These Water-Based Mascaras Will Keep Your Lash Extensions Intact

As a recent convert to lash extensions, one of the things I miss in my makeup routine is using mascara. As any lash expert will tell you, you must try to avoid using mascara to make your extensions last as long as possible. But if you're desperately wanting to add volume and color to your lashes, turn to water-based mascaras. "Water-based mascaras are free of added oils and are a neutral pH, which also means they are chemical-free," explains celebrity makeup artist Lisa Aharon. Plus, as celebrity makeup artist Brigitte Reiss- Andersen points out, it's the only type of mascara that's safe to use with lash extensions: "An oil-based mascara would break down the glue and loosen the extensions," she says.

In addition to being lash extension- and flash lash-friendly, water-based mascaras have other benefits, too. "Water-based mascaras contain fewer additives and chemicals than most mascaras, meaning they're usually easier to wear for people with sensitive eyes," says celebrity makeup artist Robert Sesnek. "They also come off more easily and dry faster than oil-based/waterproof mascaras." We asked several makeup artists to share their favorite water-based mascaras, and we also picked a few of our own.

Read on for the best water-based mascaras.

Best Overall: Benefit Cosmetics Bad Gal Lash Mascara

"It can be hard to find a water-based mascara that will also build your lashes and create volume. This brush and formula allows a range from natural to a false lash effect—I like to have options," says Aharon.

Best Budget: Maybelline Great Lash Waterproof Mascara

"Maybelline Great Lash is a classic. It coats beautifully but won't give you much else. It's great for a natural look," says celebrity makeup artist Jamie Greenberg. Reiss-Andersen also agrees: "I have been using Great Lash by Maybelline for years—no, make that decades," she says. "It's reliable because it works on literally everyone. It can be layered and layered again, and it's jet black."

Best Volumizing: YSL Beauty Mascara Volume Effet Faux Cils

"YSL Volume Effet Faux Cils is another amazing mascara," says Sesnek. "The Black is super black and incredibly rich. It's a great mascara for people who really want to build a lash that after a few coats really gives the look of false lashes. Plus, the brush is incredibly full for building tons of volume."

What Our Testers Say

“If you’re looking to create faux-looking eyelashes in just a few coats without the need to pay for eyelash extensions or strip lashes, the YSL Beauty Mascara Volume Effet Faux Cils will help you achieve those results.” — Ashley Rebecca, Product Tester

Best Lengthening: Clinique Naturally Glossy Mascara Jet Black

This mascara lengthens and glosses lashes, but we love that it's formula claims to be flake-free without any clumping.

Best Brush: Lancôme Défincils High Definition Lengthening Mascara

"Lancôme Defenecils mascara is a great one," says Sesnek. "It builds very good volume and density and has an amazing brush to define and separate each lash and hair."

Best for Lash Extensions: BeautyGARDE Oil-Free Mascara Safe for Lash Extensions

Great by itself or for when you have lash extensions or false lashes, this oil- free mascara gives your lashes major volume.

What to Look For in a Water-Based Mascara


Read the ingredients carefully to ensure that the formula is free of chemicals and added oils. Since they tend to be gentler, water-based mascaras are great for lash extensions, contact lens wearers, and those with sensitive eyes. Typically water-based formulas also dry faster and are simpler to remove than their oil-based counterparts.


Look for a mascara wand that's curved or tapered. These types of wands may help add volume and coat every lash for added definition. You can add plenty of oomph without pulling or tugging at your lashes.

Easy to Remove

Make sure your mascara is easy to remove, since harshly scrubbing or tugging may pull out some eyelash extensions. Opt for a formula that'll come off easily with a bit of soap and water, and staying away from anything water-proof is a good choice.

Oil-based mascara is not recommended for eyelash extensions, but water-based mascara is. When used correctly, water-based mascara should be safe for eyelash extensions.

To check if your mascara is water-based, make sure you look at the ingredients. If you come across ingredients like paraffin or hyaluronic acid, the mascara is likely oil-based.

Water-based mascaras tend to be water-resistant, but not waterproof. They typically come off much easier than waterproof mascaras but will stay on through rain and other minimal water activities.

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