Trish McEvoy and France-helmed Longcils Boncza, purportedly favored by the likes of Audrey Hepburn, also have had first-generation versions of a lash builder, and the innovation has since taken off to global commercialization.  

Fiber mascara claims to make lashes longer, fuller, and plumper, so it comes as no surprise that it's maintaining a steady hold in eye-makeup-obsessed 2021. These days, there's literally almost nothing we won’t do to achieve the lashes of our dreams. And with good reason: Longer, fuller, and more voluminous lashes have the ability to open up the face and draw attention to our eyes (our main vanity point these days, if we're being honest), giving the impression of a brighter and more awake complexion. 

What are mascaras with fibers made of?

Let's get into the nitty-gritty: A mascara with fibers is a mascara infused with tiny pieces of rayon, silk, or nylon fibers in the actual formula (yup, in the black stuff itself!), and they can help you achieve the lashes you dream about for a fraction of the price you might pay for a professional service that yields similar results. Just like the best mascara on the market, fiber mascara is applied just like standard mascara, but it differs because it deposits tiny fibers that stick to the ends and sides of your natural lashes with every swipe. This gives the impression of thicker and longer lashes. Another benefit of these formulas is that they tend to smudge less too, making them an ideal pick for those with oily skin as it doesn't smudge off on the lower lashline as easily.

Editor's picks: our fave mascara with fibers

mascara with fibers milk makeup kush

(Image credit: Milk Makeup)

1. Milk Makeup KUSH High Volumizing Mascara

Best vegan

RRP: $25/£18
Size: standard (10 mL); mini (4 mL)
Shades: Blackest Black
Brush: crisscrossed
Special call-outs: Hemp-derived cannabis seed oil (THC-free, non-psychoactive)
Reasons to buy
+Vegan+Cruelty-, paraben-, gluten-, silicone-, fragrance-, and alcohol-free+Volumizing and conditioning+Intense black finish+Signature "Puff Puff Brush" delivers clump-free results
Reasons to avoid
-Only one shade

This high-volume mascara is one of our favorites as it's infused with heart-shaped fibers that lock onto your lashes to create extra fullness. Don’t let the gimmicky shape of these fibers fool you—this mascara has quickly become a cult favorite product for a reason. The brush does a spectacular job of separating lashes and infusing them with volumizing fibers that yield fuller lashes in minutes. One coat will have a big impact, while two will give you the impression of false lashes. Oh, and did we mention it's vegan?

mascara with fibers huda beauty legit lashes

(Image credit: Huda Beauty)

2. Huda Beauty Legit Lashes Mascara

Best dual-formulated

RRP: $27/£20
Size: 8.5 mL
Shades: Extreme Black
Brush: dual-ended: hourglass side for volume; curved side for curl and length)
Special call-outs: two formulas: short low-gravity fibers for volume; 5 mm gripping fibers for curl and length
Reasons to buy
+Matte finish+Cruelty-free, ophthalmologically tested+Volumizing, curling, lengthening in one+Customizable results: Side A (Volume) has short, volumizing fibers for an extreme fuller, thicker effect; Side B (Curl & Length) has gripping waxes and 5 mm lengthening fibers for an elongated, curled, fluttery effect
Reasons to avoid
-Only one shade-Twice the work for a full falsies effect

Why settle for lashes that are just either extra long or extra full when you can have both? This double-ended mascara with fibers delivers volume and curl plus length and uses low-gravity fibers for lashes that boast major volume without weighing themselves down. Every beauty expert knows that some days call for volume, others call for fullness—and most all call for both! This mascara allows you to customize your look any way you like it, and we're all about the fluttery finished look that can rival your falsies any day.

mascara with fibers smashbox full exposure

(Image credit: Smashbox)

3. Smashbox Full Exposure Mascara

Best one-and-done

RRP: $24/£17
Size: 9.56 mL
Shades: Jet Black
Brush: large, tapered
Special call-outs: Vegan; SLS/SLES-, paraben-, and cruelty-free
Reasons to buy
+Vegan+Free of SLS and SLES, parabens, and phthalates; contains less than 1%  synthetic fragrances; cruelty-free+Full, tapered brush grabs lashes at the root to create maximum yet natural-looking volume and length+No clumping, smudging, flaking, or spider-eye effect
Reasons to avoid
-Only one shade-Not for those who need significant lengthening-Hard to reach tiny lashes in inner corners

What do you get when you cross vegan sensibilities with a fiber-rich formula? Smashbox Full Exposure Lash Volumizing Mascara adds natural-looking length and volume and a buildable kind of thickness. We love this mascara with fibers for travel or on-the-go as it pretty much checks all the boxes for a natural-looking everyday glam. We recommend starting at the base of your lashes and carefully wiggling the tapered brush from roots to the ends for a full coverage look. Continue building and adding more coats for a super dramatic finish and you could even top up with your best eyeliner for extra impact.

