Your eyes are the window to the soul, give them the respect they deserve
In every make-up bag up and down the country you will find a mascara. It is arguably the most used make-up product in the beauty kit. Think about it: you have tonnes of base choices – the very best foundation, cracking bb creams, five-star tinted moisturisers – there are blushers and bronzers to add depth to your complexion, and you’ve got moisturiser balms or statement-making lipsticks. But mascara is the only constant – there are no alternatives to boosting your lash length, opening your eyes and making them pop. With the world we currently live in – Zoom calls aplenty and face masks the new must-have accessory – it’s even more important that we find the best mascara.
What to look for in one of the best mascaras
You really need to know what you want to get our of yours ahead of buying it. Consider the look you’re after – defined, natural-looking lashes or big volume to add drama? Once you’ve decided, this will help you choose the right wand. Plastic combs and brushes are better at defining and elongating lashes. They’re often thinner and less chunky in size. Traditional bristles are key to adding volume and fullness, they’re plumper and apply more product to the lashes.
Colour is also important. Black is the most popular, but it can wash paler skin tones out, so it might be worth considering a brown or navy? Do you want your eye colour to stand out? Pick a colour that accentuates. Purple and blues make blue and green eyes pop, browns highlight hazel.
And then of course, do you need a long-wearing, hardy waterproof formula?
We’ve trialled and tested so many that we’ve since lost count. From Bobbi Brown’s Smokey Eye Mascara – a cult classic – to Lush Lashes, one of the industry’s newest launches, we’ve done our fieldwork. And what we can definitively say is that the best mascaras really so have transformative effects.
Make the most of your mascara
No matter which you choose, here’s a tip from make-up artist Charlotte Tilbury on the best application technique: ‘As you drag up from the base of your lashes, zig-zag the wand from side to side. This creates more volume, as you are depositing more product onto your eyelashes.’
As for your bottom lashes, turn the brush vertically. ‘The thinner end will help you control your application with more precision.’
And of course, to magnify the results, always go for a second coat. But resist the urge to pump the wand up and down in the tube. ‘Your mascara will dry out quicker as you’re pushing too much air inside. Slowly twist the brush around the tube instead.’
Best lengthening mascara:
The high-shine latex finish is especially pleasing for those with stick straight or stubby lashes. Said XXL finish is also highly pigmented so with just one single swipe, lashes appear longer, fuller and jet black.
Best mascara for fluttery lashes:
Just because a beauty product costs less than £10 does not make it any less worthy. We can't get enough of this purse-friendly wand that creates length, whilst also creating a super fluttery look. The tip of the brush also hits those hard-to-reach lashes on the inner and outer corners.
Best volume mascara:
This is the first mascara to feature a 3D-printed brush. This sounds sci-fi, but all you need to know is that you get extreme volume with no clumps from the get-go. The granular surface of the brush grabs onto lashes while honeycomb-like holes absorb the formula. Together, they deliver just the right amount so you don't need another dip in the tube. Vive la revolution!
Best mascara for full and thick lashes:
This is an affordable option that beauty fans are obsessed with thanks to its air-whipped formula that makes lashes look more pronounced without weighing them down. The double bristle brush deserves a special mention, too. The short bristles catch lashes at the roots while the long ones dispense the waxes, which inflate the lashes, evenly to the tip. Exactly what you want when in search of volume.
Best budget mascara:
Mascaras can sometimes be too ‘wet’ and leave black streaks – something that's especially vexing when they’re waterproof. Even the best blusher can't withstand that. This one keeps your eyelids and cheekbones clean thanks to tiered bristles for precise application and a formula with enviable staying power.
Best waterproof mascara:
A pitch-black mascara that is always smudge-proof and definitely won’t flake onto cheekbones halfway through the day. The bristled-head catches each lash and coats it in the nourishing creamy formula, creating big drama.
Mascara is only ever as good as the brush you apply it with. In this case, an hourglass shape designed to coat every single lash. The formula isn’t anything to be sniffed at either as film-forming polymers and collagen lift and beef up spindly lashes. Win-win.
Best for a natural finish:
Definitely not a ‘night out’ mascara. In fact, we’d go so far as to say this is the ‘anti-mascara’ mascara as it’s determined to look as minimal and natural for a daytime doe-eye effect. It's basically your lashes, but better, in a tube. Great for those of you with blonde eyelashes who crave definition, not drama.
