Ask the Strategist: The Best Waterproof Mascara

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In our new advice column, Ask the Strategist, we take your most burning shopping questions and scour friends, call up experts, and draw from personal experience to answer them. As always, please comment with one of your own — we’re here to help.

Question: What’s the best waterproof mascara? I’m getting married at the end of May and anticipate a good deal of emotions. I used to use good ol’ Maybelline back when I was a professional ballet dancer, but I’m guessing that waterproof mascaras have advanced considerably in the last decade. What would you recommend for long, beautiful, ugly-cry-proof lashes?

The only makeup artist I wanted — or needed — to speak to about this was Mario Dedivanovic (a.k.a. @Makeupbymario) because when I think makeup and tears, I think Kim Kardashian’s crying face, and if she can ugly-cry on TV and survive to make emoji out of the situation, then you can get through your wedding day without any mascara drips. Mario is Kim’s makeup artist (so it’s safe to assume he’s also a master at contouring), and here’s what he had to say:

Chanel Inimitable Waterproof Mascara is the best because it’s “waterproof but also curls, lengthens, and gives volume in just one coat. A lot of waterproof-mascara formulas tend to be drying, but this one feels soft and is conditioning.”

Chanel Inimitable Waterproof Mascara.

It’s a bit of a splurge, $32 for mascara, but for truly the best waterproof mascara, it’s probably worth it. Just to be sure about the Chanel, though, I also checked in with the Cut’s beauty editor Kathleen Hou, who’s tried on all the mascaras, and who also responded by saying Chanel’s Inimitable Waterproof Mascara was the best. (And if you’re looking specifically for the blackest waterproof mascara, it’s apparently Japanese). But because we’re accessible and helpful here at New York Magazine, Kathleen also offered a cheaper drugstore alternative to the Chanel: L’Oreal’s Voluminous Million Lashes Waterproof Mascara.

L’Oreal Paris Voluminous Million Lashes Waterproof Mascara.

Kathleen says, “The waterproof nature of both of these mascaras don’t just resist sweat and rain, but also help them to stay curled and perky, without looking or feeling crunchy, even hours later.”

As for choosing between the two: “The brushes look fairly similar. They’re both very bristled brushes with lots of little ‘prongs,’ so you can really brush out the formula and get lots of separation and lash volume, without clumps or having the lashes stick together. The only difference I see between the L’Oreal and Chanel one is that the L’Oreal formula is a bit thinner. The Chanel one has a little more oomph.”

So there you have it: Chanel for the wedding day when you’re likely to need that extra oomph, and L’Oreal for every other day.

Chanel Inimitable Waterproof Mascara
$32 at Nordstrom

We’d love to hear from you. If you have any burning questions, please leave them for us in the comments.

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Ask the Strategist: The Best Waterproof Mascara