77 Tubes Later, We're Declaring These 10 Mascaras the Best We've Ever Used

Welcome to Deep Reviews—your one-stop destination to discover the absolute best products and brands the beauty industry has to offer. The Who What Wear staffers you already know and trust will research, test, and review the market's most sought-after and buzzed-about products to see which formulas (of the hundreds up for consideration) are truly worth your hard-earned money and attention. You can expect honest, completely uncensored feedback and no-BS recommendations our hard-to-please testers endorse without reservations.

Deep Reviews of the Best Mascaras


Who What Wear

Truth be told, I don't know if I was the best person—or the worst person—to orchestrate a deeper-than-deep review of the industry's best mascaras. On one hand, I'm obsessed with lashes, and I'm a little nutty when it comes to my standards for mascaras. I expect practical magic, and because of that, there are only about five mascaras (in my nearly 20 years of makeup-wearing) I've ever truly loved. It doesn't matter if the mascara is prestigious or can be found at the drugstore—I hold them all to the same high standard. They need to curl! They need to lengthen! And they need to defy gravity when it comes to lift. 

On the other hand, when our panel of mascara testers received upwards of 20 different tubes of mascara at their doorsteps, did they hate me just a little? (They're too polite to say it, but yes, they probably did.) But if I'm going to be the one in charge of pinpointing the absolute best mascaras your precious money can buy, you can bet your bottom dollar that I'm the last person to lead you astray. Ahead, you'll find our curated list of the 10 best mascaras the market has to offer right now. From the overall standout to the best waterproof option that will still look 10/10 post-swim, we have you covered. Keep scrolling!

Beauty Editor Panel Testing the Best Mascaras


Who What Wear

"I naturally have long, dark lashes that I further enhance with lash serums. However, they're very straight and prone to droopiness. Therefore, curling my lashes pre-mascara is nonnegotiable for me. My dream mascara gives me enough volume at the root to make my lash line look thicker without looking clumpy or too thick at the top. Overall, I want a mascara that keeps my lashes lifted and curled and provides lots of fluttery length and definition. I tend to prefer small, flexible rubber brushes, as opposed to big, bushy ones, since they give me more control and feel less heavy and wet on my lashes. Essentially, I want to look like Bambi! My mascara deal-breakers: a formula that is too heavy or wet (thus sabotaging curl and lift), transfers, or smudges." — Erin Jahns

"My lashes are long but pin-straight, so I'm always looking for a mascara that makes them look lifted and defined. My dream mascara would be something that offers length and volume. It would have an inky black formula, but it wouldn't deposit too much product on my lashes. It would look natural and be extremely buildable. Also, there would be no smudging—so many mascaras smudge! My mascara deal-breakers: smudging, flaking, or a formula that's too heavy and gives my lashes a spidery effect." — Kaitlyn McLintock

"My lashes are pretty average! Not too long, not too short, not super thick. I never feel like I need mascara when I go out. My eyelashes aren't nonexistent, but I always do wear it when I want to do a full makeup look. My dream mascara is a non-clumpy formula that makes my eyelashes look fluffy and long. My mascara deal-breakers: I absolutely hate when a mascara clumps my lashes together. Volume, to me, shouldn't mean clumpy! And don't get me started on smudging. When I end the day looking like a raccoon, I know it's bad." — Anneliese Dominguez

"My lashes are thin, blonde, and the type that stick straight out, so an eyelash curler is a must for me. They have no natural volume, so I rely heavily on a good mascara to enhance them. My dream mascara keeps my straight lashes lifted throughout the day. I want my mascara to make it look like I've had a lash lift and tint without paying for one! My mascara deal-breakers: I prefer a more natural makeup look, so any mascara that clumps immediately gets tossed. I'd rather go mascara-less than deal with one that deposits too much black goop onto my lashes." — Natalie Gray Herder

Best Overall Mascara: Lancôme Lash Idôle Volumizing Mascara

Best Overall Mascara: Lancome Lash Idole Volumizing Mascara


Who What Wear

Our average rating: 4.8/5 stars

Pros: Lots of lift; great curl; 24-hour wear; grabs every lash; conditioning ingredients; lightweight gel formula that doesn't weigh lashes down; no smudging, clumping, or flaking

Cons: Expensive; not as "natural" of a formula; only available in black

Our thoughts: "Technically speaking, I don't think I could create a better mascara in terms of lift, curl, length, volume, and wearability. (No flakes! No clumps! No smudges!) I'm honestly mad that, for some godforsaken reason, I'm only just trying it! Just do yourself a favor and make sure you heed the brand's advice in terms of application—hold the wand horizontally near your lashes with the curved side facing upward and apply in an upward swiping motion. I was on a press trip when I tested this, and I immediately ran to my laptop to message the group about how obsessed I was." Erin

"Immediately after Erin messaged in our group saying that this was the mascara she didn't know she needed, I went to try this on. My eyelashes doubled in length, and the curl was unbelievable."Anna

