Mascara best in test

Mascara: 18 products tested

Last updated June 2017

There are two questions you should ask before you buy mascara; what kind of eyelashes do I have and what do I want them to look like? Some people want lots of volume, length and intensity. Others want a more discreet and natural result. It used to be the case that length and volume were always two distinct aspects of mascara. But with recent products it's common to get everything from one product, described as having a "false eyelash effect". The formula of a mascara often consists of colour pigment mixed in a base of wax and water. Thickeners such as powder or talc are also added to volume products, while the extending variants often contain nylon or silk fibres that look like small eyelashes. These then stick to the ends of the eyelashes providing a little more length.

The effect of the mascara depends on both the design of the wand and the formula. Wands have developed a great deal in recent years and are now almost always made of silicone, which gives extremely accurate results. Large, dense wands give the most volume as they pick up the most product. Bow-shaped wands follow the shape of the eyelashes, access everywhere and curve the lashes slightly. Narrow and oblong brushes most often given length and define the lashes. Often black is the only colour available, but sometimes a mascara range has a brown shade too. These are perceived as softer and more natural, and are particularly suitable on people with lighter skin and hair colour.

How to use mascara

Before applying mascara, make sure that the area around your eyes is dry and that your eye cream is oil free – otherwise the grease from the cream can cause the mascara to rub off on your eyelid and run under the eye. If you start by curling your lashes with an eyelash curler, it can be easier to access your lashes with the mascara wand and the lashes also get more of a curve, which opens up your eyes. One tip to avoid smudging your eyelids when you brush the mascara on is to hold a mirror below your chin and look downwards. Another tip is to hold a card against the eyelid and then you can apply the mascara with more force and any excess will end up on the card.

Start by placing the brush right in at the root of the lashes and then zigzag it forwards. To increase the false eyelash effect, you can apply a few extra layers of mascara in the outer corner of your eye. You can create really thick volume lashes by waiting for 30 seconds between mascara layers. By brushing on the next layer when the previous one has dried, you can build the volume up. If you work over wet mascara instead you simply wipe off unnecessary mascara, which is perfect for a more natural look.

Products tested

Best in test How the test was made

We carry out our tests ourselves and test all products as they are intended to be used in reality. In our tests of mascara, we asked someone who works professionally with makeup to use the mascaras, both in their work and on their own face. We also had two further people of different ages test the mascara, one of whom was a contact lens wearer. In our tests we have focused on examining the following:

Colour, packaging and wand: What does the product promise? How are the tube and wand designed? What colours are available in the range?

Use: What do the wand, brush and formula feel like on the lashes? How easy or difficult is it to apply? Is the product scented?

Result: What effect does it produce? How long do the lashes stay looking immaculate?

In addition to this we have also included how much the tube contains together with how economical the mascara is, compared this to the product price and then selected the test winner.

L’Oréal Paris Volume Million Lashes Fatale

Easy-to-use wand that gives loads of volume for a good price

Type: Volume mascara Price class: Luxury Size of tube: 6 ml
BEST BUDGET CHOICE

L’Oréal's Million Lashes series contains a number of mascaras that give different amounts of volume and this Fatale version is intended to give both volume and definition – which it definitely succeeds with! Unusually small and neat wand for a volume mascara, accesses everywhere and neatly separates the lashes. Perfect if you want to wear volume mascara every day. We also like the fact that the wand doesn't require any special instructions. You just apply it normally, unlike many other mascaras where you have to move the brush on a particular angle. The result is impressive and definitely comparable with mascaras that are twice as expensive. The tube contains a relatively large quantity which also makes it extremely good value for money. The mascara lasts all day and is then easy to remove.

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    Easy to use wand, lots of volume, separates the lashes, good price
  • Only available in black
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5 of 5

Lancôme Hypnôse

Clump-free mascara with fantastically good durability, small neat brush

Type: Volume mascara Price class: Budget Size of tube: 9.4 ml
Best volume mascara

A mascara that gives really attractive black lashes. Your lashes will be separated and stay like that really well throughout the day, with no deposits under your eyes. The wand is small and easy to get into all the corners with. The slightly thin formula of the mascara makes it tricky to build up volume, but the fantastic durability and the fact that it doesn't clump at all make up for that.

