The 10 Best Conditioning Mascaras of 2023

The Milk Makeup KUSH High Volumizing Mascara comes out on top.

In This Article

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Best Conditioning Mascaras

Credo Beauty / Amazon

Regardless of whether you have short, medium, or long lashes, there’s a very good chance that you rely on mascara to give your lashes that extra oomph. The only problem is many mascaras, while expertly formulated to lengthen, lift, and volumize, lack in the conditioning department. As a result, even a single coat of mascara can lead to lashes looking dry, clumpy, and flakey. Since that’s never the goal, we set out to find the best conditioning mascaras that will keep your lashes healthy and soft. 

To do so, we chatted with a handful of celebrity makeup artists about their must-have mascaras for volume, length, curl, and more. Ultimately, we found Milk Makeup KUSH High Volumizing Mascara to be the most nourishing thanks to its unique mix of hemp-derived cannabis seed oil and vegan beeswax that makes lashes softer and stronger.

Whether your lashes are in tip top shape or need a little TLC, ahead you’ll find the 10 best conditioning mascaras that will give you the lashes you’ve always dreamed of.

Best Overall

Milk Makeup Kush High Volumizing Mascara

4.8
MILK Makeup KUSH Volumizing Mascara

Amazon

What We Love: It has a clean formula that delivers volume, length, and definition. 

What We Don’t Love: The formula can be a bit chunky.

Milk Makeup KUSH High Volumizing Mascara is a fan-favorite among Sephora shoppers, with over 126,000 likes on the site. Sold in a sleek silver tube, the popular mascara is formulated with conditioning hemp-derived cannabis seed oil, fibers that create the appearance of a longer, fuller flutter, and vegan beeswax to ensure that the fibers stay adhered to each lash. Just a few swipes creates falsie-level lashes — and celebrity makeup artist Emily Gray, who works with Maren Morris, Lily Aldridge, and Mickey Guyton, can’t get enough of it.

“This mascara is one of my favorites on the market,” she admits, swooning over the conditioning effects of cannabis seed oil. “[It offers] high volume with a big brush that grabs every lash, and because it's so conditioning, you can keep applying layers without lashes getting dry or uncomfortable.” With rave reviews from both shoppers and professionals alike, it was easy to name this best overall. But just be sure to securely screw on the lid after each use or the formula can get a bit chunky. 

Price at time of publish: $26

Benefits: Volumizing and thickening | Shades: Blackest Black | Waterproof: No

Best Budget

Maybelline Lash Sensational Washable Mascara

Maybelline Lash Sensational Washable Mascara

Amazon

What We Love: It’s affordable and effective, offering gorgeously lengthened lashes on a budget. 

What We Don’t Love: The waterproof formula is really difficult to get off.

When over 79,000 Amazon shoppers give a product their unwavering five-star review, you know it’s good. That’s the case with Maybelline Lash Sensational Washable Mascara, which celebrity makeup artist, Jenna Kristina (who works with Megan Fox, Christina Ricci, and Zoey Deutch) recommends. “This is my favorite conditioning mascara — the formula is for length and volume but it has rose hip oil added to condition lashes,” she says. “It also won’t break the bank.” What’s more, unlike the other mascaras on this list, it’s available in multiple colors, as well as waterproof options. And while the waterproof formula can totally withstand any tear-jerking event, it can be really difficult to remove (we recommend using an oil-based remover like Sephora Collection Waterproof Eye Makeup Remover to dissolve every last trace).

Price at time of publish: $12

Benefits: Volumizing | Shades: Four | Waterproof: Yes (available in both regular and waterproof options)

Best Splurge

Pat McGrath Labs FetishEyes Mascara

4.2
Pat McGrath Labs FetishEyes Lengthening Mascara

Pat McGrath Labs

What We Love: It dramatically lengthens and defines lashes without making them look super dry. 

What We Don’t Love: The brush is really chunky, so those with hooded eyes are more likely to experience smudging.

Leave it to Queen Pat (yes, we love a Taylor Swift reference) to develop a stunning splurge-worthy conditioning mascara. Pat McGrath Labs FetishEyes Lengthening Mascara features a thickly-bristled brush that easily coats and fans out each and every lash in the conditioning, panthenol-infused formula. We love that it’s buildable, so it can be used for everyday makeup looks and more special occasions, as well. Our one strife is that some may find the brush to be a little too thick — especially if you have hooded eyes — as it can sometimes cause smudging. 

Price at time of publish: $32

Benefits: Lengthening | Shades: Black | Waterproof: No

Best Volumizing

Grande Cosmetics GrandeMASCARA Conditioning Peptide Mascara

Grande Cosmetics GrandeMASCARA Conditioning Peptide Mascara

Sephora

What We Love: It dramatically enhances lash volume and length; plus, it’s water-resistant. 

