12 Best Waterproof Mascaras That Stay Locked on Lashes
If you’re anything like us, mascara is likely a daily beauty staple. Even on the most minimal makeup days, a quick swipe can work wonders. But before you can decide whether you want a lengthening, curling, or volumizing formula, you must first answer that age-old question: waterproof or regular?
There’s no denying that the latter can be prone to smudging and smearing, especially in humid or rainy weather; during an intense workout, or while watching The Notebook. So if and when you want guaranteed hardcore staying power, waterproof mascaras are the way to go. Generally made with higher amounts of waxes and polymers—AKA the ingredients that ensure the mascara grips onto and stays on your lashes—they’re a choice for ensuring your fringe looks fabulous, no matter what. (The only caveat: Make sure to use a dedicated eye makeup remover when it comes time to take them off since you don’t want to have to scrub too hard and risk damaging delicate lashes.)
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Ahead, the best waterproof mascaras that will stay on through the rain, an ugly cry, spin class, and more.
Best Overall: Too Faced Better Than Sex Waterproof Mascara
The original version of this Holy Grail mascara repeatedly rakes in beauty award after beauty award, not to mention has even been the best-selling prestige mascara in America. This waterproof take features all the same attributes people love; an hourglass-shaped brush, plenty of volumizing prowess—but with added polymers to seriously maximizing its staying power. Plus, unlike many other waterproof formulas that can quickly get sticky, you can easily swipe on up to three coats of this one without any clumps.
Best Budget: Maybelline Great Lash Waterproof Mascara
Arguably the most iconic mascara of all time, you’d be hard-pressed to find someone who doesn’t recognize this classic pink and green tube. Despite the fact that it first launched in 1971, it remains a best-seller year after year; one tube is sold every 2.5 seconds around the world. Color us impressed. The waterproof formula deserves a seat at the table too; offering the perfect amount of lash lift, separation, and definition, without the risk of raccoon eyes. And lest we forget to mention that it costs less than lunch.
Best Drugstore: L’Oréal Voluminous Lash Paradise Waterproof Mascara
There are plenty of great waterproof mascaras to be found at the drugstore, but this may be one of our favorites. The OG version of the formula can admittedly be prone to midday flaking. Enter the waterproof iteration, which means you can stop stressing about smears. With over 200 bristles, it creates sky-high volume, while also lengthening lashes, too.
Best Curling: Dior Diorshow Iconic Waterproof Mascara
Iconic indeed; mascara originally created for makeup artists’ use backstage, the brush features specially cut bristles that lift and curl each and every lash. Pair that with the waterproof formula and you get a curl that lasts up to 24 hours, without even a smudge in sight. The rigid plastic tips also help separate lashes, making for a lifted, curled, and fanned-out look that we can’t get enough of.
Best Tubing: Eyeko Sport Waterproof Mascara
If you’re one of those women who don’t like going to spin or hot yoga bare-faced, meet your new BFF. Sure, it’s waterproof in the traditional sense of better gripping onto lashes and lasting longer. But this unique gel formulation takes it one step further, actually repelling water as well. It’s also a tubing formula, featuring tiny, well, tubes; that adhere to every lash for a lengthened and volumizing effect, and touts conditioning ingredients, too. Bonus points for the squeezy tube, which makes it easy to get out every last drop of this good stuff.
Best Volumizing: Lancôme Monsieur Big Waterproof Mascara
For crazy full fringe, reach for this guy. Wavy bristles coupled with an extra-large brush make for plenty of volumes, not to mention a 24-hour wear time. Also nice: It feels silky and lightweight, not always the case when it comes to waterproof formulas.
Best Intense Black: Shiseido ImperialLash MascaraInk Waterproof
There’s black mascara, and then there’s black black. Ideal for high-impact or more dramatic looks, this one uses ultra-fine crushed pigments that offer high coverage black color. A special film former keeps that color in place for up to 12 hours, and we also like the super skinny brush that lets you reach every last lash, on both top and bottom.
