The Best Tubing Mascaras That Won't Flake Or Smudge, As Tested By Our Discerning Editors

Testing the best tubing mascaras
(Image credit: Who What Wear UK)

Introduction for our review of the best tubing mascaras, featuring Beauty Pie WrapStar mascara and managing editor Poppy wearing a tubing mascara

(Image credit: Who What Wear UK)

As a beauty editor who has tried many, many mascaras during my career, my biggest gripe is that so many mascaras smudge and flake. And if you're someone with both hooded eyes and oily skin like me, you'll know all too well the frustration of mascara transferring onto your brow bone throughout the day, or noticing that your mascara has flaked underneath your eyes at midday after a morning of meetings.

It's often worse during the summer, when feeble mascara crumble at the slightest turn of warmer weather and slicker skin. Couple that with sweaty commutes and it seems many mascaras just aren't cutting it. However, this all changed when I discovered the best tubing mascaras around, and I've had one in my makeup bag ever since.

What Is a Tubing Mascara?

Tubing mascara is very different from standard mascara, which is usually formed of oils or waxes that layer onto the lashes. Tubing mascaras are made of polymers, which wrap around each individual eyelash to create a 'tube' effect. The result is a longer-lasting, smudge and flake-free finish.

They're typically a lot easier to remove than traditional mascara, too. In fact, many can be removed with just warm water—you'll actually see the tubes slide off your lashes between your fingers when you come to remove it. A big bonus if you have sensitive eyes and find mascara hard to remove.

Our Who What Wear team panel for testing the best tubing mascaras

(Image credit: Who What Wear UK)

How We Tested the Best Tubing Mascaras

To help find the best tubing mascaras out there, I enlisted the help of the Who What Wear UK team. Each tester has experienced smudging or flaking underneath their eyes with mascara previously, so were ready to put our tubing mascaras to the best. We chose the most highly rated tubing mascaras from different retailers and across budgets, and we have shared our honest reviews for each alongside before and after pictures. Ready to find the best tubing mascara? Scroll ahead for our tried and tested favourites.

What Are the Best Tubing Mascaras?

  1. Hourglass Unlocked Instant Extensions Mascara (£31)
  2. Merit Clean Lash Mascara (£28)
  3. Beauty Pie Wrap Star Tubing Mascara (£10/£17)
  4. Glossier Lash Slick Mascara (£20)
  5. Maybelline Lash Sensational Sky High Mascara (£13)
  6. UKLash Lengthening Mascara (£12)
  7. Blink Brow Bar Iconic Tubing Mascara (£24)
  8. E.l.f. Lash Xtndr Mascara (£7)
  9. Milk Makeup Kush Mascara (£26)

1. Hourglass Unlocked Instant Extensions Mascara

Beauty editor Eleanor testing the Hourglass Unlocked Instant Extensions Mascara

(Image credit: @eleanorvousden)

Rating: 9/10

Price: £31

Brush Type:
Flexible comb wand

Lengthens, holds a curl, no smudging, easy to remove, luxurious design

More expensive than most, not the most volumising

Customer Review:
"I always struggle with mascara transferring onto my eyelids and someone recommended a tubing mascara. I thought I’d treat myself as it’s more expensive than my usual mascaras but wow, I love it! It never transfers, my lashes look healthy and volumised and I’ve had multiple comments asking if my lashes are real. I will 100% buy this again! So glad I found it."

Our Verdict:
My eyelashes are long, but few and far between and stubbornly straight. Because I have hooded eyes, I find some mascara formulas transfer above my eyes. This is now my holy grail mascara for imparting length, holding a curl all day and making my lashes look incredibly long and defined. It doesn't smudge—even on my oily eyelids—or flake underneath my eyes throughout the day. A big thumbs up.

Amazingly, its still easy enough to remove in the shower; the tubes slide right off between my fingertips with warm water. The brush itself features a bendy, plastic wand with a tapered shape that captures every lash and stretches them to their full potential. My lashes are stubbornly straight, but after using this with an eyelash curler I noticed that my lashes stood to attention all day long—no drooping here. It's not the most volumising mascara around (I'd try Hourglass's Caution Extreme Lash Mascara (£31) instead if that's what you're vibe) but as length and curl hold are my deal-breakers, this doesn't both me. I'm obsessed with the wispy, fanned-out effect that would probably make Bambi jealous.