What We Don’t Love: Some shoppers report that the color pay-off is minimal.

If your goal is to rock falsie-level voluminous lashes without having to bother with magnetic liner or glue, celebrity makeup artist Alexandra French, who works with Emma Chamberlain, Krysten Ritter, and Iris Apatow, recommends Grande Cosmetics GrandeMASCARA Conditioning Peptide Mascara. Formulated with plumping and hydrating hyaluronic acid, conditioning peptides, panthenols, and natural waxes, it ensures lashes look long and full — never dry and flakey. For the best results, French says she likes to use the mascara during the day and the Grande Cosmetics GrandeLASH MD Lash Enhancing Serum at night. “GrandeLASH serum has helped my little stubby lashes grow long and voluminous,” she reveals. The only thing that’s lacking is the color payoff: It provides a more natural lash finish rather than an inky black one. 

Price at time of publish: $25

Benefits: Volumizing and lengthening | Shades: Rich Black | Waterproof: No

Best Lengthening

Glossier Lash Slick

4.5
Lash Slick

Glossier

What We Love: It lengthens and lifts lashes without flaking or smudging. 

What We Don’t Love: If you prefer the look of dramatic lashes, the end result may be too subtle for you.

Glossier Lash Slick touts thousands of four- and five-star reviews — and for good reason. The lightweight mascara lengthens and lifts lashes while imparting a touch of sleek, natural-looking color that never looks clumpy or flakes off. 

“This is a great mascara for people who are looking for serious length — its tiny fibers really build up the entire lash line,” says celebrity makeup artist Robert Sesnek, who works with Vanessa Hudgens, Sophia Bush, and Hailey Bieber. “I’m also seriously impressed with its water-resistant formula.”

Sesnek isn’t the only pro that swears by it, though. French does, too. “This is one of my favorite mascaras for no makeup makeup looks,” she says. “It doesn't smudge, it conditions your lashes, and looks so lightweight while still getting the job done! I also love that it lasts up to 12 hours without flaking or smudging, but removes easily with warm water at the end of the day."

Price at time of publish: $30

Benefits: Lengthening and lifting | Shades: Black | Waterproof: No

Best Defining

Freck Beauty LASHROCKET MASCARA with Lash Enhancing Peptides

Freck Beauty LASHROCKET MASCARA with Lash Enhancing Peptides

Sephora

What We Love: It makes lashes look longer, fuller, and more defined. 

What We Don’t Love: It smudges more easily than other picks on this list.

Hoping to avoid clumps at all costs? The Freck Beauty LASHROCKET MASCARA with Lash Enhancing Peptides is a must, French says. It’s made with conditioning and strengthening red clover extract, as well as panthenol and peptides to further hydrate and smooth each lash. The result is healthier-looking lashes with each swipe — and it’s research-backed. Based on an in-home study of 27 subjects over 56 days, 90% said LASHROCKET mascara separates and defines lashes, lasts all day, and makes lashes feel less brittle. 

That’s exactly why French is such a fan. “I love this mascara because it is a clean beauty product that is a nourishing daily use mascara and serum in one,” she says. “It helps lashes appear fuller, longer, and stronger with use.” Just be mindful about wearing this for longer periods of time because it tends to smudge after a few hours. Other than that, this formula can’t be beat. 

Price at time of publish: $26

Benefits: Defining and volumizing | Shades: Black | Waterproof: No

Best Curling

Kosas The Big Clean Volumizing + Lash Care Mascara

Kosas The Big Clean Volumizing + Lash Care Mascara

Credo Beauty

What We Love: In addition to beautifully curling lashes, the formula is gentle, making it especially great for folks with sensitive eyes. 

What We Don’t Love: It’s prone to flaking.

Over 15,000 Sephora shoppers swear by Kosas The Big Clean Longwear Volumizing + Lash Care Mascara — and so does Gray. “This mascara is both curling and fantastic for sensitive eyes,” she says. “It contains castor oil that moisturizes lashes, as well as Biotinyl Tripeptide-1, which helps support fuller hair.” In that way, this mascara isn’t only great for enhancing curl but it can be an excellent solution for anyone with sparse, thinning lashes, too. Be wary that it does tend to flake, but that minor inconvenience is worth the eye-opening results. 

Price at time of publish: $26

Benefits: Curling and thickening | Shades: Black | Waterproof: No

Best Lifting

Tower 28 Beauty MakeWaves Lengthening & Volumizing Clean Mascara

Tower 28 MakeWaves Legthening + Curling Clean Mascara

Sephora

What We Love: The unique curved wand lifts, volumizes and lengthens lashes. 

What We Don’t Love: It doesn’t do much in terms of curling.

