6 Waterproof Mascaras, Road-Tested & Ranked By A Beauty Editor

By Ashleigh Cometti
Send lashes skyward (and ensure they stay there) with our picks of waterproof mascara formulas.

Who makes the best waterproof mascara? Trust Viva’s resident crybaby to put these formulas through their paces.

There are a few situations in life which necessitate waterproof mascara.

Like that scene in Marley & Me, reading the news, a particularly challenging spin class, or your favourite boss/mentor/industry idol deciding it’s

As Viva’s resident Sensitive Sally, I’ve unknowingly been testing out the industry’s best waterproof mascaras for the past 18 months. It doesn’t take much to make me cry, and when I do, it’s a full-face melt situation.

It’s for this reason that I haven’t used a regular mascara formula in the last 10 years. I’m always on standby for a sob, braced to bawl.

And while there’s nothing wrong with a good cry (it’s cathartic to say the least), I do take issue with the trail of black mascara running down my face afterwards.

Below, the six waterproof mascaras I’ve used, loved or loathed, plus my Holy Grail mascara I’ll always repurchase.

#6: Kosas The Big Clean Longwear Volumizing + Lash Care Mascara, $47

The test: A super sweaty spin class. Okay, I didn’t cry in class, but I did have beads of sweat which decided to take up residence on my eyelashes halfway through my workout.

The endorsement: Big is certainly the buzzword with this hot pink tube, and Kosas mascara comes with an XXL rainbow-shaped curved wand to create larger-than-life, fluffy lashes. The formula is laced with a haircare serum to promote healthy lashes while it volumises, curls and lengthens. Part of its appeal is its ability to separate lashes, but I found this claim was slightly inflated – partly due to the thickness of the formula, and the size of the brush which loaded lashes up with product rather than defining them. Word to the wise, use sparingly if you only want natural-looking volume, or wait in between coats to build it up.

The removal: Not the easiest to remove, I recommend using an oil-based eye makeup remover or an ophthalmologist-approved cleansing balm to lightly rub over lashes before wiping clean with a muslin or reusable cotton round.

The rating: 3.2 stars

Where to buy it: Mecca.com

#5: Tarte Tartelette Tubing Mascara, $49

The test: Bawling my little heart out during a really sad, unexpected phone call during work hours (IYKYK).

The endorsement: This is the mascara I currently use, and it’s stood up to a handful of tearful outbursts so far. It’s certainly long-wearing, but it’s not a tubing mascara in the same way others on this list are. Even so, it lengthens and volumises lashes like it says it will and lasts for hours without flaking or smudging. It’s less clumpy than Kosas and endorsed by both a dermatologist and an ophthalmologist, which is high praise for a mascara.

The removal: While it may not smudge all day, it certainly gets very smudgy when it comes time to remove. Like the previous formula, it calls for something oil-based to properly rid skin of its residue. It smears quite far and can feel almost sticky during the removal process, so take your time and be gentle with lashes throughout.

The rating: 3.6 stars

Where to buy it: Sephora.nz

#4: M.A.C Extended Play Gigablack Lash, $55

The test: Getting caught in a downpour and looking like I just stepped out of the shower.

The endorsement: If you want a mascara that won’t migrate this summer, then this is it. It’s an excellent, pigmented option for those with sparse lashes, too, thanks to its petite brush. The results aren’t OTT, but what it lacks in drama it makes up for in length. Two to three coats will do the trick on top lashes, and one to two coats on lower lashes for extra definition.

The removal: It claims to only need warm water for removal. I tend to disagree, and you’ll need to call in reinforcements to remove this long-wearing mascara. Consider a waterproof eye makeup remover to do all the hard work for you.

The rating: 4.2 stars

Where to buy it: Maccosmetics.co.nz

The test: I dropped my phone on my face while scrolling Instagram in bed. Yes, I cried. Is there anything more painful?!

The endorsement: A perennial Mecca favourite, this volumising and lengthening mascara deposits its tubing formula onto lashes for flake- and clump-free all-day wear. Its ultra-skinny wand is easy to manoeuvre, meaning you can reach tricky corner lashes. The volume-building formula is said to suit oily eyelids (which I have, and tend to agree), but I’d recommend a minimum of two coats due to its slip.

The removal: Traditionally speaking, tubing mascaras are a breeze to remove, and this one is no different. A little warm water and a light touch makes easy work of sliding the tubes from each lash.

The rating: 4.7 stars

Where to buy it: Mecca.com

#2: Hourglass Unlocked Instant Extensions Mascara, $58

The test: Satine dies in Moulin Rouge (spoiler alert). At the risk of sounding crazy, if I ever feel like a bloody good cry, I’ll skip to this scene in Baz Luhrmann’s 2001 musical and allow myself to lose the plot. I’m welling up just thinking about it.

The endorsement: While it’s not technically waterproof, this tubing mascara boasts next-level staying power. It defines, lengthens and lifts lashes in one swipe thanks to its transformative microfibre formula. Since I’m a creature of habit, I’ll always apply two coats, but you could really do with just one to experience its full, fanned-out effect. As long as you don’t rub or touch your lashes, it won’t smudge or run, meaning it can withstand a hearty sob with ease.

The removal: How easy this mascara is to remove bumped it up a few places on my list. All you need is warm water and your finger, and you can easily slide the tube-like film off each eyelash. You don’t need to drag or pull your under-eye (I cannot stand doing this!).

The rating: 4.8 stars

Where to buy it: Mecca.com

#1: Maybelline Lash Sensational Sky High Washable Mascara, $35

The test: Pregnancy hormones, enough said.

The endorsement: I’ve recommended this mascara to so many people now I should be on commission. Yes, it’s the cheapest mascara on this list, but in my humble opinion, it’s also the best. I was first introduced to this mascara when it first launched back in 2021 and have purchased it multiple times ever since. In the time since, it’s sold out everywhere, gone viral, and earned its spot as a worthy product in my makeup rotation. The Flex Tower brush captures every lash with ease (even those pesky short ones in the inner corner of your eye) coating them in its weightless formula, which is loaded with bamboo extract and fibres for long, luscious lashes.

The removal: The ophthalmologist-approved tube is gentle enough for sensitive eyes and contact lens wearers, and removal is a breeze. It comes off cleanly with a little micellar water and a reusable cotton round, or with a light muslin in the shower.

The rating: 5 stars

Where to buy it: Farmers.co.nz

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