The 17 Best Volumizing Mascaras of 2023 for Full, Dramatic Lashes

·22 min read

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You’re one swipe away from impossibly lush, dark-as-midnight lashes.

<p>InStyle / David Hattan</p>

InStyle / David Hattan

There’s a reason so many of us are always on the hunt for a new mascara — properly-dressed lashes make eyes look flirty, open, and fresh. Despite the expansive selection of mascaras out there, few formula types hold as much appeal as a volumizing mascara. They provide the look of false lashes but without the effort (or the glue), creating dense and dramatic lashes that are epically long and flush with inky pigment to make maximum impact with just one swipe (although more is more, we say).

Related:The 10 Best Mascaras for Sensitive Eyes of 2023 That Don’t Compromise Volume, Length or Color

L'Oréal Paris Voluminous Waterproof Mascara

Best Overall

What We Love: This iconic mascara stands the test of time and comes in a variety of sultry shades.

What We Don’t Love: The formula can be stubborn and hard to remove.

Though it’s been around for years, L’Oréal Voluminous is still one of the very best volumizing mascaras ever to hit the market. While it won’t create super-lengthy lashes, it’s an outstanding option for those who want an incredibly thick, fluttery, and bold look. We’ve used it on and off for at least 15 years and are always pleasantly surprised by how great it is whenever it makes it back into our rotation.

Beyond just beyond the dramatic look it offers, this mascara has a lot going for it — the price, the broad selection of color options, and the fact that it comes in both traditional and waterproof formulas. “It’s a cult favorite mascara of mine,” says Neil Scibelli, a celebrity makeup artist. “I've used the waterproof formula on a range of projects from stage to red carpet, and it really is an amazing, affordable option for a volumizing, dramatic look.”

It can be challenging to remove the formula, so we’d highly recommend using an oil-based makeup remover, which will help break it down and best rinse it away.

Price at time of publish: $11

Shades: 8|Size: 0.27 fl oz|Waterproof: Available in waterproof and traditional formulas

Essence Cosmetics Lash Princess False Lash Effect Mascara

Best Budget

What We Love: If you love a dreamy, fluttery, full lash, this mascara is for you.

What We Don’t Love: This one can flake on oily lids.

This is one of our all-time favorite mascaras thanks to its extremely wallet-friendly price point, tapered brush (it’s great at grabbing little lashes), and wow-factor finish. The formula creates a wide-eyed Bambi-like look that’s flirty and feminine with just a few swipes of the wand. Plus, it's available in a waterproof version, which is especially key for anyone looking for high impact lashes that last all day long.

Although if you’re prone to flaking, this one may leave some fallout behind, especially if your eyelids run oily.

Price at time of publish: $5

Shades: 1|Size: 0.304 fl oz|Waterproof: Available in waterproof and traditional formulas

Chanel Le Volume Révolution de Chanel Extreme Volume Mascara

Best Splurge

What We Love: In addition to providing fantastic volume, this formula delivered impressive lift and definition.

What We Don’t Love: A lot of product can build up in the brush, so proceed with caution if you have ultra-fine lashes.

When picking out products from Chanel, we don’t call it buying, we call it investing, and while this mascara is worth the splurge. Its patented 3D printed brush features a honeycomb-like design with little reservoirs that hold the formula into the brush to deposit it along the lashes.

While we could see how all that mascara may create too much bulk on super-fine lashes with an initial swipe (if that sounds like you, consider wiping down the brush before applying), we experienced the total opposite. It laid on a perfect amount of mascara without chunking up, coating each lash with opaque black pigment that looked smooth and soft, like our natural lashes. We added several coats and still never experienced any clumps. Yet, as impressive as the volume was, we were most wowed by the formula’s lift. After a full day of wear, our lashes still looked as curled and flirty as they did when we’d applied it in the morning.

Price at time of publish: $38

Shades: 1|Size: 0.21 fl oz|Waterproof: No

Neutrogena Hydro Boost Plumping Mascara

Best Drugstore

What We Love: This affordable formula is actually good for your lashes.

What We Don’t Love: You won’t get insane volume from this one, but it’s great for an everyday plush look.

While you might not mentally associate the Neutrogena brand with a mascara, Scibelli swears by this formula, who’s adored and worked with it for years. “This one features hyaluronic acid in the formula, which plumps and volumizes the lashes, along with keratin and vitamin E, which helps to strengthen and nourish at the same time,” he says. “This is a great option for someone who likes a glossier formula but still wants that volume!”

