The Eight Best Mascaras for Every Need—Plus, Expert Tips on How to Apply Them
If eyes do the talking, mascara is the microphone. It's a key step in your makeup routine and one that should be mastered. But sometimes application can be tricky. We've all suffered the unfortunate clumpy-lashes-stuck-together look at some point. Whether you want to volumize or lengthen your lashes, the first step is to know mascara should go on last during your makeup routine. "Mascara is a magnet for powders when it's tacky, so "always apply it last, except for lips," says New York City make-up artist Mary Irwin. Another common grievance is stretching your lashes so far they smear on the top of your lid. To keep the paint from transferring to your lids, use your thumb as a shield while putting it on, says Los Angeles makeup artist Sir John (as in Beyoncé's makeup artist).
For those special occasions that call for your eyes to really pop, layer on the coats. One coat looks natural, but for more impact, keep building. "Wiggling it back and forth will give volume," says Irwin,"and upward strokes lend length." But don't just stop at the top lashes. Sir John suggests a single swipe on the lower lashes for oomph: Look in the mirror with your chin down to detail those fine hairs.
If you lashes do clump—don't fret. Before the formula dries run a metal lash comb through, says Irwin. Of course, it helps to have a reliable wand on-hand. These are shout-outs to our favorite formulas across categories, whether you seek length, fullness, or a smudge-free guarantee. Find one that speaks to you.
The Big Easy
Gel pigments give Maybelline New York Snapscara its deep, quick‐coating color, and the wax‐free formula makes removal truly a snap—just splash your eyes with warm water, no rubbing necessary.
Shop Now: Maybelline New York "Snapscara," $7.99, ulta.com.
The Gentle Giant
Non‐irritating and long‐wearing, Burt's Bees Nourishing Mascara (Martha's choice!) is a saving grace for sensitive eyes.
Shop Now: Burt's Bees Nourishing Mascara, $13, amazon.com.
RevitaLash Volumizing Primer and Mascara has dual benefits: One side delivers hydrating panthenol; the other wields a water‐resistant top coat with strengthening biotin.
Shop Now: RevitaLash Volumizing Primer and Mascara, $35, amazon.com.
The Drama Queen
For serious payoff, try the fluffy‐bristled Lancôme Monsieur Big Mascara. Its creamy formula creates fullness without clumps or flakes.
Shop Now: Lancôme "Monsieur Big Mascara," $25, sephora.com.
Perfect for a night out, the hourglass-shaped brush—with small and long bristles—grabs even the tiniest lash hairs to curl and coat them in a dramatic, buildable black pigment. Layer and have fun.
Shop Now: Too Faced "Better Than Sex Mascara," $25, sephora.com.
The Lash Hugger
This mascara is clingy in the best way: As it dries, it encases each lash in a tube of inky color that leaves no midday darkness under your eyes. The coverings slip right off when you cleanse—zero residue left behind.
Shop Now: Kevyn Aucoin "The Volume Mascara," $28, sephora.com.
The 200-plus bristles in this classic mascara catch every last hair, elongating them for some wow factor.
Shop Now: L’Oréal Paris "Voluminous Lash Paradise" Mascara, $9, amazon.com.
The Double-Duty Pick
The dome tip design of this brush defines even the tiniest lash hairs to create dramatic eyes.
Shop Now: Benefit Cosmetics "They're Real!" Lengthening & Volumizing Mascara, $25, sephora.com.