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Best mascara: Add volume, length and definition to your lashes

Jade Vincent Caroline Preece
11 Jul 2019
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Looking to up your lash game? We've compiled a list of the best mascaras for look-at-me lashes

Ask any makeup lover to name the product in their cosmetic bag they couldn’t live without and they’re likely to say it’s their trusty tube of mascara. Whether you’re having a bad skin day or slept for only two hours the previous night, a swipe of that magic wand is guaranteed to boost your confidence and help you look wide awake.

However, with numerous brands and formulations available, with some brands including an entire lineup that promises to lengthen, thicken or curl, and includes waterproof varieties too, making a decision over which to buy can prove tricky. We’ve done the hard work for you, and below you’ll find the very best mascaras whether you’re looking for length, curl, volume – or even all three.

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How to buy the best mascara for you

Are double-ended mascaras worth it?

A standard double-ended mascara is usually made up of a coloured mascara at one end of the tube and a white primer on the other. The white primer is applied first and promises to add length and fullness to your lashes before you apply the colour. However, in many cases the primer can result in clumps on application of the colour – which probably isn’t the look you were going for. If your mascara is good enough then it won’t need the helping hand of a primer, since it will already contain all the ingredients required for fuller lashes.

What should I consider when buying a mascara?

Mascara combs come in all shapes and sizes – skinny, for a natural finish; chubby, for full lashes; curved, for length; stubby, for precision; S-shaped, to grab each and every lash; and two-sided, for indecisive buyers. Think about the look you want to achieve and then make your choice accordingly. Some mascaras also contain lash-growth ingredients, so if you struggle with short lashes then such formulations are a good option to give lashes a nudge.

How much should I spend?

It’s possible to pick up a very good mascara for under £40. We wouldn’t advise that you spend any more than this considering the amount of product contained within a standard tube of mascara. Also, experts recommend that you dispose of your mascara following three to six months’ use, as it will tend to dry out in this time.

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The best mascara you can buy

1. Lancome Hypnose Custom-Wear mascara: Best all-round mascara

Price: £25 | Buy now from Boots


Looking for a mascara that can take you from day to night? Lancome’s custom-wear mascara uses a buildable formula that dials up your everyday eye-look while keeping your lashes soft and supple, even after multiple applications. The Hypnose mascara has a thin, straight wand that makes easy work of separating and coating each individual lash for a precise makeup application, and unlike many volumizing mascaras, promises to thicken your eyelashes without clumping them together.

Our thoughts? If there’s space for just one do-it-all mascara in your beauty arsenal, the Lancome Hypnose mascara is a fantastic option. Not only will it do a great job at lengthening, separating and volumizing your lashes, but it’s also easy to remove, available in three colours and and is suitable for sensitive eyes and contact lens users.

Buy now from Boots


2. Estée Lauder Sumptuous Extreme Waterproof Mascara: Best waterproof mascara

Price: £25.50 | Buy now from John Lewis


Not only does this formula and chubby brush help to perfectly separate lashes, give the right amount of volume and leave lashes clump-free, its waterproof tag is the real deal. Despite the promises made on labels, some waterproof mascaras fail to stay put when they come up against any kind of moisture, but the Sumptuous Extreme Waterproof Mascara is notably impressive. Even after enduring a weepy movie marathon, lashes looked exactly as they did before the waterworks began. Once applied, you can be confident this mascara will stay in place. It’s quite stubborn to remove, though – but isn’t that the point? For a mascara that gives the gift of great lashes while keeping its waterproof promise (and then some), it’s definitely worth a try.

Buy now from John Lewis


3. Too Faced Better Than Sex Mascara: Best mascara for a false-lash effect

Price: £19 | Buy now from John Lewis


If you’re a “quick slick of glossy colour and go” kind of girl then consider the Too Faced Better than Sex mascara for your go-to tube of genius. Its large, hourglass-shaped brush grabs each hair - short or long - and runs colour through it all the way to the tip, and even though you need only one coat to make a statement, a second layer adds even more volume and thickness. Just make sure you apply the second coat while the first is still wet.

The end result is a set of clearly defined, fanned-out lashes that look similar to falsies. Surprisingly clumps are rare and it gives a nice curl to your lashes, so you can ditch the lash curlers, too. Our thoughts? There's good reason Better Than Sex is America's bestselling mascara and we're glad it made the trip across the pond. 

Buy now from John Lewis


4. Tom Ford Extreme Mascara: Best luxury mascara 

Price: £36 | Buy now from John Lewis


For such a luxury price tag, you’d expect this mascara to come with bells, whistles and plenty more besides. But who says simplicity isn’t the key to a good mascara? The comb here is of a standard shape and size, and when you apply the mascara to your lashes, the creamy formula glides on like a dream; it feels neither dry nor sticky. Lashes are lifted after just a single application, with a satisfying curl to accompany the volume. The only downside is with initial use, where the rather wet formulation can cause the brush to become overloaded, which makes for frustrating application. However, after a few uses the mascara stiffens to ensure every day is a great lash day – smudging not included.

Buy now from John Lewis


5. Benefit Roller Lash: Best mascara for short lashes

Price: £21.50 | Buy now from Look Fantastic


If your lashes are on the stubby, straight side, both the formula and mascara comb here will provide the perfect solution. The brush is curved, designed to grab the lashes from the outer to inner corners, pulling each one upwards in one fell swoop. The small bristles get right to the root of the lashes and help to separate and space them out as you apply. And then there’s the curl – no need for your eyelash curlers with this tube! The look here is buildable: choose between a long and curled subtle lashes; or a long and curled statement lashes. And if all that wasn’t enough, the lash-loving, glossy formula offers intense colour and contains provitamin B5 and serin, known to condition and soften lashes and therefore encourage growth.

Buy now from John Lewis


6. Clinique Bottom Lash Mascara: Best mascara for bottom lashes

Price: £15 | Buy now from Clinique


The need for a bottom lash mascara may sound ridiculous, but when you consider how tricky it is to achieve a natural, mess-free finish with a standard brush, it’s a wonder more brands haven’t followed in Clinique’s footsteps. Obviously, you need far less product with a bottom lash mascara – which is why, at first sight, this may look like a travel-sized solution. However, you don’t need to use as much per application and the stubby comb is the perfect shape and size for grooming those bottom lashes. It’s not unusual for standard mascara worn on bottom lashes to smear onto the skin below, but not so with this formula – it dries super-quickly on application; the downside is that the pressure’s on to get it right first time. Full marks to Clinique for originality, though – the Bottom Lash Mascara is proof that your lashes can have it all.

Buy now from Clinique


7. Max Factor 2000 Calorie Mascara: Best budget mascara 

Price: £8 | Buy now from Superdrug


Want seriously dramatic lashes? Then this classic formula does the job, at a price that’s hard to beat. It claims to create 300% more volume from bare lashes, which is quite a statement – and something folk will struggle to measure themselves. Nevertheless, on first application you do notice a significant difference to the length and thickness of your lashes. The formula glides on beautifully and thickens even the most sparse hairs. Plus, it’s easy to remove – a rare trait for a thickening mascara – but that doesn’t mean it will smudge or flake off by lunchtime. Apply from root to tip, rolling the wand as you go and you’re likely to need only one coat for a full-lash look.

Buy now from Superdrug

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