mascara with fibers covergirl the super sizer fibers

(Image credit: COVERGIRL)

4. COVERGIRL The Super Sizer Fibers Mascara

Best shade options

RRP: $5/£4
Size: 10.35 mL
Shades: Very Black; Black; Black Brown; Brown
Brush: fanned-out
Special call-outs: has a waterproof variant
Reasons to buy
+Touts 400% more volume and considerable definition+Special "Lash Styler" fanned-out brush reaches tiny lashes for a transformative, volumized effect+Four versatile shades+Leaping Bunny Certified cruelty-free+Has a waterproof variant
Reasons to avoid
-Some report flaking, smearing, and clumping-Takes a while to set

If you want to take the “try before you buy” approach to mascara with fibers, COVERGIRL The Super Sizer Fibers Mascara may be the best fit for you. This drugstore fiber-infused formula will extend your lashes with a mascara wand designed to catch every last lash. The results are high-impact, wide-eyed lashes that everyone will envy—at a very affordable cost. Best yet? It also has a waterproof version.

mascara with fibers mia adora 400x pure silk fiberlash mascara

(Image credit: Mia Adora)

5. Mia Adora 400X Pure Silk Fiber Lash Mascara

Best indie

RRP: $15/£11
Size: 4.8 oz
Shades: Ultra Carbon Black
Brush: 2 mascara tubes: 1 hourglass brush, 1 full brush
Special call-outs: 2-step approach: primer first, followed by a green tea silk fiber formula
Reasons to buy
+Paraben-free+Hypoallergenic; non-toxic; cruelty-free+Weather- and smudge-proof+Customizable results: Step 1 (Wet Magnifying Gel) primes lashes; Step 2 (Dry Silk Fiber) applied onto primer creates a false-lashes effect; Step 3: Can repeat Step 1 for extra volume and length as desired+Women-owned
Reasons to avoid
-Formula can get flaky, chunky, or stiff with too many coats; some report fibers are too loose and can flake off-Some report smudging and clumping and a strong chemical odor-Two to three steps can be a fussy mascara experience

This two-to-three-step kit from a women-owned brand features green tea microfibers that work as tiny extensions to add volume and length. Start off by applying a coat of the wet magnifying gel, follow up with the tiny silk fibers, and seal the look with another coat of the wet magnifying gel for a truly voluminous and dramatic finish. 

mascara with fibers diorshow

(Image credit: Dior)

6. Dior Diorshow Mascara

Best premium

RRP: $29.50/£21
Size: 10 mL
Shades: Black; Brown; Blue
Brush: XXL full
Special call-outs: rose essence to condition lashes
Reasons to buy
+Iconic bestseller favored by makeup artists for its tried-and-tested formula that gets between lashes+Superior thick and volumized results; customizable, buildable volume+Microfibers and silk proteins recreate the look of falsies+Has a waterproof variant
Reasons to avoid
-Pricier-Some report flaking -Some report brush can be too big for precision application in corners and can get clumpy

Another cult favorite product, Dior Diorshow Mascara is super popular for good reason: Enriched with microfibers and silk proteins, this formula truly recreates the effect of lash extensions. This mascara is also infused with rose essence to condition lashes as you thicken and lengthen. 

mascara with fibers hourglass unlocked

(Image credit: Hourglass)

7. Hourglass Unlocked Instant Extensions Mascara

Best tubing

RRP: $29/£21
Size: 10 g
Shades: Black
Brush: conical
Special call-outs: tubing formula wraps around individual lashes
Reasons to buy
+Lengthening+Vegan; SLS and SLES-, paraben-, gluten-, formaldehyde-, phthalates-, mineral oil-, triclosan-, and cruelty-free; contains less than 1% of synthetic fragrances+Remarkable separation and definition+Removes easily with water
Reasons to avoid
-Harder to build volume-Some report flakiness

If you are sensitive to heavy formulas and worry about a fiber-infused mascara weighing your lashes down, this is the formula for you. This offering uses a tubing, film-forming technology to wrap around each and every lash with lightweight fibers for a high-impact finish that isn’t too heavy. Known for adding extra length to your lashes, reviewers also rave about the smudge-free formula.

Miriam Herst-Stein
Miriam Herst-Stein

Miriam Herst-Stein specializes in branding, content creation, and storytelling. She brings ten years of experience customizing content to large corporations such as Unilever in her role as Deputy Editor for their publication All Things Hair, as well as to small businesses just beginning to step up their content. She graduated from Stern College with a degree in journalism and is currently pursuing her masters in professional creative writing at The University of Denver. A NYFW reporting veteran, she has written for ByrdieBirchboxLoveStoriesTV, and the Huffington Post, and has interviewed a long roster of celebrity stylists including Ursula Stephen and Justine Marjan. Born and raised in Chicago, she now lives in Brooklyn with her husband and their large collection of color-coded books. You can find her on Instagram @miriam.herst.stein.