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The Ultimate Guide to Every Type of Mascara (and Which One Is Right for You)


As much as we love the drama of falsies and the next-level length of lash extensions, the truth is, you don’t need a professional makeup artist on retainer to get the fluttery lashes of your dreams. You just need the right mascara. Of course, with so many different types of mascara formulas and wands out there, finding the right mascara for your lash needs is easier said than done. Which is where we come in. 

We’re sharing the best mascara type for every makeup need, from sky-high lashes to extra volume and gravity-defying curl. Most importantly, these formulas are long lasting and smudge-proof. Ready to discover your new go-to mascara type? Keep reading, then head to our IPSY Shop to snag your perfect mascara fit (it’s always at least 30% off retail!).

EYEKO Beach Waterproof Mascara

1. Waterproof Mascara

We love having waterproof mascara tucked in our makeup bags for nights cursed with pouring rain, wild summer days full of pool parties, and all the fancy events in between. Our favorite waterproof mascaras aren’t just weather-proof, they’re also crying proof, whether you’re sobbing your way through your tenth viewing of A Star Is Born or trying to keep it together at your BFF’s wedding. 

At the top of our list is the SPF-packing, lash-emboldened EYEKO Beach Waterproof Mascara. You’ll want this mascara for sunny days that might end with a dip in the ocean or a sweat-filled volleyball session. Not only will this mascara protect your eyes, but it’ll also nourish your lashes with a formula that includes coconut oil as a top ingredient.

ELIZABETH MOTT It's So Long Length Defining Mascara

2. Lengthening Mascara

When you’re on the hunt for longer lashes, you can’t just reach for any old tube. You need an innovative mascara wand that evenly coats your lashes while also encouraging them to curl. The best lengthening mascaras will rival even the most dramatic of false eyelashes and eyelash extensions. 

We love the C-shaped curved brush that ELIZABETH MOTT packs in her It's So Long Length Defining Mascara. The bristles on this brush are tiny and made of silicone, so each lash gets coated without any clumping. Even better, the formula is lightweight enough to maximize curl, so you don’t have to worry about flaking.

PAT MCGRATH LABS Dark Star Mascara in Xtreme Black

3. Volumizing Mascara

Save the drama for your eyeballs with the best volumizing mascaras that darken and curl your lashes, giving the illusion of falsies without any glue. You’ll want to reach for a dark black mascara, or a formula that’s at least a few shades darker than your natural lashes. 

Wield some major power with PAT MCGRATH LABS Dark Star Mascara in Xtreme Black. It features a contoured brush with strategically-placed fibers of varying lengths that effortlessly coat each lash in pitch-black color. You’ll love the explosive volume you can achieve with this luxurious, weightless formula.

BENEFIT COSMETICS Roller Lash Curling Mascara in Black

4. Curling Mascara

Curling mascara does just that: makes your eyelashes curl upward, making them appear longer and more volumized. Give your eyelash curler a helping hand with a curling mascara that helps you defy gravity. There’s no topping BENEFIT COSMETICS Roller Lash Curling Mascara in Black, thanks to the brilliant “Hook ‘n’ Roll” applicator brush. With each swipe of mascara, this wand curls your lashes as you apply a 12-hour lasting formula that can withstand even the most dramatic of thunderstorms.

LANCÔME Definicils Lengthening & Defining Mascara in Black

5. Lash Defining Mascara

The key to lash defining mascara is in the applicator. You need bristles that have been engineered to lift and coat each strand individually. When it comes to flexibility and multitasking prowess, LANCÔME Definicils Lengthening & Defining Mascara in Black is hands down our favorite pick. Whether you’re going for a more natural look or you’re hoping for extra va-va-voom power, this buildable formula easily adjusts to any makeup look. Swipe one coat on your minimalist days, or add up to three or four layers for the glammest nights out.

TOO FACED COSMETICS Better Than Sex Mascara

6. Non-Clumping Mascara

Your clumpy mascara days are long behind you when you’ve got the freedom to swipe, flutter, and go. For days when you can’t be bothered with touchups, snag TOO FACED COSMETICS' Better Than Sex Mascara. The curvy hourglass-shaped brush brings an ingenious variety of bristle lengths to your mascara party, helping apply and define each of your lashes. Apply two or three layers of formula for faux-falsies, or stick to one coat for “no-makeup” makeup days.

TARTE Tartelette™ Tubing Mascara

7. Tubing Mascara

Think of tubing mascara as a way to give your lashes a super hug. The brilliant formula is designed to wrap around each individual lash hair like a “tube,” thickening your lashes and adding some extra length. While most tubing mascaras require some vigorous rubbing with your makeup remover, TARTE Tartelette™ Tubing Mascara comes off effortlessly, leaving no residue behind.

NYX PROFESSIONAL MAKEUP Double Stacked Mascara + Nylon Lash Fibers

8. Fiber Mascara

When fiber mascaras appeared on the makeup scene, nothing was ever the same. Suddenly you could take your regular formula and add extra length and volume with the help of synthetic fibers, some as tiny as a half-millimeter. Our favorite formula comes in a double punch, courtesy of NYX PROFESSIONAL MAKEUP Double Stacked Mascara + Nylon Lash Fibers. The Double Stacked Mascara primes your lashes for the Nylon Lash Fibers, and with a second coat, seals them to your lashes. 

PIXI BY PETRA LashLift 188 in Beyond Black

9. Bottom Lash Mascara

Your lower lashes are shorter and less voluminous than your top lashes, so stop treating them the same! Trade your regular wand for an adorably tiny lash wand that adds maximum precision for the shortest of your lash hairs. We love that PIXI BY PETRA LashLift 188 in Beyond Black comes with two mascara wands, so you don’t have to pick favorites between your lashes. The oil-based formula nourishes your lashes and stays on long, so you won’t be stuck with any smudging.


10. Clear Mascara

Clear mascara is the ultimate hypeman product for every makeup look you’re trying to nail. Going for a minimalist look? The clear formula lets your natural lash color shine, while giving your brows and your lashes extra support and direction. Looking to wow with shimmer? Clear mascara provides the perfect base coat for your shimmery dreams. BELLÁPIERRE COSMETICS Clear Mascara is our go-to clear mascara, thanks to its lightweight formula that dries quickly.



GIRLACTIK Lash Play Duo Mascara

11. Double-Ended Mascara

Like the classic soup and sandwich combo or your favorite crossbody bag that comes with a detachable shoulder strap, double-ended mascaras know that sometimes you need options. GIRLACTIK Lash Play Duo Mascara comes with a lengthening wand that’s key for elongating and defining your lashes, plus a detailing side that’s perfect for adding “oomph” to your look without any flaking or clumps.

Ready to take your makeup routine to the next level? Take our Beauty Quiz now to get started with your own IPSY beauty subscription. Already an IPSY member? Refer your friends to earn points, which you can use toward products. Either way, don’t forget to check us out on Instagram and TikTok @IPSY.

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About the author
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Maddie Aberman
Maddie is the senior manager of editorial at IPSY. She’s been covering beauty and wellness for more than nine years. Her work has appeared in Allure, Cosmopolitan, Popsugar, Women's Health, Good Housekeeping, and Seventeen, among other publications.
About the author
Angela Velez
Ipster, Carly Rae Jepsen superfan, pesto lover
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Article Last Updated October 24, 2023 12:00 AM