The Best Mascaras for Length & Volume

What clumped, what ran and what truly transformed our real-woman eye makeup testers

We had 12 beauty-junkie members of our Total Beauty Squad test out so-called lengthening and volumizing mascaras. Their verdict: You could spend a fortune on the best -- but you don't have to.

By Charli Schuler

L'Oréal Voluminous Mascara ($6.99, ) "I use Clinique High Impact Mascara ($14, ) for a dramatic look and Almay One Coat Nourishing Triple Effect Mascara ($7.99, ) for daily conditioning, but the L'Oréal mascara seemed to do both! It's an amazing mascara for the price. It didn't clump, and I only needed one coat. My lashes looked full and curly. I wore it to a party and my lashes never looked dry all night long. I'm switching, and I've already recommended it to friends." -- Debra, 27 Brush width: Average Wand length: Medium Application: Excellent Feel: Excellent Wear: Good Look: Excellent Removal: Good Irritation?: No Lancôme L'Extrême Mascara ($23, ) "I run a restaurant; this mascara held up under the heat and hard work, and I had no problems wearing it with contact lenses. The long, curved tube is a nice visual that represents the product's lash-extending claims. I loved the brush applicator. No clumping at all. It definitely gave my lashes more length than volume, just as the name implied. My only complaint? The formula was thinner than I expected and the results weren't super-dramatic. I also noticed that when I wore tinted moisturizer without powder, it smudged along the bottom lashes." -- Tatia, 34 Brush width: Thin Wand length: Medium Application: Excellent Feel: Good Wear: Good Look: Good Removal: Good Irritation?: No Dior Diorshow Mascara ($23, ) "With its sleek packaging and subtle, perfumed scent, there's only one word for this mascara: luxurious. The chubby brush made application easy and really lengthened my lashes with very little clumping. The mascara even lasted through a day of running around with kids in the rain. At night, I noticed some flaking, but aren't we all a little flaky sometimes? Also, it was easy to remove with water." -- Heather, 26 Brush width: Thick Wand length: Medium Application: Good Feel: Excellent Wear: Good Look: Excellent Removal: Excellent Irritation?: No Revlon Lash Fantasy Mascara ($8.99, ) "The best thing about this mascara? It didn't smudge all day. It rarely clumped, and it did make my lashes appear a little fuller than my old favorite, Maybelline Great Lash ($4.59, ). Though this is a dual-ended, two-step product, I skipped the "primer" step, because I didn't notice enough of a difference in the length or volume of my lashes to make it worth the extra time." -- Rebecca, 23 Brush width: Average Wand length: Short Application: Good Feel: Excellent Wear: Excellent Look: Excellent Removal: Fair Irritation?: No Max Factor Volume Couture Mascara ($6.99, ) "As someone with very short lashes, I was hopeful this product would live up to its lengthening claims. While the mascara didn't lengthen much, there were absolutely no clumps. Each and every lash was visible and the mascara didn't move, even when I fell asleep with it on (oops). One exception: When I wore it 'til the wee hours, it flaked and I felt like I had a stick in my eye. Verdict: I would definitely use this again." -- Sandra, 33 Brush width: Average Wand length: Medium Application: Excellent Feel: Excellent Wear: Excellent Look: Good Removal: Good Irritation?: Yes (only when it flaked) CoverGirl VolumeExact Mascara ($7.19, ) "The package screamed, 'I am a drugstore item,' but I gave this mascara the benefit of the doubt. The fat, red tube is fun. The opening is designed to scrape off excess mascara from the applicator when you remove the wand, which eliminates that messy, scraping step. It added volume to lashes without clumping, but it didn't exactly lengthen, so the product fell short of expectations." -- Anna, 31 Brush width: Average Wand length: Medium Application: Good Feel: Good Wear: Good Look: Fair Removal: Good Irritation?: No Almay One Coat Nourishing Thickening Mascara ($6.99, ) "This mascara gave me long, thick lashes, but it wasn't perfect. The formula tended to clump when I applied it, although it thinned out with multiple brushings. I appreciate a long-lasting mascara, but this one flaked out late at night and gave me raccoon eyes. It was easy to remove and it didn't irritate my contacts at all (a big plus)." -- Stacey, 32 Brush width: Average Wand length: Short Application: Good Feel: Excellent Wear: Good Look: Good Removal: Excellent Irritation?: No Estee Lauder Lash XL Maximum Length Mascara ($21, ) "The way this mascara is marketed, you'd think the women who wear it would be able to create wind power when they bat their super-long lashes. Unfortunately, even with multiple coats, I never saw a dramatic increase in length and was even more disappointed when it flaked off after a few hours. Sadly, the highlight of Lash XL is its innovative silicone-coated handle, which provides a great, slip-proof grip that would be a nice feature on a better mascara." -- Aubrey, 26 Brush width: Thin Wand length: Long Application: Fair Feel: Fair Wear: Fair Look: Fair Removal: Good Irritation?: No Maybelline Define-a-Lash Mascara ($7.95, ) "This mascara did a good job of separating lashes compared to conventional mascaras, but it is not my favorite 'rubber-brush' brand. It went on relatively smudge-free, but the brush was too flimsy and spattered mascara on my face. It was very easy to remove -- maybe a little too easy. [The non-waterproof formula] didn't stand up well in rain or during my sweaty kickboxing class." -- Mandy, 29 Brush width: Average Wand length: Medium Application: Good Feel: Good Wear: Fair Look: Good Removal: Good Irritation?: No Urban Decay Big Fatty Mascara ($18, ) "The only thing big and fatty about this mascara is the wand and brush. So big and fatty, in fact, it was difficult to apply. I couldn't reach under my lashes because the brush was too big. But the consistency of the mascara was nice. It didn't run, flake or smudge. It washed away with just warm water and soap. For me, the mascara offered a more natural look than I like. I would recommend it if you want a natural look, and I don't mind the fact that it's not waterproof (but easily washes away)." -- Colleen, 27 Brush width: Thick Wand length: Average Application: Poor Feel: Excellent Wear: Excellent Look: Fair Removal: Excellent Irritation?: No YSL "Volume Effet Faux Cils" Luxurious Mascara ($26.50, ) "Sure, this mascara gave me seriously full, thick lashes, but it also left residue behind if I rubbed my eyes. This is not what you want to wear if you're staging a sleepover at your boyfriend's or renting a tearjerker -- you'll get major raccoon eyes. Any time my eyes watered, the mascara ran. It wasn't easy to remove all of the mascara, so I usually woke up with raccoon eyes after wearing it." -- Kate, 24 Brush width: Average Wand length: Medium Application: Good Feel: Good Wear: Fair Look: Excellent Removal: Fair Irritation?: Yes Prescriptives Lash Envy Mascara ($19.50, ) "I like to emphasize my eyes with makeup, and mascara is the most important element in my routine. This mascara certainly talked a big game ('the voluptuous, luscious lashes you've always craved'), but its performance was mediocre. It didn't inspire me to break up with my old drugstore standby. If you want bold, dramatic lashes, you can't beat L'Oréal Voluminous." -- Shannon, 27 Brush width: Average Wand length: Short Application: Good Feel: Good Wear: Fair Look: Fair Removal: Good Irritation?: No Bonus: Removing Waterproof Mascara Yes, it's hard to remove -- but that's what keeps it from running. If you have to rub the delicate skin around your eye, you're doing it wrong, says Los Angeles-based makeup artist Taylor Chang-Babaian. "Waterproof makeup is not water-soluble so water doesn't break it down. You need to use an oil to fully remove it." Pro recommendations: 1. Use a product designed for the eye area, such as Andrea Eye Q's Eye Makeup Remover Pads ($4.49, ) or Clé de Peau Absolute Eye Makeup Remover ($39, ). "The pads are ultra-quick and the mineral oil base takes off everything," Chang-Babaian says. 2. If you opt for a classic bottle of oil-based remover: "Try using Viva paper towels ($1.79, ) instead of cotton pads. They won't leave the white fuzz behind. The texture is soft and cloth-like so it's gentle on the eyes," says Clarins celebrity makeup artist Nick Barose. He suggests holding the pad or towel on the lashes for 30 seconds and then gently swiping off your mascara in a circular motion. 3. Oil-based removers will leave a greasy residue behind that sits on top of your skin and prevents the absorption of any moisturizers or eye creams you apply. To prevent this, Chang-Babaian highly recommends removing mascara before you wash your face. Makeup Primer: Worth the Extra Step? Our Editors' Favorite Mascaras 73 Products Everyone's Obsessing About Subject Subject Subject Message Message Message
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I remove waterproof mascara with coconut oil. works great. I put in on my lashes, let it sit for a few minutes, then I dab it off with a soft, wet microfiber towel. Also Clinique, take the day off remover works great, I use them both, and I have had no eyelash loss using these either

