A Guide to the Best Waterproof, Smudge Proof and Water Resistant Mascaras
A Guide to the Best Waterproof, Smudge Proof and Water Resistant Mascaras

A Guide to the Best Waterproof, Smudge Proof and Water Resistant Mascaras

5 minutes read

Rain, sweat, tears – they are mascara’s worst enemies. Only the best waterproof mascara can survive them.

But do you really need a waterproof mascara? What ingredients really make them repel water? And what are the best ones to try?

Keep reading to find out.

woman applying mascara

What makes mascaras waterproof?

The first waterproof mascaras entered the beauty market in the late 1930s. Ever since, their formulations have been tweaked and adapted to suit different needs. The ingredients label on a waterproof mascara tends to feature a few ingredients that aren’t found in regular mascara. 

Isododecane, dimethicone copolyol and cyclopentasiloxane are all ingredients typically found in them. Similarly, various waxes used in these formulas, including beeswax, paraffin wax and carnauba wax, help them to repel water.

The best waterproof mascara

So what is the best waterproof, water-resistant, smudge-proof mascara?

The lash-boosting waterproof mascara

Clarins waterproof mascara 4d

Along with being waterproof, the Wonder Perfect 4D Waterproof Mascara, £25, also contains the Clarins Lash Boosting Complex. This means that in addition to offering waterproof length and volume, the lash serum in its formula works to strengthen and lengthen the lashes in the long term, too.

It’s Clarins Training Manager Charlotte McHale’s go-to mascara. “I use it every single day,” she reveals. “I wear contact lenses, so my eyes often get watery, which is why this is perfect. It’s also sweat-proof so you don’t get any imprinting on the eyelids.”

The difference between waterproof and water-resistant formulas

These labels are not interchangeable. They both serve different purposes, and both have their time and place. If you really need a waterproof formula, a water-resistant mascara isn’t going to do the job well enough.

“Waterproof mascaras usually require you to apply oil in order to remove them,” explains Charlotte McHale, Clarins Training Manager. “Water-resistant ones are usually tough enough to resist a light splash or the odd tear but will disintegrate if you use a water-based cleanser. So, the formulas are slightly different, and the testing processes will be different.”

She adds: “Water-resistant formulas are good at being smudge proof. They will have some resilience to slight moisture, but with a good waterproof mascara, you can go under water and still come out flawless.”

Using waterproof mascara for a smudge-proof look

Why does my mascara smudge?

Mascara smudging can occur due to factors like oily skin, using a formula that isn’t waterproof, or applying too much product. Additionally, humidity, excessive blinking, or using an expired mascara can contribute.

Sometimes, it makes more sense to choose a waterproof mascara:

  • If you’re prone to getting teary (from wearing contact lenses, allergies or just emotions), waterproof mascara can be a lifesaver. You could also reach for one on special occasions when you expect a few tears or some contact with water. For instance, if you’re attending a wedding, watching a sad film or taking a plunge in the pool. 
  • If you live somewhere that’s very humid or are going on holiday, waterproof mascara can protect against sweat-induced smearing.  
  • If you have particularly long lashes or hooded eyes, your lashes may touch your eyelids, and the contact could cause smudging. But a waterproof formula will prevent this. 
  • If you have oily eyelids and water-resistant formulas are just not robust enough for you. 
  • If you have stubborn lashes that don’t hold a curl. A waterproof mascara will keep your lashes lifted for longer.

How to remove waterproof mascara

One of the main questions people ask when it comes to their lashes is how to take off waterproof mascara. Waterproof mascaras tend to have a bad reputation for being hard to take off. But McHale disagrees. “It’s not hard to remove as long as you’re using the right products,” she says. 

Your eyes and the skin around the eye area are very delicate. So, rubbing vigorously is never a good idea. Instead, use a product that dissolves the mascara like the Instant Eye Make-up Remover, £23. Saturate a cotton pad with the liquid and hold it against your eyes for about 30 seconds.  

Eye makeup remover

“If you hold it for long enough, it will dissolve the mascara,” explains McHale. “And then sweep the cotton pad in the direction of your lashes – so, support the brow and sweep in a down and out direction.” 

If you don’t want to invest in an eye make-up remover (although we highly recommend it for waterproof mascara wearers), McHale also recommends the Total Cleansing Oil, £25 to remove waterproof make-up. 

“It’s what I use every day,” she says. “I just apply it all over and then use my thumb and forefinger to gentle roll over the lashes. That motion helps break down the product. Just be really gentle, you don’t want to pull your lashes out.” 

Extra tips for smudge-free lashes

Ideally, use a waterproof formula is you’re prone to smudging. But if they’re just not for you, or you don’t have one to hand, these tips will help avoid those dreaded racoon eyes.

Apply mascara last

You want to give the product some time to dry before going about your day. When you apply blush or lipstick, your eyes tend to move a lot. This will only increase the chances of your mascara smudging, especially if the formula is a particularly wet one.  

So, apply mascara as the last step. Then, look straight head and give it some time to dry. Feel free to fan your face with your hand or a little handheld fan. 

Reach for powders

If you’re not wearing eyeshadow, powder your eyelids before applying mascara. Use a translucent powder or something that matches your skin tone and press it over the lids just using your fingers.

“Start close to the roots of your lashes and go all the way up to your brow bone,” explains McHale. “And do the same underneath the eyes as well. This will work as a barrier between the lashes and the oils on your skin.”

Prime your lids

An eye primer will make your eyeshadow last longer and prevent creasing, but it will also mattify your eyelids. Thereby minimising the chances of your eyelashes touching greasy lids – one of the main reasons for mascara smears. 

Next read: The Beginner’s Guide To Getting Eye Make-Up Right 

What is mascara made of? The most common ingredients 

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