Stories from Makeup Tips

I’ve Tried Hundreds of Natural Mascaras, and This Is the Only One That Doesn’t Make Me Look Like a Racoon

Zoe Weiner

Zoe WeinerSeptember 29, 2019

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Photo: Getty Images/Guido Mieth

I’ve always had a bone to pick with natural mascaras. Traditionally, every one I’d ever tried had barely done anything to my lashes (aside from making them look clumpy), and without fail would drip down my face within two hours of applying it. And let me tell you: I don’t make a particularly cute raccoon.

But then, a makeup artist turned me onto Ilia Limitless Mascara ($28), and my eyelashes and I had to rethink our historic beef with the clean mascara category. Not only does it amp up my eyelashes to five times their normal size, but it manages to keep them that way all day long. It’s unclear how, exactly, it works this type of mascara magic, but it does.

It’s made with all kinds of good-for-my-lashes ingredients—like shea butter and carnauba wax—that leave them conditioned, and don’t have me worrying that they’re going to dry out and flake off of my face at the end of the day. The brush lifts and separates them flawlessly, leaving no clumps in sight (which, for me, is an absolute dealbreaker in any mascara situation). And even though it doesn’t budge when I run from work to drinks to dinner to my friend’s basement comedy show near the West Side Highway, it comes off seamlessly with micellar water and a cotton pad when I’m ready for my lashes to return to their regularly scheduled, non-extended programming. My eyes also tend to be super sensitive thanks to years as a contact lens wearer, and this formula doesn’t bother them one bit.

But don’t just take my word for it—members of the Well+Good Beauty Geek community also love this stuff, as do reviewers on Sephora. In fact, people love it so much it was sold out the first time I tried to buy it for myself. “It’s natural and it works. Finally!” declares one fan. “This is the mascara you’ve been looking for!” promises another. And a third sums it up perfectly, writing, “This mascara is life.”

And I promise—they’re not lying. I have what I like to refer to as a “mascara wardrobe” (… is that normal?) meaning that I have different options delegated to daytime (L’Oreal Lash Paradise), dinner (Nars Climax), and date night (Diorshow). And while I love my old-faithfuls and won’t be retiring them any time soon, Ilia Limitless is the first mascara that I’ve deemed appropriate for every scenario. It now has such a permanent and important place in my collection, in fact, that I bought a second tube to keep at my desk so that I never have to be without it. God forbid it sells out again.

Here’s how to keep every mascara in your wardrobe from melting off of your face, plus our favorite waterproof mascara picks

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