Best mascaras for volume, length and curl: we test the most affordable and long-lasting products

Best mascaras for volume, length and curl: we test the most affordable and long-lasting productsBest mascaras for volume, length and curl: we test the most affordable and long-lasting products.

We’ve put more than 40 mascaras through rigorous testing to find the creme de la creme – and the results are surprising.

15 Jan 2019, 14:01 Updated : 2 Apr 2019, 18:39.

THE BEST mascaras will lift, lengthen, darken and open up your eyelashes.

Unfortunately, what most of the mascaras out there do too is clump, flake, transfer, sweat, slide and end up somewhere down south of where they were initially applied.

New generation formulas promise to erase these problems – it’s just a matter of weeding out the good from the bad.

Throw back to simpler times in 2008, when all UK teens wanted from their mascara was the capacity to create a clumpy, noughties take on Twiggy’s iconic spidery lashes.

For me, that involved applying lashings of gloopy formulas that dried to a thick crust, which I then separated with a pin (it proved to be quite dangerous on more than one occasion).

I’ve moved on since then, but still struggle with a big problem: if the stuff doesn’t stick like glue, it gathers in black shadows beneath my eyes.

Avoiding putting makeup on the under-eye area can help with this – the oil from concealers and foundations will draw pigment in – but most of the time, it’s to do with the type of products you’re using.

This problem makes buying mascara difficult and risky, if it’s expensive stuff.

So, I’ve put a selection of mascaras (more than 40) through rigorous testing to find the crème de la crème.

The results are surprising, with a lot of the high street buys under a tenner coming up trumps compared with luxury brands.

Best mascaras for volume and curl.

More than any other mascara out there, Better Than Sex creates dramatic impact and curl in the most natural way. This is hard to get your head around but, basically, it makes you look like you were born with the biggest eyelashes ever.

It’s all down the hourglass brush and super soft bristles: they catch each individual lash and coat them with an incredibly thin layer. So, you could keep on building and building (if you want to – one coat will also do), and this mascara would never clump.

The one thing I will say is, it flakes a little after long wear – for best results (unbeatable, I am being seriously picky here) lock it in with one layer of Lancome Hypnose Volume or L’Oreal Million Lashes or opt for the brand’s waterproof version.

Too Faced Better Than Sex Mascara, £19.00 from ASOS – buy here.

Don’t be intimidated by Scandal Eyes’ mega big brush, the tiered bristles make for a very precise application.

The formula is not too wet, so every single lash is coated with a featherweight layer and coaxed into an enviable curl – just keep on building for impact, it will never clump.

Opt for the waterproof version rather than the regular mascara because its staying power is superior.

Rimmel Scandal Eyes Waterproof, £6.99 from Boots – buy here.

Best mascara for false-lash effect.

This mascara does not create curl quite like the Too Faced Better Than Sex but it a more practical purchase because you can create different looks depending on the occasion.

Rubber brushes are usually associated with separation more than lengthening but this one manages to do both, gliding through the lashes without clumping. Plus, it has 306 bristles that fade from long to short to catch those pesky inner corners.

You can control your look with layers. After two or three coats, it creates the most incredible length that will have questioning whether they are indeed your own. Plus, the staying power is like none other.

Lancome Hypnose Volume a porter mascara, £25 from Boots – buy here.

Best for everyday wow.

After the universal success of Boy Brow, Glossier’s Lash Slick mascara naturally generated a lot of hype when it was released.

Formulated with microscopic fibres to add mini extensions, this formula lengthens your lashes without creating a ‘false lash effect’.

It’s all down the tapered brush which coats every strand in a featherlight layer in order to create a really natural, fanned-out look.

I did find that pigment transferred to the under-eye area so if you want it to last all day, lock it in with a waterproof mascara (recommendations below).

Lash Slick mascara, £14 from Glossier – buy here.

Best mascara for working out.

Whether you wear makeup to the gym or not, it’s good to be armed with a mascara that won’t sweat off, sting your eyes and ultimately leave you looking like a panda post-workout.

