Out of 34 Tested, These 10 Mascaras Are the Best for Long, Volumized Lashes

CoverGirl Exhibitionist Uncensored Mascara gives extensions a run for their money.

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Tested Best Mascaras

Amazon

If I could only use one makeup product for the rest of my life, it would be mascara. I can have no other makeup on, but a simple swipe instantly opens my eyes, making me look more youthful and awake. With how often I — and pretty much every other makeup wearing person uses it — it makes sense to invest in a tube that truly delivers in length, volume, and staying power. Everyday there seems to be a new mascara on the market, though, giving me FOMO over whether I’m truly using the best one. 

So we decided to find the best mascaras out there by recruiting 21 volunteers to test 34 popular formulas. Every product received a score on the ease of use, wear, performance, overall look, and removal process. CoverGirl Exhibitionist Uncensored Mascara impressed our testers with its ability to add lift, curl, and volume at an incredible price, earning a perfect score and the spot for Best Overall.

So forget the eyelash extensions and falsies. Whether you want to add length, volume, curl, or all three, here are the best mascaras.

Best Overall: COVERGIRL Exhibitionist Uncensored Mascara

5
COVERGIRL Exhibitionist Uncensored Mascara

Ulta

What We Like: This mascara lifts, curls, and lengthens without breaking the bank.

What We Don’t Like: Nothing.

If you want a mascara that can do it all, go for CoverGirl’s Exhibitionist Uncensored Mascara. Our tester loves the shape of the brush, which delivers both volume and length. “The mascara gave my lashes lift, curl, and plenty of volume,” she says. Despite the chubby bristles, the tester found it easy to apply to her top and bottom lashes without experiencing any clumping or fallout. Enriched with coconut and jojoba oils, the formula also makes your lashes feel nourished and comfortable. “The mascara didn't feel crunchy at all, even after wearing it for hours,” says our tester. “It didn’t smudge, flake or transfer at all onto my skin.” When it came to taking it off, the mascara was easily removed with a makeup wipe, too. Coming in both black and brown at an unbeatable price, this tube completely wowed us and earned the top spot as our new go-to mascara. 

Benefits: Volume, Length, Curl | Shades: Black, Black Brown, Extreme Black | Waterproof: No

Best Splurge: Charlotte Tilbury Pillow Talk Push Up Lashes Mascara

4.8
charlotte tilbury pillowtalk mascara

Courtesy of Charlotte Tilbury 

What We Like: The special wand reaches every lash (even the short ones near the corners) for the most fringe benefits.

What We Don’t Like: There’s a bit of a learning curve with the unique wand.

There’s a reason why Britney Spears wore this mascara on her wedding day — the unique wand and formula create the most romantic, fluttery lashes ever. The mascara’s dual-sided brush lets you load product onto your lashes then seamlessly combs it through, even in the inner corners of your eyes. The application can take some time to get used to, but once you get the hang of it, the results are worth it. “My lashes look so long and dark, while still appearing wispy,” says our tester. “They curve up beautifully, which I haven't noticed on my straight lashes before. My innermost lashes have never looked so long.” With special waxes, the formula adds thickness and all-day hold. “Every other mascara I’ve used smudges on my eyelid after a few minutes of wear,” our tester adds. “This product didn’t clump or smudge on my face at all.”

Benefits: Volume, Length | Shades: Black, Brown | Waterproof: No

Best Value: COVERGIRL Lash Blast Volume Mascara

5
COVERGIRL Lash Blast Volume Mascara

Amazon

What We Like: This drugstore favorite creates soft, clump-free volume.

What We Don’t Like: The formula has a strong scent.

CoverGirl made headlines when it first released LashBlast years ago, and the product is still going strong. What makes it special is the fat brush filled with short bristles that promise dramatic volume with no clumps. “This mascara did not clump at all and I was able to apply more than one coat easily,” says our tester. “It coated each lash evenly and added volume on both my upper and lower lashes.” The hypoallergenic formula has a stronger scent than our tester liked, yet she was pleased at how quickly it dried and how her lashes still felt soft to the touch. Even while touching her lashes, the mascara didn’t smudge or flake. As the brand says, it’s an easy, breezy product that does exactly what it promises.

