10 Best Drugstore Waterproof Mascaras That Deliver Gorgeous Lashes with Staying Power | kzfbfkttn.com

10 Best Drugstore Waterproof Mascaras That Deliver Gorgeous Lashes with Staying Power

Waterproof mascara gives that classic look of full, lush eyelashes without the worry of dark streaks from watery eyes, sweat, or a dip in the pool. There are seemingly endless options for this cosmetic staple, but don’t overlook what you can find at the drugstore. “Many drugstore [waterproof mascara] brands are just as safe and effective as the luxury brands,” says Nicky Posley, an NYC-based makeup artist, beauty educator, and brand consultant. Celebrity makeup artist Natalie Dresher tells us a higher-priced luxury mascara doesn’t necessarily equate to a higher-quality product. “I think mascara is the best area to skimp in terms of [money] spent when makeup shopping,” she says.

We tested more than 50 mascaras, applying each at least three times a week for two weeks to, help you find the optimal drugstore brand. During testing, we evaluated the applicator wand, ingredients, and performance of each one. We also clocked the effects of the mascara, including volume, length, lash separation, and ease of removal. Finally, after considering these results and getting insight from professional makeup artists and medical professionals, we chose these top-performing drugstore waterproof mascaras that will keep your lashes looking full and fabulous wet or dry.

Our Top Picks

BEST OVERALL:

Maybelline Lash Sensational Mascara at Ulta ($13)

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BEST BUDGET:

Wet n Wild Mega Length Waterproof Mascara at Amazon ($4)

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BEST FOR FALSE LASH EFFECT:

L’Oréal Bambi Eye Waterproof Mascara at Target ($14)

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BEST WAND:

Maybelline Lash Discovery Mascara at Ulta ($10)

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BEST CLUMP FREE:

Milani Highly Rated Waterproof Mascara at Milanicosmetics.com (See Price)

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BEST LENGTHENING:

NYX Professional Makeup Worth the Hype Volumizing Waterproof Mascara at Ulta ($9)

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BEST WITH NOURISHING INGREDIENTS:

Pacifica Aquarian Gaze Water-Resistant Long Lash Mineral Mascara at Ulta ($14)

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BEST FOR A NATURAL LOOK:

Pixi by Petra Lash Booster Waterproof Mascara at Ulta ($16)

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BEST VOLUMIZING:

Revlon So Fierce Big Bad Lash at Amazon ($14)

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BEST FOR A GLAM LOOK:

Wet n Wild Breakup Proof Waterproof Boosting Mascara at Amazon ($8)

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Best Overall

Maybelline Lash Sensational Mascara

Maybelline Lash Sensational Sky High Waterproof Mascara

PHOTO: 

Ulta

$13 AT ULTA ULTA$10 AT WALMART WALMART$13 AT CVS CVS

What We Like

  • Doesn’t feel heavy on the lashes
  • Ergonomic wand
  • Smudge-resistant

What We Don’t Like

  • Doesn’t add much volume

Benefits: Lengthening | Shades: 2 | Ophthalmologist Tested: Yes | Cruelty-Free: No

This mascara from Maybelline is hands down our number-one drugstore pick for so many reasons. The brush is slender, which helps it grip the lashes and tapered on the ends to evenly coat each one, even the outermost ones.  It only took a couple of coats to give our lashes exquisite length and definition. It wasn’t super volumizing, but that wasn’t a dealbreaker.

A few coats worked were all we needed and the formula was so light, that it didn’t feel like we were wearing anything. It didn’t smudge at all during water tests in the lab and we saw no flaking while wearing it for hours each day. What we did see were fluttery lashes that gave us that perfect wide-eyed (in a cute way) look.

Read Our Full Review: Maybelline’s Sky High Mascara Creates Dreamy, Fluttery Lashes

Best Budget

Wet n Wild Mega Length Waterproof Mascara

Wet n Wild Mega Length Waterproof Mascara

PHOTO: 

Target

$4 AT AMAZON AMAZON$4 AT TARGET TARGET$4 AT WALMART WALMART

What We Like

  • Applicator wand good for top and bottom lashes
  • Separates lashes well
  • Brush stays clean through multiple uses

What We Don’t Like

  • Formula is a little thin

Benefits: Lengthening | Shades: 1 | Ophthalmologist Tested: Yes | Cruelty-Free: Yes

Drugstore mascaras may already be lower in price than the average mascara, but this one from Wet n’ Wild is even less expensive while remaining a quality product. We love how it goes on smoothly and evenly, lengthens the lashes, and doesn’t smudge or flake. The formula is lightweight and easy to layer, and how easy it is to remove at the end of the day.

