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The best lengthening mascaras to buy in 2023

Get big and batty eyelashes with the best mascaras formulated for length

Long and luscious lashes are having quite the fashion moment, led by red-capet and Instagram trends for bold and glamorous statement looks. A long and well-defined lash frames the eyes and is often the finishing touch to a strong makeup look. In fact, mascara is one of the makeup options we’re most likely to wear on its own, to give the eyes a bit of definition.

A pack of false eyelashes is one way to boost your lash line, but if you prefer a slightly more subtle look or find false eyelashes a bit fiddly for everyday wear, a lengthening mascara is a great alternative. Lengthening mascaras are formulated to add colour and definition to the tips of the lashes, which makes them appear longer. This is in contrast to volumising mascaras that add definition and bulk at the root of the lash. Lengthening mascaras often also contain ingredients to help moisturise and condition the natural lash, helping your natural lashes to grow longer.

There’s a range of mascaras on the market that promise longer lashes. Here we’ll walk through how to choose a lengthening mascara that will suit your lifestyle and budget, and below, we choose our favourite lengthening mascaras for 2023.

Best lengthening mascaras: At a glance

How to choose the best lengthening mascara for you

How do lengthening mascaras work?

Any mascara works by colouring the lashes with a combination of wax and pigment. Coating and darkening the lashes with any mascara makes them appear longer, especially at the ends where the tips of the lashes may be lighter in colour.

Lengthening mascaras are typically formulated using fibres that stick to the end of the lashes, adding temporary length. Lengthening mascara is usually created to be more fluid and lightweight than volumising mascara, so additional coats may be stretched out to the ends of the lashes rather than adding weight and width to the roots.

The style of the wand supplied with your mascara will also make a difference to where the product ends up. Brushes for lengthening mascaras are designed with wider-spaced bristles (rather than denser, fluffier bristles) to separate the lashes and stroke the product through to the ends. Wands for lengthening mascara may also be curved to lift them up, adding to the illusion of length, and a pointed tip will help place your mascara more precisely on shorter lashes.

How do I apply my lengthening mascara?

There are some tips you can follow to get the best lengthening effect from your mascara. Optionally, begin with a lash curler to curve the lashes upwards and give a more open look. Begin applying your mascara with the bristles of the wand underneath your lashes and as close to the root of your lashes as you can get them, then swipe with an upward motion to lift the lashes. Repeat, with the brush starting this time on top of the lashes, to coat the top side. A gentle side-to-side wiggle as you strike the wand through will help separate the lashes and ensure the mascara is applied evenly.

For an even longer look, apply a second coat and this time draw the wand through the lashes at an angle. Draw the lashes at the outer corner of the eye outwards and fan the lashes at the inner corner gently inwards. This will give your lashes extra length and flutter.

A flick of eyeliner at the outer corner of the eyes will give the illusion of long lashes. For a wide-eyed look, add a light layer of mascara to your bottom lashes.

What else can I do to help my eyelash length?

Like all hairs on your body, eyelashes follow a predictable cycle of growth before naturally falling out (shedding). Conditioning the lashes with a moisturising oil will strengthen the eyelash so that it stays in the follicle for longer, which in turn will lead to the eyelash growing longer before it sheds. Softer, conditioned eyelash hairs are also less likely to snap at the ends, so anything you can do to nourish and moisturise your lashes will help the length. Try a specialist oil or serum designed for lashes.

Some lengthening mascaras will include moisturising ingredients such as natural seed oils or hyaluronic acid to help the condition of your natural lashes. Always remove eye makeup including mascara at the end of each day to avoid infections, allow the skin to breathe, and to clear the follicles around the lashline so that your lashes can grow freely.

How we test lengthening mascara

At Expert Reviews, we know that hands-on testing delivers the most complete understanding of a product. As such, we personally test all of the lengthening mascaras in the roundup, either at home or in-store.

We first check the lengthening ingredients used in the mascara, and whether the mascara is intended to add temporary length to eyelashes, or to build strength and length over time. We then use the mascara on clean lashes, following any application guidance included with the product. We evaluate the lengthening effects of the mascara, using photographs to help us document the performance of each product, and we note any issues with flaking or smudging after application. We note how easy it is to apply each lengthening mascara with the wand supplied and how long the mascara lasts over a typical day of wear. Finally, we take note of the available colour range for each product.

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1. Max Factor Lash Revival Strengthening Mascara: Best for damaged lashes

Price: £13 | Buy now from Amazon

Max Factor’s Lash Revival mascara not only adds instant length and volume with its lightweight, non-clumping formula, but also contains natural bamboo extract to strengthen and condition lashes, helping them grow longer over time. The mascara itself is lightweight and fluid enough for daytime wear, and can easily be taken from day to a more defined evening look with extra coats that build easily. Wait a few moments between coats to avoid smudges as the lightweight formula is quite fluid.

