Best Mascara: The 2023 Glam Beauty Awards

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Mascara has the power to make or break your look in a matter of seconds. We've all experienced mascara that clumps, smudges, or, worst of all, does absolutely nothing. Few experiences in life are quite as soul-crushing as ruining painstakingly applied eyeshadow with a quick slip of the mascara wand. In fact, many beauty fans turn to falsies or lash extensions to avoid such hassles entirely. But lash appointments can cost hundreds of dollars each month, and truthfully, they can cause irritation to the lashline. Many lash technicians even suggest taking breaks from the beautifying treatments to protect the delicate follicles around the eyes.


Mascara is an affordable and safe way to give your lashes the lengthening and volumizing effects you crave without causing long-term damage. However, if you feel that mascara alone can't compare to the effects of fake lashes, you could be using the wrong product.

From clean mascaras with luxurious effects to drugstore brands that mimic the look of false lashes, the right product is out there for your lash type — you just have to find it. But who has time to test them all? Glam has done the work for you, examining a variety of coveted mascaras in our quest to find the standouts of this year's Glam Beauty Awards. Our top picks were chosen for their dramatic results, ease of use, and longevity, among other benefits. So say goodbye to lackluster lashes and get ready to meet your next holy grail mascara.


Read more about the 2023 Glam Beauty Awards methodology and all the top picks here.

Best Overall: Jones Road The Mascara

With increasing numbers of beauty fans turning to natural makeup looks and cleanly formulated cosmetics, it was only a matter of time before a brand like Jones Road hit the market. Founded in 2020 by celebrated makeup artist Bobbi Brown, the line provides makeup lovers with elegant products made from clean, high-quality ingredients. Jones Road goes above and beyond other natural brands, eliminating over 2,700 ingredients from their products.


Our first impression of Jones Road's The Mascara was that it looked super clean and chic. As we uncapped it we noticed its plush, ergonomically curved bristle wand was slightly larger than other brands we've tried. But nothing compares to how beautifully this mascara performed at the first swipe. With one motion, the wand gripped each lash simultaneously, coating them in a luscious, lengthening formula with just the right consistency. We genuinely couldn't believe our eyes. In less than a second, the Jones Road mascara produced a false lash effect that would take hours in an artist's chair.

Adding another coat or two, the results were almost too dramatic, with the upper and lower lashes looking voluminous, well-defined, and amazingly long. Plus, despite its rather chubby brush and glossy black finish, The Mascara never left a trace of debris on the eyelids or lash line. And this mascara looked just as stunning several hours later, securing its place as our favorite.


Purchase Jones Road The Mascara in Pitch Black from Jones Road for $26.

Best Drugstore Mascara: Maybelline Lash Sensational Washable Mascara

Maybelline is a well-known drugstore makeup brand with plenty of successes in the mascara category, from the iconic Great Lash, introduced in 1971 as the first water-based mascara, to its natural finish Full 'N Soft Mascara. Launched in 2015, the brand's Lash Sensational Washable Mascara promises to deliver perfectly separated lashes with an innovative brush featuring ten layers of bristles. And it's made with nourishing rosehip oil, perfect for conditioning dry, brittle lashes. 


Upon tearing into this mascara, we hoped we'd look like the after photo modeled on its cardboard backing. Wishful thinking perhaps, but who wouldn't want their lashes to double in size? Fortunately, this little drugstore mascara made good on its promise. Just as Maybelline claims, the Lash Sensational Mascara separated and lifted each lash with a fan-like effect. Our lashes looked like light, wispy falsies with plenty of bouncy volume and thinly tapered tips. 

No clumpiness or dreaded spider lash-effect was observed with two coats, so we decided to push this featherweight mascara formula to the limit. It only appeared to clump after three to four coats, and even then, it was barely detectable. The Lash Sensational formula lasts all day without losing its curl or flaking off. And those with sensitive eyes, rejoice — this mascara is easy to rinse off at the end of the day.


Purchase Maybelline Lash Sensational Washable Mascara in Blackest Black from Walmart for $9.

