What Are the Different Types of Mascara?

Image of closed eye with winged eyeliner being applied image of closed eye with winged eyeliner being applied

Your eyes tell a story. And the right mascara says a lot. Before you buy that next mascara, think about the look you want. There are six main types of mascara formulated to achieve specific eye-popping results. Find the right mascara for you, whether you are looking for long luscious lashes or vivacious volume.

1. Lash Lengthening Mascara

If you have short or sparse lashes a lengthening mascara can extend your natural lashes. Lengthening mascaras contain polymers made of nylon and rayon. The particles bind to lashes at the tips.

  • Type of Wand: Usually, the wand for lash lengthening mascara has dense bristles that allows this type of mascara to thickly coat the lashes.

2. Thickening/Volumizing Mascara

Add volume to your lashes without looking overdone. A volumizing mascara defines eyes without risking looking like you’re wearing false lashes. Go for a natural look or add a second coat to darken the lash line—with or without liner.

Thickening and volume mascara contains waxes, silicone polymers, and pigments to make your eyelashes appear darker and fuller.

Pro-tip: When applying any mascara, add volume by lightly vibrating or moving the brush side to side at the base of the lash line and then sweep upward. You can continue the motion all the way up or just add volume and pigment at the base.

Image open eye with winged eyeliner being applied

3. Curling Mascara

The thicker consistency of curling mascara helps enhance the natural sweep of your eyelashes. By curling or enhancing the curl of your eyelashes, eyes look bigger. By concentrating on the center, eyes look rounder.

Curling mascara contains filming polymers that contract after application. This contraction makes eyelashes shrink and lift into a curl. The curved shape of this specific type of mascara brush helps the polymers curl eyelashes.

4. Waterproof & Smudge-Proof Mascara

Avoid reapplication with waterproof mascara, no matter how on-the-go your life can be. Waterproof mascara withstands everything life throws at you from rubbing your eyes to running through rain.

Waterproof mascara uses wax-oil, mineral oils, and waxes to deflect fluids.

Pro tip: Waterproof mascaras are drying on your lashes so use this type of mascara sparingly. To prevent your lashes form breaking, put Vaseline on them before sleeping. Also, ensure you are removing waterproof mascara safely:

  • Step 1: take a cotton/or reusable makeup pad and apply makeup remover (a product that is safe around the eyes)
  • Step 2: Hold the pad to your eye, so it can start to break down the mascara
  • Step 3: Gently swipe away product from lashes
Tube of Westmore Beauty's Wing Effects Liquid Eyeliner Tube of Westmore Beauty's Wing Effects Liquid Eyeliner

5. Non-Clumping Mascara

Non-clumping mascara gives the most natural look while still adding definition.

Glycerin and silk extracts help avoid clumping. The long bristles on the mascara wand give an even application across your lashes. You may not receive as much length or volume as you do with other formulas but, this type of mascara gives a tidy, no-makeup look.

6. Lash Defining Mascara

Lash defining mascaras are an all-in-one solution that provides volume and thickness. This mascara spreads evenly over each eyelash.

Lash defining mascaras are made of strong pigments for color, filmifying polymers for extra thickness, and rayon or nylon fibers for extra length. Waterproof formulas also contain wax and oils. The pigments and polymers define eyelashes from root to tip.