Best drugstore mascara:
This one just so happens to be one of Meghan Markle's favourite beauty products. A single swipe of the wand creates length, while the tip of brush hits those hard-to-reach lashes on the inner and outer corners. If it's good enough for a duchess...
Define and volumise your lashes with Masquara Raven by Illamasqua. The thick bristle brush defines lashes from root to tip with an intense jet-black finish, with lash conditioning Castor Seed Oil and Vitamin E, Masquara both colour intensity and soft, supple lashes.
Best clean mascara:
Last year, sales for Honest’s mascara jumped by 652% on Amazon. It’s not hard to see why when two of the mascara’s central ingredients are water and beeswax (no unreadables here) and the primer gives the mascara something to grip onto for length and thickness. Voila, lashes like Jessica Alba.
One of the industry’s newest launches, Lush’s new low preservative mascara – infused with lash loving ingredients like coconut oil – conditions eyelashes while coating and giving them some serious smudge-free lift. Plus, its infusion of wonder ingredient wheatgrass contains a whole host of vitamins, minerals and proteins to encourage longterm lash growth.
Best for bottom lashes:
Once you've used this mascara once, you'll never look back. Bottom lashes are incredibly tricky to do, but this mini brush makes even the teeniest tiniest hair on the lower lash come to life. It's nimble, so easy to use and small enough that you won't make any mistakes. Bye bye panda eyes.
Best for fanned out lashes:
This is it, a mascara that creates oodles of length and volume, with a seriously black pigment to smoke out the eyes. However, it does all of that subtly. This isn't one of those full-on mascaras, it does the job and does the job well. Never too little, never too much.
An instantly refreshing overcoat, Beauty Pie's mascara is designed to revive limp lashes. With a super-lightweight formula and comb-like brush this mascara lifts, pulls and curls every lash to smooth, separate and gloss lashes for maximum impact. It's like hitting the refresh button.
Best for drama:
Perfect for mascara maximalists who love a dramatic look. What’s more, it never makes lashes look spidery - just full-bodied and defined. The wand is designed so that you don't need to do anything but swipe - no need to wiggle it at the base or go in at strange angles. Plus the formula also contains growth-boosting proteins. Clever.
The best for va-va-voom:
The paddle brush features a flat area that you use to layer mascara onto the lashes. You then twist the wand so that the tiny plastic bristles comb it through each hair. There’s zero clumping, just beautifully separated, beefed up and lifted lashes from root to tip.
The one that creates the flash lash effect:
Weightless fibres in the mascara attach to each baby lash for a fanned-out effect. This is an amazing mascara for short lashes - it does all the hard work for you by adding volume where you need it most. Consider this the equivalent of mini lash extensions, minus the glue or irritation.
Best colourful mascara:
It isn't until you try a colourful mascara for yourself that you come to realise that it is so much more than just a plaything for beauty influencers on the 'Gram. Not only can they make eye colour pop, but they can also warm a complexion. This emerald hue is divine, especially when worn against clean fresh skin. The best bit? It’s an unwritten rule that colourful mascara isn’t meant to be perfect - clumps and smudges make it look even cooler. So apply willy nilly.
Best mascara for curling:
There’s something to be said for that slightly smudged, Parisian chic look - except when it’s the result of your mascara falling flat. Never going to happen with this mascara, which holds onto a curl so well you can ditch the eyelash curlers.
Best for those with sensitive eyes:
Allergy tested and great for both length and volume. With a finish that's easy on the eyes (and the lashes), it’s ideal for anyone who wears contact lenses or finds eye make-up a nightmare to navigate. No more tears.
Best for definition:
We call this a serious mascara. It knows what its role is in the make-up routine and it commands respect. It knows that you want every lash to stand to attention, so it does just that. It knows that you want to add a touch of drama to the eye (but not too much), so it does just that. It knows that you don't want to look at yourself in the mirror halfway through the day to see dark smudges on the tops of your cheeks, so it most certainly does not do that. It's serious about its responsibilities.
The best for high impact:
We couldn't have a line-up of the best on the market and not include one from Benefit. For years and years the brand has featured at the very top of the UK's bestselling mascara list, so it's not surprise they invest so much in coming up with the best wands. The Roller Lash brush features a 'hook and roll' effect that grabs and separates each lash, then curls them upwards for a lifted look.