Best Volumizing Mascara: Too Faced Better Than Sex Mascara

Introduced in 2014, Too Faced Better than Sex is known as a cult-favorite mascara in the beauty scene, beloved for its ability to mimic the look of false lashes. Since its introduction, the Better Than Sex mascara line has grown to include waterproof and velvety chocolate brown varieties, though we chose to test the original deep black shade.


At first glance, the Better Than Sex mascara sports some beautiful design details, with a pearlescent pink tube housing a brush-like wand with a unique hourglass shape. We immediately loved the mousse-like formula, which felt weightless on our lashes. Better Than Sex swiftly curls and fills in straight, sparse lashes, providing a fluffy, doll-like effect without stiffness. The rounded edges of the brush are perfect for gripping the inner and outer lashes, a task that proves quite difficult with many mascara wands.

We found that multiple coats of Better Than Sex can generate even more dramatic volume, but it's best to work quickly to keep lashes looking clean and separated. The airy formula tends to dry abruptly, though we didn't experience any signs of clumpiness until the third or fourth coat. What's more, Better Than Sex proved to be one of the least irritating mascaras for contact wearers, even when exposed to water. If you're looking for all-day volume, definition, and softness, Better Than Sex is the mascara for you.


Purchase Too Faced Better Than Sex Mascara in Black from Target for $28.

Best Matte Mascara: Fenty Beauty Full Frontal Volume, Lift & Curl Mascara

Launched in 2017 by superstar Robyn Rihanna Fenty, Fenty Beauty has quickly become the go-to makeup brand for many beauty enthusiasts, offering a dazzling array of products, including highlighters, lip glosses, and over 50 foundation shades. We tried the brand's best-selling Full Frontal Volume, Lift & Curl Mascara, said to evoke the look of Rihanna's very own full lashes.


Right away, we were enamored by the appearance of the Full Frontal tube itself, decorated with an explosion of rose gold. Fenty's oval-shaped mascara wand, featuring a two-sided, "flat-to-fat" brush, is unlike any other we tested. According to Fenty, the fat end is intended to distribute product, while the thin side is meant to curl and separate. It may take a little getting used to, but the technique works beautifully to grip every last lash. Of the many mascaras we tried, we found Fenty to be one of the easiest to apply.

Fenty's mascara formula is incredibly light and silky, but that doesn't stop it from producing bold effects. With just one coat, we observed full, soft-looking lashes. The matte finish makes this mascara pop on its own or paired with eyeshadow looks, and its depth translates well in photos. We also loved how natural it appears; even after applying additional coats, our lashes stayed feathery, lush, and well-defined. "Cheers" Rihanna, for creating yet another hit.


Purchase Fenty Beauty Full Frontal Volume, Lift & Curl Mascara from Sephora for $24.

Best Lengthening Mascara: Benefit Roller Lash Curling & Lifting Mascara

Those with straight lashes know the struggle of trying to obtain length and curl from mascara. Sure, lash extensions, curlers, and falsies may work, but they require serious commitment and can lead to damage. That's where the Benefit Roller Lash Curling & Lifting Mascara comes in. Inspired by hair rollers, Roller Lash provides curl, lift, and lengthening effects for 12 hours.


Our first thoughts on Roller Lash? It's really lengthening. Like, insanely so. It's the perfect mascara for creating trendy '70s-inspired stiletto lashes or manga lashes. Similar to Benefit's Roller Liquid Eyeliner, the mascara's color is mesmerizingly black as it glides onto lashes. Although we're ordinarily fans of bristle wands for mascara, we found the silicone "Hook 'n' Roll" brush to be pleasantly light and flexible. Roller Lash applies neatly, with no clumping or flaking in sight. And yes, the signature curling effect is noticeable and long-lasting, even on the straightest lashes.

We inadvertently wore Roller Lash on a cold and windy day, which meant our eyes were watering nonstop. Unbelievably, this mascara didn't budge, smudge, or run — and it never irritated our sensitive, contact-clad eyes, so we'd highly recommend it as a safe mascara for contact lens wearers.


Purchase Benefit Roller Lash Curling & Lifting Mascara from Sephora for $28.