The best mascaras, recommended by make-up artists: No7, Charlotte Tilbury, Fenty Beauty and more
We spoke to some of the world's top make-up artists to uncover the best mascaras on the market, and answer some the most commonly asked mascara questions too.
They say the eyes are the windows to the soul and one of the first things people notice when they look at us, so then, a good mascara should be one of the must-have items in any beauty lover's make-up bag.
A truly exceptional mascara can elevate your entire look, but when you're looking for a new tube, it can be difficult to know where to start.
Some formulas promise to lengthen, others volumise, while more advanced mascaras offer solutions for both and promise to wrap your lashes for long-lasting results. But which mascara is really the best?
Whether you're looking for length, volume, or dramatic curls, we have scoured the market to find the perfect formula with the help of our world-renowned beauty experts, who told us their top picks and tips for all eye-enhancing scenarios.
Once you've read through our best list, make sure you continue to the bottom of this article for our beauty gurus' advice on what you should look out for (and avoid) when shopping for your next lash-enhancing mascara, and some of our answers for the most commonly asked mascara questions.
Jump to the best mascaras:
- Best affordable all-rounder: No 7 The Full 360 Ultra Mascara, £14.95 at Boots
- Best everyday mascara: Maybelline New York Lash Sensational, £9.99 at Boots
- Best curling mascara: Benefit Roller Lash, £25.50 at Cult Beauty
- Best volumising mascara: Kevyn Aucoin Volume Mascara, £32.40 at Cult Beauty
- Best lifting mascara: Charlotte Tilbury Pillow Talk Push Up Lashes, £26 at John Lewis
- Best defining mascara: Fenty Beauty Full Frontal Mascara, £23 at Boots
- Best lightweight mascara: Lancôme Hypnôse Doll Eyes Mascara, £29 at LookFantastic
The best mascaras
Best affordable all-rounder: No 7 The Full 360 Ultra Mascara, £14.95 at Boots
Gives length, volume and curl
This No 7 mascara is a favourite of make-up pro Joy Adenuga and promises to deliver a dramatic false lash effect thanks to its hourglass-shaped wand.
Enriched with shea butter and vitamin E, this mascara promises to nourish and condition lashes throughout wear, avoiding that horrible “crispy” feeling that lashes can get long after application. It’s not the most intense of formulas, so it can be used to give subtle definition or layered for a more dramatic effect.
More like this
Best everyday mascara: Maybelline New York Lash Sensational, £9.99 at Boots
For a defined, layered look
This mascara from Maybelline features six different lengths of bristles to capture even the tiniest lashes, designed to give a layered, multiplied effect, and with a low-wax formula, it promises thickness without clumps.
Maybelline New Yorks’ Lash Sensational mascara is a favourite of music superstar Doja Cat, who describes it as “fire” for layering to create her signature doe-eyed looks. The mascara’s curved brush promises to capture lashes from corner to corner to give full lash coverage with just one coat.
Best curling mascara: Benefit Roller Lash, £25.50 at Cult Beauty
Hooks, lifts and curls
Recommended by our make-up expert Gilbert Soliz, Benefit’s Roller Lash promises to instantly lengthen, roll and curl lashes for long-lasting results of up to 12 hours.
Benefit’s Roller Lash curling mascara features Benefit’s unique Hook ‘n' Roll™ brush, which has been designed to grab, separate, lift and curl each lash. With a curve-setting formula that promises holds for 12 hours, it’s been created for long-lasting results that make your eyes really pop.
Best volumising mascara: Kevyn Aucoin Volume Mascara, £32.40 at Cult Beauty
This glossy mascara from world-famous makeup artist Kevyn Aucoin is designed to give a smudge-free, flake-free, and long-lasting finish. Don’t be put off by the thin brush - it comes recommended by our expert Amber Amos.
This mascara is the perfect example of a beauty insider’s secret weapon. While Kevyn Aucoin might not be a household name, the brand is certainly a go-to for those in the know, in huge part thanks to this mascara, which has garnered hundreds of rave reviews from beauty experts and professional makeup artists, including Amber Amos.
Best lifting mascara: Charlotte Tilbury Pillow Talk Push Up Lashes, £26 at John Lewis
Instant length and lift
This lengthening and lifting mascara from Charlotte Tilbury is another favourite of make-up pro Gilbert Soliz, with a formula that promises to magnify and amplify lashes.
Charlotte Tilbury’s Pillow Talk Push Up Lashes mascara is designed specifically to lift and amplify lashes to make your eyes look bigger, brighter and more awake. Its diamond-shaped brush bristles have green created to capture each lash to create a fanned-out look, while the lightweight, creamy formula promises smudge-proof, humidify-proof results.
