I tried 25 mascaras: Shop my picks for volume, waterproof, tubing and more

I tried mascaras from brands like Clinique, REFY, Rare Beauty and more.

February 28, 2024, 4:08 AM
I tried 25 mascaras
I tried 25 mascaras
ABC News Photo Illustration

With so many mascaras on the market, which one is right for you?

I decided to try multiple mascaras in various colors from different brands, at different price points.

I tried mascaras from the following brands: Caliray, Clinique, CoverGirl, Flower Beauty, Glossier, Jason Wu, L'Oréal, Maybelline, Polite Society, REFY, Rare Beauty, Revlon, Rituel de Fille, Rose Inc, Saie, Tom Ford, Yves Saint Laurent, Anastasia Beverly Hills, Ere Perez, Ilia, Idun and Dior.

For example, I tried REFY's new Lash Sculpt Lengthen and Lift Mascara with a curved applicator (this just launched at Sephora!), Caliray's Come Hell or High Water tubing mascara, a burgundy mascara from L'Oréal and much more. Some aimed to curl the lashes, others to lengthen or volumize, and there were some waterproof options too.

Though I'm used to switching up my mascaras, this testing process further reiterated my belief that there isn't just one mascara for everyone. Sometimes, I want a buildable mascara for a bolder look, like a formal nighttime event. And that may not be the same mascara I use every day -- for that, I prefer a one-and-done mascara that gives a natural, fluffy look.

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If you, too, are shopping for mascaras, here are the ones to try. For consistency purposes, I curled my eyelashes with my well-loved Shiseido eyelash curler before applying any mascara (side note: I think curling your lashes first is the key to getting the most out of your mascara -- so don't skip that step!).

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If you're looking for a tubing mascara

If you're looking for a tubing mascara, try Caliray's Come Hell or High Water Tubing Mascara. This long-wearing, curling, volumizing and lengthening mascara is water-resistant but easy to remove. In fact, removing this mascara was one of the things that I loved most about it: The mascara creates a tubing effect on your lashes and those tubes slide off with ease while cleansing.

I wore this black mascara for 12 hours and noted that my eyelashes didn't droop and the mascara didn't smudge. I also love that this mascara is part of Sephora's "Clean and Planet Positive" program and that it has 2% argan oil in its ingredients to help condition your lashes.

Sephora

caliray Come Hell or High Water Volumizing & Lengthening Tubing Mascara

  • $24
  • Sephora

If you're looking for a sculpting mascara

If you're looking for a sculpting mascara, try REFY's brand-new Lash Sculpt Lengthen and Lift Mascara. Quite frankly, I'm so excited about this launch. I don't normally love "comb-like" applicators but this one proved me wrong. The curved applicator fit comfortably against the curvature of my eyelid and gripped onto my eyelashes to lengthen without clumping. It felt like I was combing my lashes, separating each and sculpting them without any excess product.

For those familiar with REFY's Brow Sculpt, this mascara "contains a duo of waxes" that are also in that product.

This will become one of my go-to daily black mascaras.

Sephora

REFY Lash Sculpt Lengthen and Lift Mascara

  • $26
  • Sephora

If you're looking for mascara with color

Admittedly, I've hardly ever opted for a mascara in anything but black. I can probably count on one hand the number of times I wore anything different. However, L'Oréal's Voluminous Original Washable Mascara in Deep Burgundy has completely changed my mind. This is probably the mascara I've worn the most since starting this project.

If you're afraid to try it, trust me: Just do it. The burgundy tones are subtle and give a natural look without sacrificing impact. Think brown mascara with a kick.

L'Oréal boasts that this mascara will give you 5x more volume, thickening and building your lashes evenly. I found this easy to apply and it didn't clump with two coats. My lashes look fluffy and natural when I wear it and it's one I grab for both daytime and nighttime looks.

This mascara is also available in colors like blue and green at Ulta.

Ulta

L'Oréal Voluminous Original Washable Mascara

  • $10.99
  • Ulta

If you're looking for a day-to-night mascara

When we think of day-to-night dressing, we often think of the pieces in our wardrobes that we can transition from a morning activity to a nighttime one, like going from the office to a dinner date. But we shouldn't forget about our beauty products in that equation: sometimes they are the trick to transforming your look.

I think the key to finding a day-to-night mascara is to find one that's buildable. One coat could be enough for a natural daytime look, and then you can layer the product for a bolder look.

For this category, I can't pick just one mascara: I was pleasantly surprised by a couple.

To start, try Rituel de Fille's Levitation Lash Mascara in the shade Midnight Black. This clean, vegan, fragrance-free product can be found at Credo and Revolve, among other retailers. Credo calls it "mascara magic" on its website for its ability to lift, length, define, curl, volumize and nourish your lashes. It has vitamin E-rich argan and castor oils, and its applicator has a narrow tip so you can target your lashes. I particularly like using the applicator to add a little extra mascara and length to my outer lashes, especially when I pair it with winged eyeliner.

After I applied the first coat, I thought that would be all I wanted. But after adding a second coat I "took back" my opinion -- I love how this layered. There was no clumping, it still felt weightless and natural but with a little added drama. So, I'd wear this either way: Keep it simple with one coat or add more from there.

