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While some of us do dabble with treatments like lash extensions or lash lifts, we all have our tried-and-true tubes of mascaras that we regularly restock. Some of our picks may be curling mascaras for a lifted and fanned-out look, while other Allure editors prefer one of the best waterproof mascaras for a smudge-proof finish. Whichever results you're trying to achieve, chances are we know exactly which mascara you'll need.


With that in mind, we rounded up our editors' absolute favorite mascaras of all time, including a few Best of Beauty winners, with brands ranging from drugstore favorites like Maybelline New York to Sephora darlings like Too Faced and Anastasia Beverly Hills. We've also got the luxury market covered (hi, Dior and YSL Beauty).

Tarte's first-ever tubing mascara is a good one. The Tartelette Mascara is made with conditioning shea butter, moisturizing castor oil, and carnauba wax to lengthen and volumize. With just a few coats of this magic, people will question if you have lash extensions.

The Ilia Limitless Lash Mascara is a two-time Allure Readers' Choice Award winner that treats your lashes to a volumizing, thickening, jet-black formula. This flutter-inducing mascara has a double-sided wand to evenly disperse the product and brush out clumps for perfectly defined lashes.

Though most mascaras don't do the trick for commerce editor Sarah Han, she says this 2021 Best of Beauty Award winner has intensive volumizing and lifting powers to enhance the look of her self-proclaimed "stubby, almost invisible lashes." She also says this jet-black formula is truly clump-free and long-lasting. "I attribute that to the addition of [conditioning ingredients] walnut leaf, argan oil, and pro-vitamin B5, which gives me impossibly soft, flexible lashes," she says.

If there's one brand that truly makes a case for celebrity beauty brands, it's Selena Gomez's line of cosmetics, Rare Beauty. Exhibit A: the Perfect Strokes Universal Volumizing Mascara, a conditioning, castor oil-infused formula that's so good, it won an Allure Readers' Choice Award in 2022. Commerce editor Sarah Han says it's one of the most flattering mascaras you could find for its mess-free applicator and innovative brush head.

CoverGirl's Lash Blast mascaras are iconic in their own rights. The Volume formula is a three-time Best of Beauty Award winner but now its award-winning family expands with the CoverGirl Lash Blast Clean Volume Mascara, the drugstore brand's first vegan formula. "It's extremely buildable, giving me long, fluttery lashes with zero clumping," says a former Allure staffer. "My eyes are very sensitive, and the sulfate- and paraben-free formula doesn't irritate them at all." It doesn't hurt that the formula also includes argan and marula oils to seriously condition lashes.

The sultry name of this mascara alone is intriguing enough to catch our eyes, but Nars's Climax Mascara is also tempting to swipe on for its buildable, flexible formula. Commerce writer Jennifer Hussein says this is one of her go-to mascaras for enhancing her lashes, which she describes as "thin, wispy, and sparse."

"I've learned to accept that my lashes aren't as thick and bountiful as the rest of my hair, but I still appreciate a slight enhancement," she says. "The thing is that I have very sensitive eyes, so faux lashes are a hard no for me. One of the few mascaras my watery eyes can tolerate is this lightweight formula. One coat is all I need for a natural fanned-out look. For a more dramatic look, two coats get the job done without leaving clumps and chunks between my lashes."

When it comes to luxury and waterproof mascaras, a former Allure editor says little-to-none come close to Dior's Diorshow Waterproof Mascara. "My eyelashes are naturally pretty long, albeit blonde, so I don't really love wearing mascara all the time (mostly because I hate taking it off at the end of the day)," she said. "When I do, however, I go all-out glam with the Dior Diorshow Waterproof Mascara because it makes my lashes longer, thicker, and just the right amount of obnoxious diva."

Looking for a mascara that gives all the glam? According to senior beauty editor Paige Stables, Wander Beauty's Upgraded Lashes Treatment Mascara understands the assignment without smudging, fading, or clumping off. "Its hourglass brush is covered with comb-like bristles to separate every single lash for maximum definition," says Stables. "What's more, though, is that the jet-black ink is infused with conditioning peptides and nourishing panethenol, so my lashes are conditioned with every swipe."

