If there’s one beauty product that’s seen a rise in a whole host of new launches so far this year, it’s mascara.
From the much anticipated Victoria Beckham Beauty debut (£26, Victoriabeckhambeauty.com) to the social-media hyped Maybelline lash sensational sky high (£9.99, Boots.com), it seems like every make-up brand has a new innovative formula with a game-changing brush that promises to be better than the next.
Mascara is such a transformative beauty staple – even the most low-maintenance of us have one in our beauty kit. A good mascara will darken and define your eyelashes, but a great mascara will be eye-opening, making your peepers look bigger and brighter.
The problem with this is there’s no one-size-fits-all formula. Thick or thin, curly or straight, short or long – love or hate your lashes, they come in all shapes, sizes and colours. And when we all crave something different from a wand, the only way to find your perfect match is through trial and error.
With so many to choose from, we’ve done the mammoth task for you. We’ve wiggled our way through the latest launches and tested them against the bestselling formulations to bring you the best of 2021.
While our winning wands all provided a variety of looks and finishes, they also provided a flake-free, stay-in-place formula. No matter your lashes' needs and wants, or your budget, we’re sure there’s a perfect pick for you here.
The best mascaras for 2021 are:
- Best for fanned-out lift and volume – Lancôme lash idôle mascara: £23.50, Lookfantastic.com
- Best for eye-opening curl – Dior diorshow iconic overcurl mascara: £28, Johnlewis.com
- Best for definition and separation – Victoria Beckham future lash mascara: £26, Victoriabeckhambeauty.com
- Best for buildable volume – Guerlain mad eyes mascara: £29, Johnlewis.com
- Best for doing it all – Charlotte Tilbury pillow talk push up lashes mascara: £23, Spacenk.com
- Best for instant volume – Pat McGrath labs dark star mascara: £26, Net-a-porter.com
- Best for those on a budget – Rimmel scandaleyes reloaded mascara: £8.49, Superdrug.com
- Best for lengthening – Benefit they're real! magnet extreme lengthening mascara: £24, Lookfantastic.com
- Best for intense drama – Nars climax dramatic volumising mascara: £22, Lookfantastic.com
- Best for staying in place all day – Bobbi Brown smokey eye mascara: £25.50, Johnlewis.com
- Best for lash strengthening – BareMinerals strength and length serum-infused mascara: £23, Lookfantastic.com
- Best for customising – Huda Beauty legit lashes double ended mascara: £24, Feelunique.com
- Best for waterproof – L’Oreal Paris air volume mega waterproof mascara: £10.99, Superdrug.com
- Best for definition and volume – Kevyn Aucoin indecent mascara: £22, Spacenk.com
- Best for a false-lash effect – Too Faced better than sex mascara: £22, Boots.com
- Best for day to night – Fenty full frontal volume, lift and curl mascara: £21, Boots.com
- Best for a no make-up, make-up look – Glossier lash slick mascara:£14, Glossier.com
- Best for fullness – Anastasia Beverly Hills lash brag volumising mascara: £26, Cultbeauty.co.uk
- Best for vegans – Milk Makeup kush high volume mascara: £22, Cultbeauty.co.uk
- Best for length and volume – Maybelline lash sensational sky high mascara: £9.99, Boots.com
- Best for natural-looking volume – Flower beauty lash warrior mascara: £10.99, Superdrug.com
- Best for a full-bodied effect – Estée Lauder sumptuous rebel length and lift mascara: £24, Boots.com
- Best for swapping with your falsies – Mac magic extension mascara: £20, Boots.com
Lancôme lash idôle mascara
Best: For fanned-out lift and volume
With such an impressive back catalogue of game-changing mascaras, we can’t believe this brand has outdone itself again with this new offering. The next-level brush makes easy work of coating each and every lash thanks to the 250 different bristle sizes and 360 micro-bristles. Its curved shape fits perfectly into the upper lash line, allowing for root-to-tip coverage. In just one stroke your lashes look volumised and lifted, but the flexible jet black, gel emulsion allows you to add as many clump-free layers as you desire for a more full-on look.
Dior diorshow iconic overcurl mascara
Best: For eye-opening curl
Straight lashes, this one’s for you. Make-up artists will tell you how transformative it is to add an eyelash curler to your routine. While you can get the same effect with advanced mascara formulas, this is the first we’ve found where the curl actually stays in place. A flick of the wand and it thickens lashes beautifully – then set the curl by pressing it against the lashes with the curved brush. It’s simple to use and super effective.
Victoria Beckham future lash mascara
Best: For definition and separation
Finally, Victoria Beckham has turned her attention to lashes with this much anticipated and innovative formulation. A small, thin and slightly curved brush makes it easy to get to the tiniest lashes without any smudging, and its manoeuvrable formula makes it easy to create a naturally defined and well-separated look. This doesn’t budge once in place – not even at the gym, where we tested its sweat-proof claims – but it still washes off with water at the end of the day. It’s effortlessly elegant, just like VB herself!