The curved brush with wide-spaced bristles helps to lift and separate lashes for a fluttery, wide-eyed finish. This is a great everyday lengthening mascara available in two flattering shades.

Key specs – Package size: 7.5ml; Active ingredient: Bamboo extract; Shades: Black, brown; Wand type: Curved brush

2. Maybelline Lash Sensational Sky High Mascara: Best for super-long lashes

Price: £12 | Buy now from Superdrug

Maybelline’s Great Lash mascara, launched in 1971, is still one of the world’s best-selling mascaras, so it’s no surprise that when the brand synonymous with great lashes launched this lengthening mascara last year it immediately sold out. Formulated with extra-long fibres for a super-long lash look, Sky High also contains strengthening bamboo extract to moisturise the lashes and help prevent breakage, promoting natural length.

The mascara comes in a very stylish rose-gold tube and is applied using a flexible silicone wand designed to grip and gently separate even the shortest of lashes. The mascara goes on smoothly without clumping, and the wand does a great job of separating and fanning out lashes for a dramatically longer look. The version we tested is washable and easily removed with a water-based eye makeup remover; there’s also a waterproof version.

Key specs – Package size: 7.2ml; Active ingredient: Bamboo extract; Shades: Black; Wand type: Silicone brush

Buy now from Superdrug

3. L’Oreal False Lash Telescopic Mascara: Best high-street mascara for longer lashes

Price: £11 | Buy now from Boots

First launched in 2012, this is another classic mascara that has stood the test of time. L’Oreal claims the long fibres in this formula will give up to 60% longer lashes. Multiple coats definitely add visible length to even the shortest lashes, and the slender, flexible brush makes light work of separating and coating lashes for a fluttery, false-lash effect.

The conical tube is an interesting innovation that helps ensure no extra drips of mascara come out when you remove the wand. One coat goes on quite slick and glossy for a wearable daytime look, and additional coats add volume and extra length without clumping or drying. The one drawback is a limited shade range, but otherwise this is a very good high-street option for visibly longer lashes.

Key specs – Package size: 8ml; Active ingredients: None; Shades: Carbon black, magnetic black; Wand type: Silicone brush

Buy now from Boots

4. Lancôme Hypnôse Doll Eyes Mascara: Best for a glossy finish

Price: £28 | Buy now from Boots

A favourite of lash queen Kim Kardashian, Lancôme Hypnôse Doll Eyes mascara promises the perky lashes of a porcelain doll, with volume, curl and length. The formula is enriched with beeswax for a glossy finish, and is applied using a special cone-shaped brush that loads the mascara evenly over the lashes from inner to outer corner, making it easy to stoke lashes outwards for a flirty and fluttery look. The tip of the cone is also excellent for applying mascara through the lower lashes.

The mascara feels light on the lashes even after two coats, and adds good definition and length as well as a noticeable shine. The product goes on smoothly and dries after a few moments without becoming thick or stiff. In keeping with the doll theme, the mascara has a slightly flowery scent. This is potentially offputting if you don’t particularly want scented lashes, but other than that this is a good product for defined and pretty eyes.

Key specs – Package size: 6.5ml; Active ingredients: None; Shades: Black, blue-black; Wand type: Conical brush

Buy now from Boots

5. Lip Bar Lash Flash Strengthening Mascara: Best conditioning lengthening mascara

Price: Around £10 plus shipping | Buy now from The Lip Bar

Want the conditioning effects of an eyelash serum together with the instant length and volume of a mascara? Cult US brand The Lip Bar has the answer, in the shape of its Lash Flash mascara with green tea extract and jojoba seed oil, to condition and strengthen lashes as well as adding colour. Used over time, the mascara will add natural length to lashes by discouraging breakage, while adding instant length every time you apply.

Lash Flash currently ships from the US (international shipping fees apply), but if you or a friend happen to be visiting the States you can grab a tube at Walmart or Target.

Key specs – Package size: 7.5ml; Active ingredients: Green tea extract, jojoba seed oil, castor seed oil; Wand type: Silicone

Buy now from The Lip Bar

6. Essence Lash Princess False Lash Effect Mascara – best value lengthening mascara

Price: £5 | Buy now from Amazon

The number one-selling mascara on Amazon, German value brand Essence’s Lash Princess promises long and fluffy eyelashes and is a favourite of makeup artists worldwide. The full-fibered mascara builds up well with multiple coats for a super-dramatic look that, as it says on the tube, looks like you’ve applied your favourite false lashes.

The mascara goes on fairly wet in comparison to some brands, which helps you apply it smoothly but can lead to smudging if you’re not careful. You may find you need to hold your lashes fairly still when applying and avoid blinking for a few moments afterwards. The results, however, are absolutely undeniable. Lash Princess is great if you’re looking for a dramatic and glamorous finish.

Key specs – Package size: 12 ml; Active ingredients: none; Shades: black; Wand type: conical brush

Buy now from Amazon

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