Waterproof mascara is usually made with oil, instead of water, making it less likely to smudge than the other stuff out there. According to cosmetic chemist Ginger King, the composition can also contain strong adhesives like polyurethane to coat the lashes and keep the lacquer in place. Admittedly, makeup artists have mixed feelings about the tear-resistant lash coats.
Some feel that you can’t get the same length and volume from waterproof mascara as you can from the regular stuff, but according to King that’s actually not quite the case. “When it comes to mascaras, the brush is just as critical as the formula, ” she explains. “You can have the same formula, and denser bristles can give a more volumizing look, while a more separated bristle or formula containing stretching polymers or even fibers will lengthen lashes. So whether a formula is waterproof (or not!) has nothing to do with impacting the functionality of mascaras.”
I’m going to be honest: As someone who has been wearing the waterproof stuff since approximately freshman year of high school (AKA for as long as I’ve been wearing makeup), I’ve found that the waterproof formulas on the market these days are just as good as the regular stuff—which means you no longer have to choose between gorgeous lashes and inevitable raccoon eyes. “For sun or wind sensitive eyes, waterproof mascara can be a great option. No raccoon eyes or mid-day reapplication,” says celebrity makeup artist Bethany Brill. “Waterproof mascara is a little more durable when it comes to rain, tears or even swimming. For me, a great waterproof mascara doesn’t dry out my contacts, stays put and removes easily at the end of the day without scratching or burning.”
She notes that the best way to remove this type of product is to wet a cotton pad with some sort of eye makeup removing solution (I personally prefer micellar water or coconut oil), and hold the pad on your eyes for a few seconds before gently rubbing makeup away.
Here, 8 editor-approved waterproof mascaras that can stand up to wind, sweat, rain, and—obviously, because I personally tested some of them—tears.
This mascara is the holy grail in both the drugstore and waterproof categories. It’s my own personal go-to when I want XL lashes that I can feel confident will stand up to any drama the day will bring on—it’s lengthening and volumizing to the umpteenth degree, and then some. Check out some before and after pics of it working its magic here.
You can’t talk about the best waterproof mascaras without mentioning Giorgio Armanis’ iconic “Eyes to Kill.” It’ll give your lashes volume and length in one fell swoop, but goes on so smoothly that you never have to worry about clumping.
If soft lashes are your thing, this is the mascara for you. While some waterproof formulas can turn those delicate hairs around your eyes into hard, prickly nightmares, this tube makes them feel like they’ve been freshly conditioned, while also making them longer and thicker.
I have worn this mascara to therapy, and even after 45 minutes of crying, it hasn’t budged. It’s a great product for every day because it gives lashes natural-looking length that makes it look like you aren’t wearing mascara at all. I particularly love the curved brush, which helps give the hairs a little boost skyward to make my eyes look more open.
Brill calls this formula out as her absolute favorite among the waterproof set. “It’s actually a tubing mascara so it’s amazing for sensitive eyes, especially contact wearers,” she says, referring to the technology that allows the makeup to coat lashes in the form of little tubes. “I love that I can remove it in a steamy shower with warm water alone.”
Hello, curves. The bristles on this extra-plump brush coats each lash and lifts it toward the sky, adding depth and volume. It’s easily buildable, and the formula comes out creamy instead of dry so that you don’t have to worry about eyes feeling itchy toward the end of the day. And it’s only $6, which might just be my favorite part.
When I’m feeling extra fancy, I grab my tube of the iconic Diorshow… and dayum, it’s worth it. Not only does it make my lashes look like they should win some sort of award for “biggest, boldest, most beautiful things in the world,” but it stays put f-o-r-e-v-e-r.
If you’re more into length than, um, girth, Urban Decay’s Cannonball has got you covered. It coats each individual lash to make them look at least 1.5 times their original size (at least, that was the case for mine), but doesn’t give off any sort of “so long they look fake” type vibes. It’s so waterproof that it’s pretty tough to get off, though, so factor an extra minute or two into your makeup removing routine to be sure you get it all.
Since allergy season is part of the reason why we’re all running for waterproof mascaras in the first place, here are 6 natural ways to deal with them. Plus, 3 ways to curl your lashes—no curler required.
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