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    Fantastic durability, no clumps
  • A relatively expensive mascara
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4.5 of 5

Elizabeth Arden Grand Entrance Mascara Stunning Black

Effectively curls the lashes upwards and extends them attractively. Available in two shades

Type: Length mascara Price class: Luxury Size of tube: 8.5 ml
Best lenght mascara

The narrow, curved wand is easy to use and the mascara is easy to apply. The lashes are effectively pressed upwards and simultaneously given a lot more length. One of our testers, who has very straight lashes, was extremely impressed and hardly needed to use an eyelash curler with this mascara. The mascara is available in two shades – an intensive black and a softer dark brown. The result is extremely durable and survived a sudden rain shower without problems. At the same time it was easy to remove later in the evening. It's true that the tube contains relatively little mascara and the price is quite high, but Elizabeth Arden's mascara still gets a high score because it does exactly what it promises and you really won't be disappointed.

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    Curls, extends and separates the lashes, lasts all day, available in two shades
  • Expensive
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4.5 of 5

Lancôme Grandiose Extreme Mascara

Small wand that makes it possible to get to all of your small lashes and create a fan effect

Type: Multi mascara Price class: Luxury Size of tube: 10 ml
Best luxury mascara

The mascara wand has a curved shaft that at first glance feels unnecessarily complicated, but when you've got used to it it's an innovation you won't want to be without. The small wand and curved shaft actually makes it easier to get to each lash and get that "fan effect" that so many other mascara manufacturers emphasise in their marketing but so rarely succeed with. You get instructions with the mascara for how to use it. Also, with just a few layers, your lashes will get good volume and great curl, separation and length. The tube is attractive and feels luxurious and contains a reasonable amount of mascara, which also justifies the high price. The mascara stays on all day and is available in black and brown shades.

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    Lets you access all of your lashes, gives volume, length and separation, lasts all day, available in two shades
  • Expensive
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4.5 of 5

Clinique High Impact Mascara

Unperfumed mascara that gives both good length and volume and doesn't cause clumps

Type: Multi mascara Price class: Luxury Size of tube: 7 ml

The anonymous packaging conceals a really great mascara. Your lashes become dramatically raven black, separated and have great length. The result also lasts really well throughout the day, even in a humid environment. The wand is a classic shape with a nylon brush that makes it easy to access all of your lashes. As well as length, this mascara gives good volume. Another positive thing about this mascara is that it's allergy-tested and perfume-free.

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    Good length and volume, no clumps, unperfumed
  • Slightly boring packaging
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4.5 of 5

Estée Lauder Sumptuous Bold Volume

Moisture-tolerant mascara that gives lots of volume and lasts all day

Type: Volume mascara Price class: Luxury Size of tube: 6ml

Estée Lauder's luxurious Sumptuous mascara succeeds fantastically at combining volume and durability. The mascara contains visible fibres which build up loads of volume on your lashes. You have to be careful to avoid clumps. The wand is neatly cone shaped, which makes it easier to access and create more volume in the outer corner of the eye to get a really good "false eyelash" effect. Nor is humidity a problem as this mascara easily lasts all day. However, it does flake a bit more than other volumising mascaras, but that's balanced by the extra volume it offers.

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    Loads of durable volume, handles moisture well
  • Can clump if you're not careful
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4.5 of 5

MaxFactor Masterpiece Max 7,2

Good value for money, cheap mascara with a good wand and the ability to create great volume

Type: Volume mascara Price class: Budget Size of tube: 7.2 ml

This mascara from MaxFactor has been around a few years but is still a good product. You can create great volume with just a few layers, without clumping. It also copes with a damp climate effectively without running. The wand is a small, neat rubber brush that makes it easy to access all your lashes. At the end of the day it flakes a little, but for a budget alternative it's really good.