The applicator wand with this mascara is thin, which we found to be great for both the top and bottom lashes. It also does a great job of separating eyelashes, leaving them looking voluminous without clumping. The only thing we didn’t love was the consistency—it’s on the thinner side.

Before and after photos of woman who tested Wet n Wild Mega Length Waterproof Mascara
BYRDIE / MARIYA GINZBURG

Best for False Lash Effect

L’Oréal Bambi Eye Waterproof Mascara

L’Oréal Paris Bambi Eye Waterproof Mascara

PHOTO: 

Ulta

$14 AT TARGET TARGET$14 AT TARGET TARGET$12 AT WALMART WALMART

What We Like

  • Buildable
  • No smudging or flaking throughout the day
  • Ergonomic wand

What We Don’t Like

  • Formula is somewhat thin

Benefits: Volumizing | Ophthalmologist Tested: Yes | Shades: 2  | Cruelty-Free: No

For thick, full lashes that could easily be mistaken for a set of falsies, we love L’Oreal Bambi Eye Waterproof Mascara. We found the formula went on smoothly and easily built upon itself with extra applications for a more dramatic look. After a full day of wearing this mascara, we were impressed by how it held up and that it didn’t flake or smudge.

The applicator wand is a good size and shaped to easily apply mascara to the top and bottom lashes with ease. The brush does a great job of lifting and separating the lashes without leaving any clumps behind. That said, the formula is thinner than we’d expect and it’s wet enough to need a little dry time.

Closeup of a person applying L’Oréal Bambi Eye Waterproof Mascara to lashes
BYRDIE / TAMARA STAPLES

Best Wand

Maybelline Lash Discovery Mascara

Ulta Maybelline Lash Discovery Mascara

PHOTO: 

Ulta

$10 AT ULTA ULTA$8 AT TARGET TARGET$8 AT WALMART WALMART

What We Like

  • Great for lengthening
  • Small applicator
  • Washes off well with makeup remover

What We Don’t Like

  • Lack of color options

Benefits: Defining and lengthening | Ophthalmologist Tested: Yes | Shades: 1 | Cruelty-Free: No

A mascara wand can make a huge difference, and we particularly love the small, lash-catching brush that comes with Maybelline’s Lash Discovery waterproof mascara. Its small size makes it easy to hang onto and control, especially when you’re trying to get those teeny lashes in the corners of your eyes. We also like that it applies mascara evenly and lifts and separates lashes.

As for the mascara itself, it’s a total hit. We like that the formula builds up well so you can opt for a natural or more dramatic look. We also appreciate that it doesn’t clump and that it stays in place throughout the day. It’s such a fantastic mascara, we just wish it was available in more colors.

Before and after photos of a woman who tested Maybelline Lash Discovery Mascara
BYRDIE / ALEXANDER HUANG

Best Clump Free

Milani Highly Rated Waterproof Mascara

Milani Highly Rated Waterproof Mascara

PHOTO: 

Milani

VIEW ON MILANICOSMETICS.COM

What We Like

  • Glides on easily and effectively
  • Builds up well
  • No flaking or smudging throughout the day

What We Don’t Like

  • Somewhat difficult to fully remove

Benefits: Lengthening and volumizing | Shades: 1 | Ophthalmologist Tested: Yes | Cruelty-Free: No

We were blown away by how smoothly and evenly Milani’s Highly Rated Waterproof Mascara goes onto the lashes, leaving them feeling light while still looking great. The formula is made with jojoba complex and ProVitamin B5, which helps lashes stay nourished and hydrated.  When applying this mascara, we found that a single application was enough to cover the lashes, but that the formula is also easy to layer for a thicker look.

This mascara definitely delivers a clump-free, long-lasting look. We were really impressed by how well it separated lashes without clumping, and that it didn’t flake or rub off throughout the day. However, as much as we appreciate that this is an all-day wear formula, it does take a little more effort to fully remove it at the end of the day compared to similar waterproof mascaras.

Before and after photos of a woman who tested Milani Highly Rated Waterproof Mascara
BYRDIE / ALEXANDER HUANG

Best Lengthening

NYX Professional Makeup Worth the Hype Volumizing Waterproof Mascara

NYX Professional Makeup Worth the Hype Volumizing Waterproof Mascara

PHOTO: 

Ulta

$9 AT ULTA ULTA$9 AT WALMART WALMARTVIEW ON NYXCOSMETICS.COM

What We Like

  • Wand applies product smoothly and evenly
  • Consistency is not too wet, not too dry
  • Stays put through workouts and showers

What We Don’t Like

  • Doesn’t separate lashes very well

Benefits: Volumizing | Shades: 1 | Ophthalmologist Tested: Yes | Cruelty-Free: Yes

We like NYX’s Worth the Hype Waterproof Mascara for eyelashes that look long and healthy. Even though it’s advertised as a volumizing formula, we found it also helps eyelashes look fluttery and glamorous. This is likely due in part to the formula’s consistency which isn’t dry and flaky or wet and runny but goes on smoothly, and layers well.

