There are the makeup staples that you keep in your makeup bag (i.e. foundation, blush, eyeshadow), and then there are the makeup must-haves that you make sure to never be without. At the top of that list for most: Mascara. There are few products that give as dramatic of a before and after as a few coats of mascara—particularly if you have thinner lashes. Speaking of thinner lashes, if you do deal with fine hairs, there are some things you should look for (and avoid) when choosing the best mascara for thinner lashes.
What to look for in a mascara if you have thinner lashes
For starters, don’t choose a heavy formula that will weigh down your lashes. “I highly recommend a lightweight, non-whipped or creamy formula, something that dries fast, that’s also defining and volumizing,” says Isabel Y Rosado, a makeup artist in NYC. She also prefers silicone applicators for thinner lashes to help with “separation and length.”
But the magic isn’t all in the formula or the wand, it’s also in how you apply the mascara to your lashes. “Start at the root of the lashes and wiggle back and forth a couple times to get as close as possible to the lash line and build the product up, then pull the mascara through to the ends of the lashes to lengthen and separate,” says Anthony Merante, a makeup artist in NYC. Rosado agrees and adds that she then likes to turn her mascara wand vertically and wave it across lashes to create more fullness and volume.
Another step you don’t want to skip for thinner lashes: A lash curler (this one from Wet 'n Wild is a best-seller—and it's cheaper than a cup of coffee from Starbucks). “A lash curler is a hero for lifting and curling,” says Rosado.
But first, you must choose your mascara, so, here's a roundup best mascaras for thinner lashes, according to makeup artists.
The best mascaras for thin lashes
This derm-tested and approved mascara has a thin spoolie with ultra flexible bristles that grab on to each, individual lash, making sure you get 100 percent buildable coverage. “This formula is a bit creamy, but it dries down fast and doesn’t weigh down lashes. I love how it separates and lengthens lashes,” says Rosado.
As the name suggests, this mascara is formulated to be able to layer and layer and layer without weighing down lashes to create your customized look. Rosado loves how it thickens lashes for a Twiggy vibe. Thalita Paiva, a makeup artist in LA, also chose this one and said, “I love this mascara because it’s buildable, clump-resistant and lifts my lashes like no other.”
This quick-dry formula uses short bristles to allow you to really wiggle close to the lash line. “You’ll get volume and separation, but it doesn’t overpower the rest of your makeup,” says Rosado. This one is especially great, since you don’t need to apply layer after layer—one or two should do the trick, thanks to it special “Snowflakes” brush which features both long and short bristles that cover each lash in pigment.
This micro brush claims to be able to catch every lash. Rosado loves using it on lashes that already have length (lucky!) but need a little oomph. Amazon customers love it for its lightweight spoolie and formula, saying it gives easy length and volume without clumping—many have even begged Maybelline to never, ever change their formula or discontinue this line. (We second that.)
“This uber-black, paraben- and sulfate-free formula is easily buildable and long-wearing. While this can be said for many mascaras, it’s the brush that makes this one magic. The rubbery elastomer brush gets to each and every baby lash from inner to outer corners, top and bottom. The tiny bristles separate the lashes and keep the formula from clumping. This mascara is more than just a luxury name, it delivers.” says Ashleigh B. Ciucci, a makeup artist in NYC.
“This is one of my favorite mascaras for thinner lashes. It adds instant volume and length with a 24-hour lift effect. The unique brush really lets you get to the root of the lashes and build up the product,” says Merante.
“This 95 percent natural mascara is made with carnuba wax, chicory root extract, sunflower seed wax, and coconut oil and is perfect for those looking for a mascara that lifts, separates, and adds volume to thin lashes. The densely packed brush really defines and curls lashes, giving you fluttery lashes that last all day,” says Merante.
“This is one of my current kit must-haves. I’m a huge fan of a big, wire-y brushes because they find every lash. The formula is meant to amp up lashes with one coat but it’s totally buildable. I generally do three. Oh, and vegan, fragrance, paraben & cruelty free…bonus!” says Brett Freedman, a celebrity makeup artist in LA.
If you’re the mood to switch up your regular black or brown mascara for something more bold and playful, try this About-Face mascara. “What I really love about this applicator is that it’s curly to a point that it gets every single lash and gives this really natural look but is very very effective,” says Paiva. It’s a gorgeous and unique way to add a pop of color to your eyes without having to use eyeshadow.
“I love how black this formula is. I truly go for super dark mascaras because I have the feeling that it makes my eyes look deeper and sexier. That is a plus for sure, and it’s forever tested by Rihanna so I obviously embrace that too,” says Paiva. The “flat-to-fat” brush is how it can near-instantly add volume, lift, length, and curl to even the most stubborn lashes.
I’m no makeup artist but as a beauty editor I have tried a lot of mascaras—particularly of the clean variety (whatever that word may mean, I’ll let you decide). And in this category it can be really hard to find a formula that performs as well as its non-clean counterparts. All that to say—this one does. Dare I say it even exceeds any other mascaras I’ve tried—clean and non-clean alike? It adds a natural fullness and volume, and I love the almost ball-like tip that lets you highlight the ends and edges of your lashes.
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