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How to Choose the Right Mascara: Your Ultimate Mascara Guide

A photo of a woman using mascara

Even the simplest makeup routine isn’t complete without a swipe or two of mascara. That extra flourish on your lashes is akin to the icing on your cupcake, the cherry on your sundae, the whipped cream on your latte. So you’re never just a girl standing in front of a beauty aisle, unsure of which tube to reach for, we’re sharing everything you’d want to know about how to choose a mascara

Selecting the Right Type of Mascara for Your Lashes

There’s a lot to consider about that little wand and the inky formula inside the tube. From types of brushes to different formulations to common mascara colors, each factor is worth considering as you determine how to choose the right mascara for your needs. And spoiler: It’s totally OK—even expected—to collect a few for various occasions and looks

Types of Brushes 

Mascara wands come in all shapes and sizes—maybe even more than you’ve ever realized! Each shape serves a different need, and some brushes feature some pretty snazzy technology that helps maximize the formula and application process. Sometimes, though, it’s simply a matter of personal preference when deciding how to choose mascara brushes.

  • Curved: A curved mascara wand is meant to help curl your lashes. It’s ideal for people with naturally straight lashes or anyone who wants a little extra lift.
  • Hourglass: This mascara brush pulls the inner and outer lashes upward for a curling effect while creating volume.
  • Bushy: A bushy brush helps create dramatic volume while cutting down your application time. It’s the type of brush used in Lash Blowout Mascara, which uses technology inspired by barrel hair brushes.  
  • Spiral: Spiraled or bubbled mascara wands help create more volume and lift.
  • Ball-Tipped: A ball-tipped mascara wand might look a little bizarre, but this little feature helps you get those hard-to-reach outer lashes with no sweat. This is the wand type in Hello Lashes+ Volumizing Mascara with Lash Serum, a game-changing mascara that also delivers eye-opening volume and definition in one stroke.
  • Tapered: A tapered, cone-like shape helps you coat your inner and outer lashes without accidentally getting product on your lids or underneath your eyes.
  • Inverted Cone: A less common type of mascara brush, the inverted cone helps maximize volume and length by pulling lashes up and out.
  • Ultra-Skinny Wand/Comb: This type of mascara brush is ideal for short, fine, or brittle lashes since it allows for a more delicate approach. It also helps with tightlining.

All the above brush types can range from thin to thick bristle density. Generally speaking, thinner density brushes help create more separation and a feathery look, while denser wands focus more on volume, length, and curl. 

Mascara Formulas 

How to choose a mascara sometimes boils down entirely to the look you’re going for. That’s why we recommend keeping a couple in your beauty toolkit. After all, sometimes you want to go for the "no makeup" makeup look, while other times you’re all about the va-va-voom. 

Many mascaras boast one more of the following formula benefits:


Perfect for short lashes, lengthening mascaras extend the actual length of your lashes. There are even some mascaras formulated to promote visibly longer lashes. Superhero Elastic Stretch Volumizing and Lengthening Mascara is the perfect example. It boasts our Elastic Stretch Technology for longer-looking lashes, plus it’s infused with lash-strengthening biotin, proteins and peptides. 


Ideal for fine or sparse lashes, this mascara formula helps create the look of thicker individual lashes. Some mascaras, such as Lash Blowout Mascara offer a thicker-looking lash line. 


A lifting effect helps eyes look more wide awake. Lash Blowout Mascara also features a specially designed mascara brush inspired by the Drybar® barrel hair brush—for that ultimate lifted, voluminous look!


If you have straight lashes, a curling mascara can help create an eye-opening effect. This type of formula is almost always paired with a curved or hourglass shape brush. 


The focus here is on creating separation and length. The formula precisely coats each individual lash to help achieve the look. With its narrow wand, the Tightline™ 3-in-1 Black Primer - Eyeliner - Mascara and can help coat every single lash down to the root.

Also note that there are different types of mascara formulas to consider depending on your needs: 

  • Tubing: This mascara formulation, as seen in Hello Lashes+ Mascara, creates little tubes around your lashes, which can help create definition and length. It’s also recommended for sensitive eyes since it’s less likely to smudge. 
  • Fiber: Fiber mascaras contain little fibers that help create serious thickness, length, and volume. 
  • Waterproof: This type of mascara is perfect for the beach or pool, hot and humid weather, and rainy days. That said, they’re a little trickier to get off at the end of the day.

Mascara Colors 

Though black is often the default in terms of mascara color—and perfect for most days or anytime you want a more defined eye look—you’ve got a handful of options. There’s also brown mascara, which is lovely for people with ultra-fair skin tones who want a softer look, and a black/brown that’s somewhere in the middle. Of course, you can also go bold with a fashion mascara color! Blue is arguably the most popular non-traditional hue, and it can really make your eyes pop. 

Not ready to get off the mascara train just yet? Check out our love letter to IT Cosmetics’ Superhero Mascara, our best mascara for lengthening and a true beauty editor favorite. Also make sure to check out our IT Cosmetics mascara guide.

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