Best defining mascara: Fenty Beauty Full Frontal Mascara, £23 at Boots
Gives a full lash look
Designed and approved by global superstar and make-up maven Rihanna, Fenty Beauty’s Full Frontal Mascara is designed to define and curl every lash, and it comes recommended by our make-up expert Joy Adenuga.
This was Fenty Beauty’s first-ever mascara and features the brand’s unique “flat-to-fat” brush. The “fat” side has been designed to hold maximum product to quickly load and lift lashes, while the “flat” side promises to define and curl lashes. Since launching, it’s become a favourite of beauty editors and influencers alike.
Best lightweight mascara: Lancôme Hypnôse Doll Eyes Mascara, £29 at LookFantastic
For a wide-eyed look
With its lightweight, clump-free formula and unique cone-shaped brush, Lancôme’s Hypnôse Doll Eyes mascara promises to coat and lift lashes without weighing them down, and it comes recommended by our make-up expert Joy Adenuga.
As well as being a hit with our expert Joy, this Lancôme mascara is the go-to tube for Khloé Kardashian, who admitted to Vogue that “this is the one thing I will not leave the house without.” With its promise to lift, lengthen and volumise lashes with just one coat, we can see why.
What to look for when shopping for mascara: three make-up experts give their advice
Our mascara experts are some of the biggest names in the professional make-up world. With a combined experience of over 40 years in the beauty industry, they know exactly which products are the best, including mascaras.
Joy Adenuga is a multi-award-winning, London-based make-up artist who has been working in the industry for over a decade and has worked with brands including Tom Ford, Bobbi Brown, and Smashbox cosmetics and knows which products live up to their promises. “If a mascara promises to be waterproof, there should be no panda eyes when you tear up. There should be volume if it promises volume, and so on.”
Gilbert Soliz is a California-born makeup artist and alum of Paris’ prestigious Make Up For Ever Academy. With over twenty years of experience in make-up, working with brands including Givenchy, Valentino Couture, and Marc Jacobs, Gilbert knows what to look for when shopping for your next mascara.
Celebrity make-up artist Amber Amos has coated the lashes of some of the world's most famous faces and has had her work featured on the covers of some of the world’s most-read magazines, including Forbes, GQ, iD, Billboard, XXL, and People magazine, to name but a few.
We put three questions to each of them to understand precisely what you need to know when shopping for your next mascara and got their expert recommendations of the best mascaras to buy and why.
What should you look for when buying mascara?
“Mascara should do what it claims to do. With so many mascaras in the market promising so many things, delivering what they promise is the most important”, says Joy Adenuga, and she should know.
Gilbert Soliz advises that you should first “consider what you want the mascara to do. Do you want volume? Do you want length? Do you want a combination of both?” And one of his top tips? “Consider whether you want regular or waterproof” – not doing so is an oversight that can often cause the messiest of make-up faux-pas.
While Amber Amos thinks there are three key things to consider when shopping for mascara, recommending that “when buying a mascara, people should look for pigment, the style of brush, and long wearability.”
What should you avoid when looking for mascara?
“Avoid looking for just one mascara”, warns Joy Adenuga, “I advise getting two that perform their functions really well. A volume and a lengthening mascara normally layer well and make your eyes pop.”
While Amber Amos recommends that “when looking for a new mascara, avoid any that are too messy, doesn’t truly set on the lashes, or is too dry, which can lead to clumping and flakes.”
On the other hand, Gilbert Soliz warns us to beware of the marketing gimmicks used by some beauty brands, saying, “I’d avoid mascaras that feature gimmicky brushes. They claim to give you the most amazing lashes and often fall short.”
Which mascara do you recommend?
Now we know what to look for and what to avoid, which mascaras do our experts recommend?
“Some of my favourite mascaras feature creamy formulas without smearing or smudging and brushes that grip and grab every lash”, says Gilbert, recommending “Benefit Roller Lash, which is great for length, and Charlotte Tilbury Pillow Talk Push Up Lashes.”
“I personally love tubing mascaras”, says Amber. Instead of the traditional waterproof formulas, which tend to get dry and clumpy, tubing mascara creates water-resistant tubes over each individual lash, making it truly waterproof and super easy to remove. “Some of my favourites are Shiseido's Imperial Lash and Kevyn Aucoin's Volume Mascara.”
Mascara buyer's guide: top 5 things you need to know about mascara
The world of makeup can be, at the best of times, a confusing place. There are a lot of terms to understand and questions to be answered. With that in mind, we've rounded up some of the most commonly asked questions about mascara and done our research to answer them, so you can be sure you know what you're getting when you buy you're next tube of mascara.
What's the difference between regular mascara and waterproof mascara?
The key difference between regular mascara and waterproof mascara lies in their formulations and performance. Regular mascara is designed to enhance the lashes, providing volume, length, and definition. It contains ingredients that adhere to the lashes but can be easily removed with water or gentle cleansers.
