12 Mascaras That Actually Hold a Curl, According to Beauty Editors and Enthusiastic Shoppers

12 Mascaras That Actually Hold a Curl, According to Beauty Editors and Enthusiastic Shoppers featured image

Regardless of lash length, if you have stubbornly straight lashes you know the struggle to find a mascara that will actually form and hold a curl. Many mascara formulas are simply too thick and heavy for straight lashes, overwhelming them almost immediately. While waterproof mascaras hold a curl better than non-waterproof versions, they’re not easy to remove; all the tugging and scrubbing just isn’t worth it for daily wear.

With so many mascara formulations on the market, it feels impossible to find one that will deliver the eye-opening curl and fluttery lash effect we all desire. Luckily, we’ve done the research. Below are 12 mascaras that beauty editors and enthusiastic reviewers say curls, volumizes and defines each and every lash.

1 / 12

High Impact High-Fi Full Volume Mascara ($28)

Editorial assistant Isabelle Buneo told me Clinique’s High-Fi mascara holds a curl “super well.” It’s also a 2024 NewBeauty Award Winner for Best Volumizing Mascara. The fiber-infused gel formula reaches every lash to add a ton of length, and according to the brand, it amps up lash volume by a whopping 230%, instantly.

Benefits: volume, definition | Shade count: two (intense black, intense black/brown)

Promising review: “Lots of volume and curl. Super definition. My lashes are pretty long but need some curl to bring them out, and this delivers.”

BUY NOW – $28

2 / 12

Benefit Cosmetics Roller Lash Curling Mascara ($29)

Executive editor Liz Ritter stands by the cult-classic Roller Lash from Benefit Cosmetics, a mascara the brand says was “inspired by hair rollers.” It features a patent-pending Hook ‘n’ Roll brush that “hooks” every lash and curls them with each swipe.

Benefits: curling, long-wearing | Shade count: one (black)

Promising review: “I LOVE THIS! I have really short straight lashes so curling it is close to impossible. This is the first mascara that I have ever tried that actually owns up to its words! It lifts and curls my lashes and doesn’t feel clumpy at all!”

BUY NOW – $29

3 / 12

Fenty Beauty By Rihanna Hella Thicc Volumizing Mascara ($19)

Buneo also recommended Fenty Beauty‘s full-bodied mascara that goes “beyond volume,” per the brand. The beauty of this formula is its XXL lash effect that’s also sweat, heat- and transfer-resistant.

Benefits: long-wearing, volumizing, thickening | Shade count: one (black)

Promising review: “I have naturally long eyelashes with zero curl to them. In fact, my eyelashes are stubbornly straight. Usually, I can curl them with an eyelash curler, apply mascara, and they will be absolutely flat again within fifteen minutes… This mascara not only gave the appearance of thicker lashes, but it added a beautiful, full curl to my lashes. Even more impressive is the fact that my lashes stay curled.”

BUY NOW – $19

4 / 12

Tower 28 Make Waves Mascara ($20)

On the days she wants a more natural lash look, NewBeauty‘s director, digital content, Danielle Dooley, opts for Tower 28‘s mascara. It’s “super light so it doesn’t weigh down a curl,” she raved. The safe-for-sensitive-eyes formula won’t smudge or flake and is also humidity-proof.

Benefits: volumizes, lengthens, defines, softness | Shade count: two (black, rich espresso brown)

Promising review: “I’ve tried all of the natural mascaras and this one is hands down the best. The shape of the brush makes them curl upwards and stay, they look voluminous and fluffy and its staying power is better than the expensive tubing mascaras that I’ve tried, no smudging or flaking, a must buy!”

BUY NOW – $20

5 / 12

essence Lash Without Limits Extreme Lengthening & Volume Mascara ($5)

When I wore this viral and ultra-affordable mascara, my partner assumed I got another professional lash lift. This, plus a couple of rounds with a lash curler, kept my stubbornly straight lashes lifted all day long. I was especially impressed how the flexible elastomer bristles grabs every lash and coats them evenly.

Benefits: definition, lengthening, non-clumping | Shade count: two (extra black, brown)

Promising review: “I have very short and straight lashes. I’ve tried so many mascaras and nothing seemed to keep my lashes curled and long for my 8 hour work day. I saw this product on TikTok and ordered it to give it a try. Absolutely love it!”

