Best mascara: Our favourites for adding length and volume to your lashes

Why compromise when you can have length and volume?

best mascara

In an era when we catch up with all of our co-workers on a screen and have to wear reusable face masks just to pop to the petrol station, it’s more important than ever to find the best mascaras to show off our eyes. So, while natural-looking mascaras may have fitted the bill before coronavirus, now’s the time to opt for formulas that will add length and volume to your lashes.

There is no shortage of good formulas to choose from, but whatever your lash type we recommend IT Cosmetics Superhero. It will pack on the drama, while lengthening and giving your lashes a nice fluttery curl. Alternatively, if you’re after a luxe pick, then the Diorshow Pump ’N’ Volume ticks all the boxes, with its premium packaging, dramatic finish and long-lasting resilience. But if it’s a drugstore mascara you’re after, then for a long-lasting clump-free length and volume at a reasonable price, we suggest bulk-buying Max Factor Masterpiece Max, because once you try it, you won’t ever let it go.

How to choose a good mascara for length and volume

Just as you would consider your skin type when picking out the best foundations, thinking about your lash type is equally important when choosing mascara, as well as how it adds length and volume to lashes.

Those with fine lashes will definitely want to go for a buildable formula, where you can layer on volume without clumping, while thicker-lash types are lucky enough to be able to go for pretty much anything – but watch out for any formulas that are  heavy, as they can weigh down lashes.

“Look at both the brush and the formula when choosing a mascara for length and volume,” advises Bobbi Brown senior pro artist Warren Dowdall. “The best all-round mascaras for length and volume will be a marriage of a layerable formula and a brush with a thicker base to comb evenly through the lashes from root to tip, while also having a tapered tip to grab small, hard-to-reach lashes on the inner corner. This will allow you more control and buildability to really create a bespoke finish.”

“One of my top expert tricks when it comes to mascara is not to be afraid to layer up,” adds Warren, explaining that a dramatic and lengthening mascara can be topped with a long-wearing waterproof favourite. “This way, you get the drama and length of the smokey eye with the hold power of the no smudge – the dream combo!”

The best mascaras for adding length and volume you can buy right now

IT Cosmetics superhero mascara

(Image credit: IT Cosmetics)

1. IT Cosmetics Superhero

A true all-round superhero in our eyes

Specifications
Best lengthening & volumising mascara for: Most people
Waterproof version available?: No
Mini version available?: Yes
Colours available: Black
Extra features: Contains lash-strengthening biotin
Reasons to buy
+Applies and layers easily without clumping for customisable finish+Tapered brush for greater control over corners and short lashes+Nourishing and strengthening formula+Inky, glossy colour+Smudge- and flake-free+Easy to remove+Impactful length, definition, volume and curl
Reasons to avoid
-Loses hold after a long day

This is truly everything you would want from a dramatic mascara. Not only does it deliver length and definition in one fell swoop, but it also packs on the volume from the very first coat. Just one layer will give you truly larger-than-life lashes with a subtle flutter on the outer lashes for a flirty finish.

Packed with lash-strengthening biotin as well as plumping collagen and conditioning peptides, the inky black formula cares for lashes throughout wear, leaving them soft and strong even after you dissolve away the long-wearing coating (which doesn’t smudge or flake at all, by the way). It can lose a bit of its hold towards the end of the day, but a top-up with an eyelash curler will give you all the drama you need for the evening.

It’s effortless to apply, thanks to its soft, tapered brush that collects just the right amount of the well-balanced formula, and – not that you need more than one coat – it layers smoothly without any catching or clumping for a customisable finish. Forget the Avengers – this is the kind of superhero we need in our lives...

Diorshow pump n volume mascara

(Image credit: Dior)

2. Diorshow Pump 'N' Volume

The gold standard of premium mascaras

Specifications
Best lengthening & volumising mascara for: A premium option
Waterproof version available?: Yes
Mini version available?: No
Colours available: Black, brown, blue
Reasons to buy
+Premium packaging+Innovative squeeze tube keeps formula fresh+Dramatic lashes+No flaking or smudging
Reasons to avoid
-Slightly awkward brush

Everything about this not-so-humble offering screams premium. The brush, the formula, even the chic packaging gives this away as a designer mascara, with its elegant black and silver colour scheme and little Dior logos around the tube’s collar. From the first swipe of product, lashes are lifted, lengthened and fanned out. What’s more, the unique squeezable tube, which activates the formula every time you use it, stops the liquid from drying out, giving it a velvety feel every time you apply and allowing you to layer without forming any pesky clumps.

It doesn’t give the biggest curl we’ve ever seen, but it will hold your shape in place if you have pre-curled your lashes. One gripe we did have was that, while the brush was lavishly sturdy and caught lashes well, it was a little thick, which made it difficult when trying to catch short inner lashes. However, unlike other mascaras we’ve seen with this problem, it didn’t create any mess on the lash line, so we were pleasantly surprised.

