The 14 Best Waterproof Mascaras in 2024

Feel free to let the tears flow.

Collage of waterproof mascaras from Benefit, L'Oreal, Essence, Too Faced, Lancome overlaid on water droplets background
(Image credit: Future)

If you've been burned by waterproof mascaras, you're not alone. When I tried my first waterproof mascara, I lost dozens of lashes as I tried to sweep away the crumbly, strangely tenacious pigment with oil-soaked cotton balls. And that's without even mentioning how the mascara actually worked, which was, um, not well. Dry, brittle, gunky, next. But since then, waterproof formulations have come a long way. In fact, some of the best mascaras out there are waterproof versions. 

In some ways, "waterproof mascara" is a bit of a misnomer. While these formulations will stand up to rain showers and a dip in the pool, plenty of people prefer them over regular formulas for other reasons. “Some people like waterproof mascara because it does tend to stay on the lashes longer without having to worry about it coming off in water or humidity,” explains pro makeup artist Lauren O’Leary. “I've also found that some do keep the lashes more curled than a regular mascara.”

Just like regular mascara, waterproof formulations can also address other lash needs. With expert insight from O’Leary plus fellow pro makeup artist, Alexandria Gilleo, we've gathered the best waterproof mascaras to tackle whatever your needs may be. You'll find lengthening mascaras, volumizing mascara, mascaras that leave behind long-lasting pigment, and even ones from the drugstore that do all of the above. 

What to Look For in Waterproof Mascara

  • Ingredients

In most cases, a mascara will advertise whether it’s waterproof or not, but there is one ingredient that will let you know for sure. “Waterproof mascara contains a type of silicone called dimethicone copolol. This is the ingredient that helps water repel from the lashes or slide off without taking off the product,” explains O’Leary. 

And because waterproof mascara has such staying power, it can be a bit harsher on lashes so it may be a good idea to prioritize mascaras with nourishing ingredients. Ingredients such as hyaluronic acid and peptides will help to keep eyelashes conditioned. Gilleo also recommends looking for “natural yet effective ingredients, such as beeswax or coconut oil, as these ingredients can help nourish lashes while providing a waterproof barrier.” 

  • Brush Type 

To put it simply, the brush or wand of a mascara plays a huge role in how your mascara comes out, says Gilleo. “Different mascaras can have brushes that are of all different shapes, sizes, and designs that impact the volume, length, curl, separation, and definition of lashes. To find the right mascara for you and your needs, you certainly need to take a look at the brush. O’Leary recommends a small brush for smaller eyes or short lashes to get the most definition, whereas if you have big eyes or longer lashes a larger brush will work better. The brushes’ bristles also come into play, affecting lash definition, volume, and how much product comes out. Generally speaking, the more densely packed the bristles are, the more of a volumizing effect you’re going to have. On the other hand, if bristles are separated, you’ll achieve greater definition in your lashes.  

The Best Waterproof Mascaras

How to Remove Waterproof Mascara

Waterproof mascara is known for its staying powers, and consequently, it can be a bit tough to remove. But don't fret—it can be removed without ripping out a dozen or so of your lashes. Gilleo reveals that the best way to remove waterproof mascara is to turn to oil-based cleansers or cleansing balms. "Applying your cleanser straight to your face without wetting your face first really helps to break down any makeup product on your eyes and skin," she explains. "Once fully rubbed in, then rinse with water." She also recommends micellar water, adding, "Applying your product on a clean, reusable cotton pad and sweeping it over your lashes is another effective way to remove your mascara." And, of course, be gentle! You'll want to avoid any harsh tugging or pulling to prevent any damage to your lashes. 

When to Toss Out Waterproof Mascara

Sadly, good things can't last forever, including waterproof mascara. And when it comes to the area around your eyes, you don't want to take any chances with expired or germy products. O'Leary recommends tossing out your waterproof mascara every three to six months, max. "If you notice it starting to smell weird, or getting extremely dry or clumpy, it's definitely time for a new one," she adds. 

Meet the Experts

Headshot of Lauren O'Leary, pro makeup artist
Lauren O'Leary

Lauren is a New York City/Minneapolis based makeup artist, men's groomer, and beauty expert. She grew up in Minnesota but had her heart set on living in New York City since she was very young. As a lifelong artist, she was always on top of the latest beauty trends. Lauren specializes in beauty, editorial, celebrity, commercial/print, film & TV work. A few of her clients include Guess, Maybelline, Saks Fifth Ave, Samsung, Conde Nast, and celebrities Niki Taylor, Kaia Gerber, Joey Fatone, Shaq, Charlotte Mckinney, Hannah Brown, James Van der Beek, and more.

portrait of Alexandria Gilleo
Alexandria Gilleo

Alexandria has always been captivated and inspired by the beauty that each individual possesses. Her goal is to make her clients look good and feel beautiful, and it is instantly identifiable in her signature makeup style: gorgeous, radiant faces that seem to glow from within. Whether the task is a commercial, advertising, video, interview, press, or print, she will adjust her technique to answer the demands of different lighting set ups, scenarios, and pressure-packed situations. Alexandria has appeared on the Tyra Banks show, has won several awards for her freelance work, and has raised over $35,000 for charities including St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital. Her work can be seen in Ulta, Sephora, Kohl’s, and Philosophy stores globally, and has been seen on faces including Ali Krieger, Ashlyn Harris, Adriana Lima, Alexander Wang, Charlie Sheen, Camila Coelho, and Paul Rudd, to name a few.