Benefits: Volume, Definition | Shades: Black, Brown | Waterproof: No

Best Volumizing: IT Cosmetics Lash Blowout Volumizing Mascara

4.8
IT Cosmetics Lash Blowout Volumizing Mascara

Ulta

What We Like: This volumizing formula will make others think you’re wearing falsies.

What We Don’t Like: The tube is a bit bulky and hard to hold.

As Shannon M. Bauer, Senior Commerce Beauty Editor at InStyle, puts it, if a mascara doesn’t make someone do a double take and wonder if your lashes are fake, we don’t want it. Thankfully, this mascara from IT Cosmetics understood the assignment. “​​​​I love how thick and long this made my lashes look with just a few swipes,” says Bauer. Inspired by the technology behind Drybar brushes, the wand has microspheres to catch all your lashes for ultimate volume and definition. The black shade is highly pigmented for a dramatic look and features biotin for extra nourishment. While some volumizing mascaras involve a messy application, this one isn’t too wet or goopy, creating no smudges on the top or bottom lashes. Though we have to give props to the on-theme packaging — the tube resembles a Drybar hair brush — Bauer found it a bit bulky and cumbersome in her hands. 

Benefits: Volume | Shades: Black | Waterproof: No

Best Lengthening: Uoma Beauty Drama Bomb Extreme Volume Nourishing Mascara

4.8
Uoma Beauty Drama Bomb Extreme Volume Nourishing Mascara

Uoma

What We Like: You get endless eyelashes with this vegan, water-resistant formula.

What We Don’t Like: We wish it came in more shades than just black.

While this product has volume in the name, our tester was blown away by how much length it gave her lashes. “The mascara extended my eyelashes and made them long and thin,” they say. “It makes the lashes appear elongated and individualized, creating a youthful look around the eye.” The long wand makes it easy to reach all angles while the hourglass shape of the bristles fans out long and short lashes alike. The vegan formula is packed with nourishing oils and since it’s water-resistant, rather than waterproof, it fends off water to a point while still easily coming off with makeup remover. With all the compliments our tester received, she’s saving it for special occasions. “The product provided the drama it promises,” she says. “It creates extreme volume, and I would highly recommend it.”

Benefits: Length, Volume | Shades: Black | Waterproof: No

Best for Curl: Benefit Cosmetics They're Real! Lengthening Mascara

4.8
Benefit They're Real! Lengthening & Volumizing Mascara

Nordstrom

What We Like: The dome shaped brush helps curl all your lashes.

What We Don’t Like: The jet black shade may be too dramatic for some hair colors.

When it comes to finding a mascara that curls your lashes, celebrity makeup artist Brittany Whitfield recommends a brush with a rounded tip, like this one from Benefit. “The tip of this brush was helpful in grabbing the corner lashes as well as the lower lashes,” says our tester. The brand recommends you use the special brush to apply the product both horizontally and vertically for the most curl and lift. “It gave my lashes amazing length and curl which opened my eyes and made them look larger,” our tester says. Since the goal is to get your lashes to touch your eyebrows, you want a formula that doesn’t smudge, and this one kept our tester’s eyelids clear and flake-free. While she loves the drama of the jet black shade, it might be too dark for lighter hair and lashes.

Benefits: Curl | Shades: Jet Black | Waterproof: No

Best Clean: ILIA Beauty Limitless Lash Mascara

4.8
ILIA Limitless Lash Mascara

Courtesy of ILIA Beauty

What We Like: This clean formula is gentle enough for sensitive eyes.

What We Don’t Like: It can smudge a little during application.

Red, watery eyes are the last thing you want after applying makeup, right? Well, this clean formula is ophthalmologist-tested and won’t irritate even the most sensitive eyes. “My eyes tend to get irritated easily, so I am very cautious about what I use on and around them,” writes senior commerce writer Eva Thomas. “Other mascaras have caused my eyes to burn and water, but Ilia's almost feels like I'm not wearing anything on my lashes at all.”

