Going on a trip? Don't leave home without one of the 6 best travel mascaras

The space-saving formulas to know

a picture of some of the best travel mascaras, including bobbi brown, ilia, benefit, mac
(Image credit: Lucy Abbersteen)

We all have different requirements for the best mascara  - lengthening, volume or maybe even one that's developed for sensitive eyes - but how often do you think about the size? Packing the same lash-enhancing benefits into a smaller tube, the best travel mascaras can save you a few precious square centimetres in your make-up bag or carry-on suitcase. Not only that, but some beauty experts think that they have the edge over full-sized ones in some areas. 

I've always been a fan of a smaller mascara - it doesn't dry out as quickly as a full-sized tube - which must be down to there being less space to pump air back into the tube. And there's something in it: makeup artist Edward Cruz told Allure back in 2016 that he actually prefers using travel mascara because the wand itself is shorter, but the actual brush or comb is the same size as the original size. I agree, as I find that it allows for better control.

There’s also another, more practical aspect to mini mascara - it allows you to trial and test new formulas and wands before properly committing. 

So for those in the market for a travel mascara, I’ve tried a fair few in my time as a beauty editor (as well many of them that also happen to come in a mini size), consider this an edit of the best.

The best travel mascaras, according to a beauty editor

1. Bobbi Brown Mini Smokey Eye Mascara

Bobbi Brown Smokey Eye Mascara

(Image credit: Bobbi Brown)

Bobbi Brown Mini Smokey Eye Mascara

Best all-rounder


Shade: Black

You could argue that this beauty icon needs no introduction and, for a long, long time it was my go-to mascara. Nothing I tried could truly beat it. I’ve branched out a bit in the past few years, but this will always have a place in my heart as a trusty formula for a great amount of added length and volume with absolutely no clumping whatsoever. It is pricey for a mini, but I don’t think I’ve known anybody to try it and not like it. 

2. Benefit Cosmetics They're Real Mini Mascara

Benefit They're Real! Mini Mascara

(Image credit: Benefit)

Benefit Cosmetics They're Real Mini Mascara

Best for natural-looking lashes


Shad: Jet Black

Most Benefit mascaras also come in miniature form so, to be honest, it was tricky for me to decide an overall best. While I’m partial to a Roller Lash and like Fan Fest, I’ve gone for the classic They’re Real! because it’s a great all-rounder and never lets me down. It’s a good balance of length, lift and volume and gives your lashes a nice “stand-out” effect without being too “dramatic”. 

3. Rare Beauty Perfect Strokes Volumising Mascara Mini

Rare Beauty Perfect Strokes Mini Mascara

(Image credit: Rare Beauty)

Rare Beauty Perfect Strokes Volumising Mascara Mini

Best for volume


Shade: Black

The celebrity beauty brand space is incredibly saturated, but let me save my thoughts on that for another time. The reason I mention this, though, is because Selena Gomez’s Rare Beauty is an example of doing this so, so well. All of the products perform brilliantly and make sense (you can read more about them in MC’s guide to the best Rare Beauty products). Perfect Strokes Mascara is one of my favourites for getting just the right amount of volume, without clumping, while still building length brilliantly. 

4. Lancôme Lash Idôle Mini Mascara 

Lancôme Lash Idôle Mini Mascara

(Image credit: Lancôme)

Lancôme Lash Idôle Mini Mascara

Best for fanned lashes


Shade: Black

Lancôme mascara is another buy that’s very iconic; most people who are familiar with the range have a favourite and mine is Lash Idôle. The angled brush is helpful for getting right into the roots of your lashes and lifting the ones at the outer corners of your eyes—and, fortunately enough, it’s another one that comes in miniature form.

5. MAC MACStack Mini Mascara

MAC MACStack Mascara Mini

(Image credit: MAC)

MAC MACStack Mini Mascara

Best mascara for a party


Shade: Black

This is MAC’s “endlessly buildable” mascara, which since its launch a few years ago has also been released in both waterproof and mini versions. True to its word, you can really layer this one on. As somebody who prefers a lengthening mascara over volume, I’d say it definitely lends itself well to the latter, but it’s great for adding a nice bit of drama and intensity to your look.

6. ILIA Fullest Volumising Mini Mascara

ILIA Fullest Volumising Mini Mascara

(Image credit: ILIA)

ILIA Fullest Volumising Mini Mascara

Best for fluttery lashes


RRP: £14

Though it’s not been in the UK all that long, ILIA Beauty has consistently impressed me (the complexion products are gorgeous and some of the best). In a truly teeny tube, Fullest Volumising Mascara is one of two mini mascaras available from the brand and has a very fluffy brush head, so it creates more of a fluttery voluminous lash look than super spidery and high-impact. Great for when you’re tight for space and you need a mascara to take up as little room as possible. 

How we tested the best travel mascara

When writing my reviews of the above buys, I tested some mini mascaras as well as basing my reviews on the full-size editions. I based my assessment of each one featured in this guide based on the following factors (and you can read more about how we test products at Marie Claire in our dedicated guide.)

  • Price
  • Packaging
  • Shape and size of mascara wand
  • Ease of application
  • How well it lengthens, volumises and curls in line with its claims
  • How well it wears through the day
Lucy Abbersteen
Beauty Contributor

Lucy is a freelance beauty editor and contributor at Marie Claire, and has written for titles including Glamour, Refinery29, Popsugar, woman&home and more. She was previously Marie Claire’s junior beauty editor. During her career, she’s covered everything from backstage beauty at fashion week to interviews with famous faces like Drag Race royalty and Little Mix. As for her beauty ethos, she’s a big advocate for not having to spend a fortune on beauty products to get good results, and when she’s not got beauty on the brain you’ll find her reading or hanging out with dogs.