Updated December 2021
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and all opinions about the products are our own. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
Bottom Line

After going through an intensive research process to narrow down our short list of top products in this space, we tested the L'Oreal Voluminous Lash Paradise Mascara to be sure that it’s worthy of our recommendation. Guided by experts, we spend hours looking into the factors that matter and test to verify manufacturer claims.

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Buying guide for best volumizing mascara

Who doesn’t love lush lashes? For some of us, the pursuit is neverending, which is why volumizing mascara is such an important piece in a makeup collection.

Volumizing mascara does a lot more than darken and define your lashes. It has a specific formula that adds length and thickness through a special coating. You’ll probably notice that volumizing mascara feels thicker than regular mascara; it tends to be slightly viscous rather than watery or runny.

Regular mascara might work for natural looks or minimal definition, but volumizing mascara is the right choice if you want every wink and blink to be dramatic. If you’re a contact lens wearer and worried about applying such a heavy mascara, rest assured there are plenty of lightweight formulas that won’t irritate your eyes.

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It’s not a bad idea to purchase both waterproof and non-waterproof versions of the same mascara. You can use the regular one on a daily basis and save the waterproof product for events or environments where moisture or humidity is present.

Key considerations

Application method

To maximize the results of volumizing mascara, you must master the application method. This means angling the want to strategically coat every lash and choosing the ideal number of coats to add thickness without clumping.

With that said, you’ll need to tweak your application technique with every volumizing mascara. The wand shape and size, formula, and even barrel shape all affect how you put it on, so if you’re going to be adventurous and try new varieties, be prepared for a learning curve.


Volumizing mascara is chock-full of unique ingredients that pump up the volume. Some contain collagen, a naturally occurring protein that thickens and strengthens lashes. Others utilize wax to boost thickness and prevent water from diluting or bleeding the formula.

It’s also common to see volumizing mascara with infused vitamins and nutrients that coat lashes while nourishing and strengthening them. If you’d prefer a formula with fewer chemicals and fragrances, there are many non-GMO and vegan choices. There are also some volumizing mascaras that are free of parabens, oils, sulfates, and formaldehyde.

Waterproof vs. regular formula

Volumizing mascara can be waterproof or non-waterproof; each type wears differently. Non-waterproof mascara will run when exposed to water, moisture, and tears. These formulas wash off easily with minimal tugging, which translates to less redness and irritation around the eyes.

Waterproof mascara is often sweat-proof, tear-proof, and smear-proof. Some formulas allow you to go swimming without fear of losing coverage. You’ll need to call in reinforcements when it’s time to take this makeup off, however — usually in the form of a heavy-duty waterproof makeup remover.

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Expert Tip
Seal the barrel tightly. Volumizing mascara dries out quickly, even when the smallest amount of air penetrates the formula.



The most common regular mascara colors are black and brown. Some beauty brands sell them in other colors, such as purple or blue, which complement certain complexions and eye colors.

With volumizing mascara, black and brown are most common. The deeper color encourages dimension and definition. These formulas also boast better pigmentation, making them photograph much better than other colors.

Wand style

A mascara wand, sometimes called a spoolie, consists of fine bristles that navigate lashes for even application. To stay on the cutting edge, beauty brands experiment with various shapes to achieve the best results. The most popular shape is cylindrical. However, there are also wands shaped like slender trees and wands curved like half-moons.

The jury’s out when it comes to the best wand shape for volumizing mascara. It comes down to preference and ease of application, both of which are subjective. Densely packed bristles do create a greater surface area for the formula, which in turn makes the transfer to the lashes much easier.

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For your safety
Never share your mascara — or other beauty product, for that matter. It’s an easy way to transmit bacteria from one person to another.


Waterproof makeup remover: The Body Shop Camomile Waterproof Eye & Lip Makeup Remover
Remove all those coats of volumizing mascara with a waterproof makeup remover. This soothing formula from The Body Shop effortlessly takes off stubborn makeup. It’s fragrance-free, color-free, and alcohol-free. It’s even safe for contact lens wearers.