Waterproof mascara, however, incorporates water-resistant polymers as a core ingredient, creating a protective barrier around the lashes that withstands moisture, humidity, and tears. These specialised polymers form a resilient film that prevents smudging and flaking, ensuring long-lasting wear even in challenging conditions.
However, it's worth noting that while waterproof mascaras may seem like a no-brainer, the very feature that makes waterproof mascaras long-lasting can make them challenging to remove. Waterproof mascara requires a more potent makeup remover or a specialized cleanser designed to break down the water-resistant film gently. If you're too rough with your removal, it can lead to excessive rubbing and potential lash breakage.
The film formed by the water-resistant polymers can also cause the lashes to feel stiffer, which may lead to clumping. Lashes coated in waterproof mascara can also feel slightly drier than with regular mascara. Over time, this dryness may lead to some lashes feeling brittle, especially if the mascara is not removed properly.
When choosing between regular and waterproof mascara, consider your lifestyle, the occasion, and the climate. If you require a reliable option for events, sports, or rainy days, waterproof mascara's formulation with water-resistant polymers will deliver smudge-proof results. Nevertheless, for everyday use and easy removal, regular mascara remains an excellent choice, providing remarkable enhancement without the need for specialized cleansers.
What are tubing mascaras, and how do they differ from traditional mascaras?
Tubing mascaras are a unique type of mascara formulation that differs from traditional mascaras in how they coat the lashes.
Instead of using pigment particles and waxes to stick to the lashes, tubing mascaras create tiny water-resistant tubes around each lash.
These tubes encase the lashes, providing length, volume, and curl without smudging or flaking. Unlike traditional mascaras, tubing mascaras are designed to be water-resistant rather than waterproof, making them easy to remove with warm water and gentle pressure.
The tubing effect ensures a smudge-proof and long-lasting finish, while the easy removal process prevents lash damage and irritation from traditional waterproof mascaras.
How can I stop mascara from smudging or flaking throughout the day?
Smudging is the top issue when it comes to mascara. It's so much of an annoyance that we've written a whole guide on how you can stop your mascara from smudging, with even more tips and advice for make-up experts. Here are a couple of their top tips:
- Prep your lashes: Before applying mascara, make sure your eyelashes are clean, dry and free from any product residue.
- Choose the right mascara: Opt for a smudge-proof mascara that is long-lasting and suitable in all conditions.
- Avoid excessive application: Try to limit the number of coats you apply to your lashes, and make sure to allow each layer to dry fully before adding more.
- Use a lash comb: Go through your lashes with a lash comb to separate them out and remove any clumps that could cause smudging.
- Leave it be: Once you have applied your mascara, let it dry and don’t bother it.
- Add a setting powder (optional): For extra security that your mascara won’t smudge, our experts recommended using a light dusting of translucent or setting powder under your eyes to finish off your application routine.
How do I apply mascara properly?
Do you wiggle? Do you swoosh? Do you close your eyes and simply hope for the best? It seems like everyone has a slightly different way of achieving the best results when applying mascara, but in our efforts to definitively find the best way to apply mascara, we spoke to two more make-up experts, and you can read their full advice in our dedicated guide on how to apply mascara, but here's a quick rundown of their tops tips:
- Prep your lashes: Ensure your eyelashes are clean and dry - this will provide the perfect starting point for applying mascara. At this stage, you can also curl your eyelashes using an eyelash curler.
- Apply mascara to the upper lashes: Remove any excess mascara from the brush, and hold the wand horizontally by your lashes.
- Apply mascara to the lower lashes: Use the tip of the wand to apply the desired amount of mascara to your lower lashes - again, make sure to coat evenly.
- Add extra volume (optional): Want more volume and length? Apply additional coats of mascara to your lashes to achieve your desired style.
- Separate any clumps: For the finishing touch, make sure to separate any clumps in your lashes.
What's the best way to remove mascara without damaging my lashes?
Your lashes are delicate, so it's really important to be as gentle as possible when removing your mascara to avoid damaging your lashes. Look for oil-based removers or micellar water, as they are excellent at breaking down mascara without excessive rubbing or tugging.
When it comes to removing your mascara, soak a cotton pad with the remover and hold it over your closed eye for a few seconds to allow the product to dissolve the mascara. Then, gently swipe the cotton pad downward along your lashes to remove the mascara.
Makes sure you avoid rubbing back and forth, as this can cause lash breakage. Be patient, too, and repeat as needed until all mascara is removed, ensuring your lashes stay healthy and intact.
Want more advice? Well, guess what? We also have a full dedicated guide on how to remove mascara, with more tips from top make-up artists.
Want to read more expert-recommended beauty round-ups? Check out our make-up page for a full list of recommendations, including the best foundations, best concealers and best eyeshadow palettes – all recommended by expert make-up artists.