The Best Mascaras Lift, Lengthen, and Volumize

Do-it-all wands only.

best mascaras
(Image credit: Future)

Here’s a fun fact about mascara: One bottle expires in three months. While that statistic is occasionally irritating, it also means that I have had the opportunity to test well over 100 different formulas throughout my beauty editor career. Some days, mascara is smudged and running down my face. Other days, I hit the mascara jackpot and have lashes that are lengthened, lifted, and volumized. The best mascaras genuinely do it all. 

Of course, you’ll want to find the best formula for you. Certain mascaras are light and natural-looking by design, with wands capable of separating every little lash. Other mascaras are developed to add density, thickness, and deep black pigment. You can opt for tubing mascaras, which are currently rising in popularity—Merit makes one of the best. Or, you can buy brown mascara and cosign the soft girl makeup trend (Westman Atelier, Tower 28, and Victoria Beckham recently dropped shade extensions). 

Make note of your lash goals because I’ve rounded up my favorite mascaras—and asked the Marie Claire team, celebrity makeup artists, and industry experts to share their go-tos—ahead. 

The Best Mascaras

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What Type of Mascara Wand Should I Look For?

The shape of the mascara wand heavily impacts your end result, so it’s worthwhile to pay attention. “I like to think that the wand mimics the type of lash that you want,” explains celebrity makeup artist Kelli Anne Sewell, who has worked with mega-influencers like Alix Earle and Leonie Hanne. If you want a long, defined lash, the bristles on the wand should be long and defined. A densely packed, chunkier brush is the goal if you're after thick, voluminous lashes.

What Is a Tubing Mascara?

If you’ve been on BeautyTok recently, you’ve noticed the industry’s increasing fascination with tubing mascaras. Tubing mascaras are nothing new, but with recent launches from Merit and Tower28, they’re having a little resurgence. “Tubing mascara is unique because the formula creates a literal tube around your lash,” explains Sewell. “When you wash your eyes at the end of the night, you’ll see tubes being removed—not smudgy, watery particles.” It creates a mess-free, straightforward removal process that doesn’t irritate sensitive eyes.

How to Apply Mascara

Every artist has their tip or hack for getting the best result. Makeup artist Shadi Malek, who works with Arianna Maddix, Tracy Tudor, and Nikki Hilton, starts with the mascara wand at the base of the lashes. “Wiggle the wand back and forth towards the tip of your lashes and then repeat the motion until you like the thickness.” If you’re struggling to hold a curl, makeup artist Billie Gene, whose clients include Winnie Harlow and Kerry Washington, recommends “tapping the lash with the brush to add volume and lift.” 

Occasionally, you may find that one mascara isn’t meeting your lash goals. Should that be the base, don’t shy away from layering. “I typically start with a lengthening mascara to separate the lashes, and then I’ll layer a voluminous formula on top for desired volume,” advises Sewell.

Meet the Expert

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Shadi Malek

Shadi Malek’s career of nearly a decade in the make-up industry is a testament to her passionate practice, one that has resulted in an extensive list of life-long clients. She first began honing her unmistakable style from her home city of Vancouver, Canada. Today she works in one of the world’s major make-up industry hubs, Los Angeles, transforming models, influencers, and brides with her signature artistic method.

Today, Malek infuses every make-up look she creates with her mastery of aesthetic principles and her passion for an individualized approach to every client.

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Kelli Anne Sewell

Kelli Anne Sewell is a makeup artist and content creator based in NYC.

Beauty Editor

Samantha Holender is the Beauty Editor at Marie Claire, where she reports on the best new launches, dives into the science behind skincare, and shares the breakdown on the latest and greatest trends in the beauty space. She's studied up on every ingredient you'll find on INCI list and is constantly in search of the world's glowiest makeup products. Prior to joining the team, she worked as Us Weekly’s Beauty and Style Editor, where she stayed on the pulse of pop culture and broke down celebrity beauty routines, hair transformations, and red carpet looks. Her words have also appeared on Popsugar, Makeup.com, Skincare.com, Delish.com, and Philadelphia Wedding. Samantha also serves as a board member for the American Society of Magazine Editors (ASME). She first joined the organization in 2018, when she worked as an editorial intern at Food Network Magazine and Pioneer Woman Magazine. Samantha has a degree in Journalism and Mass Communications from The George Washington University’s School of Media and Public Affairs. While at GWU, she was a founding member of the school’s HerCampus chapter and served as its President for four years. When she’s not deep in the beauty closet or swatching eyeshadows, you can find her obsessing over Real Housewives and all things Bravo. Keep up with her on Instagram @samholender.