Apr 30, 2023

11 Best Waterproof Mascaras of 2023 for a Smudge

By Kiana Murden and Akili King

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"You never know when you’ll get emotional," says Delina Medhin, laughing, as she considers the benefits of the best waterproof mascaras. The celebrity makeup artist goes on to explain that waterproof mascaras are "transfer resistant," meaning as your schedule picks up, you won't have to worry as much about your eye makeup smudging throughout the day, whether you’re sweating on the subway, planning to hop in a pool, or shedding a few tears at a summer wedding.

So, how exactly does it work? "Waterproof mascara forms a film that won't run with water, like tears or sweat," explains cosmetic chemist Dr. Michelle Wong, citing that you will typically see "waterproof" clearly labeled on the packaging. "You can also check the ingredients—water shouldn't be the first ingredient."

Celebrity makeup artist Ariel Tejada notes that waterproof mascara is an invaluable part of his kit on set. "We are constantly having to wipe on, wipe off, and put on multiple eye makeup looks. The mascara stays in place and allows me to move quicker without it smudging all over the place," he says. Looking for a mascara to stay streak-free this summer? Ahead, 11 tried-and-true waterproof mascaras, according to our experts and Vogue editors.

Housed in Chanel's signature black and gold tube, this mascara does it all: lengthens, separates, curls, and adds volume to lashes, keeping them in place from day to night. Vitamin B5 adds nourishment to protect lash health and keep them from clumping.

"This is a classic mascara," Medhin says of her favorite. "It layers beautifully, and it's one that you’ll see in almost every makeup artist's kit." An eye-opening feathered effect is the end goal of this mascara—known to amp up the volume and length through 200 bristles that coat every lash.

This cult classic mascara's waterproof formula will stay put for 24 hours. Designed to add volume with just one stroke, this uses a unique brush shape—using wax fibers to coat lashes with ease. It's infused with supple waxes to ensure that your lashes remain soft and don't dry out.

Dior's Waterproof Mascara includes castor oil for a smooth, growth-promoting finish. The formula's waxes—including beeswax and candelilla—allow for buildable volume, and the large makeup artist-recommended brush offers additional definition for professional-level curl and fullness. "If you want more drama, go for the Diorshow," says Cassell. "Your lashes will look like you’re wearing extensions."

Tejada says this mascara "does a really good job at lengthening and thickening the lashes; just the formulation itself is so good." Water-resistant polymers are the star of this formula—giving it staying power against sweat, water, and smudging. What's more, porcelain flower extract and omega oil work to condition lashes with each use.

This natural ingredient-based mascara works well for those with sensitive or allergy-prone eyes, given its thoughtfully gentle formulation. Infused with mamey and avocado oil, this vegan mascara strengthens lashes and aids in their growth.

Covergirl's Lash Blast mascara is one of those formulas that remain in style year after year, especially for those in search of a drugstore pickup. Accentuate your gaze with this volumizer that promises no clumping or flaking.

Natalia Bryant's waterproof mascara of choice, Badgal Bang! delivers out-of-this-world volume for up to 36-hour wear. Smudge-proof and water-resistant, this also featured aero-particles to ensure lightweight wear and vitamin B5 to nourish each lash.

"Maybelline Full ’N Soft waterproof is a classic favorite, good at holding a curl and lasts all day," Wong details of this thickening formula which helps lashes look full as ever. Thanks to the featured vitamin E, lashes are left soft and conditioned over time.

Not satisfied with just one mascara? Bobbi Brown's formula can be layered atop any mascara to make it waterproof—sort of like a raincoat. Expect lashes to instantly volumize, lengthen, and curl for long, buildable wear.

Essence's mascara is a crowd favorite for good reason; it instantly lengthens and volumizes with just one coat. Plus, it's buildable—just apply up to three coats to reach your desired look. Designed with a rather small conical-shaped brush, Lash Princess can catch even the shortest lashes.

"The first step to applying waterproof mascara is to make sure you remove any old mascara so you can avoid clumping," says makeup artist Christiana Cassell. "If lashes need a little curling, go ahead and give them a lift (with one of the best eyelash curlers). For extra volume, you can apply a primer. Waterproof mascara must be applied quickly because of how fast it dries."

Since waterproof mascaras are, well, resistant to water, Medhin suggests using a two-part oil-based cleanser to remove it at the end of the day. Two of her favorites include Farmacy Green Clean and Clarins Instant Eye Makeup Remover. "Both are wonderful," she says. Cassell, on the other hand, is a fan of Garnier's micellar water. "Soak a cotton ball or round with [micellar water]. When removing try not to rub your lashes too aggressively," she instructs. "Press the cotton round into your lashes to help dissolve the mascara for 15-30 seconds."

The Day-to-Night The Feathered Lash The Drugstore Favorite The Lengthener The Gentle Pick The Classic Choice The Dramatic Lash