Makeup Tips

Mascara Brushes Matter—Here’s How To Choose the Right One For You

Photo: Getty/ Yulia Shaihudinova
Size matters. Length, curve, girth, and, at times, even the tip of a mascara brush matters, too. The alieny, prism-like brush on Urban Decay Lash Freak, for instance, allows me to get cozy with my upper waterline in a way no other brush does (my lashes look as if they’re wearing some sort of push-up bra as a result).

Of course, a mascara’s formula is crucial to the overall lash look, too. Without brushes, though, mascara would hardly be mascara as we know it and speak about it. Who among us hasn’t proclaimed allegiance to a certain bristle type? Perhaps you’re a “fluffy brush” kind of person; maybe you balk at big ol’ bristles in favor of a lithe, flexible plastic fringe? Below, standouts mascaras for every brush preference.

Wander Beauty Unlashed Volume & Curl Mascara


The brush type: Curved

Good for: Curl, lift, and a fluttery, fanned-out effect

In addition to its subtle curvature, this brush features staggered bristles designed to swerve among each and every lash.

Kevyn Aucoin The Expert Mascara


The brush type: Tapered and curved

Good for: Separation, needlelike precision, and length

Inking those itty-bitty-inner-corner lashes can quickly become a bother (drat!—dotted the side of your nose with ink yet again!). A tapered tip mascara accounts for lash length—from outer corner to inner—by delivering most pigment at the outer edges and just a dab for the little ones in the corners. Bonus: The curved wand can be used for precision work along the lower lashline.

Find a similar brush on Thrive Cosmeceuticals Liquid Lash Extension Mascara, which delivers a natural doe-eyed look that’s ideal for daytime wear.

BITE Beauty Upswing Full Volume Mascara

The brush type: Hourglass, fluffy

Good for: Va-va-voom volume

Mascara mavens may immediately conjure images of Too Face’s Better Than Sex Mascara—a classic example of loaded lashes done right, thanks in part to an hourglass brush. This one from Bite Beauty boasts a similarly boisterous silhouette.

Urban Decay Lash Freak Volumizing & Lengthening Mascara


The brush type: Triangular or flat-edge

Good for: Hugging the upper waterline; a push-up effect

On the subject of clumping, I’m a bit of a contrarian: I really, truly don’t mind when my lashes appear over-inked. Lash Freak unapologetically delivers. Its brush hugs lashes, which translates to a more-is-more look. To articulate the bifurcated prism brush is a challenge; it truly is in a class of its own.

Similar-yet-different is the brush on the Fenty Beauty Full Frontal Volume, Lift, and Curl Mascara. Like Lash Freak, it also features a flat-ish edge, allowing for brush-to-root contact and maximum lift.

Ilia Limitless Lash Mascara

The brush type: Comblike, flexible

Good for: Extreme separation, an ultra-natural lash look

Similar to how a comb nixes knots, a comblike mascara brush has the power to cut through clumps. This one certainly does; fans love the “no-makeup-makeup” results. Side note: the formula itself is notably gentle and non-irritating for contact lens wearers, too.

Hourglass Curator The Lash Instrument


The brush type: No brush at all

Good for: Makeup artists, people who have some extra time on their hands

Okay, so this one is a bit of a niche item—but given its unique bristle-free form, it’s simply too special to overlook. Instead of combing through lashes in the way most mascaras do, it intends to paint each individual lash. Bound to look sleek on any vanity, it’s arguably eco-friendly, too, thanks to its reusable packaging.

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