Not only was there no smudging or flaking with typical wear but it even stayed put during a sweaty workout and showering afterward (that’s some serious staying power). Yet somehow it comes off easily with makeup remover and doesn’t have to be scrubbed off. Our only complaint is that we wish the applicator wand separated the lashes a little better.

Before and after photos of a woman who tested NYX Professional Makeup Worth the Hype Volumizing Waterproof Mascara
BYRDIE / CARA MILHAVEN

Best With Nourishing Ingredients

Pacifica Aquarian Gaze Water-Resistant Long Lash Mineral Mascara

Pacifica Aquarian Gaze Water-Resistant Long Lash Mineral Mascara

PHOTO: 

Pacifica

$14 AT ULTA ULTA$14 AT TARGET TARGETVIEW ON PACIFICABEAUTY.COM

What We Like

  • Easy application
  • Lashes look full and natural
  • Covers eyelashes well

What We Don’t Like

  • Difficult to remove
  • Transfers a little

Benefits: Lengthening | Shades: 1 | Ophthalmologist Tested: N/A | Cruelty-Free: Yes

Pacifica’s Aquarian Gaze Water-Resistant Long Lash Mineral Mascara won’t leave your lashes feeling dry or brittle, thanks to its formula with coconut oil, kelp extract, and vitamin B. This mascara was easy to apply, going on smoothly and evenly, and we loved how our eyelashes looked enhanced but still natural after application. The formula is also super light and dries quickly without being sticky or clumpy.

We liked the applicator wand that comes with this mascara, too. It’s easy to use (especially on the top lashes) and separates eyelashes nicely without needing to comb through over and over. Overall, we really like this waterproof mascara, but we did notice some transfer after application while it was drying, and we wish it were easier to remove.

Best for a Natural Look

Pixi by Petra Lash Booster Waterproof Mascara

Ulta Pixi by Petra Lash Booster Waterproof Mascara

PHOTO: 

Ulta

$16 AT ULTA ULTA$15 AT TARGET TARGETVIEW ON PIXIBEAUTY.COM

What We Like

  • Covers lashes with just one coat
  • Short applicator pairs well with thick formula
  • Separates eyelashes nicely

What We Don’t Like

  • Difficult to remove
  • Flakes during application

Benefits: Volumizing and Lengthening | Shades: 2 | Ophthalmologist Tested: Yes | Cruelty-Free: Yes

If you prefer a more natural look, check out Pixi Beauty’s Lash Booster Waterproof Mascara. We found a single layer of this mascara is enough to fully cover eyelashes, giving them an enhanced look that still works for every day. We really like the formula, too—it doesn’t clump or smudge, and it’s made with vitamin E to help nourish the lashes.

Another thing that really stands out about this product is the applicator wand. It’s shorter in length with a cone shape that lifts and separates lashes well. Also, since it’s shorter, we found the applicator was easier to control than longer wands. Still, this mascara has some room for improvement—we found it hard to remove and noticed some flaking during application.

Before and after photos of person who tested Pixi by Petra Lash Booster Waterproof Mascara
BYRDIE / LAUREN HERNANDEZ

Best Volumizing

Revlon So Fierce Big Bad Lash

Revlon So Fierce! Big Bad Lash Waterproof Mascara

PHOTO: 

Revlon

$12 AT AMAZON AMAZONVIEW ON REVLON.COM

What We Like

  • Thick formula applies evenly
  • Buildable
  • Volume and length without looking spidery

What We Don’t Like

  • Large applicator wand
  • Occasionally smudges or flakes

Benefits: Volumizing | Shades: 3 | Ophthalmologist Tested: Yes | Cruelty-Free: No

For bold, voluminous, fluffy lashes, we reach for Revlon’s So Fierce! Big Bad Lash Waterproof Mascara. The thick formula goes on smooth and builds on itself, offering the option to go darker and bolder with each layer. We love that, despite the thick formula, it doesn’t feel heavy on the lashes or tug on them when it’s being removed (with a makeup remover).

Overall, we were pleased with this mascara’s performance—it especially lives up to its waterproof claims since it stayed put even when tested in a shower. However, we did notice some minor flaking and smudging on occasion. The applicator wand is also a little larger than we’d like.