Mascara primer: tarte Opening Act Lash Primer
Why not maximize your results by picking up a mascara primer? We like this one from tarte, whose plant-based conditioners masterfully prevent pigment from flaking. This primer comes with a sample size of volumizing mascara so you can begin experimenting right away.

Volumizing mascara prices

Volumizing mascara is available at every price point, so no matter what your budget is, you can enjoy the benefits of luscious, winkable lashes. Expect to spend between $6 and $40 per barrel.

Inexpensive: Most drugstore volumizing mascaras cost between $6 and $12. In spite of the low price, most of these products offer impressive results when compared to regular mascara.

Mid-range: Volumizing mascara from premium beauty brands costs $15 to $25 per barrel. These formulas are usually infused with nutrients and contain premium ingredients like collagen or retinol.

Expensive: You can expect big results from volumizing mascara by luxury beauty brands. Priced between $25 and $40 per barrel, these deliver the most dramatic results and photograph the best.

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Expert Tip
Volumizing mascara can be a bit overwhelming for those with fair features, especially in black. Consider a volumizing mascara in brown or purple for a softer look.


  • Practice before a big event. If you’re changing to a new volumizing mascara, practice applying it before attending a big event. You’ll need to learn how to put it on evenly and effectively. Otherwise, you might end up with clumpy lashes in pictures.
  • Take your time during application. Even if you’re in a rush, give yourself two minutes for a paced application. You’ll end up with an even coating that covers every lash — and if done correctly, it will last all day.
  • Replace other beauty products with volumizing mascara. If you’re downsizing your daily makeup look, keep it simple with a volumizing mascara. You’ll have plenty of depth and definition without the high maintenance of blending shadow or precisely applying eyeliner.

Other products we considered

If you’re looking for a lightweight formula with big results, consider Stila Huge Extreme Lash Mascara. This ink-like volumizing mascara defines every lash to deliver fullness and drama. You’ll love the soft, flexible wand bristles that make it easy to apply mascara to lashes near the corners. Best of all, it comes in blackest black for extreme results — just as the name implies.

If you want an excellent non-clumping formula, check out Lancôme Grandiose Extreme Mascara. In addition to adding volume, this formula curls and lengthens lashes so much, you can kick your curler to the curb. It’s specially made for effortless layering, so no matter how many coats you like, your lashes remain defined and luscious.

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To avoid raccoon eyes, only apply volumizing mascara to top lashes. This keeps flaking and smudging to a minimum, and it gives your eye makeup a refreshed, youthful appearance.


Q. How often should I replace my volumizing mascara?
A good rule of thumb is to replace your mascara every four months. This will help prevent eye infections caused by bacteria growth. If you plan on investing in a high-end mascara, you might as well use it on a daily basis until you run out. If you end up saving it for special occasions only, you might not get your money’s worth inside of four months.

Q. Can a volumizing mascara pump up sparse lashes, or is it too heavy?A. Yes, you can use it to pump up your lashes. To choose the best formula for short or sparse lashes, look for a volumizing mascara that lengthens without clumping. If you’d like to further define lashes, line your top lid with an eyeliner of the same color.

Q. I keep getting clumps with my volumizing mascara. What’s going on?A. If you have an older barrel of mascara, it could be that the formula has begun to dry out and you need a new one. There’s also the possibility that you’re applying with horizontal strokes instead of vertical ones, which sometimes results in dragging lashes together. If you don’t think either of these issues are causing the clumps, it’s probably time to try a new product.

Q. Is volumizing mascara too heavy for a daytime look?
Not at all. Volumizing mascara gives lashes major thickness and length without the overdone, artificial look of false lashes. If you’d like to achieve a slightly less intense appearance, though, you can stick to a couple light coats of your regular mascara.  

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