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9 Mascaras to Give Your Lashes the Length, Volume, and Definition You Crave

Give your lashes the attention they deserve


Photo: Shutterstock

Because I have rather average lashes, I’ve always relied on mascara to enhance my eyes. I’m pretty low maintenance when it comes to makeup and even more so since the pandemic. However, mascara is the one beauty product I’m loath to live without. As a creature of habit, I’d been using the same brand of mascara for the past decade or so. The one time I decided to try a more natural option, I found myself furiously blinking away eco-friendly flakes that fell from my lashes and temporarily blinded me. I immediately returned to my tried-and-true favorite. Surely, it was time to try something new. As a result, I’ve spent the past few months testing out the following mascaras. Here is what I discovered:

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  • Sustainable packaging
  • Vitamin-based protection
  • Lengthening

What struck me first about this mascara was how heavy it felt in my hand. The tube it was housed in felt a bit bulky compared to many of the other options I tried. However, I soon discovered that is because the product is packaged in a glass vessel to reduce its carbon footprint. For the sake of the environment, I can deal with a heavy applicator. Made in Italy, the Code 8 Lash Sophisticate is a buildable-effect mascara, which means with each coat you add length and definition. Vitamins A and E help protect lashes against environmental damage. Available in Timeless Black, it went on wetter than I prefer, requiring a steady hand so as not to end up with product on my eyelids, as well. Even so, I noticed some smudging under my eyes after a yoga class in which I didn’t break a sweat. While the end result was a definite improvement over my naked lashes, I think a better applicator would have improved the process.

Eyeko Black Magic Mascara
  • Enriched with keratin and shea butter to condition lashes
  • Tube technology
  • Curved brush
  • Curling power

I was pleasantly surprised by the curl Eyeko Black Magic Mascara provided my normally straight lashes. The curved brush made it easy to build length and drama. The water-resistant formula didn’t bleed or smudge, an issue I often encounter thanks to my well-hydrated (aka oily) eyelids. Available in a lightweight silver tube packaging, it comes in black, brown, and travel size.

Ilia Limitless Mascara
  • 99 percent naturally derived
  • Washes off easily
  • Ophthalmologist-tested for sensitive eyes
  • Carbon black-free
  • Cruelty free

This award-winning clean mascara is made with a blend of organic bee and carnauba waxes to condition each lash without weighing them down. Available in After Midnight, a soft black, it also contains organic shea butter and fortifying arginine (keratin) to enhance lashes. The patented dual-sided brush featured shorter bristles on one side to curl and create volume, while the longer bristles lift, lengthen, and separate lashes. I found it went on easily and delivered the look I wanted after only a couple of coats. I also loved that it contains a host of nourishing and natural ingredients. As mentioned above, I haven’t always had the best results from natural mascaras. This one lives up to its reputation. It also comes in a convenient mini size.

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  • Innovative tubing technology
  • Sleek and slim packaging
  • Delivers eye-popping definition

Of all the mascaras I sampled, this was my go-to favorite. I loved the clump-free definition a coat or two gave my lashes and the fact that I could build a more dramatic look with subsequent coats. I even loved the skinny tube in which it came. A tubing mascara that relies on polymers that wrap around each individual lash, it thickened, separated, and lengthened my lashes, providing an eye-popping look. The precision brush made it easy to apply and reach every lash. When it came time for removal, that, too, was easy with my normal cleansing routine.

Merle Norman Wicked Lash Mascara
  • Oversized brush
  • Oil-free
  • Fragrance-free

Available in black, this mascara relies on Arch Fiber Technology to provide volume, length, and curl. It features an oversized brush, which seemed a bit much until I tried it. And then I was sold. It made application a joy, as I watched my lashes grow with each coat. To help condition lashes, the formula contains peptides and panthenol.

Physicians Formula Diamond Mascara Mineral Wear
  • Affordable price
  • Cruelty-free and vegan
  • Fragrance-free and dye-free
  • Talc-free

Although my first application of Physicians Formula Diamond Mascara Mineral Wear was a success, I’m afraid my subsequent attempts proved a bit problematic, as the wand seemed to collect excess product. I also wasn’t a fan of the bulky applicator. However, the formula itself, made with peptides, vitamin E, and mineral water, left my lashes looking longer and more defined. I didn’t notice them looking any shinier as a result of the Lustrous Diamond Dust.

Roen Beauty Cake Mascara
  • Cruelty free
  • Gluten free
  • Vegan
  • Full bristle brush

Róen Beauty Cake Mascara lengthened and thickened my lashes with its buildable formula. I loved the applicator brush, which features flexible bristles that help build length and volume. Formulated with plant-based bayberry, carnauba, and sunflower waxes, the mascara also contains olive oil to keep lashes hydrated. I was pleasantly surprised by its staying power and the fact that it didn’t smudge or flake. Overall, I was impressed by how lush my lashes looked after just a coat or two.

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  • Cruelty-free
  • Lengthening
  • Builds volume
  • No clumping

After trying Smashbox’s Super Fan Mascara, I immediately understood why it is one of the company’s bestsellers. It added both volume and length to my lashes after just a couple of coats. Best of all, it didn’t clump or take numerous coats to create a noticeable difference. I especially loved the definition it gave my lashes. The double-bristle precision brush kept my lashes separated, which I appreciated considering I wasn’t born with lush lashes. The end result was full lashes that enhanced my eyes but still looked natural.

Wander Beauty Upgraded Lashes
  • Promotes longer, fuller lashes in two weeks
  • Cruelty free
  • Gluten free
  • Vegan

While I needed to apply several coats to get the length and definition I wanted, I loved that this formula features Widelash, a nourishing active that is clinically proven to promote longer, fuller-looking lashes in just two weeks. Available in Jet Black, it relies on copper peptides to increase collagen production, which prolongs the hair-growth cycle and produces stronger lashes. Made in Korea, the buildable, vegan formula doesn’t flake, smudge, or clump. It did take some patience to get the noticeable lashes I was craving. Once I reached my desired look though, I appreciated that the long-lasting power. I also liked the portable tube that made it easy to transport anywhere.

About The Author

Heather, co-founder of Well Defined and the former editor-in-chief of American Spa, is an award-winning journalist and content strategist, skilled in writing, copyediting, and media relations. She is also a freelance writer and has contributed to Elite Traveler, Islands, Kiwi, Luxury Travel Advisor, Organic Spa, Porthole Cruise, Travel Agent,,,, and, in addition to various custom publications. She is frequently called upon to comment on various spa and wellness trends for various media outlets.