Between the heat, humidity, sweat, and all that splashing around at the beach, summer is not your mascara’s best friend. Too often, we find that our tried and true lash enhancers melt and wilt when faced with some of the more challenging facets of warm weather. Time to call in the big guns: Long-wear mascaras. Many of these super-powered eyelash amplifiers boast formulas resistant to heat, water, and smudging, meaning they last all day long, and then some.
Unfortunately, we’ve been burned by long-lasting claims before, trusting our lashes to false fringe prophets who promised us 24 hours of lushness, only to have them fail us midway through the day. We didn’t want to leave you in the same plight, so we picked four of the latest long-wear mascaras and put them through their paces.
We tested them for durability, longevity, appearance, and the ability to stand up to repeated splashing with cool water (our testers really hated that part). Read on to see which mascaras rose to the challenge, and which ones melted under pressure.
Who: Gina Marinelli, editorial assistant
The Contender: Anastasia Lash Genius Waterproof Topcoat
“However, after splashing the water on my face, I did begin to see the mascara — or I assume, both mascaras — smudge slightly below my lower lash line. While it wasn’t as drastic as it would have been had I gone swimming with just my regular mascara (unfortunately, I’ve made that mistake before), it was enough to require me to touch up my makeup.”
“I did continue to wear the mascara for the rest of the day, and thankfully, it stayed completely intact without any further smudging. It also cleaned off easily that night with a little bit of makeup remover and face wash, which was great because that’s my usual routine anyway. I’m happy to say that the following day, I tried out the Lash Genius again, this time without splashing, and it stayed strong all day — no running, clumping, or flaking in sight.”
The Result: “I would definitely recommend this product to women who want their makeup to completely stay in place for an extended amount of time. But, if you’re headed for the beach, this may not be the best option.”
Anastasia Lash Genius Waterproof Topcoat, $21, available at Sephora.
Who: Isabelle Rancier, designer
The Contender: Stila Stay All Day Waterproof Volumizing Mascara
“I only wear waterproof mascara and eyeliner; non-waterproof eye products tend to flake on me and don’t hold their ground against oilier skin like mine. Unlike a lot of mascaras I’ve tried in the past, the Stila Stay All Day Waterproof Mascara was not clumpy. I really liked the size of the brush: nice and big but not too huge, so it didn’t accidentally bump and smudge on my eyelids.”
“Unfortnately, when I splashed my lashes with water, things started to go downhill. While it didn’t run from the contact with water, the pressure from rubbing my face with the towel caused it to smear. My eyelashes still looked good and made-up, I just had Alice Cooper lower lids. After wiping off the excess mascara, there were no further smudges the rest of the day — the mascara stayed put until I removed it at night. I used L’Oréal Clean Artiste Waterproof And Long Wearing Eye Makeup Remover. I’ve tried countless waterproof makeup removers and this one is the holy grail: It’s non-greasy, and it’s super gentle which is crucial as you do need a lot of it to get all of your makeup off, and my skin is really sensitive, especially around my eyes.”
The Result: “I loved this mascara! In fact, I’m wearing it now. It wears well and withstands long days. I will say, however, that I have not gone swimming in it (yet). I think the fact that rubbing it causes it to come off is actually a good thing — I don’t need water-tight motor oil on my eyes. I would definitely buy this. I already wear Stila waterproof eyeliner, so now I can get both mascara and eyeliner at the same makeup counter.”
Stila Stay All Day Waterproof Volumizing Mascara, $22, available at Stila.
Who: Nizzi Karai Renaud, vice-president of marketing and merchandising
The Contender: Bobbi Brown Intensifying Long-Wear Mascara
“You know that game you play when you think about the one product you’d need on a desert island? Well, mine would definitely not be mascara. I always worry about how I’d get the stuff off since saltwater wouldn’t do the trick.That said, when I do reach for the sauce, it really needs to be long-lasting and durable because I will inevitably sneeze one minute after applying and rub my eyes at least 5 minutes after that. I do typically adore Bobbi Brown products, her being a fellow Emerson College graduate and all.”
“First things first: application was a breeze. The deceptively small but well-designed brush really attacked every single hair and gave a great curl without an eyelash curler. I used it daily for a week and it definitely held up sans flaking and with minimal fuss. Plus, I’m a contact-lens wearer, and this product didn’t make me want to scratch my eyes out come 3 p.m. The full face water assault that we tried for the purposes of this test was not this mascara’s shining moment unfortunately — this is not the mascara for that dip in the pool or super soaker watergun fight (don’t ask), as it’s not technically waterproof.”
“My issue is always removal — I feel like I’m undoing all those diligent nights with eye cream by having to rub at lashes to avoid unsexy racoon eyes. However, the promise of this mascara held up even when removing. I used my new obsession, the Antipodes Grapeseed Butter Cleanser and it did the trick with minimal rubbing and tugging.”
The Result: “It’s a great daily-use mascara that goes on, stays on, and comes off easily when you need it to. I’d recommend this for steamy commutes, long hours at the office, and the drinks-after-work kind of days. And if they could make it waterproof, I’d reconsider my desert island pick!”
Bobbi Brown Intensifying Long-Wear Mascara, $24, available at Bobbi Brown.
Who: Isabel Cafaro, executive assistant
The Contender: Maybelline The Mega Plush Volum’ Express Waterproof
“I’ve used waterproof mascara before, but I switched back to a regular formula a couple of years ago because I found the ones I was using were really tough to get off and I would always end up with some black bits caked to my face in the morning.”
“When I first applied the Maybelline Mega Plush Volum’ Express Waterproof, I noticed that it had a flexible brush head and it was hard to apply to my lashes. I needed about four coats to really get it on and I was annoyed by that. Surprisingly, it did not clump or give me spider eyes, thanks to the gel-mousse formula. It coated the right amount, made them look longer, and it separated my lashes perfectly. I guess the bendy brush wasn’t so annoying after all!”
“When I splashed my face with water, the mascara didn’t move. And when I rubbed my eyes, still nothing — not a smudge in sight. Same thing happened when I dried my face with a towel. My mascara was still intact — as if I had just applied it. I had to use my Lancome Bi-Facil makeup remover to get the mascara off — regular soap and water didn’t cut it.”
The Result: “What would make this mascara better is no bendy brush! It makes it so hard to apply it. But, despite the brush, I might stop using my regular mascara and give waterproof a go again. Summer’s coming and with all of the relaxing beach days ahead of me, I should really make the switch.”
Maybelline The Mega Plush Volum’ Express Waterproof, $6.29, available at Target.
Photographed by Guang Xu
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