What is tubing mascara? 6 things you need to know about these innovative formulas

Found yourself asking what is tubing mascara? We have all the answers

A woman applying mascara to her lower lashes to iliustrate what is tubing mascara
(Image credit: Future/Getty images)

Wondering what is tubing mascara? This innovative product, though not new, is a rising star of the makeup scene – and deservedly so. Designed to make lashes appear longer and fuller while eradicating smudging and fall-out, it sounds like every beauty lover's dream.

These days more mainstream brands than ever offer lash products with tubing properties. But what does tubing mean, and how is it different from your go-to best mascara? The answer lies in how it applies, wears, and in its removal. If you’re looking for the perfect balance of length and longevity, the best tubing mascaras could be a game-changer.

"Traditional mascara contains pigment and wax that is painted onto your lashes," explains Rachael Divers, award-winning make-up pro and resident makeup artist at Face The Future. "These formulas can be hydrophilic (dissolved in water) and therefore easily smeared throughout the day, or hydrophobic (water-repellent) making them waterproof." Tubing mascaras, on the other hand, work quite differently. Let's find out more about what they are and how they work.

What is tubing mascara?

First things first, what is tubing mascara and why is it different? The ‘tube’ in tubing mascara has nothing to do with the packaging. Rather, it refers to the way that the formula forms a tubular coating on lashes. In contrast, regular mascaras tend to paint just the underside of the lashes.  

"Tubing mascara contains tube-like polymers that wrap around each individual lash, creating an enhanced, lengthening effect. The result is long-lasting, flexible wearing mascara that doesn’t smudge or flake," explains Divers. Not only does this promote longer wear time, but it also means that tubing mascaras are ridiculously easy to remove. Most only require warm water and will slide off easily- ideal for anyone who has never quite got the hang of how to remove mascara without mess, fuss, or excessive scrubbing.

What are the pros of tubing mascara?

1. It's extremely lengthening

Tubing mascaras make some of the best lengthening mascaras when it comes to reviving short lashes and giving that much-desired fluttery effect. Because the formula really coats each lash, it means that you get a defined and fanned-out look from root to tip, opening up the eyes and achieving maximum length. If you have particularly stubborn or short lashes that could do with some extra TLC, a tubing mascara will do exactly that making them a true rival to the best false eyelashes.

2. It's easy to remove

This is probably the biggest selling point of tubing mascara; no more scrubbing. Rather than using up makeup remover to take it off at the end of the day, or going through the painstaking steps of how to remove waterproof mascara, you need only use warm water. Simply get your lashes nice and wet and then use a pad or your fingers to gently slide away the tubes of mascara – it’s extremely satisfying.

You’re also much more likely to get rid of every last bit of makeup than you are with other types of long-wear mascara. This means your pillowcase will be free of pesky black flakes and your lashes are less likely to harbor harmful bacteria that could cause irritation or in some cases infection. This is especially helpful if you have sensitive eyes, or are following skincare routine for acne, as you won't be at risk of congesting your skin whilst you sleep. 

3. It's long-lasting and won’t weigh lashes down

And what is tubing mascara like in terms of wear-time? Surprisingly robust. Although tubing mascara comes off with water, that water needs to be warm and combined with some form of gentle pressure, meaning there is no need to worry about a sudden downpour on an umbrella-less journey to work – it won't induce any panda-eyes panic. We have also found that tubing mascaras are the best for oilier skin types or hooded eyes, as they won't smudge on your lids throughout the day. 

Rest assured that tubing mascara is not coming off until you’re ready for it to. “Tubing mascara is brilliant in the humidity and heat, so come holidays, the gym, or exercise classes, they can withstand the pressure,” says makeup artist Mira Parmar. And, unlike other heavy-duty mascaras that can feel claggy and thick, tubing formulas are light in texture so are Ideal for natural makeup looks and everyday wear.

4. It can smudge-proof other mascaras

If you are loyal to your tried-and-true best volumizing mascara, or have a budget favorite that you're not ready to part ways with, we have great news: as tubing mascara is so lightweight, it layers like a dream. “Tubing mascaras lengthen but unfortunately do not give a great amount of volume,” says Parmar. However, she continues, they “are amazing when used on top of a regular mascara to stop smudging, to set and to keep the base layer waterproof”. 

Just pop your chosen tubing product on top of your mascara once it’s dried and reap the benefits. Tubing is much less heavy than a waterproof formula and easier to take off at the end of the day, making this one of the greatest hacks for lashes that won't budge.

5. It's great for contact lense wearers

As a general rule, eye makeup can get a little complicated where contact lenses are concerned. However, tubing mascara is one of those exceptional products that ticks plenty of boxes for lens wearers. “There are no flakes with this type of mascara so no fallout, which also means no irritation,” explains Parmar. Transfer, smudge and flake-free – sign us up!

6. It’s a kinder option

So, what is tubing mascara's secret that makes it one of the best mascaras for sensitive eyes? Because using warm water for removal instead of an eye makeup remover is far less likely to irritate. Plus, sensitivity won’t be exacerbated by excessive rubbing or the rounds of cleansing needed for other types of long-wear mascara.

On a more general note, using lash products that agree with your eyes, as well as taking care to remove products gently, is key for sensitive eyes. "Our eyelashes aren’t just there for aesthetic purposes, they do a vital job protecting our eyes, helping to deflect anything that is coming towards the eye that could harm it," stresses Dr Elizabeth Hawkes, an award-winning oculoplastic surgeon and eye expert, who recommends "investing in some good mascara" – and we think tubing mascara more than fits the bill.

Our beauty writer recommends...


Sensai Lash Lengthener Mascara | RRP: $33 / £31

For our hooded eyes prone to causing smudging, this is the best tubing mascara on the market. Extremely lengthening and even more long-lasting, this is our everyday staple. 


Hourglass Unlocked Instant Extensions Mascara | RRP: $29 / £29

The clue is in the name of this mascara – it really does give a falsies effect. For a mascara that will catch every lash and instantly give a fuller, healthier appearance, look no further.

Ayesha Muttucumaru

Ayesha is a freelance beauty writer and when she's not contributing to woman&home she can be found writing about all things cosmetics, hair and self-care in her role as Senior Features Writer for Get The Gloss. She also writes a monthly hair column called ‘Who, What, Hair’ (which combines her love of puns and buns perfectly), in addition to a column exploring the new and exciting options now available for women of darker skin tones called ‘Not Fair’. She’s also been shortlisted for a number of awards including Best Online Beauty Journalist at the Johnson and Johnson Journalism Awards.