When it comes to finding the best non-clumping mascara, the most important thing to look for is the brush. “Clumping can be caused by the brush part of the wand. If it collects too much product in certain spots, it will clump,” says Jamie Dorman, a celebrity makeup artist who recommends looking for a wand that disperses product evenly.
“I like more of a plastic wand versus bristles because I find there’s a lot less clumping,” adds celebrity makeup artist Cara Lovello. As far as the shape of your spoolie goes, comb-like bristles that have some space in between them can help to separate your lashes as you apply the mascara.
Even if you’ve got the perfect applicator, user error also comes into play when creating clumping. “Mascara clumping can be caused by pumping the wand into the tube, which dries out the product,” says Dorman. To avoid this, you’ll want to make sure you’re using a light touch when dipping the wand into the tube to avoid oversaturating it with product, and that you’re applying it properly to your lashes.
“Too much product on the wand results in too thick of a layer and looks very clumpy, and too thick of a layer results in heavy, saggy, or straight lashes,” Tanya Deemer, a makeup artist and educator, previously told Well+Good. After you dip the wand into the product, brush off excess pigment on the side of the tube or onto a tissue, and apply one coat at a time. Be sure to let each coat dry slightly (but not completely) before adding additional layers.
With that in mind, we tested out the best non-clumping mascara money can buy, so that you can apply (and get out the door) with ease. And get luxurious-looking lashes, of course. Keep scrolling for the stand-out picks.
Benefit Cosmetics They’re Real! Magnet Extreme Lengthening Mascara — $27.00
Of all the non-clumping mascaras I’ve ever tested, this one is truly the best of the best. So much so that the first time I applied it, I actually said “holy shit” out loud into the mirror when I saw my reflection. It’s made with a magnetically enriched formula that lifts and lengthens lashes up to 40 percent, adding some serious drama to any look. Plus, the stiff brush makes it easy to comb through and separate any pesky, sticky lashes, leaving them looking fluttery and fabulous.
Best for lengthening
Hourglass Unlocked Instant Extensions Lengthening Mascara — $29.00
This mascara is truly the closest thing you can get to lash extensions in a bottle. It coats each individual lash with a “tube” of product, lifting, lengthening, and defining them in a single stroke. It glides on smoothly for a clump-free application, and a single coat is all you need to notice a major difference.
Best for volume
Stila Magnum XXX Mascara — $23.00
Stila’s mascaras are known for pumping up the volume, and the brand’s latest launch is its most lash-amplifying yet. It comes with a blossom-shaped wand that disperses just the right amount of creamy formula onto each lash, giving you density and curl without the clumps.
Kosas The Big Clean Mascara — $26.00
Every single person I know who has tried this mascara has become a loyal fan of the formula, and it’s for good reason. First off, it comes with an ergonomic brush that curls your lashes while slicking them with black pigment in order to leave them looking amped up, but natural (think: your lashes, but better). More importantly, though, it’s made with good-for-your-lashes ingredients like castor oil and vitamin B5 that nourish the hairs instead of drying them out the way most mascaras do. In other words, your lashes will get stronger and healthier every time you apply.
Best for all-over amplification
Best clean mascara
Lawless The One & Done Volumizing Mascara — $25.00
For me, it was love at first swipe with this natural mascara, which makes my lashes look three times their normal size with only a single coat. The brush has a first-of-its-kind spherical tip that you can use to more precisely style and separate fringe, which means your lashes will be left fluttery without ever clumping together.
Best for natural-looking lashes
Ilia Limitless Lash Mascara — $28.00
Consider this the boyfriend jeans of mascara—AKA you’ll want to wear it every day, and it comes with no fuss or muss. It’s great for keeping your lashes looking natural but slightly longer and more pigmented than they would on their own. Despite the fact that it isn’t waterproof, it’s got great staying power and tends to stick around for the long haul on even the sweatiest (and most exhausting) afternoons.
Best for drama
Pat McGrath Labs FetishEyes™ Lengthening Mascara — $30.00
Leave it to Pat McGrath to deliver major drama in her mascara formula. I like to think of this as a “special events” product (think: first dates and weddings), because it makes my lashes look so amplified that people often think I’m wearing falsies. It pumps up the length and volume without clumping and is easily buildable depending on how much va-va-voom you’re looking for in your lash look.
Byredo Space Black Mascara — $45.00
True story: A colleague tested out this mascara, and reported that it stayed on her lashes for an entire weekend—so if you’re looking for a product with staying power, this is the best you’re going to get. Its short, spiky brush allows you to precisely apply product to each individual lash, and prevents them from ever sticking together.
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