News editor Nicola Dall'Asen says this 2020 Best of Beauty winner just simply "hits different." Its slightly chunkier formula and curvy, dense brush create a thicker and more voluminous look without clumping. But that doesn't mean you can't wear this mascara on minimal eye makeup days, either, because Dall'Asen swears by this pick for creating lashes that are "thick and voluminous, long and wispy, or anywhere between.""With a couple of swipes, the formula builds itself both upward and outward, so I get big, fanned-out lashes that practically hit the ceiling," she says.

The Collins English Dictionary defines mascara as "a cosmetic substance for darkening, lengthening, curling, coloring, and thickening the eyelashes, applied with a brush or rod." The Oxford English Dictionary (OED) adds that mascara is occasionally used on the eyebrows as well.

The OED also references mascaro from works published in the late 19th century. In 1886, the Peck & Snyder Catalogue advertises, "Mascaro or Water Cosmetique... For darkening the eyebrow and moustaches without greasing them and making them prominent." In 1890, the Century Dictionary defined mascara as "a kind of paint used for the eyebrows and eyelashes by actors." And in 1894, N. Lynn advises in Lynn's Practical Hints for Making-up, "to darken eyelashes, paint with mascara, or black paint, with a small brush."

The source of the word mascara is unclear. The Spanish word máscara meaning 'mask' or 'stain', and the Italian word maschera meaning 'mask' are possible origins.[1] A related Catalan word describes soot or a black smear, and the Portuguese word máscara means 'mask' and mascarra means dark stain or smut.[2] There is even strong support for a possible source from the Arabic word maskharah or 'buffoon'.[3][4] The Hebrew word משקרות (in the phrase mesaqqeroth `eynayim) relating to women's eyes is found in Isaiah 3:16.[5] It may mean flirting or ogling with the eyes, or painting them with red pigment.[6]

Aesthetic adornment is a cultural universal and mascara can be documented in ancient Egypt. Records from around 4000 BC refer to a substance called kohl that was used to darken eyelashes, eyelids, and eyebrows.[9] Kohl was used to mask the eyes, believed to ward off evil spirits and protect the soul, by both men and women. Often composed of galena; malachite; and charcoal or soot, crocodile stool; honey; and water was added to keep the kohl from running.[10] Through Egypt's influence, kohl usage persisted in the subsequent Babylonian, Greek and Roman empires. Following the fall of the Roman Empire, kohl fell into disuse on the European continent, where it had been considered solely a cosmetic; conversely, it continued to be widely used in the Middle East for religious purposes.[9]

During the Victorian era, social opinion shifted radically towards the promotion of cosmetics, and women were known to spend a majority of their day occupied with beauty regimens. Great efforts were made to create the illusion of long, dark eyelashes.[citation needed] Attempting this, Victorian women made a type of mascara in their own homes.[10] They would heat a mixture of ash or lampblack and elderberry juice on a plate and apply the heated mixture to their eyelashes.[11]

The product that people would recognize as mascara today did not develop until the 19th century. A chemist named Eugène Rimmel developed a cosmetic using the newly invented petroleum jelly. The name Rimmel became synonymous with the substance and still translates to "mascara" in the Portuguese, Spanish, Greek, Turkish, Romanian, and Persian languages today.[12]

The mascara developed by these two men consisted of petroleum jelly and coal in a set ratio.[12] It was undeniably messy, and a better alternative was soon developed. A dampened brush was rubbed against a cake containing soap and black dye in equal proportions and applied to the lashes.[9] Still it was extremely messy. No significant improvement occurred until 1957 with an innovation by Helena Rubinstein.

The events leading to Rubinstein's improvement began in Paris in the early 20th century. There, at the fashion capital of the world, mascara was quickly gaining popularity and common usage.[13] Elizabeth Arden and Helena Rubinstein, two giants in the American beauty industry, watched and kept abreast of its development. After the First World War, American consumers became eager for new products.[14] Sensing an opportunity, both Rubinstein and Arden launched their own brands of cosmetics that included mascara. Through the efforts of these two rivals and public temperament, mascara finally gained respectability and favor in American society.[15]

Years later in 1957, Rubinstein created a formula that evolved mascara from a hard cake into a lotion-based cream. She packaged the new mascara in a tube to be sold with a brush. For use, the cream was squeezed onto the brush and applied to lashes.[14] Although still messy, it was a step towards the modern mascara product.

Soon, a grooved rod was patented. This device picked up the same amount of mascara for each use. Then the grooved rod was altered to the brush similar to the ones used today. The change in applicator led mascara to be even easier to use, and its popularity increased.[9] 041b061a72


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