The $5 Mascara That Makes Me Look Like I’m Wearing Falsies

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Mascara consistently tops the list of hypothetical desert island packing list go-tos, and with good reason. There’s something undeniably alluring about the effects of defined lashes which result from a single swipe and in turn make it one of the fastest, easiest, and most transformative products in the beautysphere. (That's doubly true when the bottom half of your face is being covered by a mask.) And when it comes to favorites, everyone’s got their pick, almost in a territorial sense. But summer 2020's newest mascaras might give me a reason to put the oldies into retirement.

I've been loyal to my tried-and-true all stars including Benefit They're Real and Glossier LashSlick, which do a number separating, combing, and revealing length and fanned flutter I never thought possible without extensions. That was until this recent wave of lash-defining newness entered the game with advanced formulations, cool new brushes, and budge-proof pigments (perfect for summer) that delivered impressive, long-lasting results and flutter. To keep all things fair and consistent in the testing process, I first applied one coat of the mascara and assessed the results. Then a second coat to see how the formula layered, and lastly a third to evaluate for any clumping and get the final lash-enhancing effects. Each mascara was applied in the morning, and endured a daily workout, dip in the pool, and a walk in the sticky Florida summer heat to see how it sized up against the elements.

Whether you’re in the market for length, lift, volume or the ultimate trifecta va-va-voom result, one swipe of any one of these 10 new mascaras will solidify its spot in your starting beauty lineup. Here’s to a summer of fabulous flutter and lots of smizing (thank you, Tyra).

We only include products that have been independently selected by The Zoe Report’s editorial team. However, we may receive a portion of sales if you purchase a product through a link in this article.

Summer 2020 Mascara: Guide Beauty Lash Wrap Mascara, $26 (February 2020)

This unique ergonomic tube has a handle that makes it look and feel different and with good reason. It was designed to assist with an easier, more controlled application for people who have difficulty steadying their hands—a challenge that founder Terri Bryant faced with when diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease. I think we can all agree, anyone and everyone can benefit from the impressively lifted, lengthened, and curled lashes that result from a swipe of this wand. The innovative tubing formula wraps my lashes in a flexible polymer that sets and holds a curl you once I only knew possible with a lash curler. The cruelty-free, vegan formula is easy on the mind and sensitive eyes, and removal is a refreshingly gentle process as the tubes gently slide off lashes and wash away.

Summer 2020 Mascara: Stila Cosmetics HUGE Extreme Lash Mascara Waterproof, $23 (Summer 2020)

The textured gold tube is intriguing at first look — and feel. It looks like it’s been splashed with water, and in true waterproof fashion, the droplets are repelling off which also add the cool grip-like texture to the tube. Living up to its name the results are, well, huge. The bushy brush has a subtle hourglass shape that hugs the natural contours of my lashes and dramatizes all aspects of them. It gently bends each lash for an impressive lift and curl, while simultaneously combing root to tip adding noticeable length and flutter with every swipe. The waterproof formula stays put through pool days and sweat sessions alike. However, a gentle swipe of soap and water will remove all pigment without any aggressive rubbing.

Summer 2020 Mascara: Essence Cosmetics What the Fake Mascara, $5 (May 2020)

Don’t let the price tag fool you. This tube delivers comparable lengthening results at a fraction of the cost. The brush is thinner than most and tapers at the end, so it holds just the right amount of formula, sans any clumping, and the tapered end makes it easy for me to catch my extra fine lash hairs. The formula isn’t super wet and it dries instantly, so I don't get that inky transfer to your lids or under eyes the second I blink.

Summer 2020 Mascara: HAN Skin Care Cosmetics Mascara, $20 (May 2020)

The chic slender tube is noticeably slimmer than most other wands, but feels equally as comfortable held between your fingers. The formula has an apparent sweetness to it that catches my nose as I bring the wand to my lashes, thanks in part to the vanilla extract in the formula. You’ll also see a list of familiar conditioning ingredients like aloe extract, jojoba oil, sunflower seed oil, and panthenol which make this vegan formula delightfully creamy and smudge-free. The subtly curved hourglass brush has stiff, tightly-packed bristles that catch (without tugging) and gently comb through root to tip for beautifully fanned flutter.

