The key concept of lash extensions is that without faffing around with mascara at all, we can improve our natural properties, but it is sometimes too enticing to up the ante with a jet black lash coater. For this reason, oil free mascaras are the top most choice. But before jumping onto that let’s look at some tips on the mascara + eyelash extension equation before you begin to wave your wand around:
Do be gentle and concentrate only on the ends. Stop tugging a mascara wand from root to tip: along with natural lashes, you’re likely to tear out your extensions, not to mention compromise eyelash glue and dissolve your bonds.
Don’t use makeup that’s waterproof. This will cling to your limpet-style lashes, so it will be nearly difficult to remove without severing your eyelash extensions at the end of the day.
Don’t use mascara dependent on tar. Lash-conditioning oils can, as will propylene glycol, dissolve eyelash extension glue.
Do not use mascara based on fibre (typically of the ‘volumizing’ genre). In your extensions, the body-building fibres intertwins, so it looks weird to say the least, while it also dropps into your eyes during the day and becomes a beast to remove at the same time.
On to the good guys now…
Here are the 6 best oil free mascaras for eyelash extension:
BENEFIT BAD GAL OIL FREE MASCARAS, £20
When I was a low year 7, I remember coveting Bad Gal‘s sixth formers’ tubes on the bus, and the achingly cool mascara option has evolved well to cater for lash extension wearers and mascara nuts alike. The tapered end helps you to easily catch the ends and corners of lashes without having too much gunk on your eyelids, while the brush is on the larger side, and most importantly, it will not ravage your lash extensions.After removing your extensions you get the “bald eye” look, take it to the roots for maximum volume. To make your natural lash fringe feel weedy, there’s nothing like eliminating a range of thick and luscious extensions. The adjustment time and those panging after-extension feelings will support Bad Gal.
CLINIQUE NATURALLY GLOSSY OIL FREE MASCARA, £20
Given the effect of lash extensions alone, you don’t want to overdo it with heavy, spiderlash-style formulations, and the antithesis of bold and bulky mascaras is this quintessential groomer. A straight and narrow brush glides effortlessly across the lashes, and the formula is smooth, richly pigmented, and simple to remove. This can tick your box if “less is more” is on your agenda.
LASH PERFECT MASCARA, £16.95
This mascara is the first safety choice, custom-designed to go gentle on extensions while still serving up some drama. When washing off quickly in water, it neatly tidies and intensifies lashes, allowing you to hang on to your precious extensions as long as possible. It’s not the most glamorous offering, but it gets the stamp of approval up and down the line from lash extension experts, and that’s good enough for us.
LANCÔME DÉFENICILS HIGH DEFINITION MASCARA, £24.50
Défenicils is ideal for catching the end of each and every lash with a slim, long wand, without bringing on the dreaded clumps. It offers rapid theatrics with a silky formula, and once your lash extension period is done, with incredible efficacy and little or no eye poking, you can get it into the roots. Good at separating, if not the most voluminous, but that’s why you forked out for lash add-ons again…
BOBBI BROWN SMOKEY EYE MASCARA, £25
If emulating Cleopatra is your cup of tea, Bobbi Brown serves up a sooty delight in this bushy brushed mascara. A kohl pencil for your lashes. It’s not the longest-lasting as a disclaimer, but if Kohl’s rimm eyes are your thing, you shouldn’t mind the occasional bit of smudginess. It’s hard to fault this silver tubed fox with a narrow tip to really zoom in on tricky lashes, plus a soft and separating formula that doesn’t bunch lashes together, save, you know, cost.
NOUVEAU LASHES ENHANCE MASCARA, £19
This specially made lash care mascara is perfect for natural lashes, extensions, and post-LVL treatment and has longer bristles on one side of the brush to capture large extensions, and a shorter bristled angle to wiggle product onto lower lashes and into the corners. Basically, with the same wand, it’s drama and subtlety. It’s not going to impair your extension bonds or undo your LVL raise and curl, and with water, it can be nicely eased off.
Helpful, right? Check out our article on Eye Gloss to add up to your makeup knowledge!
Mascara is a subject that’s touchy. There are so many different kinds that offer so many different outcomes that it can feel like a daunting task to choose the correct one. As a beauty editor, I spend more time testing every claim from dramatic volume to intense length than most sweeping formulas over my lashes and often still find it difficult to discern which type of varnish to prioritize. However, if you have lash extensions, there is one mascara commandment that needs to be followed at all costs: a hard no is an oil-heavy mascara.
Makeup artist and Ulta Beauty Pro Team member Deney Adam explains, “Lash extensions are extremely fragile and heavy, oil-based products can cause them to fall out,” “If you want to use mascara for extra volume after you’ve already lost a few lashes, a light coat of water-based mascara is a safe option.”
Since most eyelash extension specialists will tell you that mascara should be completely avoided while wearing extensions (the oil breaks down the adhesive used to hold the extensions in place in many mascara formulas), it is no wonder that the only type of lash lacquer they will sign off on is the lightest type that is also the easiest to wash off. A bit of water-based mascara on the tips of your extensions is plenty to offer a little extra oomph if you need it, according to celebrity lash artist and owner of Star Lash Beauty Bar in Los Angeles, Yris Palmer. “I recommend applying mascara to the tips only, not the root of your lashes,” she adds.
