Even though I'm a minimalist when it comes to makeup, there are a few products that I simply can't go without. In addition to a hydrating lip oil and a dab of cream blush, you won't catch me outside without a couple swipes of mascara. I like to treat my mascaras like sunscreen—it has to be waterproof. Since I'm constantly sweating (no thanks to the Texas heat and daily workouts), a waterproof mascara is an absolute must.
But not just any waterproof mascara—one that doesn't melt into my eyes or leave me looking like a raccoon in the middle of a weight-training session. I go hard in the gym, and I expect my mascara go hard, too. This means no smearing, dripping, or running down my face. It also means giving my eye lashes enough volume and curl that they still look like lashes—not a lacquered, spiky mess.
Ahead, you'll find the best waterproof drugstore mascaras, most of which have outlasted even my sweatiest workout sessions without smearing once, even in the scorching Texas heat. Out of the 20 mascaras I sprinted, lifted, and trained in, these are the 10 worth a spot in your gym bag.
The best waterproof drugstore mascaras, at a glance:
- Essence Double Trouble Waterproof Mascara ($6)
- L'Oréal Paris Age Perfect Lash Magnifying Mascara ($10)
- Well People Expressionist Pro Mascara ($20)
- Maybelline New York Lash Sensational Sky High Waterproof Mascara ($9)
- L'Oréal Paris Makeup Bambi Eye Mascara ($8)
- Essence I Love Extreme Crazy Volume Waterproof Mascara ($5)
- Maybelline New York Lash Sensational Washable Mascara ($8)
- Neutrogena Hydro Boost Waterproof Plumping Mascara ($12)
- NYX Cosmetics Worth the Hype Waterproof Mascara ($9)
- Rimmel Kind and Free Waterproof Mascara ($6)
What makes a mascara waterproof?
While formulas will vary from mascara to mascara, most waterproof mascaras will have silicone-based ingredients like dimethicone copolyol to hold up curls; this polymer is commonly found in hair products to control frizz.
How to remove waterproof mascara?
"For waterproof mascara, you want something with an oil so it dissolves and removes the mascara,” says Kavita Mariwalla, MD, a dermatologist based in West Islip, New York. You can also remove waterproof mascara by using a pre-cleanse balm, according to Tobi Henney, a celebrity makeup artist. "My go-to is by Rationale. You simply massage into the skin and use a warm face cloth to remove the mascara," Henney tells us.
If you’re looking for that va-va-voom, can I introduce you to Essence’s Double Trouble Mascara? It boasts a volumizing formula that delivers full lashes in just a couple of swipes. After a hefty leg day (squats included), this mascara withstood the sweat-test and kept my lashes looking full, plush, and voluminous. The double-sided wand is a nice touch; one side is for lengthening and the other side can be used to curl flat lashes. Also nice is the paraben-, fragrance-, alcohol-, and oil-free formulation. It keeps my sensitive eye lids happy even when I’m a dripping sweat ball.
- Lifts and lengthens lashes
- Free of irritants
- Requires a couple of coats
Originally $13, now $10
If length is what you desire, you’re going to want to commit to L’Oréal Paris’ Age Perfect Lash Magnifying Mascara. It’s equipped with a gentle brush with soft bristles that lifts lashes up. Formulated with conditioning serum and jojoba oil, the mascara creates a softer, more natural look—one that withstands all sorts of exercises.
Since I have sensitive eyes, I have to be cautious about hard-to-remove mascaras, but that was far from the case with this one. After a couple of water splashes, this mascara came off in itty bitty chunks. Volumizing, lightweight, and easy to remove, L’Oréal Paris’ Age Perfect Lash Magnifying Mascara is mascara you’ll want in your beauty regimen.
- Creates a natural look
- Suitable for sensitive eyes
- Easy to remove
- Basic brush
For the “I didn’t try too hard” look, I grab and swipe Well People’s Expressionist Pro Mascara. This mascara lives up to its long-wear and lengthening claims. Free of parabens, mineral oils, and other icky ingredients, I don’t have to worry about this product irritating my eyes. After a sweaty run, the volume and length of my lashes remained intact thanks to the blend of vitamin E and sunflower seed oil—which kept my lashes plump throughout my two hour-workout. The molded rubber brush allowed me to coat my tiny and short lashes evenly without flaking and clumping.
