e.l.f. Discovery

How to Choose the Right Mascara for You

Mascara is one of those cosmetics that can make or break your look. Whether thick and lush, long and spidery, or soft and fluttery, whatever lash look you are going after, you need the right mascara to achieve it. But how do you choose the right one? There’s so many to choose, from curling, lengthening, volumizing, waterproof and more.

History of Mascara

Mascara dates back to the times of Cleopatra when they used to use ivory and bone to embellish their lashes. They also used crocodile dung, burnt almonds, kohl honey, and water to make their own mascara. In the Victorian times they used the ashes and soot from oil lamps to darken and enhance their lashes. In 1872, the first commercial mascara came out using coal dust mixed with petroleum jelly.

Fortunately, today’s formulas are much safer and use iron oxide pigments combined with waxes and oils like castor oil and carnauba wax to make mascara. The formulas and wands have gotten so sophisticated that there are now different formulas of mascara depending on what type of look you want to achieve. Some common formulas are curling, lengthening, volumizing, and waterproof.

Curling Mascara

A curling mascara is best for someone who’s lashes stick straight out or anyone wanting more of an eye-opening, curling effect on their lashes. The curved brush is designed to lift and curl your lashes while the formula is designed to hold the curl.

Many curling mascara brushes will have two sizes of bristles- shorter ones to help deposit the formula and longer ones to help separate, lift, and evenly coat each lash.

PRO TIP: Once you’ve put on your mascara, gently nestle the wand on the tips of your lashes and press upward. It will help your curl be even bolder as well as help hold the curl longer.

Lengthening Mascara

Lengthening or defining mascara is designed to layer color onto your lashes evenly to help stretch them out longer without building a lot of bulk. This type of mascara is excellent for those who want fluttery looking, long and elegant lashes.

These mascaras typically use a slim wand with silicone bristles to help elongate the lashes. To help with the lengthening, the formulas will often contain waxes, nourishing oils or tiny fibers to grip each lash adding length.

PRO TIP: To get the most defined and fluttery lashes, try combing your lashes in between each coat (while it’s still wet). This will help you get truly defined and separated lashes.

Volumizing Mascara

Volumizing mascara is one of the most popular types of mascara and is designed for those with thin, sparse lashes or those that want va-va-voom volume. A volumizing mascara can add intensity to your look and give your eyes an all-out glam makeover.

These types of mascaras typically use a big, fluffy brush and a formula that is thicker and waxier, and it will often have polymers in them like silicone to help bulk up the lashes.

PRO TIP: To plump your lashes even more, nestle the wand at the base of your lashes and jiggle it back and forth. This will deposit more mascara at the base of your lashes making them look thicker and more lush.

Waterproof Mascara

If you are an athlete, gym-goer, have watery eyes because of allergies, or have oilier skin around your eyes, you might want to get a waterproof mascara. The nice thing about a waterproof mascara is that they come in all types of formulas and wands, so you can find them in all the versions listed above.

PRO TIP: We recommend using an eye makeup remover when taking off any waterproof eye makeup. When taking off your mascara, put the makeup remover on the lashes and hold it there while counting to 30. Holding it there allows the makeup remover to start to break up the waterproof mascara before you start to wipe and rub it away.

Tubing Mascara

If you’re looking to really amp up the drama and take your lashes to new lengths, try a tubing mascara—aka, lash extensions in a bottle!

These buildable, long-lasting mascaras have peaked in popularity this past year. Formulated with a tubing technology, they wrap each lash with lightweight tubes to build and extend lashes beyond their natural length. This also makes the formulas smudge-resistant and less messy than traditional mascaras.

Tube mascaras often come with a tapered silicone brush, which helps drop and separate each lash for next-level length and impact. They are arguably the best mascaras for length and achieving a clump- and flake-resistant look.

Pro Tip: When applying tubing mascara, apply your second coat before the first coat dries to prevent the little tubes from clumping.

Still unsure which mascara is best for you? Take our mascara guide quiz here.