by marlxoxo Tuesday, May 14, 2013 at 02:38PM Report as inappropriate

Dior show is the best, but too expensive

by LittleBunny Friday, January 4, 2013 at 07:21AM Report as inappropriate

awesome! I love dior show.

by lisiana_de_bem_justino Saturday, April 28, 2012 at 08:25PM Report as inappropriate

gonna have to cast my vote on L'Oreal Volminous out of all these listed. Dior? I have had it and though it was pretty cool, not that many dollars cool...Not much difference in the two. Oh, and removing mascara with oil is horrible for me. Did that a couple of times much to my dismay. Better make sure to get it ALL off because somehow the smallest amount would make it into my eyes and everything woul be a blurry mess. Never again....unless I have to of course. There are better ways.

by ShanthiDevi Wednesday, March 21, 2012 at 12:45AM Report as inappropriate

The L'Oreal Voluminous mascara is, and will probably always be, the go to drug store mascara. This does actually out perform a lot of the pricey brands too!

by powerwoman033 Sunday, March 18, 2012 at 11:21PM Report as inappropriate

going to try the loreal voluminous mascara

by NYdesichick Saturday, March 3, 2012 at 04:17PM Report as inappropriate


by cielona_boco Tuesday, January 31, 2012 at 08:53PM Report as inappropriate

The L'Oreal Voluminous mascara is great and cheap too!

by vfalkow Wednesday, September 14, 2011 at 02:46PM Report as inappropriate

L'Oreal Voluminous is AWESOME. Works as well as a lot of more expensive products.

by LipglossandSpandex Monday, April 18, 2011 at 10:19PM Report as inappropriate

Dior Show Black Out of is such a good product for a more dramatic look. Definitely not a daytime mascara but one coat over a traditional black mascara and you have lashes that really pop for night time smokey eyes.

by BlackFleur145 Friday, April 15, 2011 at 07:43AM Report as inappropriate

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