Laugh, cry, or go swimming — we had an expert weigh in on the mascaras that simply won’t run.

By Laura Reilly
Updated Oct 21, 2019 @ 5:30 pm
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Credit: Liliya Rodnikova/Stocksy

Live. Love. Laugh. Cry. Sweat. Go swimming under a waterfall during a monsoon. Sometimes life just seems like one big water balloon designed to wreck our perfectly done eye makeup. Luckily, there are plenty of ways we can adapt our makeup routines to make them more resilient to all types of moisture.

One of the most important tools, naturally, is waterproof mascara. Waterproof or water-resistant eye products get a bad rap for being sticky, clumpy, or impossible to remove — but that’s not always the case. A good waterproof formula can be just as elegant as, if not better than, your everyday volumizing mascara.

To help you find the best product, we spoke with celebrity makeup artist Morgan Leigh about her top sweat-proof, smudge-proof, and clump-free mascaras for every need and activity. See her picks below and scroll down to read more about why each made the list.

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Best for Sensitive Eyes: CoverGirl LashBlast Volume Mascara Very Black

You’ve likely come across this recognizable orange tube at some point in your life, whether at a friends house or in your own makeup kit, and that’s because its gentle formula is both effective and truly suitable for even the most sensitive eyes. “I swear by CoverGirl LashBlast in Very Black,” says Leigh. “The consistency isn’t too loose, so it doesn’t fall into your eyes when applying like many other mascaras. And it stays in perfect place all day and night.”

Shop now: $5;

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Best Drugstore Option: L’Oreal Paris Voluminous Lash Paradise Waterproof Mascara

This beauty community favorite is touted on message boards and gushed about in reviews across the internet. Both volumizing and lengthening, fans claim this affordable option simply doesn’t budge. But more than that, its wear-all-day formula is easily removed with just a swipe of coconut oil and a cotton round. “L’Oreal Voluminous is my go-to on set and the waterproof option is just as trusty,” says Leigh. “Your lashes will look wide and defined.”

Shop now: $17 (for 2-pack);

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Best Curling and Lengthening Option: Chanel Le Volume de Chanel

“A bit more expensive, but so luxurious,” says Leigh. “And defined lashes that will last!” Compared to drugstore options, $32 might seem like a steep hike for a single tube of mascara. But users (and Leigh, of course) swear by this product’s ability to extend the lashes in all directions while combing them upward for an even more open-eyed look.

Shop now: $32;

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Best Hypoallergenic Option: Almay Extreme Length Waterproof Mascara

This drugstore waterproof mascara is ophthalmologist and dermatologist tested, and is completely hypoallergenic. Furthermore, it’s formulated to strengthen lashes with continued wear, so you can expect all-day-long staying power and lashes that feel great.

Shop now: $5 (Originally $8);

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Best for Swimming: Maybelline New York Makeup Volum' Express The Falsies Waterproof Mascara

Lap pool regulars, take note: “The first waterproof mascara that I loved,” says Leigh. “Swimming, crying — you’re in the clear. It won’t move a bit!”

Amazon reviewers agree that this product is perfect for the pool. “This mascara redefines waterproof, in that it is impossible to remove,” writes one buyer. “Usually when I work, I'm a swim teacher, I embrace the raccoon eyes and swim without removing my makeup. No matter if my mascara is waterproof or not, it washes off after 5 hours of swimming. This does not. Not at all.”

Shop now: $14 (for 2-pack);

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Best for Contact Lens-Wearers: Glossier Lash Slick

“Glossier Lash Slick defines your lashes very quickly without having to keep your eyes open while you make ‘mascara face’ in front of the mirror,” Leigh says. The quick setting time prevents your eyes from drying out, and Lash Slick’s ‘tubular’ technology — meaning it coats and extends lashes by creating a solid shell around them, rather than by depositing liquid pigment — means no more racoon eyes.

Shop now: $16;

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Best Waterproof Mascara Remover: Lancôme Bi-Facil Double-Action Eye Makeup Remover

Leigh recommends this award-winning makeup remover for taking off waterproof mascara. “Lancôme Bi-Facil Eye Makeup Remover is my favorite. I like to wet a cotton pad and hold it on my eyes for a few seconds to really loosen up the product.” Plus, this makeup remover also works on face and lip products.

Shop now: $30;