Needless to say, the packaging looks and feels luxe. The gold tube feels weighty to hold and is certainly a pretty addition to my makeup bag. I'm deducting a point only because it's a little on the expensive side, but I think it's totally worth the investment, seeing as your get 10g of product versus the standard 7 or 8g you get with most mascaras. If you're unsure, try the 5g travel mini size (£16) before committing to a full sized tube.

2. Merit Clean Lash Mascara

Deputy editor Maxine Eggenberger testing the Merit Clean Lash mascara

(Image credit: @maxineeggenberger)

Rating: 9/10


Brush Type:
Bristled wand

Natural-looking effect, no smudging or flaking, easy to remove

More expensive than most

Customer Review:
"I really enjoy using this mascara! I dislike mascaras that clump, smudge, and flake and that’s the experience I have with most mascaras. This is a tubing mascara that adds nice volume and colour it lasts all day and only flakes if I rub my eyes heavily. It sits lightly on the lashes and doesn’t feel heavy."

Our Verdict:
On the perennial quest for the perfect, naturally-fluttery lash, I’ve spent more money than I’d ever care to admit to myself on new mascaras—both new formulations to hit the market and also legacy mascaras I haven’t yet tried. However, one I haven’t quite got to yet was Merit’s mascara, which my colleagues have told me is one of the best on the market. So, needless to say, I was excited when a small blue box came through my door.

Unboxing it, after admiring how sleek its overall packaging looked, I was quick to scope out the brush situation. First off, the mascara wand is a unique feature—it’s slim and tapered, making it incredibly easy to reach every lash, even those tiny inner corner ones. The bristles are fluffy, which is the sort of wand I’m ordinarily drawn to. Things are looking promising. So, with some freshly applied base makeup but bare lashes—albeit with a work call to join in 5 minutes—I decide there’s no better time to give it a whirl than the present.

The application was smooth and precise, thanks to the wand's tapered design. I noticed that it evenly coated my lashes without clumping, which was a major plus. This, of course, is a tubing mascara—the type of formula this story is entirely based upon. Don’t ask me to explain how, but tubing mascaras are developed to wrap around and define each lash, and I can tell from the bat that this is doing its job nicely.

As for the effect, this mascara is more defining and lengthening than volumising, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. It gave my lashes a natural, feathery look, which is basically what I’ve been searching for in a mascara. If you're looking for extra volume, this might not be your go-to. What I will say, however, is that a second coating made the overall look more dramatic and glamorous. In terms of curl, there was a slight hint, but as someone with quite straight lashes, I often find mascaras—even the ones that promise radical curves initially—tend to droop as the day goes on. What I found with Merit’s mascara is what it looks like when you first apply it and how it looks when you come to take it off at the end of the day, which is a bonus.

I trialled it for a week and I didn’t experience any smudging, flaking, or transfer—even when temperatures soared. I’m also the sort of person who touches their face out of habit and have found in the past that my mascara can indeed smudge because of it. But not with Merit!

When it came time to remove the mascara, I found it to be very easy. It came off effortlessly with just warm water, which is ideal for someone who prefers a hassle-free makeup removal routine or if, like me, you have a tendency of forgetting your cleanser when you go to the gym.

I guess, the big question always is, would I buy it again? Definitely. The price is a bit higher compared to some other mascaras I’ve enjoyed, but I believe it’s justified by the quality and performance. The minimalist, sophisticated packaging is a nice touch, too—I’m already planning on gifting one to a friend for her birthday along with some other bits from the brand. Overall, Merit’s mascara is a solid choice for anyone who wants natural-looking but blooming gorgeous lashes (without a spider leg in sight!).

3. Beauty Pie Wrap Star Tubing Mascara

News writer Natalie Munroe testing the Beauty Pie Wrap Star Tubing Mascara

(Image credit: @natalieemunro)

Rating: 9/10

£10 for Beauty Pie members, £17 for non-members

Brush Type:
Spiral bristle brush

Lengthening, natural-looking effect, ideal for sensitive eyes

You need to be a member to access discounted price

Customer Review:
"I love this mascara. It enhances the lashes while still looking natural. It stays in place all day but comes off easily with cleanser unlike many waterproof mascaras. I sometimes get watery eyes and this doesn't budge, even if I have a full on cry!"