The volume may be a bit subtle for those who like really bold, high-impact volume, but we think it’s very satisfying for a daily volumizing mascara.

Price at time of publish: $10

Shades: 2|Size: 0.21 fl oz|Waterproof: Available in waterproof and traditional formulas

Kevyn Aucoin Indecent Mascara

Best Lengthening

What We Love: The creamy formula creates a really lengthy and dense-looking lash.

What We Don’t Love: The brush holds a lot of product, so be careful during application.

The iconic makeup artist Kevyn Aucoin’s masterful work lives on through his brand’s products, which pros and amateurs alike use with his helpful techniques, including celebrity makeup artist, Natalia Thomas, who has worked with stars like Zazie Beetz and Karlie Kloss. While many people apply mascara the same way every time, Thomas customizes her application for each formula, including this one, which creates a full yet lightweight and lengthy lash.

According to Thomas, you should first apply this mascara directly to the areas where you want more length and volume. “Starting where you’d like to build volume means that the wand delivers a heavier application of product to the areas you’d like to create more density,” she explains. “Don’t be afraid to add more coats until you get the look you’d like.”

Because the brush can hold a lot of product, those who are wary of a super-plump look or are less experienced makeup users may want to wipe off excess first.

Price at time of publish: $30

Shades: 1|Size: .34 fl oz|Waterproof: No

Too Faced Better Than Sex Waterproof Mascara

Best Waterproof

What We Love: This mascara delivers the same “hot damn!” results as the OG formula.

What We Don’t Love: The waterproof formula is not quite as smooth as the original.

For many, Better Than Sex is the be-all, end-all of volumizing mascaras. “It’s a total favorite and really holds up to its reputation,” says Scibelli.

This mascara's high-flying status is partly due to the chunky, hourglass-shaped wand, which grabs, coats, and practically teases lashes to create a very thick and bold lash. He adds that the formula is infused with collagen and polymers which plump the lashes.

We love the packaging on this waterproof version, which features fun little droplets on the tube, as well as its formula, which stands up to the OG regarding the final look. However, like most waterproof mascaras, the texture of the formula can be a little drier and less creamy, which may require a bit more finagling on your part to get a smoother look. Trust us, it’s still worth the buy.

Price at time of publish: $28

Shades: 1|Size: 8 mL|Waterproof: Yes

Fenty Beauty Hella Thicc Volumizing Mascara

Best Curling

What We Love: The striking look this mascara can create with one swipe is sensational.

What We Don’t Love: The tube could feel more luxe.

This beloved mascara from Rihanna’s makeup brand is one of the best new launches we’ve tried in recent months. It didn’t take much work for the ultra-black formula and tapered, bristled brush to deliver super bold, thick lashes with serious lift — as in we couldn’t believe we didn’t need a lash curler to get the open-eyed look.

Lashes stay dramatic and soft long after application, too. The only thing that disappointed us about this mascara was the tube itself. The plastic packaging was very lightweight, and we wish it had more heft to feel more luxe.

Price at time of publish: $19

Shades: 1|Size: 10 mL|Waterproof: No

Dior Diorshow Waterproof Mascara

Best for Fullness

What We Love: The brush really delivers on bold lashes, plus the color options are lovely.

What We Don’t Love: This product may irritate sensitive eyes.

This Diorshow formula is a staple in Thomas’s kit. Though she doesn’t use the wand on clients (she uses a fresh one each time for a sanitary application), she’s a big fan when she’s using it herself. “I absolutely love the jumbo brush that really allows me to pack product into my roots and feather out the ends,” she says. “The formula contains nylon microfibers that help to build a really full lash.”

She also notes that the brown shade is a wonderful pick not just for a softer look, but on blondes and redheads, who may find a deep black mascara too severe. The only downside is that some people with sensitive eyes may find this itchy or irritating.

Price at time of publish: $30

Shades: 3|Size: 11.5 mL|Waterproof: Yes

Grande Cosmetics GrandeDRAMA Intense Thickening Mascara

Best For Drama

What We Love: The formula is infused with nourishing castor oil.

What We Don’t Love: We wish the tube had more heft.