Best All-in-One: Tarte Lights, Camera Splashes
Why choose between adding length, curl, or volume when you don’t have to? This option delivers all three, along with extra conditioning benefits to boot. The waterproof formula isn’t going anywhere, and it’s also infused with carnauba wax to ensure ultra-smooth and tug-free application.
Best Cruelty-Free: CoverGirl LashBlast Volume
A patented formula and brush offer instant volume and fullness in a stay-proof, budge-proof, totally waterproof formula. It’s also hypoallergenic and, like all of the other Cover Girl products, we also appreciate that it’s now certified cruelty-free, too.
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Best Brush: Maybelline The Colossal Spider Effect
The unique wand on this guy is unlike any we’ve seen. Only one side has bristles, which transition from a cone shape at the bottom to a tapered tip. It makes it easy to comb through and separate lashes, as well as reach those teeny-tiny hairs at the inner and corner of your eyes. The result? Plenty of volume and length, but all in a waterproof formula that still comes off easily, with minimal elbow grease required.
Best Natural Waterproof Mascaras: Ere Perez Avocado
As a general rule of thumb, it can be tricky to find a mascara that’s both waterproof and clean; given that the extra ingredients needed for the waterproof part of things aren’t always natural. That’s why we appreciate this rare gem. With a minimal ingredient list, it’s free of questionable chemicals, instead of using avocado and other natural oils to condition and strengthen lashes. Still, it wears up to 24 hours.
Best for Sensitive Eyes: Estée Lauder Sumptuous Extreme Waterproof Volume Mascara
Not only is this ophthalmologist-tested and safe for contact lens wearers, but it’s also free of a fragrance, a common sensitivity-causing culprit. The point being, if your peepers are easily irritated, this pick is for you. That being said, anyone and everyone will appreciate the major volume it delivers (thanks to a combination of three different fibers), the featherweight, mousse-like texture, and the completely waterproof finish.
How To Remove Waterproof Mascaras
After spending 30 minutes (or more) on our eye makeup, the last thing we want is for it to run down our face. To ensure that our smokey eye doesn’t become a smudgy one, we look to budge-proof eye makeup products, namely waterproof mascara, as it almost always ensures a mess-free makeup situation. But, alas, at the end of the night, the clingy ink has got to come off (easier said than done, right?). To remove waterproof mascara without scrubbing, rubbing, or pulling out lashes, here are some tips to follow and best-recommended products.
1. Apply A Base Coat
Stila Huge Extreme Lash $23
Before applying waterproof mascara, protect your lashes with a base coat of regular mascara.
2. Use a Good Remover
Smashbox It’s A Wrap! Waterproof Makeup Remover $20
The key to taking off eye makeup is a good remover. We love this Smashbox formula because there’s no rough tugging required. Simply apply the solution to a cotton pad, hold for a few seconds over your lashes, and voilà! You’ll wipe away to an ink-free flutter. It wipes away hard-to-remove makeup, while also hydrating the delicate eye area and promoting healthier lashes. However, if you are removing your makeup as a means to change beauty looks, a go-to is the NARS Gentle Oil-Free Eye Makeup Remover ($25), as it doesn’t leave behind a residue of any kind.
3. Soak Cotton Pads
Basic Cotton Rounds $5
A drop of makeup remover will not do the trick. It is recommended to soak two cotton pads with your makeup remover of choice and gently pressing the pads onto your lashes. Hold there for at least 30 seconds, and if need be, lightly massage the area for no more than 15 seconds. Wipe off the excess remover with a clean pad and or water and your waterproof mascara should no longer be visible.
4. Clean Up With Q-Tips
Q-tips Purse Cotton Swabs $1
If your mascara tends to settle along your lash line, use a Q-tip to gently clean up the area. Remember to let the mascara dry before you go in with the cotton swab to prevent it from smearing and messing up your eyeshadow.