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    Cheap, good volume, good wand
  • Flakes a little at the end of the day
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4 of 5

Yves Rocher Sexy Pulp Volume Extrême

Non-clumping with good consistency, effectively curls the lashes upwards

Type: Volume mascara Price class: Budget Size of tube: 10ml

Yves Rocher Sexy Pulp Volume Extrême mascara has a fantastically good consistency that doesn’t clump at all during application. The design of the packaging means the brush is loaded with just the right amount of mascara. As the brush is quite long, it's rather difficult and fiddly to get right into the base of the lashes. Nor is the promised volume entirely delivered. Despite many applications to build up the lashes, they instead end up long. The end result is a more natural look. However, the mascara is extremely effective at curling the lashes upwards entirely without it being necessary to use an eyelash curler before application. The mascara also lasts extremely well throughout the day but is still easy to remove. Yves Rocher Sexy Pulp Volume Extrême isn’t brilliant at giving an intensive party look, but it’s very good for everyday use.

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    Good consistency, doesn't clump, curls lashes effectively
  • Not much volume
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3.5 of 5

L’Oréal Volume Double Extension with Sérum

Two step mascara with serum and colour, which gives great volume and has a good wand

Type: Volume mascara Price class: Budget Size of tube: 6 ml x 2

The mascara has two components – a white serum to increase growth of new, longer lashes and which gives clear volume, and at the other end of the wand the mascara that covers the white lashes and gives a good result. Moisture is no problem – the mascara copes with it without running. The wand is a classic style with a nylon brush and it's easy to access all your lashes with it. The mascara can be used with or without the serum and gives results both ways.

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    Good volume, good wand
  • Flakes a little at the end of the day
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3.5 of 5

L’Oréal Volume Million Lashes

Good budget mascara that gives nicely separated lashes

Type: Volume mascara Price class: Budget Size of tube: 9 ml

Volume Million Lashes has an easy-to-use consistency and the result is really attractive lashes. The wand is large and requires a little concentration, but it separates and gradually builds up volume on lashes without them becoming heavy. During application the scent of the mascara can be a bit much, but this disappears once it has dried. Cheap and good!

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    Good at separating lashes, good budget choice
  • Slightly overpowering scent
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3.5 of 5

MaxFactor False Lash Effect

Lots of mascara for the money. Gives attractive, black lashes with good durability

Type: Volume mascara Price class: Budget Size of tube: 13.1 ml

An intensive black result that lasts all day is what you get from this good value for money mascara. However, to build volume with False Lash Effect you need to get to grips with the wand. It has a blunt tip which makes it more difficult to access the innermost eyelashes and the lower lashes without getting mascara everywhere. Once on the lashes, the mascara delivers volume and good durability that works well for both everyday and party makeup. In terms of coping with moisture and flaking it's absolutely fine.

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    Attractive black lashes, lots of mascara for the money
  • Awkward wand makes it more difficult to get into the corners of the eyes
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3 of 5

Yves Rocher Vertige Longueur

Lasts well and gives intensive results with an unusual brush

Type: Length mascara Price class: Budget Size of tube: 8ml

The brush in the Yves Rocher Vertige Longueur tube is minimal. It’s almost as thin as the wand it’s attached to. To begin with it feels a bit odd to handle such a small brush, but this quickly becomes a major advantage. It's easy to get in everywhere, both in the corners of the eyes and right into the base of the lashes. However, the consistency is viscous and the mascara dries quickly, which makes it tricky to get the end result you want. If you apply several coats to the same lashes, they easily get clumpy. However, the mascara does last all day without flaking at all. Despite this it’s easy to remove. After a bit of practice to get the right technique, Yves Rocher Vertige Longueur is a good value for money mascara.

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    Unusual brush, lasts well, intense result
  • Viscous consistency, clumps easily
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3 of 5

bareMinerals Lash Domination Volumizing Mascara

Mascara for length with incredibly durable result, including in humidity or rain

Type: Volume mascara Price class: Luxury Size of tube: 11 ml

The spiral-shaped wand looks cool but feels more like a gimmick – the effect isn't exactly unique. It also turns out, when we look for more information about the mascara, that the bareMinerals website describes how you should rotate the wand 180 degrees while applying the mascara. There's no mention of this technique on the packaging and it's a really difficult application method. The mascara, which is only available in black, states that it's primarily intended to give volume, but we felt that lashes instead mainly become longer, with hardly any extra volume. However, it gets a major plus point because it doesn't flake at all and gives durable intensity, even in moisture and rain. Because the tube contains so much mascara it's also relatively good value for money compared with other mascaras in the luxury segment.