- Creates a natural look
- Non-flaking formula
- May smudge during extra sweaty workouts
Originally $13, now $9
Maybelline New York’s Lash Sensational Sky High Waterproof Mascara is one that won’t budge. Even during legs days or sweaty walks outdoors, this mascara walks the walk and actually holds up. It’s all thanks to the waterproof formula, which is infused with bamboo extract to keep lashes long, thick, and full. During workouts, I didn’t experience flaking or smudging. One thing worth noting is that this mascara is hard to remove without a balm or oil. I tried washing my face with water, and the mascara didn’t come off—a testament to how strong and resilient this mascara really is.
- Waterproof formula
- Contains bamboo extract
- Hard to wash off
Originally $12, now $8
The velvety formula from the Bambi Eye Mascara elongates and smooths lashes, especially thin and short strands like mine. Featuring a wide brush with long and short bristles, the mascara’s head is designed to reach all corners of eyes to coat all lashes, no matter the length. I found it easy peasy to coat my strands, not missing a mark. It even withstood the sweatiest of runs, which is why I’ll be reaching for it the next time I’m pounding the pavement.
- Elongates lashes
- Wide-eye brush
- Easy to coat lashes
- Can clump lashes
Aptly named, Essence’s mascara is a volumizer and lengthener all in one tube. The long-lasting formula prevents your mascara from dripping and boasts a long brush that works to coat lashes. Since the brush wasn’t angled, it was harder to reach the inner corners of my eyes, but this was an effective mascara nonetheless. What I also love is that it’s free of parabens, fragrances, and alcohol. Gyms days, hot girl walks, and runs are no match for this mascara.
- Delivers length and volume
- Free of parabens, fragrance, and alcohol
- Can clump lashes
- Brush may not grab all lashes
For fuller lashes, I reach for Maybelline New York’s Lash Sensational Mascara. It applies on smooth and gives my lashes more oomph during leg and upper body days at the gym. My favorite part of the mascara is the angled brush; it coats every single lash. Even my lashes in my inner corner get attention. If I want more volume, I just apply another coat to create a fan-like look. If there’s anything I’ve learned from using this mascara, it’s that it doesn’t play or skimp on quality.
- Contact lens safe
- Can be removed with Micellar water
- May clump for some
I’ve long admired Neutrogena, long before my commerce writing days. When I found out about this waterproof mascara, I squealed. The formula is not only resistant to sweat and water, but it hydrates your lashes, too. The hyaluronic acid, vitamin E, and keratin deliver silky bursts that keep strands healthy, strong, and more plump-looking. Testing it on runs, I felt worry-free because my lashes didn’t sag, especially during sprints.
- Hydrating formula
- Evenly coats lashes
- May smudge a little during intense workouts
I can confirm that NYX’s Mascara is all that it has cracked up to be. This mascara helps my stubborn lashes hold a curl and whips them up for extra volume. Infused with polymers, the mascara is able to hold my lashes up even after intense workouts. It really does put in that work work work. Another notable feature is the spoolie brush, which grasps and coats each individual lash. Anytime I want to look a little dolled up at the gym, I’ll reach for NYX’s waterproof mascara. It’s the real deal and will always hold a place in my gym bag.
- Equipped with spoolie brush
- Lengthens lashes
- Formula may clump over time
Originally $10, now $6
There’s nothing that Rimmel’s Kind and Free Waterproof Mascara can’t do. It’s formulated with a blend of shea butter and biotin to lift lashes up and outwards while nourishing them, too. Free from fragrance, mineral oil, and animal-derived products, the product didn’t irritate my eyes. I didn’t run into any issues during gym workouts or walks in the humid Texas heat. I also enjoyed using the spoolie-like brush, which coated my lashes one by one. And you don’t have to add on a ton of coats—after a swipe the results are thicker and fuller lashes. Hello, volume!
- The brush evenly coats lashes
- Holds up against sweaty workouts
- Lifts and volumizes lashes
- Formula may be irritating for some
Loading More Posts...