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 lovers make-up bag.
But 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?
The Recommended spoke to some of the world’s most knowledgeable beauty industry insiders and professional make-up artists to find out what you should look out for (and avoid) when shopping for your next lash-enhancing mascara. Whether you’re looking to create a dramatic date night look or just need a trusty go-to tube for everyday wear, our experts have given us their top picks for all eye-enhancing scenarios.
Jump to the best mascaras:
- Best curling mascara: Benefit Roller Lash
- Best affordable all-rounder: No 7 The Full 360 Ultra Mascara
- Best for a dramatic look: Dior’s Diorshow Black Out
- Best volumising mascara: Kevyn Aucoin Volume Mascara
- Best lifting mascara: Charlotte Tilbury Pillow Talk Push Up Lashes
- Best defining mascara: Fenty Beauty Full Frontal Mascara
- Best everyday mascara: Maybelline New York Lash Sensational
- Best lightweight mascara: Lancôme Hypnôse Doll Eyes Mascara
- Best layering mascara: Rimmel Extra 3D Lash Volumising Mascara
- Best budget mascara: Essence Lash Princess False Lash Effect Mascara
- Best premium all-rounder: Shiseido Imperial Lash
Our make-up experts
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 worlds 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 “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 to beware of the gimmicks, “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, Dior’s Diorshow Black Out, 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.”
Find out more about each of these expert-recommended mascaras and some of our own top picks below.
The best mascaras
Best curling mascara: Benefit Roller Lash
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 affordable all-rounder: No 7 The Full 360 Ultra Mascara
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.
Best for a dramatic look: Dior’s Diorshow Black Out
Rich, creamy formula
Another favourite of our make-up expert Gilbert Soliz, the Dior Show Black Out mascara features a unique blend of super dark pigments designed to give an intense charcoal-like finish.
Diorshow Black Out mascara has been designed to be like kohl for your lashes. Made with a blend of deeply saturated black pigments, it creates an intensely dark formula, while the inclusion of gum arabic gives it long-lasting staying power to reduce smudging and the dreaded panda eye.
Best volumising mascara: Kevyn Aucoin Volume Mascara
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
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
Gives a full lash look
Design 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 everyday mascara: Maybelline New York Lash Sensational
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 lightweight mascara: Lancôme Hypnôse Doll Eyes Mascara
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.
Best layering mascara: Rimmel Extra 3D Lash Volumising Mascara
This volumising mascara from Rimmel features a unique 3D brush designed to give a buildable, multi-dimensional lash look, defining lashes from corner to corner.
Rimmel London’s 3D brush has been designed to capture lashes from root to tip, to give full coverage from the first application, while its formula has been created to be built upon for a full-volume effect, making it ideal for using with another mascara that works for lifting or lengthening, a method recommended by our expert Joy Adenuga.
Best budget mascara: Essence Lash Princess False Lash Effect Mascara
Dramatic length and thickness
This budget mascara from Essence is designed to give an affordable false lash effect thanks to the conical shape of its fibre brush, which separates individual lashes with precision.
If you’re looking for a budget backup mascara that will give you instant impact and volumising and lengthening full lash coverage, Essence’s Lash Princess False Lash Effect Mascara is definitely one to consider. It’s a favourite of cult make-up artist Bailey Sarian, and has a load of buzz online, with hundreds of beauty lovers singing its praises across Reddit and Facebook.
Best premium all-rounder: Shiseido Imperial Lash
Innovative, flexible brush
With its expertly designed flexible silicone bristles and a unique crown tip, Shiseido’s Imperial Lash is designed to give major length, volume, and definition and is recommended by our make-up expert Amber Amos.
Want to read more expert-recommended beauty round-ups? Check out our Cosmetics page for a full list of recommendations, including the best foundations, best concealers and best eyeshadow palettes – all recommended by expert make-up artists – and check out our guide to the best value beauty advent calendars of 2022.