The Best Mascaras For Natural-Looking Lashes — Including One Emma Watson Swears By

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I typically don’t leave my house without first applying about 12 to 16 coats of Better Than Sex mascara, but even I can understand that some prefer an effect slightly less intense than full-on moth wings on your face. For that, you need the best natural-looking mascaras, which deliver subtle length, definition, separation, and lift, as well as a bit of a tint. Since mascara names are almost always cryptic, the best way to determine whether a mascara can deliver a “natural” look is by evaluating the brush design. Straight, skinny, and/or shorter wands can catch individual lashes for better precision and control, and sparse bristles separate your lashes and keep them clump-free. Also, going with a brown or light black mascara, rather than the "blackest black" shades some brands offer, can also give you a more natural look.

Of course, your application technique will also have a lot to do with how natural your mascara ends up looking. The most obvious tip is to stick with a single coat, rather than several. Or, forego pulling the wand through your lashes and apply your mascara solely at the root for a subtle volumizing effect.

Even easier: Take your pick among seven of the best natural-looking mascaras listed ahead. From a Japanese cult favorite to an American drugstore staple, any of these mascaras will make you (or your lashes) look born blessed.

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The Classic

You’re probably already stashing a tube of Maybelline Great Lash in your makeup bag, so go ahead and start with that. It’s not specifically designed for natural-looking lashes, but the formula is famously buildable, and the brush is just right. For the most natural effect, stop at a single coat for a bit of volume and a pretty, glossy finish. Opt for Very Black (as opposed to Blackest Black, the most intense shade), or Clear to give your lashes a lift without depositing any color.

The Cult Favorite

This DHC mascara is a cult favorite (and Emma Watson’s favorite) for a reason, and it’s especially ideal for natural-looking lashes. It adds just a hint of tint, volume, and length, and the super-small brush can reach your super-small corner lashes. The tubing formula lasts for hours without smudging, but no need to scrub (or even double-cleanse) when you’re ready to take off your makeup — it slides right off with warm water.

Another Great Drugstore Mascara

The curved wand and fine-toothed bristles on this Covergirl mascara help define, lightly volumize, and evenly coat your lashes — all necessary components of a natural effect, which is exactly what tons of Amazon reviewers use this $6 drugstore staple for. Pretty much everyone confirms that it lives up to its clump-crushing title, too. Pick up the Brown shade if you’re really committing to the “no makeup-makeup” look, or go with Black Brown for something a bit in between.

Best "Clean" Mascara

This W3LL PEOPLE mascara is one of the very few mascaras on the market that contains some organic ingredients, but even the non-organic ingredients are as “clean” as possible: The formula is free of parabens, petroleum, gluten, aluminum, and other harsh additives that can irritate sensitive eyes. Plus, the wand is exactly the right "straight-and-narrow” shape you want to achieve separated, clump-free lashes. And FWIW, multiple editors on the Elite Daily Affiliate team swear by this as their everyday mascara.

Best Two-in-One

With a mascara on one end and a lash primer on the other, this multitasker from Honest Beauty makes it easy to achieve fluffy, lifted lashes, even for folks with “the teeniest tiniest lashes ever,” as one Amazon reviewer wrote. Plus, the primer helps the mascara stick around all day without flaking, smudging, or melting off. Alternatively, you could nix the mascara altogether and just use the primer for some length and definition. (It applies white but dries down clear.) This is dermatologist-tested, ophthalmologist-tested, and doesn’t contain most common irritants, so it’s another good choice for sensitive eyes.

Best Splurge

Developed by a dermatologist, this Perricone MD No Makeup Mascara is infused with nourishing ingredients like avocado oil and panthenol to condition your lashes, while strengthening biotin and peptides encourage lash growth. Meanwhile, its unique, dual-sided brush lengthens your lashes on the thicker-toothed side, then separates and defines them on the fine-toothed end. The result should be obvious from the name — it’s a true “your-lashes-but-better” effect.

Writer's Pick

On the rare occasion that I drop my preferred Twiggy-lash thing, I reach for this this Touch In Sol mascara. The curved brush is ergonomically designed to cup and lift your outer lashes all in one go, but it’s skinny enough to grab your inner corners, too. The formula is fairly wet, similar to Great Lash, so it never gets clumpy or crunchy. It’s surprisingly long-lasting, too — it even stayed on through an hour-long nap, with minimal smudging or flecking. This also works perfectly as a bottom-lash mascara.