Guerlain mad eyes mascara
Best: For buildable volume
Reach for this volume-boosting formula that thickens and curls lashes in just one coat, but layer on lashings of the clump-free ink and you can create next-level drama that looks like you’ve naturally grown thicker, fuller lashes. The luxe, Instagram-worthy rose-gold tube is also infused with lash conditioning ingredients, so no matter how many layers you add, your lashes stay soft and supple.
Charlotte Tilbury pillow talk push up lashes mascara
Best: For doing it all
Hyped on social media with a huge waiting list when it first launched, the third mascara from the make-up artist’s brand was well worth the wait. What sets it apart is that it promises and delivers on weightless volume, length and lift for the perfect all-rounder mascara. Use the flat side of the paddle-shaped brush to load and lift lashes, and the comb side for even distribution. Expect high-impact lashes with an intense black, glossy finish that holds all day.
Pat McGrath labs dark star mascara
Best: For instant volume
From the brand created by possibly the most influential make-up artist on the planet, Pat McGrath knows what a brilliant mascara should look like. The large, contoured brush is built for speed, as it delivers slick body in just one stroke – perfect for mornings when you’re short on time. Build up a few more layers for extra intensity that’s perfect for when glamour is called for.
Rimmel scandaleyes reloaded mascara
Best: For those on a budget
For a purse-friendly volumising mascara, try this for a fuller, thicker flutter. Wiggle the oversized brush through lashes for a smooth, even finish that you can layer evenly. No matter how many coats you apply, this stays clump-free, with a natural look. Expect it to stay in place throughout the day too – and all with change from a tenner. A true high street hero!
Benefit they're real! magnet extreme lengthening mascara
Best: For lengthening
With such a well-loved collection of mascaras, Benefit is always ahead of the game and this new launch is no exception. The state-of-the-art brush has a magnetically charged core that pulls the magnetic mineral-enriched formula up and out to the tips of lashes, making them appear longer. We were wowed by how well this lifted and lengthened after just one stroke. And if you layer it, it builds volume with no dreaded clumping.
Nars climax dramatic volumising mascara
Best: For intense drama
For those looking for full-on volume, you’ll love how effortlessly the over-sized brush creates a bigger, bolder finish. Wiggle this formula in – from the roots at the lash line to the tips – with two coats for a bold, wearable look. To really add some va va voom, keep layering on without smudging or clumping. Expect it to feel weightless and soft, with no stiff or crispy lashes in sight.
Bobbi Brown smokey eye mascara
Best: For staying in place all day
Part of the brand’s bestselling line-up, we’ve turned back to this mascara time and time again for its long-wearing, flake- and smudge-free formula. Its true black, kohl-pigmented colour seamlessly glides over and covers each lash from root to tip with just one coating – expect a well-separated and elongated look perfect for daytime. Layer on the workable formula and you’ll create a bolder, fanned-out flutter that’s ideal for a night out.
BareMinerals strength and length serum-infused mascara
Best: For lash strengthening
Lashes in need of a little TLC will love this formula infused with a plant-based serum that’s rich in amino acids and potent peptides for a soft, supple and strong flutter. Once you get the hang of the clever three-in-one brush, you’ll see how easily the flattened part of it lifts lashes – designed to mimic the classic make-up artist trick of using a spoon. A good all-rounder for volume, length and definition too.
Huda Beauty legit lashes double ended mascara
Best: For customising
Seasoned beauty fanatics will love the variety of lash looks you can create with this genius double-ended brush. One side is built for volume, with its larger, slightly curved bristle brush and formula that’s easy to layer on, while the flip side uses a smaller, thinner brush and lengthening fibers to elongate and curve. Use separately depending on the finish you want to achieve, or both for high impact lashes. Just be sure to work the formulas together quickly before it sets.
L’Oréal Paris air volume mega waterproof mascara
Best: For waterproof
Switch to this budge-proof formula if you’re an eye rubber prone to mascara flake, smudging or panda eyes. Expect what they say on the tube – it creates lightweight volume that’s going nowhere. We put this tube through its paces and found it didn’t budge or smudge in a sweaty cardio gym session or after a swim at the local pool. Normally, we need a good cleansing oil to remove a waterproof formula, but all this takes is warm water and a washcloth. Contradictory, but it works!
Kevyn Aucoin indecent mascara
Best: For definition and volume
Make this recently launched formula your go-to if you’re looking for long-lasting length and volume with a natural finish. The cone-shaped bristle brush makes easy work of defining each and every lash, thanks to the thin tip that gets into corners, and it also works lower lashes brilliantly.
We couldn’t get enough of layering this clump-free formula for a fuller look, without the fakeness other mascaras give off. Plus, it’s infused with lash-enhancing ingredients for healthy growth.
