Hair & Makeup

9 of the best mascaras for volume, length and separation

No two mascaras are the same, which can make finding ‘the one’ a challenge. SUZANNE SCOTT reveals the true greats

Jessica Alexander, actor and star of BBC show Get Even

BEST FOR LASHES THAT NEED A LIFT Charlotte Tilbury Pillow Talk Push Up Lashes! in Super Black

If your lashes are naturally straight and point downwards or in different directions, it takes a particularly persuasive mascara to coax them into shape. As the name suggests, this mascara by Charlotte Tilbury lifts lashes into position and holds them in place with a special polymer. Even the formula itself has been designed to be as light as possible, so it won’t add weight to your lashes and drag them down.


Makeup artist Pat McGrath is renowned for her bold backstage looks and sweeping lashes, so it’s not surprising that her cult mascara goes big on volume. Even the fairest and shortest lashes look thick and dramatic after just one coat, while the buildable formula allows you to decide how bold to go. Just remember to leave a few seconds in between applying each coat.

BEST FOR BOTTOM LASHES Surratt Beauty Pointilliste Mascara in Noir

If you have oily skin or long bottom lashes, you will be familiar with how your mascara can rub off and travel to the tops of your cheeks throughout the day. Surratt Beauty’s Pointilliste Mascara has been designed specifically with this issue in mind: the small wand allows you to capture each of the fine lower-lash hairs, and the color is long-wearing and resilient, so it won’t transfer onto your skin.

BEST FOR NATURALLY DEFINED LASHES Westman Atelier Eye Love You Mascara in Clean Black

With mascara application, the way you hold the brush will create different effects. It’s all about the angle of application – so, for long, defined lashes, apply a coat of Westman Atelier’s highly pigmented but nourishing Eye Love You Mascara by wiggling the wand in and out of the roots as you pull the lashes out and up. The result? A beautifully feline look.

BEST FOR DAY-TO-NIGHT LASHES Revitalash Double-Ended Volume Set Eyelash Primer & Mascara

You get two products for the price of one with RevitaLash’s multitasker. Either use the black mascara alone for a beautiful finish, or pump up the effect by first using the blue primer, followed by the volumizing mascara – instantly, lashes look more lush and dense at the roots. And don’t worry about your lashes looking blue – the blue base enhances the black mascara for a really rich darkness.

BEST FOR LASTING CURL Sisley So Curl Mascara in Deep Black

If your lashes refuse to hold a curl, try Sisley’s So Curl. The curve of the brush does the heavy lifting, while a combination of polymers in the lacquer fix the hairs into their new shape. Use a lash curler beforehand and apply the mascara while looking down into a mirror so the brush forces the lashes upwards into a bend.

BEST FOR INTENSITY Tom Ford Beauty Badass Mascara in Badass Black

Tom Ford Beauty’s silky formula makes lashes look velvety thick, rich and glossy, plus you can apply coat after coat (allowing a few seconds in between each) until you reach the level of intensity you want. This goes all-out on length, which is great for all lashes, but short ones in particular.

BEST FOR DOLL-LIKE LASHES Hourglass Caution Extreme Lash Mascara in Ultra Black

This mascara from Hourglass is not for the faint-hearted, but it is for anyone who loves dramatically long and spiky lashes. Two coats deliver big on volume, length and intensity (the formula is the inkiest of blacks), and it lasts all day without flaking, smudging or transferring to your eyelids. An oil-based makeup remover is required for this heavy-hitter.

BEST FOR DEFINITION Gucci Beauty Mascara L’Obscur in Eve Black

You only need to take a look at this mascara wand to know the exact lash effect it will deliver. This compact, tightly bristled brush really does give exceptional separation and definition and deposits just the right amount of product onto each lash. Plus, Gucci Beauty’s decadent packaging is particularly pleasing.


The model featured in this story is not associated with NET-A-PORTER and does not endorse it or the products shown