If you want a dramatic look, you’ll get it from this Grande Cosmetics mascara — after all, it’s right in the name! The twisted, hourglass-shaped brush is perfect for separating and swathing each lash with plenty of pigment to create the appearance of fat, juicy lashes. Plus, the nourishing formula will help promote bolder and stronger lashes over time.

Even better, it lasts all day without flaking or smudging, and won’t clump up on you, even after several coats. We will say that although the gilded tube looks weighty (a feature we love in a fancy mascara), it’s actually very lightweight. For those with a bulky makeup bag, that’s a plus, but we would like it if the tube felt a little heavier in the hand to offer more control and precision.

Price at time of publish: $25

Shades: 1|Size: 9 mL|Waterproof: No

Charlotte Tilbury Pillow Talk Push Up Lashes Mascara

Best Long-Lasting

What We Love: It’s easy to layer this mascara, so you can customize its level of impact and it comes in a unique berry-brown shade that flatters all eye colors.

What We Don’t Love: The brush isn’t the easiest one to use.

From the first application, we were impressed by the lift, length, and volume offered by this formula from Charlotte Tilbury. “It includes a lash-lifting polymer that keeps the lashes in place, while different waxes add body and texture,” explains Naseeha Khan, co-founder of CTZN Cosmetics.

And while most individuals will reach for a black mascara, don’t sleep on the “Dream Pop” option, a berry-brown hue that makes every eye color pop without looking artificial or costume-y. The molded brush has a somewhat unusual shape, with flat areas and tapered bristles, which makes it terrific for really loading on the color, although you may have to experiment a bit to get the separation you want.

Price at time of publish: $29

Shades: 2|Size: 10 mL|Waterproof: No

Lawless The One & Done Volumizing Mascara

Best Clean

What We Love: The molded brush features a spherical tip for easy lash styling.

What We Don’t Love: The wet formula can get a bit clumpy, so it can be a challenge to achieve super-defined lashes.

This clean, nourishing formula from Lawless is designed to be ultra-lightweight on lashes — it uses lacquer tree and rice bran waxes to prevent a heavy, saggy look. The molded bristles of the sculpted wand pull the formula through the lashes to help curl, separate, and plump the lashes, while castor and argan oils help condition and strengthen. We love the spherical tip, which allows you to get up close and personal with the wand to target those teensy lashes in the inner corners of the eye. Take care when you load on the pitch-black formula, though — it can clump a little, though this may not matter to you, depending on your mascara preferences.

Price at time of publish: $25

Shades: 1|Size: 12 mL|Waterproof: No

Milk Makeup Kush High Volumizing Mascara

Best Multitasker

What We Love: This vegan mascara delivers on volume and depth with a stable of healthy ingredients.

What We Don’t Love: The wand in this tube can malfunction and make a mess.

If you have weak, brittle lashes but are hoping to find a mascara that will help strengthen them, Kush is worth a try, thanks to its rich, creamy formula. It features hemp-derived cannabis seed oil, which helps condition and soften lashes, allowing for comfortable, all-day wear.

“The brush packs on a lot of product, but allows you to separate your lashes very easily with its super-fine bristles,” says Thomas. But just a head's up: Be sure to open your tube carefully, as the wiper mechanism inside (which removes excess product from the brush as you pull it out) can stick to the inner part of the cap. This means your brush could look very clumpy, overloaded with product, and cause a mess both on and off your lashes.

Price at time of publish: $27

Shades: 1|Size: 8 mL|Waterproof: No

Kosas The Big Clean Volumizing + Lash Care Mascara

Best for Sensitive Eyes

What We Love: This ophthalmologist-tested formula creates a full and fluffy lash.

What We Don’t Love: It can cause transfer issues on some wearers.

We’re big fans of this formula from clean beauty brand Kosas. The densely-packed bristles on the curved wand saturate lashes with rich, black pigment that’s infused with lash-boosting peptides, castor oil, and panthenol. We get a false lash effect from this mascara in just a few coats without ever worrying about our lashes looking spidery. However, the hydrating ingredients and oils within the formula do also make it somewhat easy to smear if you aren't careful or have an oily lid. To avoid any sliding, we suggest reserving your application to solely the upper lashes.

Price at time of publish: $26

Shades: 1|Size: 0.32 fl oz|Waterproof: No

Thrive Causemetics Liquid Lash Extensions Mascara

Best Smudge-Proof

What We Love: This mascara lasts forever on the lash and does exactly what it says, imparting a lash extension effect.