A water-based formula is the way to go, whether you have a fresh set of fluttery lash extensions that you are looking to extend until the next time you can see your specialist IRL or you just have sensitive eyes that are easily irritated by the oils in many mascaras. To keep your lash game strong, we’ve rounded up the 10 best water-based mascaras, along with game-changing expert tips.
Voluminous Original Mascara by L’Oréal ($9)
As one of her top picks, Palmer called out this affordable option, vouching that it will not clump, is fragrance-free, and is allergy-tested for those with sensitive eyes. That’s a lot of punch for just $9.
Mascara for Ulta New Heights ($11)
Adam says among his favorite water-based mascara picks is this mascara. To really make the lashes pop, it employs coated pigments.
Yves Saint Laurent Mascara Faux Cils volume effect ($29)
This mascara was one of the first gorgeous ones I ever bought, and I still remember the feeling of wonder with which I was overcome at the first swipe. It wears beautifully, provides great length and volume and is unbelievably easy to remove. Seriously, with mild soap and lukewarm water, the color essentially slips right off.
Bonus tip: With Water-Based Eye-Makeup Remover Remove your water-based mascara
Cleanser for Talika Lash Conditioning ($19)
Palmer says that the use of oil-free makeup removers is also an important precaution, in addition to using water-based mascara on your eyelash extensions. I’m a big fan of this Talika French favorite, because it completely removes eye makeup without the use of heavy oils and leaves no greasy residue behind.
Baby Wash & Shampoo by Cerave ($10)
I would recommend a baby shampoo if you do not have a makeup remover or lash wash. Most baby products are oil-free and gentle on the eyes,”If you do not have a makeup remover or lash wash, I would recommend a baby shampoo. Most baby products are oil-free and gentle on the eyes,”
All-in-1 Cleanser and Makeup Remover Garnier Skinactive Micellar Cleansing Water ($5)
Adam agrees with the removal of oil-free mascara and suggests using Garnier’s micellar water. “It gently and effectively removes makeup without harsh rubbing,” he says. “It’s also formulated without fragrance, parabens, sulfates, and silicone so it’s super gentle on the eyes which is ideal for helping lash extensions last.”
Mascara Naturally Glossy Clinique ($20)
Although reviewers swear this mascara makes your lashes look so good that you won’t even need extensions, with any lash enhancements you might have, this option from Clinique is safe to wear. It is gel-based and skips the heavy oils that can weaken the extension glue of the eyelash but still leaves the lashes defined, lengthened and oh-so-slick in appearance.
Oil-Free Mascara by Beautygarde ($26)
This mascara was specifically formulated for eyelash extensions, so you know that all the variables to keep those babies flourishing between fills are taken into account. Reviewers say there’s absolutely no manipulation or building on it once the formula dries on the lashes, so you’ll need to move quickly to get the application just right.
Peptide Mascara Conditioning Grande Cosmetics Grandemascara ($25)
As the brand behind the famous lash growth serum that helps your fringes reach great lengths, you probably know Grande Cosmetics, but you may not have known that a nourishing water-based mascara was also part of its offering. A buildable, fluff-inducing mascara formula is housed in this tube that lengthens and volumizes while conditioning peptides, panthenols, and natural waxes for the lashes. It’s water-resistant, so you won’t have to struggle to get it off (not water-proof, which Palmer explicitly discourages using while wearing eyelash extensions).
Length & Volume Mascara for Xtreme Lashes ($28)
Here’s another mascara specifically formulated for eyelash extensions and eyes that are sensitive. Reviewers call out how it goes smoothly with any clumping or flaking and, as it’s easy to remove, plays nicely with extensions. Be warned: this mascara will most definitely run if your lashes get wet or you cry.
Bonus Tip: Prevent Intense Friction
G2plus Brushes for Disposable Eyelash Mascara ($7)
“Avoid using a cloth or anything that can tug and pull off your extensions,”Avoid using a cloth or anything that can tug and pull off your extensions. Instead, she recommends that you dispense your makeup remover on a clean spoolie brush and gently rake the product to remove makeup and debris through your lashes.
Bedsure Pillowcase with Satin ($10)
Another way to create a gentler environment in which your lashes will thrive? Avoid sleeping on your belly. Palmer and Adam both attest to the fact that sleeping on your back is much better for preserving extensions, but if you (no matter how hard you try) always wake up with your face smooshed into your pillow, Adam suggests using a silk pillowcase. I bought this cheap one from Amazon and it does the job just as well as its more costly counterparts.
Brush with Star Lash Lash ($9)
Palmer also states that brushing with a sanitized spoolie brush through your clean lashes every day helps to keep them tangle-free.
This tubing mascara has also been specifically formulated to be worn atop eyelash extensions, but it has much better staying power than others created for similar use, according to reviews.
Benefit Cosmetics Mascara Badgal Lash Volumizing ($20)
I’m a big fan, and so is Adam, of this mascara. When you have lost a few extensions, he calls it out as a great and safe option for volumizing, looking for an alternate way to recover some density.
Great Lash Mascara Maybelline ($4.77)
This drugstore only costs $5, but it was called the absolute best water-based mascara in the game by both of our experts. “It’s a makeup bag classic and by far one of the best I have ever used,” Adam says, claiming the formula is buildable, long-lasting, and doesn’t smear. Palmer also states that the clear version is a great option for lashes to be separated while maintaining a polished yet natural look.