And I can confirm, Clinique FIT’s mascara is flawless: it lasted an entire yoga session, a dip in the pool and a hot shower. It’s not too pricey either.

The small brush creates neatly separate lashes that look natural, but still create a beautiful curl – perfect if you’re heading straight from work, to the gym and on to dinner.

Clinique Fit Workout 24 Hour Mascara, £14 from ASOS – buy here.

Mascara that won’t budge.

An oldy, but a goodie. because the people still want a dramatic, false-lash effect worthy of a 1960s pin-up.

Bourjois’ mascara does what it says on the tin – creates super black, super bold, super long and voluminous lashes.

What makes this such a winner is the staying power, it really is made for a night of dancing in a sweaty club.

How is this achieved? The formula is actually laced with vinyl which might be alarming for some, but it comes off easily enough with bog standard eye makeup remover.

Bourjois Volume Clubbing Mascara Ultra Black, £7.99 from Superdrug – buy here.

An oldy but a goodie.

A makeup mainstay since 1971, there’s a reason Maybelline hasn’t had to change its Great Lash formula for nearly half a century.

This award-winning mascara won’t give you false-looking lashes but that’s what makes it such an everyday hero – it strikes the perfect balance.

This stuff is water-based so quite wet upon application but once it dries, it won’t budge one bit. It’s also said to condition your lashes while it works. Winning!

Maybelline Great Lash Very Black, £5.99 from Boots – buy here.

Best waterproof mascara.

Talking of waterproof mascaras. this is the queen right here. I put Eyeko’s Beach and Yoga mascaras to the test and was blown away by both.

They survived a dip in the pool, a subsequent shower, a 10 hour sleep and I still woke up the next day with perfectly separated, jet black lashes.

Take Eyeko’s Beach mascara on holiday with you and wear its Yoga version to the sweatiest gym class you can find – you won’t be disappointed.

Eyeko Beach Waterproof Mascara, £19.00 from ASOS – buy here Eyeko Yoga Exhale & Extend Waterproof Mascara, £19 from ASOS – buy here.

Best mascaras under £10.

I’m not a huge fan of plastic brushes but the hard bristles on this one are super flexible and don’t feel spiky on the lashline, plus the curved silhouette really helps to fan lashes out and create spectacular volume.

Be warned: it is quite wet upon application, but well worth the small wait for drying because it sets like glue and does not budge (I applied it in the morning and it looked just as pristine 12 hours later).

This mascara is perfect for busy women who go from desk to dinner. and maybe on to some dancing.

L’Oreal Paris Volume Million Lashes Feline Mascara, £10.99 from Boots – buy here.

Max Factor’s Masterpiece MAX mascara doesn’t create much of a curl but it does add length and impact for a ‘your lashes, but better’ look.

Thanks to the IFX brush, application requires minimal effort for application – the pink bristles coat every single lash and prevent clumping – which is ideal for on-the-go application. So you can say goodbye to pre-work mishaps on the tube.

Again, this mascara is does not smudge, flake or leave you with panda eyes and f or under a tenner, ticks all of the boxes.

Max Factor Masterpiece MAX Mascaras, £9.99 from Boots – buy here.

Best budget mascaras.

This mascara made waves in the beauty community for more than one reason. but mostly because it costs a mere £3.30.

Available in trusty Wilko, Essence’s Lash Princess has a nifty wand that coats lashes with an inky pigment and creates incredible length.

Because it has quite a wet consistency, this mascara can smudge a little by the end of the day. So if you’re going on a night out, try locking it in with a waterproof mascara.

Scroll down to see this mascara in action.

Essence False Lash Effect Mascara Princess Black, £3.30 from Wilko – buy here.

Best mascara for sensitive eyes.

I won’t lie and say that this mascara is the best for dramatic volume but it is, hands-down, the softest and most sensitive product I’ve ever tried.

If you’ve been putting harsh tinting chemicals or extension glue on your lashes and want to repair them, this No7 mascara will give your eyes some much needed TLC.

Made with actual velvet flower, the creamy formula feels conditioning and hydrating.

The feathery brush catches every single strand but never pulls, gliding effortlessly through to the tips and coating individual strands with colour.