Unlike traditional mascaras, which are made from a water base, waterproof formulas are created from a mixture of oils, which makes them less likely to smear, but more difficult to remove. Due to this, experts suggest using waterproof mascaras sparingly and removing them with an oil- or silicone-based makeup remover. Like their washable counterparts, waterproof mascaras come in several varieties: lengthening, volumizing and curling. Some products also offer all or a few of these benefits in one mascara formula.
Reviewers repeatedly say one department store pick, Lancome Definicils Waterproof Mascara (*Est. $25), lives up to the standards set by the original, but without smudging from an overly wet formula. Paula Begoun, cosmetics critic and author of "Don't Go to the Cosmetics Counter Without Me," as well as editors at In Style magazine, agree, saying it does everything the regular Lancome Definicils High Definition Mascara formula does to lengthen, slightly thicken and separate lashes but with extra wearing power. Begoun also praises the Lancome Definicils Waterproof Mascara for leaving lashes soft, "an uncommon trait for waterproof mascaras." Users at TotalBeauty.com and MakeupAlley.com give Lancome Definicils Waterproof Mascara high overall ratings for its longwearing formula and say it lengthens lashes without clumping. However, some users say that it is difficult to remove, a common experience for those who wear waterproof mascaras. Like the washable formula, Lancome Definicils Waterproof Mascara has a long, thin applicator brush with separated bristles that coat and lengthen each lash and the formula is fragrance-free. It comes in two shades: black or brown.
Among drugstore brands, Maybelline Define-A-Lash Waterproof Lengthening Mascara (*Est. $7) is well-loved in reviews. Paula Begoun gives it her highest rating, saying it "makes lashes look impressively long and well-defined with minimal effort." She says its long rubber brush bristles do an excellent job of combing through each lash to lengthen while staying clump-free. Reviewers say this waterproof formula doesn't budge throughout the day. Editors at Allure magazine agree, saying that this mascara has great staying power. Begoun warns, however, that Define-a-Lash Waterproof Lengthening Mascara is incredibly difficult to remove, requiring several attempts with a silicone-based makeup remover. Consumers at MakeupAlley.com also praise Define-a-Lash Waterproof Lengthening Mascara for its lengthening abilities, but several complain that the rubber-bristled brush is too flexible, making it awkward to apply. This formula is fragrance-free but contains a small amount of alcohol, which may irritate sensitive eyes.
L'Oreal Voluminous Waterproof Mascara (*Est. $7) is a favorite among users at MakeupAlley.com, TotalBeauty.com and Drugstore.com for its impressive volumizing properties. Some also praise it for holding curl exceptionally well. It doesn't fare quite as well as other brands in professional reviews, however. Paula Begoun says Voluminous Waterproof Mascara "won't knock your socks off with prodigious length and thickness," but that it "does a respectable job in both departments." In other words, L'Oreal Voluminous Waterproof Mascara doesn't add as much volume as other top-rated volumizing mascaras. Editors at the beauty blog SheFinds.com say nothing about volumizing and lengthening properties, but do say that the mascara goes on easily and stays put throughout the day. L'Oreal Voluminous Waterproof Mascara is fragrance-free and is available in carbon black, black and black brown.