Best Drugstore Mascara: Maybelline Lash Sensational Sky High Mascara

Best Drugstore Mascara: Maybelline Lash Sensational Sky High Mascara Try On


Who What Wear

Our average rating: 4.1/5 stars

Pros: Affordable; delivers noticeable, fanned-out length that we loved; easy to remove; flexible brush; no clumping, smudging, or flaking; available in four different shades; waterproof and non-waterproof formulas

Cons: Lift and curl could be more dramatic and could last longer; not as "natural" of a formula

Our thoughts: "I loved the length this mascara gave my lashes. It made them so long they hit against my glasses every time I blinked. For the affordable price of this product, I was impressed by the fluttery effect it provided." — Kaitlyn

"At the risk of sounding like a broken record, I love the length and lift this one gave my lashes. However, the curl didn't hold after an hour or so."Natalie

Best Lengthening Mascara: Ilia Limitless Lash Mascara

Best Lengthening Mascara: Ilia Limitless Lash Mascara Try On


Who What Wear

Our average rating: 4.3/5 stars

Pros: Natural formula; highly conditioning; patented dual-sided brush for curl, volume, and lift; safe for sensitive eyes; buildable; no smudging or clumping; flake-resistant; long wear

Cons: Expensive; only one shade option; no waterproof options

Our thoughts: "Yet again, this was another mascara I had been sleeping on. All I can say is wow. It's so hard for natural mascara formulas to impress me—they often smudge, feel too wet, or just don't give me quite the same level of oomph I crave from a mascara. I love that the dual-sided wand really lets you comb through your lashes to evenly disperse the formula, lending impeccable length, definition, and separation. (Use the shorter side to curl and create volume and the longer bristles to lift, lengthen, and separate.) I don't know if any other mascara has made my lashes look longer."Erin

"This mascara made my lashes super fluttery. Seriously, if you're someone who wants length, this mascara delivers it. I loved the doe-eyed effect it gave. The best part was that I didn't see any flaking or smudging, and I wore it for a full eight hours."Kaitlyn

Best Curling Mascara: Dior Diorshow Iconic Overcurl Mascara

Best Curling Mascara: Dior Diorshow Iconic Overcurl Mascara Try On


Who What Wear

Our average rating: 4.6/5 stars

Pros: Refillable; supreme curl; nicely balanced lift, separation, volume, and length; long-lasting; no flakes, clumps, or smudges; waterproof option; five shades available

Cons: Expensive

Our thoughts: "I don't usually like non-rubber brushes, so I was already convinced I would dislike this mascara prior to even trying it. As someone who wants even the tiniest lash caught and coated, bushier brushes like this usually just can't get the job done. So you can imagine my gleeful dismay when I realized this new refillable version of the Dior's Iconic Overcurl might be the one and only exception out there. All it takes is one or two quick coats, and you will have the fluffiest, curliest lashes of your dreams. Unlike other curling mascaras we tested, this one doesn't deflate!"Erin

"No, you don't understand—I'm obsessed. My lashes were fluffy, full, and long as ever. No notes."Anna

Best Volumizing Mascara: Milk Makeup Kush High Volumizing Mascara

Best Volumizing Mascara: Milk Makeup Kush High Volumizing Mascara Try On


Who What Wear

Our average rating: 4.7/5 stars

Pros: Maximum, albeit natural-looking, volume and thickness; no clumps; buildable; vegan; natural ingredients; highly conditioning for healthier lashes long-term; waterproof formula

Cons: Not as much length; expensive; no other shades available

Our thoughts: "loved this mascara. I usually don't love big mascara brushes because they tend to deposit too much product on my lashes, but this one is different. It deposits the perfect amount of mascara in every swipe. The formula is so smooth and buildable, and my lashes were instantly lengthened and defined. It provided the most natural-looking result out of any mascara I tried. Like I said, I loved it."Kaitlyn

"I'm not usually a volume-mascara person, but wow. This gave me tons of volume without getting clumpy."Anna

Best Mascara for Sensitive Eyes: Tarte Tartelette Tubing Mascara

Best Mascara for Sensitive Eyes: Tarte Tartelette Tubing Mascara Try On


Who What Wear

Our average rating: 3.7/5 stars

Pros: Lightweight; tubing; provides lots of length; easy removal; vegan; long-lasting; safe for sensitive eyes

Cons: Not super buildable or volumizing; may flake or smudge; expensive; no waterproof or alternative shade options

Our thoughts: "I love a great tubing mascara, and as I'm someone who has supremely sensitive eyes (even with many 'clean' or 'natural' formulas), Tarte is quite literally one of the only brands that don't send my eyes into red and runny madness. This mascara is kind of polarizing—it seems like people either love it or hate it—but it's one of my all-time faves. It's super easy to remove and ultra-lightweight, and you only need one or two coats for extension-like results."Erin 

