How To Choose The Best Mascara

Published 20th November 2020

Coating your lashes in a layer of eye-popping mascara is often the finishing touch in many makeup routines. Whether wearing makeup feels as casual as slipping on a pair of jeans or you reserve your mascara only for those extra for special occasions, ensuring your makeup bag is equipped with only the best mascara is a must-have for both pros and novices.

With so many lash-boosting lotions and potions boasting lengthening, curling, volumising, waterproof and even hypoallergenic properties, it can be difficult to select just one, but we’re here to help. In this guide, we’ll delve into the key features to look out for when choosing your mascara, why they matter and how they’ll add to your look.

We’ll finish off our handy guide by giving you some serious mascara inspiration and highlighting some of our all-time lash-loving faves in our OnBuy top ten best mascara edit. With something for every makeup-fanatic, you’re sure to find the perfect mascara to help you achieve any eye makeup style you can dare to imagine.

What is the best mascara?

What is the best mascara

Ultimately, there is no one-stop, faultless mascara that’ll work for everyone. However, there is an incredible selection of mascaras out there and the best mascara for you will depend entirely on your personal style and application, and therefore differs from person to person. 

By way of illustrating, for any natural beauties with sensitive skin there’s a huge array of fantastic, eyelash-enhancing and hypoallergenic mascaras out there. Often specially formulated to achieve a lightweight and understated look suitable for everyday wear - just without the dreaded irritation!

Alternatively, those who prefer dramatic, show-stopping lashes and love to make an impact, are sure to be delighted by a super volumising or curling mascara - your best bet to finish off any statement makeup look. As a result, picking the perfect mascara is no simple task, but a great place to start is by whittling down the key features of your dream mascara! 

Whether you’re prone to uncomfortable eye irritability or often find yourself becoming increasingly frustrated by smudge-prone eye makeup, there’s a high-quality mascara to combat these unpleasant issues alongside boosting your self-confidence. Check out the different types of mascara below to identify the best mascara to complement your pretty peepers.

What are the different types of mascara?

different types of mascara

Lengthening: The most suitable mascara if you often struggle with short or slow-growing lashes, a lengthening mascara will elongate your natural lashes for a feminine boost that you’ll love flashing at your next crush. The best lengthening mascara formulas work by highlighting even the tiniest lashes from the root and making each individual eyelash stand out.

Curling: Once you frame your eyes with an impactful curling mascara, you’ll never go back. Curling mascaras are a brilliant solution to straight or lack-lustre lashes that require extra shape and definition. Ideal if you’re wary of torturous-looking eyelash curlers, a good curling mascara will expertly hold your lashes up for an attractive, open-eye finish.

Volumising: Calling all drama-loving makeup fans, a volumising mascara can make all the difference when you’re trying to accomplish a head-turning eye. Often featuring large wands with many bristles, these volume-boosting beauties will get you admiring your luscious lashes every time you catch a glimpse of your reflection.

Hypoallergenic: Designed to eliminate eye irritation for people with sensitive skin, hypoallergenic mascara has been specially created to turn wearing mascara from a sore nightmare into a welcomed dream. Often overflowing with nourishing vitamins, your eyes will actually thank you for layering on more of this gentle mascara.

Waterproof: If you’re one of those people who seem to constantly suffer from unsightly panda eyes when donning mascara, then you need a smudge-resistant and waterproof mascara. Able to handle everything from dips in the pool to a tear-jerking rom-com session, a waterproof mascara battles against unpredictable weather and sweat to provide you with added peace of mind. 
Lash-defining: Out of all the aforementioned types of mascara, a lash defining solution is the ultimate formula for delivering volume, length and colour with just one product. Often thicker than other types of mascara, these formulas cling to individual lashes, emphasising each one for a fuller, lengthening effect.

What are the various kinds of mascara wand?

various kinds of mascara wand

Each mascara will come with its own handy application wand, so knowing which wand shape to choose will help guide you in picking the best mascara for your purposes. Below, we give you a quick rundown of the various wand shapes you might come across and their individual benefits!

Straight: Ideal for the makeup novices, thin and straight brushes provide you with extra control, so you can see exactly where you’re applying the product and angle the brush to reach those inner eyelashes.

Pine cone: Pine cone mascara wands are shaped just like the familiar seed-producing woody cone and are most commonly used to grip and lengthen particularly small and tricky corner lashes.

Thick: A thick mascara wand will be your best friend in the mission to build up volume due to the generous size of the bristles. Attracting plenty of product at once, attention-grabbing eyes are easy to accomplish with this type of mascara wand.