The gentle formula contains shea butter, keratin, and beeswax to naturally nourish and lift your lashes. Another standout feature is the two-sided brush — the short bristles curl while the longer ones do the lifting. “I love how full and dark my lashes looked,” says our tester. “It has great pigment.” Flake-free and easy to remove, it gives you all the drama — it’s no wonder Melanie Simon, Jennifer Aniston's facialist, once said this mascara is "almost as good as lash extensions."

Benefits: Length | Shades: Black | Waterproof: No

Best 2-in-1: Honest Beauty Extreme Length Mascara + Lash Primer

4.9
honest 2-in-1

Honest Beauty

What We Like: The built-in primer adds extra volume and staying power.

What We Don’t Like: We wish the wand for the primer was longer.

Lash primer is the secret to achieving thick, full lashes, but many people skip it since, well, it’s another product in your already long beauty routine. But with this 2-in-1 primer, you never have to miss this step. Thanks to clear instructions on the packaging, our tester found this two-step product easy to use, though she wishes the primer wand was longer for easier maneuvering. The mascara has a thin brush with many rubber bristles, which Whitfield says helps grab onto every lash. “It made my lashes look much darker, creating a thicker look,” says our tester. “There was no clumping and it still didn’t look too dramatic compared to my natural lashes.” As promised, the primer ensures that you don’t experience any flaking or smudging yet it’s still a breeze to take off. If you’re worried how your eyes may react to the primer, rest assured the formula is EWG verified (meaning it leaves out a lot of chemicals) and has jojoba esters to moisturize your lashes.

Benefits: Length, Volume | Shades: Black | Waterproof: No

Best for Everyday: Too Faced Better Than Sex Mascara

5
Two Faced Better Than Sex Mascara

Ulta

What We Like: This iconic mascara gives you subtle drama.

What We Don’t Like: It only comes in black.

More than just a catchy name, this mascara consistently ranks as the number one selling mascara in the U.S. The hype all starts with the cheeky packaging and brush. This was so easy to apply, and I love the hourglass brush,” says our tester. “It separated my eyelashes and combed through them without clumping.” Coming in an intense black, the formula thickens, lengthens, and curls your lashes while still being subtle enough for daily wear. “It made my lashes thicker and multidimensional, and it emphasizes my natural lashes without being too dramatic,” our tester adds. Plus, it didn’t flake or smudge, and easily came off with micellar water. Maybe the brand’s claim really is true? (Spoiler: We think it is).

Benefits: Length, Volume | Shades: Black | Waterproof: No

Best Tubing: Tarte Tartelette Tubing Mascara

5
Tarte Tartelette Tubing Mascara

Sephora

What We Like: The tubing technology keeps clumps and smudges at bay.

What We Don’t Like: It doesn’t create much volume.

Unlike traditional mascaras, tubing formulas wrap around each individual lash, creating extreme length, volume, and curl. "A tubed formula is also pretty smudge-proof, since it seals a rubber-like tube around each individual lash — almost like a rain coat,” New York makeup artist Neil Scibelli previously told InStyle. Yet the tubes slide right off when removing them at night for less rubbing and pain.

Our tester found that the wand had a nice weight to it, giving her control during the application. The thin brush and fine bristles caught every lash for clump-free separation, too. Though the vegan formula could have created more volume, our tester thought it did wonders for length. “I have straight, light lashes and this lengthened them and made them look naturally long and dark,” they say. “I think this is a great everyday mascara that can be thrown on quickly without worrying about clumping.”

Benefits: Length | Shades: Black | Waterproof: No

Related: The Best Tubing Mascaras

Our Testing Process

We compiled 34 promising products based on expert recommendations, reviews, and our own experience. We then sent 21 testers with different lash lengths to try them in our testing lab. Our testers applied the mascaras like usual, rating the products on a scale of 1 to 5 in terms of ease of use, staying power, performance, and overall look. Then our testers removed the mascara with micellar water to see how easy the formulas came off. After compiling the scores, we calculated the highest rated products and assigned them categories for the best mascaras of 2022.

What to Keep in Mind

Wand

Mascara wands come in all shapes and sizes, and this factor really affects the results. Whitfield recommends different brush shapes depending on whether you want more length, volume, or curl:

For Lengthening: Thin wands that have lots of rubberized bristles (like Honest Beauty Extreme Length 2-in-1 Mascara and Lash Primer) help with combing each individual hair without clumping. This is ideal for people that already have a lot of volume at the base. 

