Mascaras can promise a lot, but which ones actually deliver? When you're born with short eyelashes, you might be looking for a mascara that does a lot more than just darken your hairs, and the best mascaras for short lashes prove that they're more than hype with a little pigment swirled in.
Formulas you should consider include tubing and fiber mascaras. Tubing formulas work by wrapping lashes with polymers, usually adding lots of length and a little volume. The best ones are also some of the least likely to smear or run.
If you're more interested in volume than length, consider a fiber-packed formula. These will add heft to your lashes by sprinkling on tiny bits of nylon, silk, rayon, or other material. But be careful, some lesser formulas can flake, clump, or feel a little too hefty, which is why it's important to choose wisely.
To get the most out of any mascara, prep lashes with a gentle curl — Shu Uemura makes the cult-favorite eyelash curler, but there are cheaper options that will do the trick, too. It will make your lashes look longer and more visible. And if you're looking for drama, consider adding a lash primer. It's an extra step that can create mega results.
Whether you're looking for a subtly lifted look or to go full-on glam, there's something for every short-lashed person below.
1. The Best Overall Drugstore Mascara For Short Lashes
The slightly curved brush helps separate and lift, while the fiber formula claims to add eight times more volume. At less than $10, this ophthalmologist-tested mascara does it all, and all at a great price. No wonder it has more than 1,800 reviews on Amazon — and is our choice for best overall performer for short lashes on a budget.
"I have tried a lot of different mascaras, and this is one of my favorite," one fan writes. "You can add one coat for a more subtle look, or add several coats for more dramatic eyelashes. I haven't noticed it flaking off at all, and it stays on throughout the day."
2. The Best Mascara For Length
This mascara gold standard has won countless awards, including being named one of Allure's Best of Beauty five times. One swipe of the lengthening, clump-resistant formula, and it's easy to see what makes it so popular, especially with those looking for a better-than-natural effect.
The narrow brush allows you to reach the corners and root of each short hair, including those bottom lashes, without making a mess. And Amazon customers are happy to report that it holds a curl well and that they have experienced little to no flaking.
3. The Best Mascara For Curl
Japan produces an impressive array of mascaras, often formulated for the short, straight lashes many East Asians are born with in mind. Kiss Me Heroine Make mascaras are a favorite among the product obsessives of Reddit's Asian Beauty board for how they maintain a curl, and the reviewers on Amazon agree. "My lashes are naturally pointing to the ground, and I am used to ignoring curling claims on mascaras because they never work on my lashes. But, boy, does this one hold curl!" one customer says.
The fibers in the mascara also claim to lengthen eyelashes by 120 percent while plant extracts nourish hairs while you wear it. The blacker-than-black formula makes even the shortest lashes powerfully noticeable.
4. The Best Mascara For Volume
Those looking for volume without clumping should consider Vivienne Sabó's Cabaret Première mascara. The formula promises to define and volumize lashes, while remaining smudge-proof and free of flakes. The 800-plus reviews on Amazon with a 4.3 overall rating seems to agree that this stuff works.
"I have short, thin, Asian lashes and this mascara was exactly what I needed," one review reads. "This creates volume and length without the clumps ... The mascara doesn't run at all, this stuff stays on but comes off easily with makeup remover wipes." As an added bonus, the entire line is cruelty-free.
5. The Best Mascara For Oily Eyelids
This tubing formula is a great choice for those who have seemingly tried every so-called flake- and smudge-free mascara on the market and have been left wanting (and raccoon-eyed). The precision brush easily coats tiny and smudge-prone bottom hairs. And while this is a more natural-looking choice, it can also be used on top of volumizing mascaras for a dose of smudge protection.
A top pick of makeup artist Lisa Eldridge and actress Emma Watson, DHC's mascara lasts through the elements until you want to take it off. Then, just gently rub your lashes with warm water and watch the strips of black pigment roll off. A makeup remover speeds up the process but isn't necessary.
6. The Best Waterproof Mascara For Short Lashes
An Amazon favorite with more than 2,900 reviews, this drugstore staple has 200-plus bristles that cling to even the shortest hairs to coat them for volume and length. While some found the thicker brush difficult to maneuver around the corners of the eyes, most decided that was a small price to pay for the dramatic look the mascara creates. "I have short eyelashes to begin with ... but this mascara, I'm telling you, made my eyelashes the longest they've ever been using mascara. Love it and totally recommend it!" one review says.
Many reviewers also found the waterproof version to be especially good at holding a curl, and more than capable of making it through rain, weddings, and pool parties without budging — just make sure you have a heavy-duty makeup remover at the ready when it's time to take it off.
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