Rubber: If you often struggle with sparse eyelashes, a rubber bristle mascara wand will allow you to effortlessly add extra depth to your lashes making them seem more numerous and fuller than your bare lashes.

Curved: As you might have guessed, this curved wand is often paired with curling mascaras due to the semi-circular shape. As a result, this type of wand enables you to introduce extra curvature to feminise your lovely lashes.

Long: While long brushes won’t provide you with incredible volume, they’ll certainly help to elongate your lashes for some show-stopping length. Long brushes are ideal for sweeping on a full coat of mascara at once for easy and convenient application.

Our OnBuy edit of the top ten best mascaras

Dedicated to providing you with only the very best selection of stunning mascaras, our OnBuy edit includes a lash-enhancing solution suitable for every kind of show-stopping effect you could wish to achieve. Packed with nourishing ingredients and vibrant colour, each one has been chosen by us as the one of the best mascaras you can get your hands on!

Whether they contain a top-notch mascara formula for creating a false-lash effect or they refuse to budge underwater, we’ve whittled down our favourite mascaras into this list of OnBuy’s top ten solutions that you’re sure to love. Which one will you fall in love with?

Make an impact: Maybelline Black Lash Sensational Multiplying Mascara

Maybelline Black Lash Sensational Multiplying Mascara

Major benefits: Creates dramatic volume and length, curved wand, affordable

Could improve: Water-resistance

Contained within a visually stunning rose gold bottle, this lash multiplying mascara was made to impress. Boasting Maybelline’s first layer-reveal wand, the unique wand is the perfect tool for applying this lash-boosting formula and finishing your dramatic, evening look.

Thanks to the curved wand, this mascara adds a gorgeous shape to your eyelashes while simultaneously eliminating unsightly clumps. Most commonly used for those fun nights out with the girls, your lashes will look volumised and lengthened by the intense black mascara for an arresting style that’s sure to turn heads.

Nourish those lashes: Miss Sporty Black Pump Up Lash Booster Mascara

Miss Sporty Black Pump Up Lash Booster Mascara

Major benefits: Lifts lashes, works for up to 10 hours, contains nourishing vitamins

Could improve: Waterproof qualities

With this lash-emphasising mascara in your makeup bag, your eyes will never feel sore or bare again. Chock-full with nourishing both vitamin A and E, this collagen-enriched Miss Sporty mascara cares for your eyelashes while also helping them to reach their full potential with up to 70% more lift.

Contained in a striking vibrant purple and orange bottle, this edgy and super-affordable mascara is purported to keep your lashes looking luscious for up to ten impressive hours. For more volume without the drying effects of layering mascara, this vitamin-packed mascara is an undeniably great solution.

Ditch the curlers: Marc Jacobs Beauty At Lash’d Lengthening And Curling Mascara

Marc Jacobs Beauty At Lash’d Lengthening And Curling Mascara

Major benefits: Curls and lengthens, vegan, lightweight, buildable, long wear

Could improve: Being less pricey, also not waterproof

Not a fan of those torture-like eyelash curling devices? Create the same feminine curve without the hassle or a curler using this lightweight, designer Marc Jacobs mascara created to dish out those curls and encourage glorious length for any eyelashes that need a little extra life.

The vegan solution is not only animal-friendly, but the feather-light feel allows you to expertly build up layers of mascara providing you with sexy volume, curl and length. This trio of coveted mascara features is improved only by the smudge-resistant formula and easy-to-use pine cone wand. If you can come to terms with the more expensive price tag, this luxurious mascara is a real winner.

For a look that lasts: IsaDora Active All Day Wear Mascara

IsaDora Active All Day Wear Mascara

Major benefits: Long-lasting, water-resistant, lengthening and volumising, vegan

Could improve: Not fully waterproof

Cruelty-free and vegan, even dedicated animal-lovers can enjoy the many benefits of this sleek, silver mascara. Taking you effortlessly from day to night, you can rely on this long-lasting IsaDora mascara for stunning length and curvaceous volume with just a few coats.

Also perfect for the gym, why not see how far you can push this sweat-resistant and smudge-proof formula the next time you're working up a sweat? Finished with a wavy wand, all of your lashes will be caught and coated in the conditioning ingredients for a fanned out look that won’t budge, no matter what you throw at it.

For lash lengthening: Rimmel Extreme Black Lash Accelerator Mascara

Rimmel Extreme Black Lash Accelerator Mascara

Major benefits: Combined with growth serum, nourishing, straight wand, affordable

Could improve: Still not waterproof

For naturally longer lashes and an extra layer of lash enhancement, you need look no further than this 2-in-1 lash growth treatment and mascara duo. Boasting nourishing ingredients, this Rimmel Lash Accelerator is designed to make your lashes appear up to 80% longer!