BUY NOW – $5

6 / 12

Thrive Causemetics Liquid Lash Extensions Mascara ($26)

Our director of beauty Brittany Burhop Fallon tipped me off to tubing mascara and it’s been hard to go back to regular formulas ever since. This one from Thrive Causemetics was named Best Tubing Mascara in our 2024 Beauty Awards for good reason: it’s easy to remove, never leaves us with dreaded raccoon eyes and delivers sky-high lashes.

Benefits: lengthening, definition | Shade count: six (rich black, brown black, deep blue, purple, green, pink)

Promising review: “I honestly could not believe the remarkable results! My lashes are so prominent and have a curl. I get compliments all the time.”

BUY NOW – $26

7 / 12

ILIA Limitless Lash Mascara ($28)

ILIA’s clean, natural formula lengthens, lifts, separates and holds a curl thanks to a genius dual-sided brush. The longer, comb-like bristles coat each lash and add definition without any clumping. The shorter, staggered side amps up the volume for a beautiful, fluttery effect.

Benefits: lengthens, curls, volumizes, defines | Shade count: one (soft black)

Promising review: “I have never found a better mascara than this one. Makes my lashes so long, keeps them curled, and not clumpy.”

BUY NOW – $28

8 / 12

Charlotte Tilbury Pillow Talk Push Up! Lashes Mascara ($29)

This mascara is a high-quality formula that also uses dual-sided brush technology to provide length, volume and an eye-opening effect. The diamond-shaped bristles help give every single lash (even the troublesome inner corners) a curled and lifted look.

Benefits: volumizing, lengthening | Shade count: two (black, berry brown)

Promising review: “Let me just start by saying I have straight lashes that do NOT want to hold a curl. Typically I need to curl them and then use a waterproof formula that is extremely nudge proof… This mascara held the curl all. day. long…I have very small and slightly hooded eyes, so I loved the smaller wand and maneuverability of the bristles.”

BUY NOW – $29

9 / 12

Rare Beauty By Selena Gomez Perfect Strokes Universal Volumizing Mascara ($20)

Infused with nourishing castor oil, this mascara is the one to grab if you love soft, fluttery lashes. It uses a one-of-a-kind “eye hugging” brush to weightlessly build curled, lifted and longer lashes.

Benefits: volumizing, curling, lengthening, long-lasting | Shade Count: one (black)

Promising review: “This mascara is amazing!! I have short straight lashes and usually curl, mascara, curl mascara, curl. After one curl and one coat it looks amazing.”

BUY NOW – $20

10 / 12

e.l.f. Lash ‘N Roll Mascara ($6)

What’s better than a mascara that curls and defines lashes for under $10? While you try to come up with an answer (it could take a while), allow me to introduce you to e.l.f.’s Lash ‘N Roll mascara. The dual-sided silicone brush does it all; shorter bristles curl, while the longer separates and lifts. The formula is smudge- and flake-resistant, long-lasting and vegan.

Benefits: lengthening, definition, curling | Shade count: three (black, pitch black, brown)

Promising review: “I have tried everything from ultra high end couture to drugstore and between and this is the best mascara ever. ELF PLEASE NEVER CHANGE OR DISCONTINUE THIS!!! It’s not too dry, not too wet, not too sticky, it layers, it curls, it does natural, it does bold, it does feathery, it’s not crunchy, it’s easy to remove, it doesn’t flake, and it wears off well so after a massage or a cry you’re not left bare or clumpy.”

BUY NOW – $6

11 / 12

Ami Colé Lash-Amplifying Volumizing & Lengthening Mascara ($19)

Shea butter and jojoba oil star in this natural mascara formula that hugs and grips every lash with a full tapered wand for even coating and a healthier, thicker appearance, sans clumping and flaking.

Benefits: definition, lengthening | Shade count: one (rich black)

Promising review: “I have very thick, straight lashes that don’t curl and clump easily with any mascara. But the formula of the Ami Cole mascara is incredible because it actually creates volume, curls my last and makes them look even longer. I only need two coats to achieve the look I want without any effort like lash curlers. Completely obsessed.”

BUY NOW – $19

12 / 12

Milk Makeup Kush High Volume Mascara ($28)

What makes Milk Makeup’s Kush stand out amongst the competition? Its formula is infused with hollow heart-shaped fibers that create longer, fuller-looking lashes and vegan “beeswax” that lock those fibers into place so lashes stay lifted and fluttery all day long. (I also love the wand’s unique crisscross bristles that really amp up the volume.)

Benefits: volumizing | Shade count: one (black)

Promising review: “Packaging is so cool! Love that I do not have to curl my lashes – just apply and go! Holds up even in the Louisiana heat and humidity. Easy to remove as well.”

BUY NOW – $28

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