Mascara is a game-changing makeup product. Get it right and you can look instantly more awake, with fluttery, lengthened lashes, get it wrong and you can be left with the dreaded panda eyes.
When shopping for a new one, what type of brush you use can make all the difference. For intense volume, look for traditional bristles in chunkier designs, for definition, length and natural-looking lashes, try a plastic comb.
The best mascara will be buildable, allowing you to layer coat after coat until you have the desired finish and length, all without smudging, flaking or crumbling throughout the day. For extra staying power, opt for a waterproof one.
It's also a product where you don't need to spend a fortune, high-street brands such as Maybelline, Essence and L'Oreal have extensive mascara ranges, some costing as little as £3.30, while there are also cult favourites from luxury brands like Lancôme, Benefit and Hourglass.
To help narrow down your search for your next new mascara, we've compiled our top 12.
The best mascaras for length and volume
Clinique High Impact Mascara | £22 from Boots
This voluminous mascara has a brush designed to thicken lashes while separating them for maximum length and definition. It's ideal for shorter lashes
Rare Beauty Perfect Strokes Universal Volumizing Mascara | £19 from Space NK
Selena Gomez' makeup brand Rare Beauty has only recently launched in the UK and if you only try one product from the range, make it this. It has a water-resistant formula and two bristle lengths to coat lashes evenly from the root to tip.
Hourglass Caution Extreme Lash Mascara | £29 from Cult Beauty
This smudge-proof mascara won't let you down, whether its hot and humid or you're tearing up at a summer wedding. The triangular handle allows for a secure grip, and it's an easily buildable formula without smearing or leaving you looking like a panda.
Maybelline Lash Sensational Mascara | £9.99 from Amazon
This is Amazon's bestselling mascara and has over 40,000 reviews from happy shoppers. According to one, "It gives me the most voluminous, dark, thick and elongated lashes in just one layer! I love the brush shape – the concave side is perfect for getting product onto your lashes to make them look nice and thick, and the convex side perfect for elongating your lashes."
Lancôme Hypnôse Mascara | £28.50 from Lookfantastic
For a luxurious splurge, invest in this cult favourite product from Lancôme. It has gained a stellar reputation for adding dramatic, clump-free length while keeping lashes feeling soft and supple.
Bobbi Brown No Smudge Mascara | £26 from Boots
Among waterproof mascaras, Bobbi Brown is the best money can buy. It evenly coats lashes, is buildable but doesn't flake and no amount of rain, tears or sweat will affect it.
Huda Beauty Legit Lashes Waterproof Topcoat | £16 from Cult Beauty
While not technically a mascara, this clear gel topcoat transforms any mascara into a waterproof one. It has lightweight, short bristles which help dislodge any clumps and with one coat, seals your lashes to stay looking defined, lengthened and with no panda eyes in sight.
Jones Road Beauty The Mascara | £24 from Jones Road Beauty
This mascara from Bobbi Brown's new brand does it all, delivering volume and length with long-lasting hold and a thick bristled wand for easy application.
Victoria Beckham Future Lash Mascara | £26 from Victoria Beckham Beauty
Posh Spice has perfected the natural lash look with this mascara from her eponymous beauty brand. The wand is flexible, allowing for easy manoeuvre around lash hairs which are harder to reach and delivers a fanned-out, defined finish. Best of all, it removes in seconds with your regular cleanser.
benefit Roller Lash Lifting and Curling Mascara | £24.50 from Lookfantastic
This has long been among the top mascaras for lengthening and the five-star reviews on Lookfantastic speak for themselves: "I’ve tried many mascaras but this is one of my favourites it never goes clumpy or “wet” and I’ve literally been asked if I’ve had LVL while wearing this mascara."
MACStack Mascara Mega Brush | £26 from Boots
Just as the name suggests, this mascara is made to be buildable, so you can apply as many coats as you like without a dry, clumpy mess at the end. It's perfect if you're looking for a dramatic, false lash effect.