Too Faced better than sex mascara
Best: For false-lash effect
What was once a cult classic has become the US’s number-one-selling prestige mascara. This cheekily named formula has a reputation for creating drama that’s still hard to beat. Stay clear if you prefer a neat and natural finish, as this one is all about the false-lash effect. Its large, hourglass-shaped brush covers lashes effortlessly from root to tip: just one coat magnifies, but work through a few times for a fuller, bolder finish with a curl that lasts. Does it live up to its name? Don’t be so silly... but it does try.
Fenty full frontal volume, lift and curl mascara
Best: For day to night
Whether you’re looking for a little drama, or a more refined day finish, this wand is great for creating different looks. Once you get to grips with using the two-sided “flat-to-fat” brush, you see how cleverly Fenty’s mascara works. Layer lashes with the fat side of the brush for volume and lift, and the flat side for definition and curl. We love the mini option and the subtle burgundy and forest green shades that make eyes pop.
Glossier lash slick mascara
Best: For no make-up, make-up look
This is our pick for those that like their make-up to look subtle. Think of this as a slight enhancement to your lashes – it darkens and creates cleanly separated lashes, giving a slight lengthening effect. The wand is thin with a fine tip, making it easy to highlight all lashes, and even a few coats will leave the most natural flutter. It also conditions hairs over time with vegan biotin, leaving them soft to the touch. Simply wash off in the evening with warm water.
Anastasia Beverly Hills lash brag volumising mascara
Best: For fullness
When it comes to lashes, if you’re looking for “the bigger the better”, then this one is for you. With a large, hourglass brush designed for creating volume and a thick-consistency formula, one swipe and you’ve got yourself a bolder and fuller look. Carry on applying for an extreme fat-lash effect. Be warned: this isn’t for those that like a natural finish.
Milk Makeup kush high volume mascara
Best: For vegans
Turn to Milk for its vegan and cruelty-free formulations, including its bestselling volume-building mascara. Its oversized brush with criss-cross bristles coats every lash easily with a creamy formula built for layering. It boasts conditioning, hemp-derived cannabis seed oil that keeps lashes light and soft, so you can even add coats for touch-ups throughout the day, if you want to add a little drama come evening.
Maybelline lash sensational sky high mascara
Best: For Length and volume
One Maybelline mascara is sold every seven seconds in the UK, and with such an impressive collection of popular wands, we were surprised to find that the brand’s latest formula outshines the rest, and is our favourite yet. The long, thin and flexible brush head combines a formula of bamboo extract and fibres that builds volume and length with each stroke, but also separates lashes for a fanned-out look.
Flower Beauty lash warrior mascara
Best: For natural-looking volume
From Drew Barrymore’s beauty brand, this wand is seriously impressive at building thicker lashes with only one or two coats – you don’t need any more. The spiked brush effortlessly creates separation, fanning out lashes with added lift. It’s perfect for those looking to build speedy everyday volume that still looks super natural. It’s a purse-friendly option with the performance of a more expensive tube.
Estée Lauder sumptuous rebel length and lift mascara
Best: For a full-bodied effect
A go-to for short lashes, the sleek brush of this mascara makes easy work of getting into the lash line and highlighting even the tiniest of lower hairs. After a few strokes expect thicker, longer and well-lifted lashes giving off the illusion of a fuller set that still look like your own, but better. We were impressed with the staying power too, as the fluttery effect lasts all day.
Mac magic extension mascara
Best: For swapping with your falsies
If you’re looking for something to compete with your stick-on lashes or favourite lash treatment, this is the mascara for you. The formula contains 5mm-long fibres that adhere to your natural lashes, crosshatching at the stroke of the brush to create a fuller, thicker and curled flutter. You can brush on as much volume as you crave – one stroke boosting length and volume and two or three creating a more full-on dramatic effect. Expect lashes still to feel lightweight and flexible and for the formula to stay in place throughout the day with no flaking.
Top tips for making the absolute most out of your mascara
The shelf life of an average mascara is two to four months, so to get the most out of it, follow these tips:
- To avoid dry clumps of mascara, keep your brush clean. The best way to do this is by submerging it in warm water for five minutes. Similarly, if you find a wand you love, clean it and save it
- Do not pump your mascara – pumping adds more air to the tube, which causes it to dry out
- If you want your lashes to have full-on drama, we’d advise applying a primer, which helps to really get your mascara working
The verdict: Best mascaras
Our best buy goes to the Lancôme lash idôle mascara because it effortlessly creates a natural-looking volume that’s ideal for daytime wear and is easily buildable for a bolder look. For a high street option with similar effects, try the Maybelline lash sensational sky high mascara.
For offers on makeup and beauty products, try our discount code pages:
- Boots discount codes
- Lookfantastic discount codes
- Feelunique discount codes
- Charlotte Tilbury discount codes
For creating maximum impact that lasts, we’ve rounded up the best false eyelashes that stay put
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