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10 best waterproof mascaras for smudge-free lashes all day long

Our beauty experts tried and tested these waterproof formulas in the rain, during a facial and in the shower

Louise Whitbread
Monday 22 May 2023 13:05 BST
<p>Go for a balm or oil-based eye make-up remover or cleanser when taking off water-resistant products</p>

Go for a balm or oil-based eye make-up remover or cleanser when taking off water-resistant products

Our Top Picks

Mascara is a game-changer for your make-up routine, making you look instantly more awake and finishing off your eyeshadow work. However, there’s always the risk of looking like a panda if you get teary, sweaty or are simply prone to watery eyes (thanks, hayfever). In these cases, a swipe of waterproof mascara can be your holy grail.

Known and loved for their stubborn staying power, waterproof formulas can be stickier and take a tad longer to dry but can deliver a miniature lash lift and hold their curl for longer.

As warmer, more humid weather is on the up, we set out to find a waterproof mascara that won’t smudge, clump, smear or flake – essential for keeping your make-up intact.

The top-performing waterproof mascaras not only add volume, definition and length but are a breeze to remove, too. There’s nothing worse than spending ages in the bathroom scrubbing away at your face, only to wake up the next morning with lingering remnants across your cheeks, not to mention the damage to the delicate skin around your eyes.

As these formulas are designed to resist water, we’d recommend using a specific eye-make-up remover or an oil-based cleanser with a richer texture to remove every scrap of mascara with the least amount of effort.

How we tested

We spent months putting waterproof products to the test, and have narrowed them down to the top 10, rating each one on staying power, ease of application, types of wands and bristles, along with how easy they were to remove.

Spanning luxurious brands to budget beauty buys, we tested these products during downpours, facials, sunny days and even in the shower, to find the very best waterproof mascara money can buy.

The best waterproof mascaras for 2023 are:

  • Best overall – Bobbi Brown no smudge mascara: £28.50,
  • Best for lengthening – Benefit badgal bang! volumising waterproof mascara: £25.50,
  • Best for volume – Milk Makeup kush waterproof mascara: £26,
  • Best for sensitive eyes – Clinique high impact waterproof mascara: £23,
  • Best budget option – Maybelline lash sensation sky high waterproof mascara: £9.59,

Bobbi Brown no smudge mascara

Bobbi Brown no smudge waterproof mascara  indybest.jpeg
  • Best: Overall
  • Size: 5.5ml
  • Benefits: Volumising, buildable and doesn’t budge

If you simply can’t do without long, fluttery lashes, this small but mighty mascara is well worth the splurge, giving lashings of volume with just a couple of coats.

The brush picks up an even coat of product without overloading it, and even when worn in the shower, it doesn’t budge. We found it was brilliantly buildable, too, allowing us to add coat after coat without leaving lashes looking clumpy.

Despite being the brand’s smallest mascara, with a compact tube that’s 5.5ml, it’s lasted our reviewer well over six months.

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Benefit badgal BANG! volumising waterproof mascara

Benefit badgal BANG! volumizing waterproof mascara .jpg
  • Best: For lengthening
  • Size: 8.5g
  • Benefits: Buildable, weightless, lengthening

Another cult favourite mascara launching a waterproof version is Benefit, with arguably some of the best lash products on the market. Its buildable formula is weightless and super lengthening, delivering non-clumpy and defined lashes.

Our only bugbear was that it’s slightly harder to remove than others we tried in this round-up – taking a good few cotton rounds of make-up remover to make sure it was all gone. That said, this goes to show its impressive staying power.

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Milk Makeup kush waterproof mascara

_Milk Makeup kush waterproof mascara indybest.jpeg
  • Best: For adding volume
  • Size: 9.5ml
  • Benefits: Volumising and thickening

This kush mascara comes in a chunky, weighty tube with an oval-shaped brush, which we found worked best for adding volume and thickness to lashes, while the weight of the wand made it feel sturdy to apply.

The vegan-friendly formula is rich in a plant-derived oil to nourish lashes, and we saw no flaking or clumping. Not only that, it’s easy to remove too. So, if you want the staying power of a waterproof mascara but don’t want to spend ages taking it off, this is a worthwhile option.

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Lancôme lash idôle waterproof mascara

Lancôme lash idôle waterproof mascara .jpg
  • Best: For holding a curl
  • Size: 8ml
  • Benefits: Lifting, long-wearing and volumising

Lancôme has such an extensive mascara range it can be hard to know which to choose, but a very good starting place will be with its Idôle. It comes with a curved brush that gives lashes a bit of a lift and oodles of volume. What’s more, it was easy to manoeuvre around any hairs that were refusing to cooperate.

The formula proved to be impressively long-wearing yet was also easier to remove than expected. We returned to this mascara repeatedly over the month-long testing period.