"Pop off, Tarte! My lashes looked so long after this mascara! It didn't give me that fluffy lash look that I like, but it definitely made my lashes stand out. I'm into it."Anna

Best Mascara for Natural-Looking Lashes: Saie Mascara 101

Best Natural Looking Mascara: Saie Mascara 101 Try On


Who What Wear

Our average rating: 4/5 stars

Pros: Your-lashes-but-better finish; natural ingredients; two shade options; strengthens, conditions, and provides lots of length and a pretty bump of lift

Cons: Expensive; not much curl or volume; may smudge and move by the end of the day depending on the other products you're wearing

Our thoughts: "This is another great 'clean' mascara option for natural, everyday wear. It wasn't the most volumizing but didn't flake, smudge, or transfer."Natalie

"If you're someone who prioritizes clean ingredients and wants just a tap of depth, length, and lift, you'll absolutely love this mascara. I love that it also comes in brown, and it's my new standby for no-makeup-makeup days."Erin

Best Flake-Free Mascara: Ami Colé Lash-Amplifying Volumizing & Lengthening Mascara

Best Flake-Free Mascara: Ami Colé Lash-Amplifying Volumizing & Lengthening Mascara Try On


Who What Wear

Our average rating: 4/5 stars

Pros: Gives decent amount of length, lift, and natural-looking volume; no flakes; natural ingredients; buildable; conditioning

Cons: Expensive; may smudge; no waterproof or alternative shade options; might be better for those who already have some natural length

Our thoughts: "I had heard so many rave reviews about this mascara, so I couldn't wait to put it to the test and try it. I will say it gave me the most fluttery brow-grazing length, definition, and lift, but it *did* smudge for me, which you can see just below my brows. I don't know if this would have been an issue if I wasn't so intent on having the longest lashes physically possible by way of lash serums (ha!), but I did have to make a note. That said, the results were so freaking good I'll continue to wear it anyway!"Erin

"This mascara is a great option for flake-free everyday wear, especially if you already have long lashes."Natalie

Best Smudge-Free Mascara: Covergirl Lash Blast Volume Mascara

Best Smudge Free Mascara: CoverGirl Lash Blast Volume Mascara Try On


Who What Wear

Our average rating: 4/5 stars

Pros: Affordable; multiple shades; waterproof and clean versions; provides noticeable volume  and thickness with minimal coats needed; hypoallergenic; bristles can easily catch and coat every last lash

Cons: May transfer or be slightly messy; won't get as much length or definition as other mascaras

Our thoughts: "Trying this mascara again was a blast from the past as it was the only one I used all through high school. While I enjoy the formula (it didn't smudge or flake), I do tend to prefer thinner wands now."Natalie

"Like practically everyone else on our panel, this was the mascara for me in high school and college, and even though I've started to gravitate towards other mascaras that give me more length and separation (versus thickness and volume) it's the only formula I dare apply on my lower lashes thanks to how smudge-proof it is—and my lower lashes are freakishly long—so that's saying something!"Erin

Best Waterproof Mascara: Too Faced Better Than Sex Waterproof Mascara

Best Waterproof Mascara: Too Faced Better Than Sex Waterproof Mascara Try On


Who What Wear

Our average rating: 4/5 stars

Pros: Two shade options; regular and non-waterproof formulas; lots of volume and thickness; moisturizes and conditions; ultra-black hue thanks to specialized peptides; buildable

Cons: Expensive; not the best for length and curl; some flaking

Our thoughts: "I liked the volume it gave my lashes and the fact that it didn't deposit too much product on my lashes, so they maintained a natural, albeit amplified, look."Kaitlyn

"I love the no-makeup makeup look of this mascara, but I wish it kept my lashes lifted throughout the day. It separated my lashes nicely but didn't hold a curl. I would use this mascara if you already have long, thick lashes!"Natalie

Our Deep Reviews Research and Testing Process for Mascara

Each installment of Deep Reviews is weeks—and sometimes months—in the making. Once we land on a subject or category to test, we'll consult our very own staffers and editors (because we happen to think we have damn fine taste when it comes to all things beauty) to come up with our own "best" list.

After compiling our own list, we looked to other publications—Vogue, Cosmopolitan, Glamour, Allure, InStyle, and Byrdie—and made a list of the mascaras each site recommended above all others. Next, we cross-examined the results from each publication while studying every last review and rating across major online beauty retailers to see which formulas showed up the most and seemed to be the most satisfactorily rated among beauty shoppers (like you) as well. 

In the end, we whittled 77 potential "best" mascaras down to 20, then from 20 to 12, then to 11 to our final top 10 to fit every category—from the best overall that magically ticked every single box to more specific category winners like the best curling and lengthening formulas. Each of the above mascaras has been vetted, tested, and reviewed by our highly discerning panel of testers. 

This article was originally published at an earlier date and has since been updated.