The best mascaras for short lashes in 2024, reviewed by our beauty team

Our tried and tested edit of the best mascaras for short lashes will help you create the illusion of long, fluttery ones

Collage of three of the best mascaras for short lashes featured in this guide from MAC, L'Oreal Paris and Clinique
(Image credit: MAC/L'Oréal Paris/Clinique/Future)

The best mascara for short lashes is the key to giving them that lengthened, fluttery look that lasts all day long. Whether you are looking for one that will totally transform your lashes, or want something that yields a subtly enhanced look, team woman&home has tested enough mascaras to know which ones will get those all-important results. 

The hunt for the best mascara is one that can take a significant amount of time. With so many on the market, from the best volumizing mascaras to the best tubing mascaras, landing on the one that works perfectly for your lashes takes a bit of trial and error. Picking up any mascara and hoping for the best is unlikely to end in success, so it is essential to consider your lash type when shopping. 

"The most common complaint I hear is fine lashes," says makeup artist and beauty expert Zoë Taylor, "So choosing a lightweight but buildable mascara is important – rather than a heavy, dense formula, which might clog and weigh down the hairs." Taking her advice on board, we tested the best mascaras on the market and here are the ones that genuinely curled, volumised and lengthened our short lashes.

The best mascara for short lashes, reviewed by our beauty team

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How we tested the best mascara for short lashes

9 mascaras lying in a row included in the woman&home best mascara for short lashes buying guide

A selection of the mascaras we tested for this guide 

(Image credit: Amelia Yeomans)

To gauge how well each mascara really performs, we tested all of them on our short lashes. We paid particular attention to mascara brush types, formula and the ease of application, as well as looking at how they wore after a few – keeping a particular eye on any flaking or smudging. (How to apply mascara on short lashes is the same as most formulas – but it can be easier to smudge, so this was crucial.) Then, the main factor we looked at was lengthening ability, examining whether each product could revive our short lashes and provide that much-desired fluttery look.

How to choose the best mascara for short lashes

When shopping for mascara, particularly if you have short, sparse or fine lashes, there are a few key factors to consider, which we've expanded on below. By assessing against these criteria, you can be almost certain that you will find a mascara that will work for you and your lashes. 

  • Wand type: The results you get from a mascara depend largely on the type of wand the product has. While volumising mascaras tend to have thicker, more hourglass-shaped wands, lengthening products typically have thinner, tapered wands. Think about what look you are going for and pay attention to the accompanying brushes while shopping. 
  • Formula: If you have hooded eyes, oily skin or often struggle with mascara smudging, you will probably benefit from a tubing formula (which "wrap" the lashes in polymers that only come off with warm water) or a slightly drier consistency. If you want something buildable or that's less likely to dry out, opt for thinner, wetter consistencies that apply easily. 
  • Ingredients: Another important factor for those with sensitive eyes is ingredients. 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, but some of these can be irritating to sensitive eyes, so do some research into the ingredients before you buy.

How to make short lashes look longer

Taylor is very clear about this: "Always curl your lashes!" As with almost all makeup, how you prep before application is key to getting the best results. "It doesn’t matter how long or short your lashes are, really take your time on getting them as curled and perfect as possible, she says. "Once mascara is on, you mustn’t use eyelash curlers on the lashes as it can damage them."

How do you apply mascara to short, sparse lashes?

After finding your perfect mascara match, the next step is mastering its application. "Once you have curled, apply mascara starting in the root, wiggling the wand deep into the base of the lashes," Taylor explains. "Then, draw out the wand through the lashes to the tips, spreading the lashes as you would like them to sit." Don't be afraid to take your time with this, as it's a technique worth perfecting to ensure your lashes look exactly how you like them.

"The second layer should be [applied] mostly into the roots, and the third starting again in the roots and drawing through to the tips," she continues. "Moving onto the other eye, repeat. Once you are happy, apply a tiny extra bit onto the tips in an upwards and downwards motion." And just like that, you will have lengthened, full lashes. 

Can mascara damage short lashes?

If you are wondering is mascara bad for your eyelashes, a common belief is that wearing it can harm your natural lashes, especially those that are already quite fine. However, with the right products and removal processes, there is no reason why mascara should harm your lashes. 

"Choose your mascara carefully," says Taylor. "Yes, some are very expensive, but the reason is that they [often] have nourishing serums in the formulations to help encourage lash growth." It is usually true that you get what you pay for, so it is worth investing in the right product if yours need some nourishment. 

As well as using the best mascara for short lashes, pay close attention to how you remove your eye makeup, too. "Eye makeup removal is so important for the health of your lashes," Taylor confirms. "I love to remove my mascara with a face balm; [this] doesn’t require heavy rubbing with a cotton or re-usable pad." Using the best cleansing balms, therefore, can make a huge difference in keeping your lashes healthy. 

Amelia Yeomans
Senior writer

Amelia joined woman&home in 2022 after graduating with an MA in Magazine Journalism from City University and she is now a senior fashion and beauty writer. She began building her career as a lifestyle journalist after completing a fashion journalism course at the Condé Nast College of Fashion & Design in 2019, writing for a variety of titles including OK!, New!, and Notion on topics such as sustainable fashion and entertainment.