Our Verdict:
While I’m faithful to my concealer and obsessed with my blusher, the one item I’ve never really matched with is mascara. Although I have quite dry skin over my face, my eyelids seem to be the exception and I’ve been yet to find a product that doesn’t smudge underneath my eyes come mid-day.

My eyelashes are fairly long and curl easily with the quick squeeze of a curler, so I generally find that most products flatter them—the problem is typically the smudging. As such I’ve been interested in trying a tubing mascara for some time. Beauty Pie’s Wrap Star tubing mascara comes in at £10 if you have a Beauty Pie membership, and £17 for non-members.

The mascara wand has a staggered finish that forms a 'twisted' shape. I found the variation of bristle length was beneficial for reaching and clinging onto every eyelash. The mascara has a lengthening effect that flatters my lashes well—I tend to stay away from volumising products for fear of my lashes looking too clumpy. The effect of the mascara was natural, lifted and perfect for everyday wear.

In terms of wear, I was pleasantly surprised to find minimal transfer below my eyes—I had begun to think that no mascara could deliver this. My lashes stayed long and lifted all day, and the removal with a little bit of warm water went as smoothly as promised. As someone who has forked out much more than £17 only to find myself looking like a panda come lunchtime once more, I would definitely purchase this product.

4. Glossier Lash Slick Mascara

Ecommerce analyst Sophie Cookson testing Glossier Lash Slick Mascara

(Image credit: @sophie__cookson)

Rating: 9/10


Brush Type:
Flexible comb wand

Lengthening, natural-looking effect, ideal for sensitive eyes, comes in black and brown

Can dry out after a while

Customer Review:
"I always used the black but I am loving the brown currently. This is the most natural looking mascara ever nothing could replace it. The formula is very thin it just coats your lashes making them look long and separated. I wear this, and clear brow gel to work everyday and it's just so natural looking but looks put together. The only downside I can say is it dries out very fast but it is still affordable."

Our Verdict:
I personally don’t feel made up unless I’ve got mascara on, I feel like it's the final step that makes you ready to tackle whatever the day is going to throw at you. Therefore it's super important to find out what is going to enhance rather than hinder by flaking, smudging or getting in your eye. Prior to trying the Glossier Lash Stick, I’ve been wearing the Westman Atelier mascara (£42) in brown which was doing a great job. It didn’t smudge and stayed on pretty well all day. A little bit about my lashes, they are pretty long and straight already, but I have to use an eyelash curler and they do lengthen when I put mascara on. I can have issues with my eyelashes crossing over due to my lash lift needing to be redone, and I’m very partial to either a brown or black colourway.

Now onto the Glossier lash stick, I was seriously impressed for a number of reasons; the main one being that the wand is so fine that I had no issues whatever with them crossing over and you can visibly see them lengthening once applied. The product is so fine that you don’t feel overwhelmed putting it on but you can build up the product if you want a thicker layer. I wore it throughout the work day, and then for a 5k run without any smudging whatsoever which is a great accomplishment as I can get pretty sweaty. There was no transfer and I didn't see any flaking either.

Usually I use Bioderma’s Sensibio H2O Micellar Water (£16) to remove my eye and skin makeup, but with the Glossier Lash Stick you just need water. I washed my face in the shower and had a small amount of makeup under my eye which I removed post shower with a cotton pad.

This is the type of product that friends would ask what you were wearing and then order straight away. I think the price point is justified and pretty reasonable compared to other tubing mascaras on the market at the moment. I can’t really see any fault with this product as it does everything that it says on the tin. I’d give this a 9/10 just because there was a little bit of product left after I washed my face.

