Anyone who wears false lashes with any regularity knows that a few coats of mascara can seriously amplify your look. But just like mascaras for lash extensions, you'll want to find the right partner for your favorite set of falsies so that the adhesive won't be affected. The best mascaras for false lashes are actually pretty straightforward: they are all water-based.
According to celebrity makeup artist Geoffrey Rodriguez, whose clients have included Gigi Hadid and Emma Watson, water-based mascaras are ideal because they won't negatively interact with lash glue. On the other hand, oil-based mascaras, he explains, "can remove or cause the lash strip to separate." (It makes sense then why so many eye makeup removers are oil-based — the emollient dissolves adhesives and waterproof makeup in a snap.) Similarly, mascaras with lash-hugging fibers don't play nicely with glue either, so avoid those as well.
The easiest way to identify the right mascara is to look at the ingredients list because water will always come first. From there, the best one will come down to personal preference: do you want volume? Length? Subtle definition? Or a cocktail of all of the above?
Finally, for the most longevity, Rodriquez suggests this order of application: First, curl your lashes (this helps support the weight of the falsies, he explains), then coat your mascara and give it time to dry, and then apply your fake lashes. Applying mascara on top of your falsies — even a water-based one — is still not advised because it too "can remove or cause the lash to separate," he says.
To help you get started shopping for the right water-based formula, I've curated a list of the best mascaras for false lashes ahead.
Pro tip: Pair any of these tubes with one of the best drugstore eyelashes for the fluttery lashes of your dreams.
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1. The Overall Best Mascara For False Lashes
With more than 2,355 five-star reviews on Amazon, Vivienne Sabó Mascara is one of the most highly rated water-based formula you can get your hands on. It has a great brush for pre-falsies application because the bristles are tiny but all the same size — ensuring every coat is even and uniform. The head is also slim enough that you'll be able to get right up to the root. The formula itself is fantastic, too. It's clump-free and doesn't smudge, even though it isn't actually waterproof (which also makes it much easier to wash off). This will add add so much volume and length, in fact, that you'll probably love wearing it without your fake lashes, too.
2. The Most Volumizing
This Maybelline mascara will give you all of the fullness and volume you can handle but won't leave your lashes dry or flaky in the process, which will also help your strip lashes look softer, too. It's hypoallergenic and utilizes vitamin E, instead of oil, to nourish, so you'll still get a dose of hydration. It also has a thick, fluffy brush that can build volume beautifully and, as one Amazon fan put it, "provide full even coverage without clumps."
3. The Best For Lengthening
If length is what you're after, reach for this version of Maybelline's iconic Great Lash formula. The beauty of this tube — besides its affordable price tag — is in the heart-shaped brush, which can get right up into your lash line, inviting even your tiny baby hairs to extend outward with a subtle curl. When you focus the thickest part of the brush on your lashes, it can also add a bit of volume, creating a perfect base for your fake lashes. This product is hypoallergenic and ophthalmologist-tested, so it won't irritate your eyes. And since it's water-based, it comes off easily — no harsh scrubbing needed.
4. The Best For Creating Subtle Definition
Looking for a mascara that won't add too much drama to your lash look? Then you'll likely love this Honest Beauty Extreme Length Mascara + Lash Primer. Its water-based formula and elongated, uniform brush preps your lashes for falsies in just a few coats. And while it comes with a primer, it's best you skip that side of the tube if you're looking to apply your fake lashes — since the primer's stay-all-day capabilities might actually work against you and instead dissolve the glue in your falsies. Bonus: this Honest Beauty's product is cruelty-free of formulated without parabens, paraffins, silicones, mineral oil, and synthetic fragrances.
Geoffrey Rodriguez, professional and celebrity make-up artist