Best Mascaras: Our Ride Or Die Picks for 2021 (and Forever!)

a red, black and gold tube of kevyn aucoin the volume mascara opened with the brush on display

The three best mascaras we keep coming back to, again and again.

All makeup aficionados have one. Maybe you discovered that lime green and hot pink tube of Maybelline at 12, swiped from your mom’s cosmetics bag, or maybe you found a Benefit mascara you adore while experimenting with Sephora samples in college. And sure, every once in a while you try something else, like a mascara made by a cool, millennial-pink brand with minimalist packaging, or a blogger-recommended luxe version with a hefty price tag, or a crunchy brand that touts lash growth with a side order of spiritual awakening. Maybe you even went the lash-extension route, only to abandon it during the pandemic, for both its expense and required human interaction.

Regardless, you always come crawling back to that same mascara, sounding like a total Ross, (“we were on a break!”). And your old flame always takes you back to the world of precisely-fanned, voluminous, buildable lashes.

As magazine editors, we’ve had the chance to test out our fair share (ahem, hundreds) of different mascaras. From formulas for short lashes to straight lashes, from Wet N Wild to Lancôme mascara, from drugstore to specialty boutique brands. Here are the best mascaras and why we always come back to them.

Stila Magnum XXX, $28

Beth’s Pick: Best Mascara For Straight Lashes

I can’t think of the last time I went without mascara. Yep, even during COVID. I may not change out of my sweats for six days in a row, by my lashes get done every damn day. My go-to? Stila Magnum XXX Mascara Intense Black. Don’t be fooled by its super dramatic, porn-ishy name. Underneath all that aggression is a workhorse formula that delivers long, thick lashes without stiffness or clumping.  It has something called Curl Flex that helps with lift, which makes it perfect for straight lashes, and a definite bonus for keeping you looking awake during your Zoom calls.

Kevyn Aucoin The Volume Mascara, $28

Lisa’s Pick: Best Mascara For Sensitive Eyes

It is official: I’ve reached the age when how easily my mascara washes off is just as important as how pretty my lashes look. Ever since a trip to Japan, I’ve been obsessed with tubing mascara. Essentially it’s a category of mascara with jet-black formulas that coat the lashes. It slips off in “tubes” when you wash, instead of dissolving into a black mess (no raccoon eyes!). It’s very underrated, and not many cosmetic brands offer this type of mascara. Except for a few luxe cult brands, like Kevyn Aucoin (best mascara at Sephora, imho) and Trish McEvoy (the best I tried from Nordstrom). While “volume” is a funny descriptor for this one, I love how it makes each individual lash longer and thicker, without clumps that you might expect from a typical volumizing mascara. Plus it slides off my lashes with just water, like little crumpled spider legs (sounds grosser than it actually is). Other mascaras dry my lashes and sometimes even weaken them from having to rub them clean. This is the best mascara for sensitive eyes — so gentle, it’s self-care.

Maybelline New York Last Sensational Washable Mascara, $11

Courtney’s Pick: Best Drug Store Mascara

Call me a reverse-snob (is that a thing?), but I often find drugstore mascaras to be the best performing. And this Maybelline staple further proves my homegrown theory. The curved plastic comb perfectly separates my lashes, and the formula allows me to add volume at the base of my eyelid and length throughout. Maybe, sometimes, it adds too much length (unless Twiggy is what I’m going for, and sometimes it is). It doesn’t flake, and it stays on surprisingly well for a washable mascara. Another bonus: It doesn’t damage my existing lashes (my pet peeve is when you pull off five eyelashes at the end of the day). Plus, the price is right, and sure beats the cost of the lash extensions it effortlessly imitates.

Welcome to Shop The Street, FLEETSTREET’s beauty review series. Our editors curate collections of new + noteworthy products (and let you know why you should add them to your shopping list).