Before and after photos of a woman who tested Revlon So Fierce! Big Bad Lash Waterproof Mascara
BYRDIE / JACKIE CUCCO

Best For a Glam Look

Wet n Wild Breakup Proof Waterproof Boosting Mascara

Wet n Wild Breakup Proof Waterproof Boosting Mascara

PHOTO: 

Wet n Wild

$6 AT AMAZON AMAZON$7 AT TARGET TARGETVIEW ON WETNWILDBEAUTY.COM

What We Like

  • Requires fewer coats, but also builds well
  • Lashes look voluminous all day
  • No smudging or flaking

What We Don’t Like

  • Nothing

Benefits: Volumizing | Shades: 1 | Ophthalmologist Tested: Yes | Cruelty-Free: Yes

Just two layers of this formula will give your eyelashes a dramatic appearance (plus, it layers well if you decide to go even bigger). We found this mascara’s consistency to be the perfect middle ground—not too wet and not too dry—and love how lightweight it feels on the lashes. We also like that the formula includes ingredients to nourish eyelashes, like vegetable collagencastor oil, and vitamin E.

This mascara wears well and keeps lashes looking voluminous throughout the day, and we didn’t notice any smudging or flaking.  Also, despite how thick it appears on the lashes, it’s surprisingly easy to remove (with an oil-based makeup remover). Finally, while the wand applies the mascara evenly, we think it would be even better if it were a little larger.

Before and after photos of woman who tested Wet n' Wild Breakup Proof Waterproof Boosting Mascara
BYRDIE / ALEXANDER HUANG

What to Look for In Mascara

  • Ingredients and formulas: According to Bart Kachniarz, MD, a plastic surgeon at Belcerna Plastic Surgery, you should consider the mascara’s ingredients when determining the best formula for you. “Look for water-resistant or waterproof formulas that contain ingredients like film formers and waxes,” he says. Dr. Kachniarz also notes “If you have sensitive eyes, opt for hypoallergenic and fragrance-free formulas.” 
  • Application Brush: Waterproof mascara needs to have a quality applicator that works with your anatomy to perform well. “The size of the applicator needs to fit well with the eye space it’s used for,” says Posley. Additionally, Dr. Kachniarz recommends choosing an applicator based on its shape and your desired results. “Curved brushes work well for volume and lift, while straight brushes define and separate lashes.”
  • End goal: Before choosing a mascara, it’s also important to consider your goal look. Dr. Kachniarz suggests contemplating whether you want something long-lasting, or whether you want your lashes to look volumized, lengthened, or curled. Dresher also recommends looking at whether or not the formula is transfer-proof or cry-proof.

FAQ

  • What is the difference between volumizing and lengthening mascaras?Volumizing mascaras will leave the lashes looking thick and fluffy, similar to what you’d expect with a set of false eyelashes. Lengthening mascaras, on the other hand, will coat the lashes to make them look longer (tip: how you apply the mascara will affect how much length the formula adds).
  • Can waterproof mascara damage your eyelashes?In some cases, Posley says waterproof mascara can damage the lashes “due to the drying effect of daily use.” However, Posley, Dresher, and Dr. Kachniarz all agree that as long as you safely and gently remove the mascara at the end of the day, your eyelashes should be unharmed.
  • What’s the best way to remove waterproof mascara?Dr. Kachniarz recommends using “an oil-based makeup remover that’s specifically designed for waterproof products.” You should also apply the remover gently—no harsh rubbing—by “holding it over your lashes for a few seconds to loosen the mascara” before gently swiping to remove the product “following the direction of your lash growth.”
  • Do drugstore waterproof mascaras compare to luxury brand mascars?In our experience, they absolutely do. However, Posley says the luxury brands may try to differentiate themselves with tweaks to key features. “Drugstore brands may offer more affordable options with good quality, while luxury brands might have more specialized formulas or innovative brushes,” he explains.

Why Trust Byrdie

Ashley Ziegler is a lifestyle commerce writer specializing in beauty and fashion. She also tests products and services so she can stand behind her recommendations. Ashley has written for several Dotdash Meredith brands over the years including Byrdie, InStyle, Verywell Health, and HEALTH.com. She’s also a mom of two, and occasionally covers family-related content.

Experts consulted for this story:

  • Natalie Dresher is a celebrity makeup artist in Miami, Florida. 
  • Bart Kachniarz, MD, is a plastic surgeon at Belcerna Plastic Surgery in Colorado.  
  • Nicky Posley is an NYC-based makeup artist, beauty educator, and brand consultant.

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