That’s right, while the extreme black mascara emphasises the magnificent appearance of your lashes, the length-enhancing ingredients get to work naturally encouraging your eyelashes to grow. As a result, with or without this intense mascara your lashes will become extra lush and lengthy for a constant wow factor.

For a sensitive solution: Green People Organic Lifestyle Black Volumising Mascara

Green People Organic Lifestyle Black Volumising Mascara

Major benefits: Organic, volumising, vegetarian, suitable for sensitive skin

Could improve: Not waterproof

Suitable for vegetarians and sensitive skin, this organic mascara from Green People is designed to be super-inclusive, allowing almost everyone to perfect their lashes with their volumising formula. The unique precision wand is a fab tool for accurately plumping up your lashes and works alongside the natural cellulose microspheres to achieve incredible volume.

Ideal for anyone who often feels irritated by eye makeup products, 98% of the ingredients are completely natural and help to nourish your lashes for an exquisite experience. At the same time, this mascara layers a coat of deep black, naturally-pigmented solution onto your eyelashes for an enchanting effect.

Achieve the false-lash effect: Lancôme Black Hypnôse Drama Mascara

Lancome Black Hypnose Drama Mascara

Major benefits: Ultra-lengthening and volumising, waterproof, fake lash illusion

Could improve: Can be difficult to remove, on the expensive side

Finally! A waterproof mascara that can not only fight back against the cruel makeup-destroying effects of rain and sweat but also form a spellbinding false-lash effect that could fool even the most makeup-savvy influencers out there.

If you’re willing to cough up the extra cash, you could treat yourself to this luxurious ultra-lengthening and volumising Lancôme mascara. Slipping onto your eyes like glorious liquid false lashes, this full-bodied, waterproof solution glides on using the curved wand for curvaceous and extreme lashes that always make a statement.

The holiday must-have: Clinique High Impact Waterproof Mascara

Clinique High Impact Waterproof Mascara

Major benefits: Completely waterproof, natural effect, volumising

Could improve: Lengthening, on the pricier side

Never hit the beach without this practical and volumising Clinique waterproof mascara. A must-have for anyone who spends a lot of time in the water, this sleek, pale green mascara ensures you’ll never be left with unappealing panda eyes or running black streaks again.

Sporting a straight, thick wand, this mascara applicator holds plenty of product for easy application, giving you instantly volumised lashes without the dramatic length. Ideal for creating a more natural lash look, the most attractive element of this Clinique mascara has to be the impressive sweat and waterproof properties

Fuss-free to remove: Glossier Lash Slick Mascara

Glossier Lash Slick Mascara

Major benefits: Effortless makeup removal, affordable price, curls and lengthens 

Could improve: Water-resistant, but not waterproof

Dermatologically tested, those with sensitive eyes or contact lens wearers can rejoice with this gentle and hassle-free mascara from Glossier. Chock-full with tiny lengthening fibres that stick from the root to the very tip of your eyelashes, flexible film-forming polymers are added to keep your lashes looking lush for longer.

Water-resistant, you can still easily wash away this curling mascara using warm water. So, if you often find yourself using up more than your fair share of eye makeup remover, opting for this sensitive and straightforward mascara could be a real time saver.

Extra tips for luscious lashes

If you’re after a little more of a lash lift than any standard mascara can provide, there are plenty of other methods you can utilise to boost your fluttery features. An easy way to add shape and definition before your mascara is by using a lash curler. 

This gentle curling device can help to open your eyes, making your lashes seem longer without overloading them in product. Effective in a matter of seconds, simply clamp the eyelash curler around the root of your lashes then squeeze for at least 15 seconds for impressive results.

Another easy option to spread out those eyelashes and define each individual lash is to wiggle the mascara wand as you draw the wand from the root to the very tip of your lashes. This application method evenly spreads the mascara, avoiding unsightly clumping alongside making your lashes seem more numerous.

Finally, if you prefer something a little more effortless and natural-looking, opting for a clear mascara or using a daily eyelash growth serum can also emphasise your natural lashes, but won’t feature a messy makeup removal process. It’s perfect for everyday wear and a comfortable go-to if you shy away from donning heavy eye makeup.

Our final thoughts on mascara

No matter which mascara or lash-enhancing serum you choose, doing your research to seek out reliable reviews and focusing on your most important mascara qualities goes a long way to finding the best mascara to suit your signature style and requirements. So, why not treat yourself and discover your lifelong number one mascara now?

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