What We Don’t Love: Tubing mascaras like this one require a different application technique.

If you find yourself buying mascara after mascara and being disappointed by smudging, this tubing mascara from Thrive Causemetics will change the game for you. It wraps every lash with a tiny little tube that stays in place all day, adding volume and length until you cleanse. And despite the formula’s durability, all it takes is some warm water to rinse it away.

Pro tip: If you’re used to applying mascara with a zig-zag motion, remember to always finish your application with a straight-through swipe to ensure all of your lashes are separated and fully coated. Simply using a wiggle motion will negatively affect how the mascara adheres to your lashes and wears throughout the day.

Price at time of publish: $25

Shades: 3|Size: .38 fl oz|Waterproof: No

MAC Macstack Superstack Mascara

Best Buildable

What We Love: This flake-free mascara’s molded brush combs through lashes, depositing bold pigment and creating volume without clumping.

What We Don’t Love: Those with oily skin may experience a “raccoon eye” effect on the lower lash line.

When you want extreme volume that still looks like it could maybe still be your real lashes, a formula that can be applied with abandon is essential. Khan is a big fan of this one from megabrand MAC Cosmetics. “This is my favorite buildable volumizing mascara right now, as it’s so easy to layer, and the results are fantastic,” she says. “Regardless of how many layers you apply, the mascara doesn’t clump.”

She notes that the product is long-lasting, too. Keep in mind if you have especially oily skin, you may have some transfer or light smearing on the lower lash line, so if this sounds like you, concentrate your application to the upper lashes only.

Price at time of publish: $28

Shades: 1|Size: 12 mL|Waterproof: Available in waterproof and traditional formulas

Yolaine Le Mascara

Best Vegan

What We Love: This French formula is made with 99 percent natural ingredients and is in sustainable packaging.

What We Don’t Love: This is a more subtle volumizing mascara than some of the others on this list.

Created by French actress, model, and influencer Camille Yolaine, this mascara is designed to give that classically chic French eye makeup, as in, your eyes, but better (pair with liquid liner for the full effect).

It uses a castor plastic fiber brush to coat lashes with a shea butter-infused formula that helps fortify the hair follicle over time while giving you a soft, but still quite voluminous, look without any of the weight. The packaging is also sustainable, made with 100 percent sugarcane bioplastic, which we love.

Note that in true French fashion, this mascara won’t give you an overly dramatic, but rather a more sophisticated voluminous look, so if you want a chunky-looking lash, this won’t do it for you.

Price at time of publish: $37

Shades: 1|Size: 7 mL|Waterproof: No

Wander Beauty Upgraded Lashes Treatment Mascara

Best for Lash Growth

What We Love: The super-fine bristles on the molded wand create a fluttery and fluffy lash.

What We Don’t Love: This mascara can only be built up so much — it’s best used with just a few coats, or layered under another favorite formula.

We’ve been obsessed with this Wander Beauty formula since it launched. The curvy, figure-eight shape of the molded brush, along with its fine bristles, offers plenty of precision and control, even when you're applying in a hurry. The panthenol- and castor oil-enriched formula ensures that every lash appears long and flexible.

We will say that you can’t keep building and building this mascara — it never gets clumpy, but it just doesn’t bulk out. If you want more volume, you might want to try another mascara on this list or experiment with layering another formula on top of this one.

Price at time of publish: $26

Shades: 1|Size: 0.31 fl oz|Waterproof: No

What to Keep in Mind


Have you ever considered the texture of your mascara before? You’ve likely noticed when one is too thick or too wet, but beyond that, most of us wouldn’t give any of it a second thought — but how a mascara comes out of the tube actually makes a huge difference in your final outcome.

“If you’re looking to elongate your lashes while achieving a thick, bushy lash, look for a formula with silk, rayon, nylon or cellulose fibers,” says Khan. “They attach to the root of the lash, adding density and giving the appearance of a full and voluminous lash line.”

You’ll be able to tell if your mascara has fibers because you’ll likely be able to see them. If you want a super dramatic look, she recommends looking for a buildable, creamy, and slightly drier formula, which will make it easy to lay on multiple coats without looking clumpy. “I typically suggest going for a carbon black, matte formula if you're looking for a thicker, more volumized lash,” adds Scibelli.

