Best mascara for volume

Eye Makeup

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Which volumizing mascara is best?

Looking for lush, fuller lashes? Instead of dealing with the hassle and expense of false lashes or lash extensions, try adding a volumizing mascara to your makeup collection. Besides increasing fullness and length, volumizing mascara creates bold, dramatic, camera-ready looks.

Volumizing mascara is formulated with ingredients that boost thickness and dimension, such as IT Cosmetics Superhero Elastic Stretch Volumizing Mascara, which coats lashes root-to-tip with collagen and other ingredients to achieve a fuller-looking lash line.

What to know before you buy a volumizing mascara

What is volumizing mascara?

Volumizing mascara is formulated to make lashes appear fuller and longer. These formulas are usually thicker than regular mascaras, and they’re often more pigmented. Volumizing mascara creates a dramatic effect because it defines a look by framing the eye. 

However, volumizing mascara isn’t a one-and-done product that relies on a single coat. Instead, you may need to apply a few layers to achieve your ideal volume. This requires a steady hand, patience and practice. If you add too little mascara, your look may appear more subdued. If you build too many layers of mascara, you run the risk of clumpy application. 

Waterproof vs. regular mascara

Volumizing mascaras are available as regular and waterproof formulas. They vary the most in terms of wear time. 

Regular mascara

Regular mascara formulas are susceptible to running and flaking when they’re exposed to moisture, such as water splashes, humidity or tears. They often have shorter wear times than volumizing mascaras. These mascaras, however, are much easier to remove with facial cleaners. They’re also believed to be less damaging to lashes. 

Waterproof mascaras, including the ones seen in the BestReviews buying guide, are infused with polymers that prevent formulas from running. Several waterproof mascaras even stay put when you swim. A drawback of these formulas is that they’re challenging to wash off and require waterproof makeup removers. Waterproof mascaras may dry out lashes with frequent use.

Mini vs. full-size volumizing mascara

In the last few years, many high-end beauty brands have released mini versions of their bestselling volumizing mascaras. These are usually half or two-thirds the size of regular barrels. 

Many people gravitate toward mini sizes as they’re more confident they’ll be able to finish the barrel. These smaller sizes are less expensive, so if you want to try a new formula without shelling out big bucks for a full-size product, mini versions can be an appealing investment. 

While mini mascaras may be cost-effective for one-time or occasional purchases, they can end up being more expensive than full-sized versions in the long run. The smaller wands on mini mascaras may also be more difficult to grip for some users, so full-sized models can sometimes be your best option.

What to look for in a quality volumizing mascara

Ingredients

While volumizing mascaras vary considerably when it comes to formulation, many of them share the same ingredients. Collagen, a common ingredient, helps strengthen and plump lashes, leaving them with a lush, thicker appearance. Peptides may nourish and protect lashes, including weaker or dryer lashes. Biotin may strengthen lashes and stimulate lash growth. Polymers, often used in waterproof mascaras, coats lashes and help moisture bead off the surface.

Color

It’s easy to find volumizing mascaras in black, and many drugstore beauty brands even offer more than one shade of black. Other common colors include brown, purple and navy. However, some high-end beauty brands only release volumizing mascaras in black. 

Spoolie style

There are several spoolie styles for volumizing mascaras, with classic cylindrical ones remaining the most popular. Other spoolies may be tapered, curbed or bulbous. They’re usually made with densely-packed nylon bristles, and sometimes, the bristles are staggered to deposit pigment on lashes more efficiently. 

How much you can expect to spend on volumizing mascara

Drugstore volumizing mascaras cost $12 and below, whereas formulas made by premium beauty brands cost $16-$25. Luxury beauty brands typically price their volumizing mascaras between $25-$50. 

Volumizing mascara FAQ

How long will a barrel of mascara last?

A. A barrel of mascara may last up to two years sealed in the package. Once it’s opened, you can expect up to three months’ worth of use with daily application. However, some waterproof mascaras may dry out sooner due to their formulas.

Should I apply volumizing mascara to bottom lashes?

A. Some people apply mascara to bottom lashes for a more dramatic, eye-defining effect. Others feel applying mascara to the bottom lashes can result in transfer or create raccoon-like eyes. Instead, many people stick to clear mascara for bottom lashes. 

What’s the best volumizing mascara to buy?

Top volumizing mascara

IT Cosmetics Superhero Elastic Stretch Volumizing Mascara

IT Cosmetics Superhero Elastic Stretch Volumizing Mascara

What you need to know: A high-pigment formula infused with polymers and collagen, this volumizing mascara gives lashes a full, lush appearance. 

What you’ll love: The mascara adds volume with strengthening ingredients, including collagen, peptides, biotin and proteins. It has a classic, dense spoolie that keeps clumping at bay for quick and easy application. Buyers say the formula is buildable to create natural or dramatic looks. 

What you should consider: It’s only available in black, and the formula isn’t waterproof, like other premium options. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon, Ulta, Sephora and Macy’s

Top volumizing mascara for the money

Maybelline New York Volum' Express The Colossal Waterproof Mascara

Maybelline New York Volum’ Express The Colossal Waterproof Mascara

What you need to know: A best-selling drugstore mascara, this volumizing mascara has a plumping effect from root to tip. 

What you’ll love: The formula is available in three shades of black. Infused with collagen with a no-clump formula, the mascara promises to add up to nine times the volume of other mascaras with one coat. It’s considered a gentle formula that is suitable for contact lens wearers.

What you should consider: A few buyers felt the lifespan of the barrel varied, as some seemed to dry out after a few weeks. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon and Ulta

Worth checking out

Lancôme Monsieur Big Volumizing Mascara

Lancôme Monsieur Big Volumizing Mascara

What you need to know: This classic Lancôme formula is often used in place of false lashes, because it offers so much volume and definition.

What you’ll love: An all-day formula, the ultra-pigmented mascara is smudge-proof and won’t flake. The spoolie has wavy bristles that apply mascara 360 degrees around lashes to achieve a fully-coated effect. It’s available in black or brown.

What you should consider: The stay-put formula can be difficult to take off, including with makeup removers.

Where to buy: Sold by Ulta, Sephora and Macy’s.

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Sian Babish writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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