Summer 2020 Mascara: L’Oréal Paris Bambi Eye Mascara in Extra Noir, $10 (July 2020)

An updated take on a classic favorite, this “extra noir” formula has darker, inkier black pigments that yes, make a noticeable and striking difference once applied. However, it’s the “wide-eye” oval brush shape — which closely mimics the natural shape of the eye — that is the all-star at work here. The unique brush has a mix of long and short bristles, with the longest in the center of the brush and the shortest along the outer edges, which helps to catch and comb individual lashes lifting and lengthening them up and out for a doe-eyed flutter effect.

Summer 2020 Mascara: Mad Hippie Mascara, $19 (May 2020)

This sustainable, mineral-based formula is thoughtfully designed to be as safe and gentle on your lashes as it is on the planet. The tube is made of biodegradable sugarcane plastic, while the formula inside replaced all the irritating silicones, petrochemicals, parabens, perfumes, phthalates, and synthetic colors and dyes, with amino acid peptides for lengthening, mineral pigments for coloring, and sweet almond oil and jojoba oil for conditioning. It won’t deliver the va-va-voom results you’ll get from some of the others in this lineup, but the buildable, fluttery effects are noteworthy in their own right and perfect for every day lashes.

Summer 2020 Mascara: Marc Jacobs Beauty Lash’d Lengthening and Curling Mascara, $27 (June 2020)

If you ever swiped MJ’s beloved Velvet Noir Mascara, you know the brand knows a thing or two about gorgeously, lengthened flutter. If you haven’t, then one swipe of this tapered wand and unique wavy bristles will be enough to convince you. This triple threat, vegan formula combines lengthening, curling, and definition—plus a dose of biotin peptide and b5 lash conditioners— into one fancy gold tube that delivers a full-extension lash look, sans the crunchy feel.

Summer 2020 Mascara: Gucci Mascara L’Obscure, $35 (March 2020)

For starters, the vintage-y pastel pink tube and gold metal wand is worthy of vanity space, and makes me smile every time I look at it. But the admiration doesn't stop there. The flexible elastomer brush ever-so-gently catches and coats my lashes in rich, creamy, jet black formula as I comb through from base to tip. The thin brush tip is designed to shimmy along the tiny corner lashes for a dramatic and more defined eye.

Summer 2020 Mascara: THRIVE Causemetics Liquid Lash Mascara in Crystal, $24 (March 2020)

There’s a reason this mascara has nearly 16,000 fans publicly singing its praises with 5-star online reviews: it works. And impressively well, at that. But make no mistake; this is not your average mascara formula. The eye-catching aqua tube is powered by the brands proprietary Flake-Free Tubing Technology and Orchid Stem Cell Complex which combine gorgeous extension-like results and a long-term conditioning treatment into one swipe. The advanced tubing formula makes for a smooth, clump-free, smudge-free application with every swipe, and longer, healthier-looking lashes over time. The new brown-black shade is a still striking, yet softer take on the classic inky black.

Summer 2020 Mascara: Tarte Cosmetics Surfer Curl Volumizing Mascara, $23 (January 2020)

As a brand already known for its impressive lineup of favorited mascaras and effective vegan formulas, it’s safe to say the greater beauty universe was psyched for the arrival of their newest vegan mascara. The long-lasting formula delivers on clump-free, flake-free, and smudge-proof promises and thanks to humidity-resistance formulation, the sweat-proof tube also keeps your lashes meticulously lifted, curled and flared through the steamiest, sweatiest midday workout. You can also rest easy knowing it’s free of all the bad stuff like sulfates, parabens, and phthalates, and chock full of conditioning good stuff like algae extract, plant waxes, and vitamin E.

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