Whether you have short or long lashes, a little lift can go a long way. Tower 28 Beauty MakeWaves Lengthening + Volumizing Mascara has an intuitive curved wand with short, firm bristles that makes lifting and defining lashes a simple feat. “It’s an amazing vegan formula for sensitive eyes that helps lashes actually stay long and lifted all day long,” French says. The results are extremely impressive for a clean formula, too: InStyle’s Commerce Editor, Mary Honkus, says it extends her lashes up to her eyebrows with minimal smudging or flaking. “It gives me the dramatic look of falsies in just a few swipes, and my lashes have actually become stronger since using it,” she says. Though it doesn’t do much to curl lashes, the lift it provides is impressive enough that you can ditch your eyelash curler when using it.

Price at time of publish: $20

Benefits: Lifting, lengthening, and volumizing | Shades: Black | Waterproof: No

Best Clean

ILIA Beauty Limitless Lash Mascara

4.8
ILIA Beauty Limitless Lash Mascara

Derm Store

What We Love: It’s a clean, effective formula that beautifully defines lashes. 

What We Don’t Love: It doesn’t do much in terms of length.

Whoever said clean mascara formulas can’t perform clearly has never tried ILIA Limitless Lash Lengthening Clean Mascara. “I love this for both its clean formula, and its ability to curl and add volume,” Sesnek says, noting that it’s especially great for folks with sensitive eyes. “The formula also is ultra pigmented, so it adds incredible definition to your lashes.” Be aware that it won’t extend your lashes to your brows, but the end result looks like a natural looking pair of falsies.

Price at time of publish: $28

Benefits: Curling, defining, and volumizing | Shades: After Midnight | Waterproof: No

Best Everyday

Perricone MD No Makeup Mascara

Perricone MD No Makeup Mascara

Perricone MD

What We Love: It gives lashes a kiss of conditioning color that’s perfect for everyday wear. 

What We Don’t Love: It’s not ideal for dramatically enhancing lashes.

If your goal is simply to look awake and refreshed, Perricone MD No Makeup Mascara is the perfect formula to have on hand. “I love this formula for someone who already considers themselves to have decent or fuller lashes that would like lift, extra conditioning, and a treatment in one,” Sesnek says. “This will give the appearance of thicker, curled, and lifted lashes.” Infused with biotin and avocado oil to strengthen and soften, the soft black formula doesn’t look overpowering on those with blonde lashes either (which is a difficult feat).

Price at time of publish: $20

Benefits: Volumizes, thickens, and lifts | Shades: Black | Waterproof: No

What to Keep in Mind

Benefits

Remember: Not all mascaras are created equally. Where some focus on one primary goal — like lifting, volumizing, or lengthening — others take an all-in one approach. If you already have long lashes, you may want to focus on volumizing and lifting (Tower Beauty MakeWaves Lengthening + Volumizing Mascara does both); if you have short, full lashes, lifting and lengthening may be best (Glossier Lash Slick is top tier when it comes to lengthening). 

Shades

Many mascaras are only sold in a single shade. That said, if you know that you don’t like black mascara, it’s best to only try products with various shades because you don’t want to fall in love with a formula only to hate the shade range. Maybelline Lash Sensational Washable Mascara comes in four shades, ranging from blackest black to a more natural-looking brownish-black. 

Waterproof

Are you a crier? Or perhaps your eyes just water a lot? Better yet, maybe you like to workout with beautifully defined lashes. Whatever the case may be, a waterproof formula will ensure your lashes stay looking their best. The only problem is, many waterproof formulas are known to be more drying, as they strongly adhere to each lash, sucking away moisture in the process. That said, there are some waterproof formulas that simultaneously condition, like Maybelline Lash Sensational Washable Mascara.

Your Questions, Answered

What does conditioning mascara do?

As the name implies, conditioning mascara conditions lashes. “Your eyelashes are hair, so you want to treat them with the same respect you treat the hair on your head,” Kristina says. “Using makeup frequently can dry lashes out so using products that help to soften and support them is imperative.” Key ingredients to look for in conditioning mascaras include castor oil, avocado oil, panthenol, and biotin, as they help to soften and strengthen the hairs. 

How do you use conditioning mascara?

Just like regular mascara! “Take the brush out of the tube, dab off any excess product, and wiggle the mascara wand at the base of the lashes,” Gray says. “Work your way up to the top, and repeat for extra volume and length until you reach your desired lash.”

One thing to note: Since conditioning mascaras are known for being more hydrating, that can take a little bit longer to dry, Gray says. As such, it’s always a good idea to coat your lower lashes before your upper lashes to prevent accidentally smearing wet product onto your upper eyelid.

Why Shop With Us

Rebecca Norris has covered beauty for over eight years. For this story, she spoke with celebrity makeup artists Jenna Kristina, Alexandra French, Robert Sesnek, and Emily Gray to determine what makes a comfortable and effective conditioning mascara of the utmost quality. With their expert recommendations in tow, she presents the best conditioning mascaras.

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