Best Waterproof Mascaras

Updated October 2020
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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 
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How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

60 Models Considered
26 Hours Researched
2 Experts Interviewed
117 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Buying guide for best waterproof mascaras

No other cosmetic frames the eyes quite like mascara, thanks to its ability to make lashes appear darker, longer, and thicker. But getting caught in the rain, taking a swim, or shedding a few tears can send mascara running, leading to smudges and the dreaded raccoon-eye look. But you don’t have to give up on dramatic lashes in less-than-dry conditions for fear of makeup mishaps.

Waterproof mascaras are made to stay put even when exposed to moisture. Waxes combine with low water content and a polymer called dimethicone copolyol to give these special formulas their impressive staying power. And although they can be drying to lashes and quite challenging to remove, they are worth these concerns for mascara lovers who need a formula that won’t run or smear in moist conditions.

To learn all about waterproof mascara, continue reading for information, advice, and answers to consumers’ questions. When you’re ready to buy, take a look at the brands that impressed us the most.

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Did you know that humans have been adding color to their lashes since ancient times? Different substances were used over the centuries, but the first mascara wasn’t invented until the early 1900s. Waterproof formulas came along in the 1940s.

Key considerations

How does waterproof mascara work?

All mascaras have pigments that add color to lashes, and some have ingredients that also add volume, length, or both. But waterproof mascaras have additional ingredients that help it adhere to lashes and create a strong, waterproof bond. That’s why many of these formulas contain dimethicone copolyol, a polymer that acts like a barrier to tears, water, sweat, and humidity.

A variety of waxes are also added to waterproof mascara, as they too stay put when exposed to moisture. Beeswax is one of the most common waxes used, but carnauba, candelilla, and others — or a combination of several — can also be found on the list of ingredients of waterproof varieties.

Waterproof mascaras also have less water content that other formulas, which promotes faster drying time that further contributes to long-lasting wear.

Waterproof vs. non-waterproof mascara

i) Waterproof mascara

  • Pros:

    • Stands up to moisture, humidity, and heat exposure for long-lasting wear.

    • Great for swimming and sports.

    • Will stay on your lashes if your eyes water or tear.

    • Resists smudging and running.

  • Cons:

    • Difficult to remove.

    • Will dry out lashes, especially if it’s worn daily.

    • Can cause lash breakage.

    • May dry out quicker in the tube than regular mascaras.

ii) Non-waterproof mascara

  • Pros:

    • Easy to remove.

    • Available in more varieties.

    • Offers decent wear under most conditions.

    • More moisturizing and conditioning than waterproof varieties.

  • Cons:

    • Will smudge or run if exposed to water, tears, or sweat.

    • Likely to melt off lashes in hot weather.

    • More likely to flake than waterproof mascara.

    • Prone to shorter wear time, which could lead it to transfer to the skin around the eyes.

How do I apply and remove waterproof mascara?

To apply: Waterproof mascara is applied just like any other formula, starting at the lash base and working your way to the tips. However, because it is so difficult to remove when it’s dry, it’s best to apply it using slow, sweeping motions to prevent clumps from forming.

To remove: Removing waterproof mascara is a bit of a different story, because it doesn’t come off easily with water or basic cleansers the way regular mascara does. Here are a few steps for removing waterproof mascara:

  • Using an oil-based eye makeup remover is your best bet, but cold cream or a mild hypoallergenic lotion will also work.

  • Gather a few cotton makeup pads or makeup sponges.

  • Begin by washing your face as you normally do.

  • Soak the pads or sponges in the makeup remover.

  • Close your eyes and place the remover on your lids, using gently circular motions. An alternative application method is to swipe the remover over your eyelids and leave it on your lashes for a few moments.

  • Close your eyes and wipe the remover-soaked pad or sponge in downward motions until the mascara begins coming off your lashes.

  • Repeat the process as needed.

  • Splash your face with lukewarm water to rinse.

Expert Tip



In addition to the pigments that give waterproof mascara its color and the polymers and waxes that keep it in place, different brands have a variety of ingredients that benefit lashes. Some brands have collagen that builds strength, and others contain vitamins and minerals that nourish lashes and promote growth. For consumers who prefer to use natural ingredients, some waterproof mascaras don’t contain harsh chemicals, sulfates, parabens, or artificial dyes or fragrances. Vegan options are also available for those who prefer cruelty-free products.