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    Gives length and separation, durable
  • Not enough volume, awkward wand
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3 of 5

Maybelline Lash Sensational Luscious

Durable mascara with effective wand that reaches even the smallest lashes

Type: Volume mascara Price class: Budget Size of tube: 9.5 m

This mascara, which is only available in black, has a clever cone-shaped wand that makes it easy to get to every tiny lash. Unfortunately, despite its small size it also picks up a lot of liquid, which makes it very difficult to manage. Sometimes we had to dry it off on paper to get the right amount, which is really something the tube should do. The wet formula also takes a long time to dry, which makes it fiddly to build up a decent volume. When the lashes are finally dry you can create both length and volume, but it clumps easily. Unfortunately it's also very difficult to remove from your lashes, even if you use special eye makeup remover. However, this does mean that the mascara lasts really well during the day.

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    Wand that gives access to all lashes, good price
  • Wet formula, easily clumps, difficult to remove
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2.5 of 5

Maybelline The Falsies Volum’Express

Cheap mascara with a curved wand to give better curve to the lashes

Type: Volume mascara Price class: Budget Size of tube: 9 ml

This is clearly one of the cheapest mascaras in the test. The spoon shaped wand is intended to give better curve on the lashes. However, you need to practice a fair bit to apply it without splodges. The "spoon" is intended to help curve the lashes at both the inner and outer corner of the eye. This works really well on the upper lashes, but it's more difficult to get at the lower lashes without accidents. Doesn't really last the whole day as it has a tendency to flake, and doesn't really cope with moisture well either.

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    The cheapest mascara in the test
  • The wand and the creamy formula easily lead to clumps
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2 of 5

Max Factor False Lash Epic Mascara Black

Stays in place the whole day without flaking or running. Available in two shades

Type: Volume mascara Price class: Budget Size of tube: 13 ml

False Lash Epic is available in two colours – black and brown-black, which looks a little softer and more natural. However, unfortunately the wand feels a little complicated. It really needs to come with specific instructions, but instead you have to look these up yourself. The spiky ball on the top of the wand could be a good idea, but instead it just makes it very difficult to use. The idea is that you can apply mascara to the small lashes with the ball, but instead our testers regularly just poked themselves in the eye. The unnecessarily complicated wand also means that the result is uneven and unfortunately doesn't produce the volume we had hoped for, instead looking more like spider's legs. The durability is the best thing about this mascara, and it neither flakes nor smudges under the eye, instead staying in place until you choose to remove it.

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    Good durability, two shades
  • Fiddly wand, poor volume
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2 of 5

Estée Lauder Sumptuous Knockout Mascara Black

Durable mascara that gives good intensity and separated lashes

Type: Defining mascara Price class: Luxury Size of tube: 6 ml

The narrow wand is easy to use, easily gets right into the roots of the lashes and helps lift the lashes. The lashes become intensively black and simultaneously nicely separated. Unfortunately that's about it – you don't get the promised "false eyelash effect", and there's not particularly much volume or length. The tube that the mascara comes in is very stylish, but because it holds so little it's also very expensive. However, the result lasts all day without flaking or smudging and there's no problem removing it at night. If the price wasn't so high this would have been a perfectly OK everyday mascara.

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    Easy to use wand, nice intensity, separated lashes, lasts all day
  • No "false eyelash effect", expensive
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2 of 5

Maybelline Lash Stiletto

Easily applied mascara that copes well with moisture and doesn't form clumps in the lashes

Type: Length mascara Price class: Budget Size of tube: 6.5 ml

This is an easily applied mascara that doesn't clump. Unfortunately Maybelline Lash Stiletto disappointed us as it doesn't really deliver what it promises. The results last less than half a day – after that the mascara disappears from the lashes. The only advantage is that it disappears completely rather than all running down under your eyes. However, it copes very well with moisture. When you apply it the scent is a bit overpowering, but this disappears when the mascara is dry.

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    Easily applied, no clumps
  • Results don't even last until lunchtime
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1 of 5

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