How to Choose a Mascara

Pick between different mascara types to pick your perfect one

Young woman applying mascara, close-up
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When you stand at the makeup counter or aisle, it can be confusing. There are so many types of mascara. Should you get lengthening, curling, thickening or non-smudging? And what, just what, is the difference between each of these anyway? (Is there a difference, or are these mascara types all hype, designed to get you to buy more than one type?)

Here are a few "who knew that?" tips about mascara. 

The Shape of the Brush

Mascaras certainly have different formulas, but what really makes a mascara "lengthening" or "volumizing" has just as much to do with the brush.

Go to a Sephora and open up their mascaras and you can see the difference. 

Here are a few things to consider:

  • Fat brushes with tons of bristles create voluptuous lashes. These will be branded as "volumizers."
  • "Lengthening mascaras" will have longer, less dense brushes. They'll be somewhat skinny and will coat each lash perfectly without clumping or adding much oomph. Curved wands will help curl lashes.  
  • Fiber 3D lashes are all the rage and include 2 brushes, one to coat the primer for the fibers to stick to and one to apply the tiny fibers. 
  • A curved brush will help curl lashes. Some people prefer to use a lash curler before mascara application. 

Now onto the different formulas.

Lengthening Mascara

Lengthening mascara is meant to give you the appearance of longer lashes. Lengthening mascaras have dense bristles that allow you to get more mascara on your lashes and especially on the tips of your lashes.

 What this mascara won't give you are thicker lashes

A favorite lengthening mascara is Lancome's Definicils. It's touted as a lengthening mascara and beauty editors swear by it. 

A big trend in lengthening mascaras these days is 3D fiber mascaras, which work by attacking tiny fibers to lashes. There are several good products on the market today, including Younique's famous mascara.


Here are some other great options:

Volumizing Mascara

When you want bulk, you do want to buy the mascaras touted as "volumizing" or "thickening." These products contain a thicker formula of waxes and silicone polymers that coat lashes and make them appear bulkier. The most popular thickening mascara on the market is Christian Dior's Diorshow.

Some great options include:

Waterproof Mascara

Waterproof mascara is a good choice when you're going to be crying or sweating or just want to ensure your mascara won't smudge.

Waterproof, or "non-smudging," mascaras contain special synthetic formulas meant to repel moisture. But these can be harsh on your lashes (to prevent breaking lashes, you can put Vaseline on them before you go to sleep). There are a lot of great waterproof mascaras out there including:

Non-Clumping Mascara

If you hate clumps, consider a non-clumping mascara.

These contain ingredients like silk extract and glycerin. The applicators also have longer wands which allow for a more even application. 

Some great options include:

We've done the research and found the best reviewed and most loved mascaras on the market today. These include waterproof, thickening and lengthening mascaras. And don't discount drugstore brands. You can save money and get a decent mascara at the drugstore.