Here at the Strategist, we like to think of ourselves as crazy (in the good way) about the stuff we buy, but as much as we’d like to, we can’t try everything. Which is why we have People’s Choice in which we find the best-reviewed products and single out the most convincing ones. (You can learn more about our rating system and how we pick each item here.)
While we’ve written about mascaras before — from the dramatically lengthening to an ultrablack type from Japan that never smudges — and previously asked makeup artists what they consider the best waterproof mascara, here we’ve rounded up the best mascaras overall, going by the praises of the most enthusiastic reviewers on Sephora.
With 14,000 reviews on Sephora, this mascara has earned a devoted following among lash fanatics who praise its defining, lengthening, and volumizing powers. A number of reviews remark on how the brush’s staggered bristles hold and grip lashes at the root for better lift and volume, and how its long-wear formula stays on all day long.
The words “holy grail” pop up often, too, with one person summing it up as the only mascara that perks up her skimpy, short lashes “without looking like Liza Minnelli on a bad day.” It’s so good at lengthening that one reviewer avoids wearing it with glasses “because my lashes get pressed against the lenses,” which all goes back to the design of the wand itself. Per one reviewer, the “long spikes at the end of the brush literally get EVERY SINGLE LASH, be it in the middle or the outer corners. The rest of the brush coats every lash perfectly.”
Best-rated (less-expensive) mascara
For slightly less money, Clinique’s High Impact mascara also has a great reputation as a volumizing, waterproof mascara that’s gentle on sensitive eyes. Reviewers note that it makes their lashes look pigmented and naturally fuller. One reviewer with sensitive, runny eyes wears it every day and writes, “It doesn’t clump, give spidery lashes, or smudge.” And despite its waterproof formula, many reviewers mentioned how easy it is to remove, with minimal tugging and “no makeup remover required.”
And now, some micro-picks for every type of mascara you might be looking for.
Best waterproof mascara
Blinc claims that this mascara forms tiny, water-resistant tubes around your lashes to prevent smudging and smearing, and reviewers assert that this stuff can hold up through anything. “This product is really great for going to the gym or working outside — whenever there is a chance it may run,” says one. Another reviewer adds, “My eyes water for everything, if it’s too windy, too bright, too hot, allergies, if I laugh too much, etc. I can’t live without it.”
Best mascara for volume
Sephora reviewers tend to get hyperbolic about this Buxom mascara — so you might come across reviews saying things like, “It is the product that I do not go one day without.” They credit its greatness to the hourglass-shaped brush that lifts and separates, and to the antioxidant-rich formula that conditions lashes. In any case, many reviewers have come to it and never strayed after having tried many less-effective mascaras. It was a magical purchase for one reviewer with oily, mono-lid eyes, who writes, “Not only does this keep my straight lashes at a curl, it also doesn’t smear on my skin throughout the day.”
Best lengthening mascara
Among Sephora reviewers, Lancome’s Monsieur Big is very popular for defining and lengthening lashes. It has been called “witchcraft” and “Harry Potter–Jedi-type mascara,” with dozens of people comparing its effects to wearing eyelash extensions. “I never thought it possible, but I am the proud owner of long, dark doll eyelashes,” writes one reviewer. “If you’re looking for a natural look, this may not be for you … but I say bring on the drama lashes!”
Best mascara for sensitive eyes
Reviewers praise this mascara from Tarte for its gentle, hypoallergenic formula — it’s been tested by ophthalmologists and deemed safe for contact wearers. One reviewer with sensitive eyes says, “Every other mascara I’ve ever worn has caused my eyes to itch and burn within only a few hours of application, but this one I can wear all day long with no side effects.” This mascara also contains vitamins and olive esters to thicken and condition lashes, which may be why people consistently return to this formula for everyday wear. “Every so often, I wonder if there’s something else out there I might like better, but nothing else volumizes, curls, and lengthens without smudging, clumping, or flaking like this mascara.”
Best clump-proof mascara
Lancôme designed the bristles of this wand in a hedgehog-like pattern, with grooves that separate lashes. Reviewers call the wand a favorite for creating a natural, clump-free look, with one saying it blows other lengthening mascara wands out of the water: “No clumps. The brush separates my lashes very well, and I don’t look like a raccoon by the end of the day.” Another wrote that after hearing the Définicils mascara was the best for treating lashes “on top of doing a bang-up job of looking good,” she purchased some and confirmed the rumors were true.
Best mascara for long lashes
We noticed that this well-reviewed Marc Jacobs Velvet Noir mascara was especially popular among users with long lashes for curling and lifting, without any additional lengthening. Many compared it to the cultiest of culty mascaras, Too Faced’s Better Than Sex, for that reason, but ended up loving this one even more. “I used to wear false lashes everyday but don’t anymore because this mascara is extremely volumizing and makes my baby-short lashes look thicker and longer,” said one reviewer. Another enthusiastic fan, who described it as “BOMB AF AF AF AF,” says it might even make you do a double-take in the mirror and go, “Wow is that me? Yo fam, is that really me?”
Best mascara for short lashes
A majority of reviews call this a great mini wand for the stubby lashes along your bottom lash-line. Commenters say they love how it reaches and curls hard-to-reach lashes, with minimal transfer to your under-eye area. As one reviewer puts it, “The smaller brush design allows even the most wimpy bottom lashes to finally have their day in the sun, and does a great job of catching the lighter, smaller lashes on the sides of the top lash.” Even those with “really, really oily skin and tiny lashes” noted that it doesn’t cause any smudging below the lash-line: “It lasted the whole day and didn’t even give me raccoon eyes.”
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