The Best Mascaras to Pack for Every Trip
Mascara is the perfect travel companion: It’s compact, TSA sized by default, and can make you look bright-eyed and well-rested with just a few swipes. But finding that perfect mascara—one that lifts, plumps, and lengthens without clumping or smudging—isn’t easy. You can’t always test before you buy (ew, germs), and just because a mascara works for your BFF or a random person on Reddit doesn’t mean it’ll work for you. Not to worry. We’ve rounded up the tried-and-true winners—and impressive newbies—that’ll tackle all your mascara needs. Here are the 11 best mascaras worth the suitcase space.
Best All-Around Mascara
There’s a reason this mascara has more than 3,500 five-star reviews on Sephora: The rich, jet-black formula does it all—separates, lengthens, and adds oomph, without making lashes stiff or cakey. It’s also super buildable. Swipe on a single coat for an everyday look or take it up a notch with a second or third. As one reviewer so aptly put it, it’s “the mascara you’ve been looking for.”
Best for Sensitive Eyes
If you have super-finicky eyes, you have to be super-finicky about what you put near them, which can eliminate a lot of cult-favorite mascaras. Not this one. Tarte’s vegan, paraben- and mineral oil-free formula is incredibly gentle and ophthalmologist tested, so it won’t bother contact wearers or sensitive types. But that doesn’t make it any less effective: It adds incredible length and volume, and its namesake ingredient—Amazonian clay—hydrates and nourishes for healthier lashes.
Best Drugstore Mascara
Many claim this drugstore gem is the perfect dupe for another pink-tubed mascara on this list, but the thousands of five-star reviews across the interweb prove it’s a standout in its own right. Its 200-plus bristles don’t leave any lash behind, creating Bambi-like fringe that’s still soft and touchable. At less than $10 a pop, it punches way above its price tag.
Best Mascara at Ulta
This cheekily named tube is like swiping on a pair of fake eyelashes. The ultra-creamy consistency—not too wet, not too dry—goes on super smooth, adding depth and drama to every lash. Even better: It contains marine collagen and honey extract to help protect and strengthen your lashes. Fans on Ulta rave about its ability to make eyes pop.
Best for Short Lashes
Vertically challenged lashes are no match for Glossier’s Lash Stick. The formula coats itty-bitty lashes in tiny fibers to give you impressive length, minus any clumps or flakes. Like all of Glossier’s products, this mascara is meant to enhance what Mother Nature gave you, for a look that’s less glued-on-falsies and more your-lashes-but-better.
Best Waterproof Mascara
The waterproof version of L’Oréal’s classic mascara is just as volumizing and lengthening as its predecessor but can make it through hot yoga, crying sessions, downpours, and even dips in the pool, according to a professional mermaid (she swears by the black-brown shade). The $9 price tag doesn’t hurt either, proving you don’t have to splurge on a fancy tube to get long-lasting results.
Best Mini-Size Mascara
Whether you already bow at the altar of Too Faced’s cult mascara or are a Better Than Sex virgin, we suggest picking up a sample-size version for your next trip. Yes, the regular size is also under the three-ounce limit, but some Redditors claim the mini tubes are the better way to go, possibly because less air gets in or maybe because the wand is more manageable. Whether you buy it or not, there’s a reason this mascara has nearly 7,000 five-star reviews on Sephora, so you really can’t go wrong with either size.
Best Cult Mascara
This uber-popular mascara lives up to its hype (280,000 “loves” on Sephora, 7,000 five-star reviews on Ulta)—and its name. A few swipes of the glossy black formula leaves you with crazy sky-high lashes that look almost like extensions. The key is the wand, which uses a mix of short and long bristles to latch onto lashes, plus it has a spiky tip to grab the little guys that other brushes overlook.
Best Curling Mascara
What They’re Real does for short lashes, Roller Lash does for stick-straight ones—no eyelash curler necessary. The short bristles on its curved pink spoolie make it easy to coat each lash from root to tip without any smudging, and the nourishing formula dries quickly, holding your lifted fringe in place until you’re ready to rinse it off.
Best Mascara for Sparse Lashes
If you’re lacking oomph in the lash department, Lancome’s Monsieur Big will more than make up for it. Reviewers say the intense, durable pigment “works wonders” on thin, light, sparse lashes, making them look darker, longer, fuller. The formula claims to last up to 24 hours, making it perfect for long days of travel (though you should still wash your face before bed).
Best No-Flake Mascara
The best way to ensure your mascara is flake-free is to switch to the tubing kind. Instead of “painting” your lashes with pigment, tubing mascaras form polymer tubes around each lash, resulting in longer, bolder fringe without any smearing, running, or flaking. Blinc is the OG, known for creating amped-up lashes that still look natural. Just a warning, though: It dries quickly, so if you want more than one coat, you have to work fast.
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