Credo

Rituel de Fille Levitation Lash Lifting + Lengthening Mascara

  • $28
  • Credo

Next, I'd recommend the Saie's Mascara 101 in Classic black. This is for "thick, bold lifted" lashes and it has a unique wand that made it easy to apply. The small bristles at the top splay so you can target your outer lashes and bottom lash line. Saie's website recommends "one coat for a natural, lengthened look" and "two to three coats for extra thickening and impact."

I wiggled the wand from the base of my upper lashes and applied one coat for that natural effect. After applying two coats, I noticed how easily it built up and continued to add a third layer, which also applied nicely.

Saie

Saie Mascara 101

  • $26
  • Saie

If you're looking for a waterproof mascara

If you're looking for a waterproof mascara, try Tom Ford's Emotionproof Mascara. I wore this in the rain, and I wore it on a boat in the hot sun, and this stuff does not falter. It's meant to intensify, lengthen and volumize your lashes, and I noticed those effects. Now, when it comes to removing this product, you're going to need something beyond just your regular cleanser and warm water (or at least that's what I needed). But that's a good thing if you want waterproof! Keep eye makeup remover on hand and you'll be good to go.

Sephora

TOM FORD Emotionproof Mascara

  • $50
  • Sephora

Want another option? I still love my Lanc?me Lash Idole Lash-Lifting and Volumizing Waterproof Mascara -- so much so that it's the one I used on my wedding day!

Sephora

Lanc?me Lash Id?le Lengthening & Volumizing Mascara

  • $30
  • Sephora

If you're looking for your go-to drugstore mascara

If you're looking for a mascara you can find at your drugstore, I highly recommend Maybelline's Volum' Express: The Colossal Big Shot Mascara. This is another one that I've used most days since starting this process. It's very easy to apply, adds length and volume with ease, and it's easy to wash off (which I love at the end of a long day).

Ulta

Maybelline Volum' Express The Colossal Big Shot Waterproof Mascara

  • $9.99
  • Ulta

If you're looking for a bold mascara

If you want a bold, glamorous mascara, try Yves Saint Laurent Lash Clash Extreme Volume Mascara (I tried brown, blue and black).

I opted for this mascara ahead of Friday night dinner plans and was happy that I did – the packaging promoted up to 200% more volume and a brush that "captures and amplifies each lash."

The fuller wand applied the mascara easily and without clumps, which was nice considering it collected more product than some of the other mascaras I tried. I used two coats and felt that this worked well for a bolder look.

I also gave this mascara to a friend, and once she tried it, she texted me, "Omg I'm obsessed with this mascara."

Sephora

Yves Saint Laurent Lash Clash Extreme Volume Mascara

  • $32
  • Sephora

Another option here would be the Rare Beauty Perfect Strokes Universal Volumizing Mascara. If you're looking for a lengthening mascara, this one's great for that too: It lifted some of my eyelashes up near my eyebrow. I also noted that its thicker wand applied the mascara without any fuss -- just one coat made a huge difference.

Sephora

Rare Beauty by Selena Gomez Perfect Strokes Universal Volumizing Mascara

  • $20
  • Sephora

If you're looking for a natural, everyday mascara

It isn't new news that the Tower 28 MakeWaves Mascara is really good. This clean beauty product volumizes, lengthens and defines your lashes "for the most amped-up, natural-looking lashes). The brand's website says the mascara is also contact lens safe and safe for sensitive eyes, and the "packaging is made from 78% PCR (post-consumer recycled plastic)" as part of the brand's "commitment to sustainable packaging."

I especially like the dual-sided brush, which features longer bristles to lengthen and define your lashes. Plus, it's curved to help fit with the lash line. I used this mascara in black, but it also comes in brown.

Tower 28

Tower 28 MakeWaves Mascara

  • $20
  • Tower 28

If you're looking for a mascara that does it all

I get it: sometimes you just want to pack one mascara in your makeup bag. If you're looking for a mascara that does it all, try Polite Society's Greatest Lashes of All Time Volumizing, Lengthening, Lifting & Curling Mascara. This was my first time trying out anything from Polite Society and it certainly made me a fan of the brand.

This gave me effortless lashes that lived up to the mascara's name -- they were volumized lengthened, lifted and curled. It applied easily (sometimes mascaras can go on wet and messy when you first use them; this was not the case here) and without clumping, and I could feel the applicator combing through my lashes.

Ulta

Polite Society Greatest Lashes of All Time Volumizing, Lengthening, Lifting & Curling Mascara

  • $27
  • Ulta

More mascaras I think you should try

For an every day, volumizing mascara

Nordstrom

Clinique High Impact High-Fi Full Volume Mascara

  • $28
  • Nordstrom

For a your-eyelashes-but-better look

Glossier

Glossier Lash Slick

  • $20
  • Glossier

For a clean, waterproof mascara

Revolve

Ere Perez Avocado Waterproof Mascara

  • $28
  • Revolve

If you're looking for an eyelash curler

Sephora

Shiseido Eyelash Curler

  • $25
  • Sephora

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