Musicians have the Grammies and actors have the Oscars. For beauty products, earning a spot in InStyle’s coveted beauty awards is the industry pinnacle. With over 100 winners in 2016, these contenders are carefully chosen and vetted by the industry’s top experts—dermatologists, hair stylists, makeup artists, and manicurists. With a process that takes over six months, we begin sending out super detailed (and long!) surveys in October and then tally up the results. As our beauty closet begins to fill up, we interview our pros to find out why they really love these products and why they deserve some real estate in your makeup bag. When it comes to mascara, not all wands are created equal. According to our industry panel, the following three formulas coated lashes better than the rest.
1. Best Overall Mascara
Do you want subtle, everyday definition for your fringe? Then don't look here—this tube brings loads of drama. It's the closest you'll get to falsies without adhesive thanks to a gel-like, vitamin B--spiked volumizing formula. There’s also magic in the wand itself, says makeup artist Grayson. First, use the flat side of the brush to deliver ink right into the roots, says celebrity makeup artist Bruce Grayson, then twirl on over to the rounded side "to comb through hairs for optimal separation at the tips." And while some mascaras crumble and flake, this formula stays smudge resistant even after hours of wear.
Try this editor trick for getting the most out of your formula. After curling lashes, nestle the wand at the root of your lashes and wiggle the wand all the way to the tips. The motion will allow the bristles to deposit the perfect dose of product for an extra thick fringe.
Lancôme Hypnôse Custom Volume Mascara.
Lancome | $28
2. Best Inexpensive Mascara
"I have tried so many mascaras, and I always go back to this one," says NYC-based celebrity hair and makeup artist Megan Lanoux. The formula "lengthens and thickens your lashes without ever clumping." And if you like to pile it on, don't worry, "so many mascaras can be goopy or wet and they’re heavy on the lashes. But this is the perfect formula, one coat is great, two coats or three are amazing," says pro Elaine Offers. "You can build this and it won't get clumpy," says L.A. celebrity makeup artist Kirin Bhatty. Also to note, the carbon black shade is particularly impressive, says Ashleigh Louer: "It's so dark and pigmented that it produces the most dramatic effect on every eye color." Pro Terry Apanasewicz agrees, "it delivers the most intense black ever."
Better yet, this drugstore classic is more affordable than many other best-selling mascaras, which makes replacing your tube every three months a lot more wallet friendly. Makeup artists say the staying power is incomparable, outlasting cry fests, sweat sessions, and laps in the pool. We've also been told that Sir John, a.k.a. Beyonce's go to makeup artist, uses this on the star to get her lashes to spotlight status.
L'Oréal Voluminous Original Mascara.
L'Oreal Paris | $6
3. Best Waterproof Mascara
Whether you're a bride to be or a champion swimmer, finding the right waterproof mascara can be tough. Makeup artists say that the staying power of this highly-pigmented mascara is incomparable, outlasting cry fests, sweat sessions, and laps in the pool. Not to mention, it's red carpet worthy: "This is just so black, it’s really pigmented—it’s a great replacement for those pricier formulas,” says Louer. “It really gives a dramatic lash effect. I like to use this on the red carpet because it won’t budge proof, it’s tear and sweat proof. You won’t have to worry about it.” Pro Megan Lanoux also counts this as a staple, "the waterproof version really can last through water, tears and sweat."
And while some versions can leave lashes too brittle or stiff over time, this pro-approved formula stays put but keeps lashes flexible with the addition of conditioning agents like panthenol and ceramides. We also love that removing this formula isn't a pain to remove, especially if you've just spent countless hours at a wedding.
L'Oreal Paris Waterproof Carbon Black Mascara.
L'Oreal Paris | $6