There’s really only one type of mascara you want to avoid when trying to create a volumized look to your lash — wet ones. “A wetter formula is going to do a great job of coating every lash, but most likely won’t give a volume effect,” says Thomas.


We find that the ideal wand for mascara is highly personal — some people love a traditional bristle brush while others prefer a molded wand. Thomas likes traditional brushes: “They help to separate lashes and give a feathering effect at the tips, but also hold a lot of product to be able to build the lash line,” she says.

You’ll want to consider the shape, too. Both Khan and Scibelli like an hourglass-shaped brush on their mascara wands. “It gives you the option of a thicker end and a slimmer side for both gripping the lash at the base as well as bumping up the lashes for volume,” says Scibelli, while Khan adds that “they’re great to help build volume and length, especially on those with sparse eyelashes."

Regarding the bristles themselves, look for densely-packed ones with varying lengths to hug each lash. Khan adds that thick and wavy bristles can also accentuate a formula’s volumizing effect.

Buildable Application

“Buildable formulas enhance length, thickness, pigmentation and the overall appearance of the lashes,” says Khan. “Some believe that only one coat of mascara is needed, but buildable mascaras are an amazing way to achieve the look of falsies without having to go through the motions of applying them.”

Thomas says that with a great buildable formula, there's no limit to the number of coats you can swipe on, but be sure to comb your lashes as you work. “Brush your lashes between coats so that you get a little bit more separation — unless you prefer a stylized, spidery lash,” she says.

Your Questions, Answered

How do you apply volumizing mascara?

A solid application is critical to getting a bold look out of a volumizing mascara. Khan recommends curling your lash first, which will boost the wow factor of the final look, then apply (and reapply). “I always recommend starting at the very base of the lashes to add volume, drama, and an almost eyeliner-like effect,” says Khan.

Thomas recommends starting at the base of the lash line and wiggling the brush slowly as you move towards the tip to completely saturate each lash. “If the formula contains cellulose fibers, the back-and-forth motion will help them to adhere to the root of your lashes and create a thicker lash line,” she adds.

You can always layer on multiple coats to get to the level of volume you love, although Khan recommends waiting a minute or two for the first coat to dry and set.

Do volumizing mascaras expire?

All beauty products expire, and if a product is liquid, like mascara, it’ll expire even faster. That’s because dark places that are damp (such as, say, the inside of a tube of mascara) are perfect breeding grounds for bacteria. Our pros all recommend switching out your mascara every three months to a fresh tube. “It’s incredibly important to keep expired products away from the face, especially the eyes, as you’re more prone to infection,” warns Khan.

How you use your mascara will also determine how quickly it expires. “The formula isn’t as effective after three months, once air has been introduced to the product,” explains Thomas. This means that every time you pump the wand in and out of the tube, more air gets into the formula and dries it out faster.

Do volumizing mascaras work?

There’s no question that volumizing mascaras work — but as is the case with all beauty products, a mascara that’s right for your best friend may not be the right one for you.  “Mascaras work differently depending on everyone's lash size and shape, so sometimes it's just a matter of trial and error,” says Scibelli.

To evaluate a mascara's lash-lifting effect, take a look at the ingredients. “The addition of fibers, waxes, polymers and ceramides make current volumizing mascaras a great staple to have in your makeup bag,” says Khan, while Thomas adds that its the fibers in particular that lead to a fuller look.

Then, remember your application technique! “To create a volumizing look, make sure that you do a back-and-forth motion at the root before dragging upward to the tip of the lashes,” says Thomas. “Feel free to add as many coats as you like to achieve the look you’re going for.”

Why Shop With Us

Emily Orofino is a freelance writer, editor, and consultant with over a decade of experience in the beauty industry. The makeup category was her first love within beauty and she has tried thousands of products throughout her lifetime. Since her early teen years, she has been on a quest to find the perfect mascara — and considering new formulas are launched every month, she’ll never stop hunting. For this piece, she interviewed professional makeup artists Natalia Thomas, who has worked with stars like Zazie Beetz and Karlie Kloss, Neil Scibelli, who has worked with Elle Macpherson and Melissa Etheridge, and Naseeha Khan, co-founder of CTZN Cosmetics.

Related:These 12 Drugstore Mascaras Are So Good You'll Ditch Your False Lashes

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