Max Factor masterpiece max mascara

(Image credit: Max Factor)

3. Max Factor Masterpiece Max

A lifetime favourite that is cheap enough to buy in bulk

Specifications
Best lengthening & volumising mascara for: A budget option
Waterproof version available?: No
Mini version available?: No
Colours available: Black, black/brown, blue
Reasons to buy
+Long-lasting hold+Enviable length and volume+Easily layered+Clump-free+Reasonably priced
Reasons to avoid
-Slightly hard comb wand

Sometimes the more moderately priced mascaras can give us the most extreme results and that is certainly the case with the “makeup of makeup artists”. Max Factor Masterpiece Max has become an icon of mascaras, with beauty experts across the globe hailing it as their go-to pick – and we’re right there with them.

Its thin comb brush (which, we will admit, isn’t the most delicate of the bunch), catches lashes from the root and glides through effortlessly to create length and volume from the first coat. It separates lashes beautifully and can be layered for extra drama, with the comb wand nixing any clumps in the bud. We also love how it holds curl all day long without any drooping or flaking – it definitely has a permanent place in our makeup bags!

Eyeko yoga waterproof mascara

(Image credit: Eyeko)

4. Eyeko Yoga Waterproof

Will grab hold of your lashes and never let them go

Specifications
Best lengthening & volumising mascara for: A waterproof option
Waterproof version available?: Waterproof product
Mini version available?: Yes
Colours available: Black
Extra features: 100% vegan, Antioxidant-infused
Reasons to buy
+Resilient, unmatched hold+Mega length and volume+No flaking or smudging
Reasons to avoid
-Stubborn to remove

If you’re looking for something to get you through an emotional wedding day, a sticky holiday evening out or even just a sweaty afternoon of errands, you’ll want this by your side. It boasts a hold unlike anything we’ve seen in any other mascara – and we’ve tried a lot!

Layer this on top of your pre-curled lashes and it will cement them into place, adding a whack of length and volume for good measure. A little goes a long way with this one, but even if you do decide to go reality-TV level with the drama, the elegantly curved brush, featuring soft but sturdy bristles, will iron out any clumps for a neat, defined finish.

One thing we will say is be sure to invest in a serious eye-makeup remover with this one, as it ain’t budging for no one.

La Roche-Posay toleraine volume mascara

(Image credit: La Roche-Posay)

5. La Roche Posay Toleriane Volume

Doesn’t compromise on impact for sensitive eyes

Specifications
Best lengthening & volumising mascara for: A sensitive option
Waterproof version available?: No
Mini version available?: No
Colours available: Black
Extra features: Suitable for sensitive eyes
Reasons to buy
+Soft brush+Fluid formula+Adds length+Clump-, smudge- and flake-free+Easy to remove
Reasons to avoid
-Not as much volume as we would like-Doesn’t hold lift

Suffering from sensitive eyes can make it tough to seek out a really impactful mascara, but this considerate offering doesn’t compromise length and volume for its sensitive formula. The soft bristles hold a suitable amount of product, so that you don’t end up smearing any underneath your lash line and catching your eye, and the inky black fluid coats lashes in length and volume – no clumps in sight.

It’s not the most dramatic option, but you can layer it up for a stronger hit of volume and it doesn’t hold lift all day, so if your eyes can handle it we’d recommend a quick clamp of an eyelash curler after a few hours. It also removes easily, so that you don’t have to load your sensitive eyes with tons of makeup remover.

Chantecaille faux cils mascara

(Image credit: Chantecaille)

6. Chantecaille Faux Cils

This will get you through the longest of days

Specifications
Best lengthening & volumising mascara for: A smudge-proof option
Waterproof version available?: No
Mini version available?: No
Colours available: Black
Extra features: Contains conditioning rose oil
Reasons to buy
+Elegant sturdy brush+Even lengthened and feathered look in just one layer+Very lightweight+Long-lasting with no smudging or flaking
Reasons to avoid
-Not much volume-Doesn’t lift inner lashes much

We’ve all had that feeling when we finally look in the mirror after a long, taxing day only to realise that we’ve resembled an endangered animal all throughout our afternoon meetings. But that was before discovering Chantecaille Faux Cils mascara, which gives us strip-like lashes that stay put throughout even the hardest of days. The elegant and sturdy brush lengthens and separates lashes, effortlessly fanning them out for a serious feathery flutter that doesn’t budge.

It doesn’t add the biggest hit of volume, and inner lashes can look a bit droopy and left out, but we just love the long-lasting lightweight flutter it bestows upon our eyes. So, next time you have a full diary, keep this by your side.

bobbi brown smokey eye mascara

(Image credit: Bobbi Brown)

7. Bobbi Brown Smokey Eye

All the better to see you with...

Specifications
Best lengthening & volumising mascara for: Lift
Waterproof version available?: No
Mini version available?: No
Colours available: Black
Reasons to buy
+Generous lift+Length and subtle volume+Holds curl in place+Long-lasting and flake- and smudge-free
Reasons to avoid
-Not very dramatic

With a neat brush that sits on the thinner side of the spectrum, this wonder gets right to the root of lashes, leaving no mess behind, and gives even the droopiest of lashes a push-up worthy of some of the best bras in the business. Along with the powerful lift comes a gorgeous length and a subtle, even coat of colour.