Because mascara brushes are designed to define and reach every lash, they are similar regardless of whether or not the formula you choose is waterproof. However, many brands come with wands that have large, fluffy brushes that define and separate. Others offer unique designs with rounded bristles or comb-like tops for applying mascara to tiny lashes and keeping them clump-free.


Waterproof mascaras are available in classic hues, such as black and brown. But some brands also offer edgy colors, such as blue, gold, and pink.

Tube sizes

Just like their non-waterproof counterparts, waterproof mascaras come in tubes that are approximately .25 to .33 ounces per tube. Some brands also offer mini versions that contain about half the amount and are available at around half the price of standard size tubes. Mini mascaras are great for travel or for giving a new brand a try with minimal commitment.

"The downside of the superior wear that waterproof mascara offers is that it can dry out lashes, leading to breakage. A solution to this potential problem is to give your lashes a break every few days by wearing a non-waterproof mascara."

Waterproof mascara prices

Inexpensive: In the neighborhood of $5 to $15, you can find waterproof mascaras that offer decent wear, but may not live up to the longevity of more expensive brands. The exception to this rule is mini mascaras by high-end companies that also fall in this price range.

Mid-level: For around $15 to $20, you’ll be able to find well-known brands and a few premium options with lash-loving ingredients.

Expensive: If you don’t mind spending a bit more for a tube of waterproof mascara with top-quality ingredients and exceptional wear, expect to pay $20 to $40 or more. In this price category, you’ll find luxury brands and a few vegan products with natural ingredients.


  • Keep cotton swabs and an oil-based makeup remover handy when you apply waterproof mascara. You’ll be able to remove it quickly if you accidentally get it on your skin.

  • Don’t tug at your lashes in an attempt to remove waterproof mascara. Because its made to stay put, this isn’t an effective way to take it off, plus pulling your lashes can cause them to fall out.

  • Apply your waterproof mascara in several layers if you like a dramatic look. Allow each coat to dry before applying another one to prevent clumps from forming and lashes from sticking together.

  • Remove your mascara before going to bed. It’s never a good idea to sleep with it on, but because waterproof varieties are especially drying, leaving it on overnight can promote breakage and lash loss.

Other products we considered

For a premium waterproof option, Buxom’s Lash Waterproof Volumizing Mascara not only stays in place through splashes and tears, but it also plumps up lashes, leaving them full and clump-free. Bobbi Brown’s No Smudge Mascara earns high marks for being totally waterproof and defining every lash thanks to the brush’s patented design. Speaking of lash-grabbing brushes, check out Givenchy Phenomen’Eyes Waterproof Mascara’s ball-shaped brush that can reach even the smallest lashes while it coats them in its highly-pigmented waterproof formula. And if you are wearing waterproof mascara, Too Faced Mascara Melt Off Cleansing Oil is worth adding to your makeup collection. Although it’s not mascara, it goes on like one so you can remove any waterproof formula with ease.

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The spring and summer months are the perfect seasons for stocking up on your favorite waterproof mascara. When you do, you’ll have it on hand for humid days, trips to the beach, pool parties, and more.


Q. Are there any natural products that are effective at removing waterproof mascara?
Yes, instead of eye makeup remover or cold cream, a natural plant-based oil can be used the same way to remove stubborn mascara. Olive or coconut oil are good options because they are moisturizing and gentle and not likely to sting or cause allergic reactions.

Q. Can I use an eyelash curler with waterproof mascara?
Certainly, but you must use both beauty boosters in the right order for the best results. That’s because curling your lashes after you’ve put mascara on them can result in them sticking to the curler and being pulled out. Curl your lashes first, then apply waterproof mascara. To avoid causing your lashes to lose their curl, make sure you remove excess mascara from the brush before swiping it through your lashes.

Q. How long does waterproof mascara last in the tube?
Because waterproof mascaras contain minimal amounts of water, it is very likely that a tube will dry out quicker than other formulas. If you keep the lid tightly closed, however, a full-sized tube should last between two and three months.

Q. How often should I replace waterproof mascara?
Over time, repeatedly removing the mascara wand from the tube, exposing it to the air, and running it through your lashes will introduce bacteria to the product. Even if a tube of mascara  lasts longer than a few months, it’s still best to replace it after three months of use. Otherwise, you could be putting your eyes at risk of irritation and infection.

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