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Clinique high impact waterproof mascara

Clinique high impact waterproof mascara indybest.jpeg
  • Best: For sensitive eyes
  • Size: 10g
  • Benefits: Lengthening, long-wearing and smudge-proof

For defined, lengthened lashes, this mascara is hard to beat, and is one of the brand’s most popular make-up products, thanks to its serious staying power – it didn’t smudge, smear, flake or crumble on a sweaty tube carriage, while wearing a face covering, or during drinks in the park in 25C heat.

The brush is full of evenly spaced bristles, but not so jam-packed that it’ll leave you with flecks of product on your eyelids. The wand is easy to navigate into the corner of your inner lash to coat each hair without them looking clumpy.

OK, it wasn’t the easiest to remove, so we recommend using a cleansing balm or eye make-up remover to ensure it’s all off before you hit the hay.

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NYX Professional Makeup worth the hype waterproof mascara

NYX Professional Makeup worth the hype waterproof mascara .jpg
  • Best: For short lashes
  • Size: 7ml
  • Benefits: Lengthening, volumising and easy removal

Affordable and effective, this is an ideal mascara for short lashes looking for added length, volume and easy application. The tapered brush was able to coat even the smallest of hairs on our bottom lashes without feeling heavy or clumping together.

We opted for three coats to achieve our desired look, and the formula didn’t irritate our watery eyes, nor smudge throughout the day. What’s more, the mascara was relatively easy to remove, and comes with a purse-friendly price tag, too.

  1. £7 from
Prices may vary
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Maybelline lash sensation sky high waterproof mascara

Maybelline lash sensation sky high sky high waterproof mascara .jpg
  • Best: Budget option
  • Size: 7.2ml
  • Benefits: Lengthening and long-wearing

While the non-waterproof version of this mascara achieved viral fame on TikTok, we implore you to try this one, too. It’s one of the best budget-friendly eye products we’ve tried and it delivered on its claims of lengthened, long-wearing, fluttery lashes.

It has a slight conical-shaped brush, which is flexible too, making it easy to coat smaller corner and bottom lashes evenly. We experienced no flaking or creasing whatsoever after well over 12 hours of wear, and it melted away easily with an oil-based cleansing balm. Add to your basket before it sells out.

  1. £9 from
Prices may vary
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Chanel le volume de Chanel waterproof mascara

Chanel le volume de Chanel waterproof mascara indybest.jpeg
  • Best: For weddings
  • Size: 6g
  • Benefits: Lengthening, volumising and thickening

If you’re looking to splurge, Chanel’s waterproof mascara is one of the best we’ve tried. It didn’t move a jot throughout the day, even during a facial, or while wearing a face covering when jumping on and off the underground and going and in and out of shops. It also comes in a neat and compact tube, making it easy to pop into your bag.

The formula added length, volume and thickness to even the sparsest of lashes, and had brilliant staying power. There was no clumping on our reviewer's lashes and it remained free from flakes. Worth every penny.

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Huda Beauty legit lashes waterproof topcoat

Huda Beauty legit lashes waterproof topcoat  .jpg
  • Best: For every day
  • Size: 4ml
  • Benefits: Easy to layer and lightweight

While not a mascara, this lash top coat can transform any mascara into a waterproof one, being clear, very lightweight and easy to layer. It came in particularly handy when we wore mascaras that applied well and lengthened lashes but didn’t have the staying power.

The formula prevented any smudging, crumbling or smeared panda eyes. It also looked invisible once applied, lasted a long time and was a genius product to have in our make-up bag.

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Eyeko beach waterproof mascara

  • Best: Vegan-friendly buy
  • Size: 8ml
  • Benefits: Natural-looking length and thickness

What’s unique about this waterproof mascara is its squeezy tube packaging, which is compact for travel and make-up bag storage alike. The mascara has a vegan-friendly formula, including coconut oil and fruit extracts, and we liked how well the wavy-shaped brush was able to grip our lashes. It creates a natural-looking effect of both length and thickness, while we also found it easy to build and add more volume. Meanwhile, the mascara didn’t smudge or clump, even on a warm day.

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The verdict: Waterproof mascaras

Coming out on top is undoubtedly the Bobbi Brown no smudge waterproof mascara, which gave us lashes with ample volume, thickness and drama without smudging or clumping. Easy to layer up with multiple coats without budging, even after hours of wear, it’s fast become an everyday essential in our make-up kit. Meanwhile, Clinique’s high impact waterproof mascara suits sensitive eyes and doesn’t smudge or flake. Finally, NYX Professional Makeup’s worth the hype waterproof mascara is affordable and effective.

Looking for refreshed peepers? We’ve tried and tested the best under-eye masks and patches

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