Mascara is a touchy subject. There are so many different kinds that offer so many different results that choosing the right one can feel like a daunting task. As a beauty editor, I spend more time than most sweeping formulas over my lashes to test every claim from dramatic volume to intense length and often still find it challenging to discern which type of varnish to prioritize. If you have lash extensions, however, there’s one mascara commandment that must be followed at all costs: Oil-heavy mascara is a hard no.
“Lash extensions are extremely fragile and heavy, oil-based products can cause them to fall out,” explains makeup artist and Ulta Beauty Pro Team Member Deney Adam. “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 experts will tell you that mascara should be avoided altogether while wearing extensions (the oil in many mascara formulas breaks down the adhesive used to hold the extensions in place), it’s no surprise that the only type of lash lacquer they’ll sign off on is the most lightweight kind that’s also the easiest to wash off. According to celebrity lash artist and owner of Star Lash Beauty Bar in Los Angeles, Yris Palmer, a bit of water-based mascara on the tips of your extensions is plenty to offer a little extra oomph if you need it. “I recommend applying mascara to the tips only, not the root of your lashes,” she adds.
Whether you’ve got a fresh set of fluttery lash extensions you’re 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, a water-based formula is the way to go. Ahead, we’ve rounded up the 10 best water-based mascaras, along with game-changing expert tips, to keep your lash game strong.