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Roughly 5,500 years later, we don't have to cocktail our own lash makeup at home (nor should we — there are so many ways a DIY experiment that close to your eyes could go wrong). Now, we have sunglasses to shield our eyes, and no shortage of mascaras that do a whole lot more than block out sunlight. A Sephora search will reveal over 200 tubes that promise to lengthen, volumize, curl, and even tint your lashes blue, purple, or red like it's 1985. (A.D., to be clear.)
Even despite the product's remarkable evolution, we'll probably never stop looking for the next best thing; the one mascara that turns short, struggling lashes into a better version of themselves without a single flake or smudge. Luckily, we found a few that we think would make our ancient ancestors proud... and probably a little jealous of what a mix of wax and pigment can accomplish these days. Our top — and most recent — picks for mascaras that actually work, ahead.
At Refinery29, we’re here to help you navigate this overwhelming world of stuff. All of our market picks are independently selected and curated by the editorial team. If you buy something we link to on our site, Refinery29 may earn commission.
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The last thing a stubby-lashed person needs is a thick, goopy formula that weighs it all down. This formula is formulated with weightless aeroparticles (yes, like the kind they use in outer space), and promises to be so lightweight that you can pack on layers and layers without flaking, smudging, or your worst nightmare: drooping.
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There are two secret ingredients to this favorite: First, Estée Lauder's proprietary "smudge-shield" formula, which uses special polymers to lock the formula to lashes and prevent smudges even through your sweatiest workout; second, the spiral-shaped wand, which houses micro-fibers to extend and separate your lashes for a fanned-out look that's both dramatically flared and somehow natural.
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Short, long, thick, or thin — this mascara caters to every kind of lash. The tapered wand is key for wiggling the formula deep into the lash line without leaving awkward smudges on your eyelid, while the waterproof formula is to credit for the long-lasting wear. Bonus: Since the formula is a powerhouse and totally resistant to water-based cleansers, MAC provides a deluxe size of its cleansing oil to comfortably remove the formula without tearing out your lashes in the process.
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If waterproof formulas aren't your jam, opt for this mascara, which provides long-wear power — without the inevitable eye-scrubbing — thanks to a clear primer and curvaceous wand. Yes, it lasts hours and hours, but it also contains olive-leaf extract and panthenol to condition lashes and keep them soft and healthy.