I Tried Over A Dozen Different Mascaras This Year—Here Are My Honest Reviews

If mascara is your favorite part of your beauty routine, the quality of a good product matters most. But how much money do you need to spend in order to have nice, full lashes? Are luxury mascaras worth the price tag?

By Alyssa Vandermeulen3 min read
Pexels/Karolina Grabowska

I have super long eyelashes and struggle to find a mascara that highlights them without breakage, fallout, or eye irritation. Through my Sephora online order obsession, I have tried a ton of different mascara brands, types, and colors through free gifts with purchase. I have a constant rotation of different beauty products, and I love watching videos online to discover new ones. However, my beauty obsession often leads to makeup bags full of products I don’t actually love. 

Mascara, like all beauty products nowadays, is expensive, especially in the full-size versions. An easy way to try different mascaras without committing to the larger price tag is to buy the mini versions. These smaller sizes are less likely to dry up, and there is less bacteria in the tube after prolonged use. 

After trying over a dozen different mascaras this year, I have ranked them from worst to best in order to help you find a great product that will leave your lashes long, lifted, and lovely. Ready to see my honest ratings? 

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12. Hourglass Unlocked Instant Extensions Mascara, $32

Coming in at number 12, the Hourglass Unlocked Instant Extensions mascara was easily one of the worst beauty products I tested this year. Despite the fancy label and the cost, this Hourglass mascara was a major flop. The product looked great on my lashes for the first 20 minutes, but shortly after, I was taking flakes of mascara out of my eye for the rest of the day. It irritated my eyes and left them puffy. No, thank you!

11. Caliray Come Hell or High Water Mascara, $24

The Caliray Come Hell or High Water mascara had the worst fallout of all the mascaras I tried. My undereyes were smudged, and it never looked nice on my lashes. I wanted to love it after the influencer buzz surrounding the product over the summer, but I should have saved my money for a better product on this list. 

10. Milk Makeup Rise Lifting + Lengthening Mascara, $28

Prone to clumping, this mascara didn’t do anything positive for my long lashes. It almost doubled my makeup routine, as I had to separate my lashes several times in order for the mascara to look decent. Not worth the hassle or the expensive price tag! 

9. Bareminerals Strength & Length Serum-Infused Mascara, $22

I used to love a specific Bareminerals mascara that was discontinued a few years ago, so I decided to try this one when it was on sale. Thankfully, I didn’t pay full price for this product, because it made my lashes look remarkably short. Plus, when removing the mascara, there were clumps of product in the corners of my eyes. Safe to say, I would not buy this again!

8. Anastasia Beverly Hills Lash Sculpt Lengthening & Volumizing Mascara, $26 

While the formula on this Anastasia Beverly Hills mascara was nice, the shape of the brush made it difficult to apply and even more difficult to “sculpt” my lashes. I love the doe-eyed look for every day, and it is nearly impossible to do with a straight applicator. I’ll stick to the brow gel from this brand instead! 

7. KVD Beauty Full Sleeve Long + Defined Tubing Mascara, $25

I tried the KVD Beauty Full Sleeve mascara in a mini size, simply because the pretty packaging caught my eye. The results of the product, however, were just average. It didn’t do anything remarkable for my lashes, and I don’t think it works any better than a cheap drugstore mascara. Save your money! 

6. Too Faced Better Than Sex Volumizing & Lengthening Waterproof Mascara, $29

Getting over a breakup? Spending the summer in the pool? This Too Faced waterproof mascara will keep your mascara from running, even after the worst of ugly cries. I lost faith in waterproof mascaras a few years ago, but this product has completely changed my mind. It was easy to take off with makeup remover at night, but it didn’t fail me during the day!

5. Tarte Lights, Camera, Lashes 4-in-1 Mascara, $25

A classic since I was a teenager, the iconic purple sleeve of Tarte’s Lights, Camera, Lashes mascara made a return to my beauty bag this year. I buy a few of these mascaras every Christmas season during the $12 sale to give as gifts, and I always put one in my mom’s stocking. It’s consistent, pretty, and cruelty-free, so I’d definitely recommend this one if you struggle to find a mascara you love! 

4. Benefit Cosmetics They're Real! Lengthening Mascara, $28

Benefit products stood out to me this year, and they are iconic for a reason! Easy to apply with an expertly shaped brush, I had no fallout or irritation after wearing this all day. This lengthening mascara looks great on my lower lashes as well, giving my entire eye a sultry look. 

3. Benefit Cosmetics BADgal BANG Mascara, $28

If you want full, dark lashes, the Benefit Cosmetics BADgal BANG mascara should be in your makeup bag. I wear this mascara on special occasions, girls' night out, and anytime my face needs a little pick-me-up. I love the way it fans out my lashes for a full eye look, and it’s the perfect finale to your favorite makeup look. Highly recommend it! 

2. Ilia Limitless Lash Mascara, $28

Another clean beauty favorite is the Ilia Limitless Lash Mascara. I keep one of these handy in my bag at all times, and I love the way it layers with another mascara. This little tube is one of those must-have products to keep in your purse, car, or desk drawer, and I would hand these out on the street corner if I could. Pricey? Yes, but worth every penny! 

1. Freck Beauty LashRocket Mascara, $26

Hands down, the Freck Beauty LashRocket mascara is my favorite beauty product discovery of this year. I have used the Freckle Pen in the past, and I love the clean beauty initiative, but this mascara is their best product. My lashes are full and long, and there was no fallout, even during my most stressful days. This mascara also stays put during a workout! 

Closing Thoughts

After trying over a dozen mascaras this year, I settled on a few go-to products that will remain in my beauty bag into the new year. If you're searching to perfect your lash game, hopefully this guide is helpful so you can skip the sponsored TikTok reviews and save your money for products that genuinely wow!

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