For Volume: The bigger the wand, the bigger the drama! These are great for folks with sparse hairs because it adds additional product to create the illusion of thicker strands. This is not ideal for people with lots of volume at the base because that excess product will just excuse itself under your eyes and clump your already full hairs. The thick, volumizing brush on CoverGirl Exhibitionist Uncensored Mascara is just one of the reasons it claimed our Best Overall spot

For Curling: This is always debatable, but I've found that curved wands are helpful with curling. I also love the rounded mascaras tips, (like the one on Benefit Cosmetics They're Real! Lengthening Mascara) — they are excellent with curling since the wand lets you easily get all the angles. 

Shade

While black is the go-to shade, brown can be an ideal match for those with really fair skin and light hair like blonde or red. A lighter brown shade tends to look more natural, and can make blue and green eyes really pop. Out of all the winners on our list, Charlotte Tilbury Pillow Talk Lashes Volumizing & Lengthening Mascara has the most rich, natural looking brown shade. You can also experiment with jewel-toned mascaras to further play up your eye color and makeup look. 

Formula


Selecting a formula comes down to what’s important to you. Besides benefits like volume or length, you can choose between clean and vegan formulas (like Ilia Limitless Lash Lengthening Mascara), those with nourishing oils (our favorite is UOMA Drama Bomb Extreme Volume Nourishing Mascara), and/or tubing technology that offers more water-resistance (like Tarte Tartelette™ Tubing Mascara). 

Your Questions, Answered

What’s the best way to apply mascara?

Working with celebrities like Ed Sheeran, Paris Jackson, Queen Latifah, and Jesse Williams, Whitfield has a trick or two when it comes to applying mascara. 

 “I love to coat both the top and bottom of the lashes by curling and combing the lash out from above before wiggling [the mascara wand] upward from the root,” says Whitfield. “This evenly distributes the product to keep the lash from looking heavy and less curled. You will also have less product transfering onto your under eye skin as the mascara is not solely underneath the lash.”

 For extra thickness, Whitfield shares the old Hollywood trick of applying loose powder in between coats. “My advice would be to do this with a lengthening mascara since it isolates every lash to minimize the product clotting on the eyes,” she says. “With some help from the loose powder, you’ll have a full, lengthy lash that won't clump and is less likely to wear off because it's adhering to the powdered coats.”

What’s the best way to remove mascara?

No one wants to spend minutes rubbing their eyes, fighting to remove mascara. With Whitfield’s method you can remove even the most stubborn formula. “I like to take a cotton round and drench it in warm/hot water, pressing the access in the palms of my hands, and then place it over one eyelid at a time for about 15 seconds before wiping it away,” says Whitfield. “This softens and weakens the formula before removing it with makeup remover.”

How often should I replace my mascara?


Depending on how often you use it, you should replace your mascara every three to six months. A good rule of thumb is that if you notice a change in the consistency or smell of the product, it’s time to toss it out.

What is InStyle Picks?

Did you notice the InStyle Picks seal of approval at the top of this story? That means our team of testers has reviewed every product on this list using a unique methodology to ensure it’s really worth your time, money, and attention. We may get samples for free to try but we never promise positive (or any!) coverage in exchange. Put simply: InStyle Picks are products we love, and we’ve put them to the test to be sure you will too. 


Want more product recommendations? From best-in-class concealer to the black pants you need for work, check out all of our InStyle Picks content

Why Trust InStyle?


Emily Cieslak is an assistant commerce editor for InStyle, covering everything from the best makeup products to the latest fashion trends. Mascara is the only makeup product she uses daily, and she has tried every tube from department stores to drugstores. 


For this article, Cieslak interviewed makeup artist Brittany Whitfield who creates looks for celebrities like Ed Sheeran, Paris Jackson, Queen Latifah, and Jesse Williams. Then she looked at the results from 21 testers trying out 34 different mascaras to find the best products for different lashes and desired looks. Each mascara was tested in our lab and rated on a scale of 1 to 5 in comprehensive categories. 

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