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 – essentials 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
All month, we’ve been putting waterproof products to the test and have narrowed them down to the top nine, 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 2022 are:
- Best overall – Bobbi Brown no smudge mascara: £26, Bobbibrown.co.uk
- Best for lengthening – Benefit badgal bang! volumizing waterproof mascara: £20.83, Lookfantastic.com
- Best for volume – Milk Makeup kush waterproof mascara: £13, Cultbeauty.co.uk
- Best for holding a curl – Lancôme lash idôle waterproof mascara: £24, Lookfantastic.com
- Best for sensitive eyes – Clinique high impact waterproof mascara: £22, Lookfantastic.com
- Best for short lashes – NYX Professional Makeup worth the hype waterproof mascara: £12.66, Amazon.co.uk
- Best budget option – Maybelline lash sensation sky high sky high waterproof mascara: £11.49, Boots.com
- Best for weddings – Chanel le volume de chanel waterproof mascara: £31, Johnlewis.com
- Best for everyday – Huda Beauty legit lashes waterproof topcoat: £16, Cultbeauty.co.uk
Bobbi Brown no smudge mascara
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.
Benefit badgal BANG! volumizing waterproof mascara
Best: For 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.
Milk Makeup kush waterproof mascara
Best: For adding volume
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.
Lancôme lash idôle waterproof mascara
Best: For holding a curl
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.
Clinique high impact waterproof mascara
Best: For sensitive eyes
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.
NYX Professional Makeup worth the hype waterproof mascara
Best: For short lashes
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.
Maybelline lash sensation sky high sky high waterproof mascara
Best: Budget option
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.
Chanel le volume de chanel waterproof mascara
Best: For weddings
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.
Huda Beauty legit lashes waterproof topcoat
Best: For every day
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.
This one is out of stock at the moment, but you can sign up to be notified once it’s back on sale.