Mascara is a staple for a lush, healthy-looking fringe, but if you’ve been blessed with short lashes, finding the perfect tube can be a bit tricky. Just a few coats of some mascaras can leave your lashes a spidery, clumped-up mess, while others may give you the oomph and curl you’re after but droop down just a few hours later.
Whether you’re looking to lengthen or volumize your lashes, the key is in the brush.
[SEE ALSO: Long Wear Lippies That Won’t Leave You Chapped]
“The best way to differentiate between a lengthening and curling mascara is how the wand is made. A curved wand helps with curling and a straight and narrow wand helps with lengthening,” explains Yazmine Rodriguez, a New York City-based makeup artist and licensed esthetician at Beauty Therapy Session.
When shopping for a volumizing mascara, the main ingredients you want to look for are carnauba, synthetic wax, beeswax, and hydrogenated jojoba or palm oil, Rodriguez notes. “These are used to increase the thickness of the product film on lashes to help provide volume. You can find these ingredients on the back of the packaging,” she says.
With that, we rounded up some of the best volumizing and lengthening mascaras for short lashes, plus expert tips on how to keep your lashes curled and lifted all day long—even in the heat!
1. Benefit Cosmetics Badgal Bang! Volumizing Mascara
A holy grail product for Rodriguez, this water-resistant, volumizing mascara will help your lashes appear thicker and longer than they really are. It’s also infused with vitamin B5 to help strengthen your lashes so they grow stronger and fuller. Rodriguez particularly likes this mascara’s custom, big slimpact! brush, which helps coat every lash without creating a huge mess compared to other bulky mascara wands.
“The lightweight, gravity-defying formula builds volume the more you layer and contains aero-particles, one of the lightest materials from space technology. Perfect to build up the intensity from day to night with a layering technique,” Rodriguez says.
2. Lancôme Lash Idôle Lash Lifting & Volumizing Mascara
This volumizing and lengthening mascara gives natural-looking, fanned-out lashes without weighing them down or creating clumps. Made with key volumizing ingredients, such as beeswax and carnauba, Lancôme’s Lash Idôle mascara also has white tea extract, which conditions your lashes so they stay healthy and strong. A favorite of Rodriguez’s, this mascara has a 360 micro-size bristle wand that lifts and curls your lashes from root to tip.
“It’s a lightweight gel formula that helps achieve a feathery, natural look. This is perfect for the everyday natural makeup look. Pro tip: Let the first layer dry down for a minute before adding another layer to achieve that dramatic effect,” Rodriguez says.
3. Hourglass Unlocked Instant Extensions Lengthening Mascara
For a powerful volumizing boost, look to Hourglass’ Unlocked Instant Extensions lengthening mascara. As its name implies, just one coat of this mascara will give your short and straight lashes instant extensions and lift. It has a slim wand with short bristles to help coat your lashes from root to tip, Rodriguez says, giving you a natural, bright-eyed look.
“Their magical formula has lightweight fibers for a high-impact finish with smudge-proof wear. If you love the ‘more is more’ look, this mascara is for you,” she adds.
The other perks are that it has a vegan and cruelty-free formula and is easy to remove with warm water.
4. ILIA Limitless Lash Mascara
If you’re looking for a natural and clean mascara, Rodriguez highly recommends Ilia’s Limitless Lash mascara. Its lightweight formula is made with organic bee and carnauba wax. Shea butter nourishes and conditions your lashes while keeping them curled and lifted all day long.
“This mascara has the most interesting duo-sided brush to provide your short lashes with length and curl. A bonus is that they use shea butter, beeswax, and arginine (keratin) to help nourish your lashes. You can’t go wrong with this one,” Rodriguez says.
5. Tower28 MakeWaves Lengthening + Volumizing Mascara
This beauty cult favorite and best seller snagged a coveted spot on Allure’s Best of Beauty 2022 Awards list—and for good reason. Tower28’s vegan, lightweight formula is ideal for sensitive eyes yet provides lift, volume, and length, thanks to its special triple-wave wand. Plus, you can easily build up layers of mascara as it separates your lashes to create a fuller look.
6. Maybelline Volum’ Express The Colossal Big Shot Waterproof Mascara
Drugstore mascaras can be just as effective as their luxury and designer counterparts. This Maybelline waterproof mascara features a brush with short, wavy bristles that cradle your lashes and fortifies them with a collagen formula. The best part is that it doesn’t flake, smudge, and create crunchy, clumpy lashes. Whether you’re attending a wedding or going out for dinner, the waterproof formula will help your lashes maintain their curl and lift.
7. Too Faced Better Than Sex Volumizing & Lengthening Mascara
Too Faced’s top-rated mascara is best known for its hourglass-shaped brush that coats and curls lashes without clumping them together. Its nourishing formula not only helps your lashes reach new heights and hold their curl, but it also conditions them with peptides. This mascara has the unique ability to make fine, sparse lashes look full, lush, and radiant.
8. Banila Co. Curly Studio All Day Rise Mascara
Banila Co. has been at the forefront of the K-beauty movement, bringing us some of the best-selling skincare products from South Korea. But Banila Co. knows something about makeup, too. This Curly Studio All Day Rise mascara has a curved wand that’s great for curling short and straight lashes, and its fragrance- and paraben-free formula is infused with three different vitamins that nourish and strengthen your lashes. Reviewers say it’s smudge-proof, holds a curl all day, and doesn’t irritate the eyes.
How to Apply Mascara Correctly and Maintain Curled and Lifted Lashes
It isn’t always easy to preserve your mascara’s staying power, but one way you can help ensure that your makeup lasts throughout the day is make sure you’re applying it correctly. If you want to hold your curled and lifted lashes in place during steamy and sweaty days, your best bet is to use a waterproof or water-resistant mascara, Rodriguez advises.
Here, Rodriguez offers her step-by-step tips to help you get the most out of every application.
- First, you want to remove all leftover makeup thoroughly and start with a clean slate. If your mascara is looking dried up, throw it away.
- Once you have a fresh tube, take out the wand and make sure to remove excess product. This helps ensure an easy and smooth application that also won’t create a mess. Start applying mascara by looking down on a compact mirror. This helps prevent smudging on your upper lid, Rodriguez says.
- Work your way from the outer to the inner corner of your lashes to achieve a fanned-out look and always allow the first layer to dry before applying another layer of mascara.
- When the product is fully dry, hold your lashes up using the inner part of your pointer finger by creating a half-moon shape, which will mimic using a lash curler, Rodriguez says, but you can also use an eyelash curler.
- Lastly, look up up into your compact mirror to apply mascara to your bottom lashes.
Top Makeup Tricks to Make Your Short Lashes Look Longer and Fuller
If you’re interested in making your short and straight lashes look longer and fuller outside of just using mascara, Rodriguez recommends applying a thin black or brown eyeliner on your lash line or tight line. And if you really want to create a lush, volumizing effect, there’s no shame in adding some falsies. For example, Rodriguez recommends “demi wispies” from Ardell.
People with light-colored lashes may also want to consider getting a color enhancement treatment, which will help your lashes look darker and fuller, she suggests.
Although pricey, low-maintenance folks may actually want to invest in lash lifts because the treatment lasts for up to five weeks, Rodriguez says. A lash lift makes your lashes look bold and full without having to apply mascara daily. Plus, you can customize your look depending on your preference, opting for more natural or dramatic lashes.
You’ve seen our top picks. Which mascara are you leaning towards?