Lashes are separated and fanned out, curl is held nicely in place and eyes even appear a little bigger because of how high lashes fly. It’s another entry that isn’t mega dramatic, but it gives you sophisticated volume that’s not too obvious and can be easily layered.

NARS climax extreme mascara

(Image credit: NARS)

8. NARS Climax Extreme

Will give you more drama than the Brexit proceedings

Specifications
Best lengthening & volumising mascara for: Drama
Waterproof version available?: No
Mini version available?: Yes
Colours available: Black
Reasons to buy
+Mega length, volume, curl and hold+No need to layer, but does so easily+Long-lasting+Removes easily
Reasons to avoid
-Minimal flaking-Slightly awkward brush

There’s only one word to justify each layer of this – wow! Just one layer transforms lashes, giving you a serious dose of length, volume, curl and hold. It layers smoothly, but we can’t imagine anyone needing a second layer of this dramatic offering.

It does come with a slightly fat brush, which can make it slightly awkward to reach corners without making a mess, but it lasts all day with only minimal flaking and, for such a dramatic finish, slides off surprisingly easily with makeup remover.

Lancôme Hypnôse Doll Eyes mascara

(Image credit: Lancôme)

9. Lancôme Hypnôse Doll Eyes

Get ready for a Disney-like curl

Specifications
Best lengthening & volumising mascara for: Curling
Waterproof version available?: Yes
Mini version available?: No
Colours available: Black, brown
Reasons to buy
+Cone-shaped brush makes for tidy application+Seriously fluttery results+Volume and length+Clump-free
Reasons to avoid
-Doesn’t hold all day

Ever looked at your kids’ (or your own) childhood dolls and been slightly jealous of their effortless curly, fluttery lashes? We know we have, which is why this entry is one of our favourites.

A classic that has remained steadfast throughout the many mascara releases over the years, this old reliable comes with a fancy cone-shaped brush that not only gives you more command over short and inner lashes, leaving no mess in its wake, but also controls the amount of product distributed on to different areas of your lashes. So, while inner lashes get a small dose that’s just enough to lift them up, outer lashes are bestowed with all the length and drama, giving lashes a doll-like appearance.

Also, not only does it hold pre-curled lashes in place, it adds in a little extra to accentuate the fluttery doll’s-eye look. It doesn’t hold all day, though, so an eyelash curler top-up wouldn’t go amiss.

Marc Jacobs at lash'd mascara

(Image credit: Marc Jacobs)

10. Marc Jacobs At Lash'd

Small but mighty on all lash types

Specifications
Best lengthening & volumising mascara for: Short lashes
Waterproof version available?: No
Mini version available?: No
Colours available: Black
Extra features: 100% vegan
Reasons to buy
+Gorgeous luxe tube+Compact and nimble brush+Adds length, volume and curl+Feathery finish+Dissolves easily
Reasons to avoid
-Inner lashes droop slightly after a while-Minimal flaking

We have to admit, this is one we fell in love with as soon as we set our eyes upon its black and gold Gatsby-esque stripes. And that infatuation only strengthens when you open the luxe tube to find the cutest little brush that somehow packs as big a punch as some of the heftiest brushes on our list. Whether you have long or short lashes, this tidy brush will grab them straight from the root and give you greater control over styling.

It lifts lashes well, holding them in place, as well as giving you length, volume and curl with a feathered finish. We did notice inner lashes started to droop slightly after a few hours, but we are just nitpicking here. Plus, there was a tiny bit of flaking in the evening, but that meant it was super easy to just dissolve with remover.

Kat Von D go big or go home mascara

(Image credit: Kat Von D)

11. KVD Vegan Beauty Go Big or Go Home

Put your conscience at ease while enjoying subtle volume and a pretty flutter

Specifications
Best lengthening & volumising mascara for: A cruelty-free option
Waterproof version available?: No
Mini version available?: Yes
Colours available: Black
Extra features: 100% vegan
Reasons to buy
+Soft fluffy brush+Adds length and curl+Feathery, fluttery look
Reasons to avoid
-Quite dry formula-Doesn’t add heaps of volume-Some flaking

When you think of vegan and cruelty-free mascaras, drama definitely doesn’t come to mind, but with its dark, gothic packaging, this entry is here to change our minds. We love the soft fluffy brush that gives lashes a super-feathery look, but the formula is quite dry when it comes out. This does, of course, add to the lightweight flutter and stops any mess accumulating on the lash line, but it can lead to some clumping, so it might be worth going over and separating lashes with a spoolie (brow brush) afterwards.

The slightly parched formula does also mean that, while you do get a lovely feathered finish, it’s hard to pack on drama and we also did notice some flaking after just a couple hours of wear. That said, it did give a subtle volume that went hand in hand with the pretty flutter.