5. Maybelline Sky High Mascara

Managing editor Poppy Nash testing the Maybelline Sky High Mascara

(Image credit: @poppynash)

Rating: 8/10


Brush Type:
Flexible comb wand

Lengthening, defining, comes in several colours

Not as easy to remove compared to other tubing mascaras

Customer Review: "
I’ve always struggled with mascara flaking or smudging under my eyes after a few hours and thought it was just me as I’d tried so many brands. This has changed that! It doesn’t flake, or smudge at all. It’s pretty hard to get off, I use an eye makeup remover and then an oil face wash. The first day I wore it my boss even asked if I had new contacts as my eyes looked so intense! Definitively converted now!"

Our Verdict:
Like a few of my fellow WWW staffers, I too would declare mascara my desert-island beauty pick. After moisturiser and SPF, mascara is the one item in my makeup bag I really could not go without, primarily because, much to my dismay, I have very thin, pale eyelashes despite being a natural brunette with a lot of hair. They’re also quite short and while I don’t mind going mascara-less, I feel much more confident and put-together when I have a swish of my favourite product on my lashes.

For me, a mascara needs to have a thin wand—I am really not a fan of a chunky, thick wand as I often find it makes my lashes clump—and I want it to hit that holy trifecta of being lengthening, volumising and long-lasting. I think I’m pretty close to the perfect product with my current mascara, but I have to admit that it does smudge a lot. This is partly because I wear a lot of cream-based makeup, but either way, it means I regularly need to pop to the loo to touch up my concealer or wipe off some black spots. So, when I knew we were testing out tubing mascaras (i.e smudge-proof mascaras!) for this month’s Deep Reviews, I knew I needed to get involved.

Over the course of a few days, I tried Maybelline’s Sky High mascara, which is a product that gets recommended a lot in the WWW office. But does it live up to the hype? First things first, I was really pleased with the wand on this; it wasn’t too thick or thin and made it easy to distribute the mascara from root to tip. It lengthened and thickened my lashes nicely, and although I did find it clumped in a few places (disclaimer: for the purpose of this review I didn’t use a lash curler beforehand), what really impressed me was its staying power. I applied it at 7am, and checked for smudges at 2pm and again at 6pm. There was not one smudge or flake to be found, and my mascara looked just as good at the end of the day as it did before my morning commute. For me the only downside is that it does feel like a very thick product and while this is a pro for some people, I prefer a formula that feels a little lighter on my lashes. I did, however, love the finished look, so I would 100% use the product again, but perhaps not until my current mascara has finished.

When it comes to the removal, you do need some elbow grease. I found I couldn’t remove it with just warm water and needed to use an oil-based cleanser and cloth to buff away at it. For me, this isn’t a big deal; I’d rather have a really strong waterproof mascara that I can rely on but need to scrub a little to remove at the end of the day than the reverse. However, if you have sensitive lashes/eyes, I personally would steer clear, just in case the removal process irritated them a little.

In terms of cost, I think Maybelline’s Sky High mascara is great value for money. In a world when you could be spending upwards of £30 for a mascara, this £12.99 product feels like an absolute steal. It’s definitely worth trying if, like me, you’re a big mascara fan and are looking for something that really goes the distance but won’t break the bank.

Shop More Tubing Mascaras We Love

6. UKLash Lengthening Mascara

8. E.l.f. Lash Xtndr Mascara

9. Milk Makeup Kush Mascara

Eleanor Vousden
Beauty Editor, Who What Wear UK

Eleanor Vousden is the beauty editor for Who What Wear UK. She was previously deputy editor at Hairdressers Journal, health writer at Woman & Home and junior beauty editor at beauty website Powder. She has also contributed to Wallpaper and Elle Collections with written and styling work.Working as a beauty journalist since 2015 after graduating in fashion journalism at the London College of Fashion, she has been highly commended at the BSME Talent Awards for her work on Powder and also contributed to the title winning Website of the Year at the PPA Awards.Eleanor’s journalistic focus is to provide readers with honest and helpful beauty content. Through words, video and live broadcast, she has interviewed several celebrity makeup artists, hairstylists and top dermatologists throughout her career, as well as celebrities such as Sarah Jessica Parker and Scarlett Johansson. She has a particular interest in finding solutions for acne and eczema, which she has experienced firsthand. She has also amassed a large collection of fragrances and can never say no to a new candle.When she’s not writing or testing the latest beauty product or treatments, she’s on the seafront in her hometown of Brighton and Hove, where she lives with her partner and her miniature dachshund.