Unlike finding the right shade of eyeshadow or foundation match, finding the very best mascaras in 2020 can get tricky. To non-makeup peeps, it might look easy but in reality, it is a lot more complex than you may think. For starters, there are several different variables at play. To find your new signature mascara, it’s important to first identify your overall “lash goals” to narrow down what to look for. So, let’s break it down!
Chances are you’re using your mascara for one of the following reasons: To curl, lengthen, lift or add volume to your natural lashes. Maybe two of those combine even. Lucky for you, there are plenty of brands on the market designed for very specific reasons. For those (like myself) weaning themselves off falsies and extensions ahead of the winter to save a few coins, you’ll want to go with a product like Fenty Beauty’s Full Frontal mascara to turn on the full glam.
If you’re looking for a product with a sensitive formula that won’t irritate your eyes — hello, contact-wearers — dermatologists and ophthalmologists alike swear by La Roche-Posay’s Toleriane formula.
When shopping for your next mascara, it’s important to also pay attention to details like the brush-wand design; specifically the length, width, and placement of the bristles. Meloway Makeup’s vegan mascara has a flexible applicator that can bend up to 90 degrees in four different directions for professional-level precision.
But fret not because your hunt for the one is over. Ahead, we’ve rounded up the best mascaras on the market according to specific lash needs and beauty non-negotiables!
Best Mascara for Length
The key to finding a mascara that will give you super long lashes is the wand. Translation: Go for one like Ilia’s Limitless mascara. It has a dual-sided brush with comb-like bristles to stretch your lashes to their full potential. The best part is the formula features conditioning ingredients like keratin, shea butter, and beeswax that will protect your lashes long after you’ve washed off your face.
TikTok Influencer-Approved Mascara
When it comes to affordable finds, TikTok provides a treasure trove of beauty must-haves. This mascara, in particular, has been praised for its lengthening abilities and fragrance-free formula. Designed with a narrow brush, it’s equipped with both flat and comb-like bristles that separate lashes and keep clumps to a minimum.
Best Mascara for Full Glam
Trade in your false lashes (and extensions) for Fenty’s Full-Frontal Volume mascara. Not only is it made with a conditioning and reliable formula, but it also features the brand’s unique “fat-to-flat” brush that’s meant to “load, lift, define, and curl” in one swipe. The results? Bold, dramatic lashes to match even the most dolled-up glam.
Best Mascara for Volume
Known as the mascara with the 45,000-person waitlist, this fan-favorite from Charlotte Tilbury is the latest addition to its coveted Pillowtalk collection and it is actually as good as the hype suggests. From the diamond-shaped bristles meant to grip every lash to its long-lasting formula, you’re guaranteed a dramatic lift with volume for days.
Dermatology and Allergy-Tested Mascara
For those with sensitive eyes or itchy-prone skin, opt for a paraben-free mascara made from clean ingredients to ensure minimal irritation. Free from 91% of allergens, nickel, gluten, and preservatives, La Roche-Posay’s dermatologist-tested mascara has been given the stamp of approval by ophthalmologists. If you’re looking for an everyday formula that won’t smudge after hours of wear, its wax-like consistency will quickly become your new go-to.
Best Mascara for Short Lashes
If you fall into the (not-so-small) group of people that were born without long, luscious lashes, then it’s likely you’re after a mascara that will give your eyes a more defined look. In that case, Lancome’s Definicils’ is a great option. It features what the brand calls “hedgehog” bristles, designed to apply its vitamin-enriched formula from root-to-tip.
Best Cruelty-Free Mascara
Very few brands do cruelty-free beauty products quite like Milk Makeup and the proof is in its conditioning formula and cult following. When it comes to the KUSH High volume mascara, the same can be said. What the product lacks in traditional ingredients it makes up for in plant-derived oils that condition the lashes, adding to its hydrating consistency.
Best Long-Lasting Waterproof Mascara
Fans of the cult-favorite Too Faced Better Than Sex Mascara will love the waterproof version just as much. It has all the same features its devoted followers have come to know and love – from the hour-glass shaped brush that ensures extreme volume to the super-chic tube, plus a creamy formula that’s completely waterproof. So if it’s big, long-lasting lashes that you’re after, this is the mascara for you.
Best-Value Drugstore Mascara
This mascara has been a tried-and-true favorite since the early ’70s and nearly four decades later it’s still a must-have in your makeup bag. The spiraled wand brush guarantees a natural lift and curl that will have everyone asking if they’re really yours. Highly-praised formula aside, it’s also less than $10, so it’s a no-brainer.
Best Natural Mascara
Whether you’re always on the hunt for beauty products made from clean ingredients or simply looking for a quality alternative to give your itchy eyes a rest, Saie’s all-natural mascara is a great option. Not only does it come in compact packaging, but it has a smooth but substantial formula that’s ideal for a last-minute beauty look.
Best Curling Mascara
If you’re prone to unruly lashes, one quick and easy way to get them back on track is by applying a few coats of Benefit’s curling mascara. Meant to coat and guide straight lashes, it’s great for a fresh-face beat that requires your eyes to pop.
Best Smudge-Free Mascara
Marc Jacobs’s cult mascara is all about the dramatics. It’s made with a thick, velvety consistency (as the name suggests) and a curved brush that hugs the lash-line for full coverage. The jet-black color ensures a bold look that will require little-to-no touch-ups thanks to the smudge-free formula.
Best Water-Based Mascara
Looking for a way to freshen up your lash extensions in between fill appointments? Try a water-based mascara to give your extensions a little extra life without damaging the ones you have left. Garde’s oil-free mascara is designed to be applied on top of your extensions, rather than from the root-like traditional tubes.
Best Luxury Mascara
Lash Star’s two-step sculpting mascara may be steep in price but it’s actually worth the investment. This two-in-one design has an ultra-skinny brush that allows you to really get into the corner of your eyes, separating and defining even the smallest of lashes. The curved brush allows you to really pack on the product and curl your lashes in the process.
Best Mascara Wand
A mascara that comes with a flexible wand to give you complete control is always a yes. Bending up to 90 degrees in all four directions, the wand of Meloway’s vegan mascara alone is worth adding to cart. Formula wise, it’s not too thick but far from watery. It has a creamy consistency and smooth application, which is just the icing on the cake.
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