Our Favorite Mascara: The 2022 List Beauty Awards

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As we learn the Greek alphabet along with emerging COVID-19 variants, the mask has become a reluctant but necessary accessory in our wardrobes. In beauty, that means above-the-mask makeup is the most seen and most worn accompaniment (via Business Insider). Pots of colorful paint eyeliners, pigmented eyeshadows, and bold looks come with this trend, while mascaras highlight and finish them with flair.

For The List Beauty Awards this year, we've rounded up a few of our favorite mascaras — the ones that consistently amass great reviews and even greater compliments. These mascaras pair well with experimental looks but they're also the perfect addition to tamer daily routines. Whether you're fluttering your lashes at the cute Trader Joe's cashier or at your cat as you sit down to watch the newest season of Euphoria, they'll do the trick. 

We've factored in the volume, lengthening, and fullness of these mascaras as well as their potential to mimic falsies. Their tendency to un-clump, curl, and stay on were also important criteria for the judges. From the natural to anything but, here are some of the best mascaras this year.

L'Oreal Paris Voluminous Lash Paradise mascara: Winner

Of all the mascara candidates we had, a $9 mascara from Duane Reade was our indisputable winner. But we really shouldn't have been surprised. L'Oreal Paris has a consistent history of winning us over with affordable, high-quality products. From the infamous Infallible Foundation to the Color Riche collection of lipsticks, the brand is known to be in the business of delivering cult favorites.

Their Voluminous Lash Paradise Waterproof mascara is another one to add to the list, and it's easy to see why. In just one coat, the fluffy brush on the wand gave our lashes dramatic volume and main-character energy. It also deposited the product evenly as it lengthened, and we weren't sure we needed a second coat. It turns out, we did. The second time around, the thick formula tripled the length of the lashes, so we'd abstain from a third coat. 

The formula was only thick on the brush — it glided on easily while leaving our lashes soft to the touch. It stayed like that for an entire work day without smudging and only came off when told (i.e., with micellar water).

We loved the versatility of this mascara — it allows you to slide on a scale of "fluttery barely-there lashes" to "wow, are those real?" with every coat. It's definitely deserving of The List Beauty Award and the 70,000 positive reviews on Amazon.

Too Faced Better than Sex mascara: Runner-Up

We're not going to lie, the competition was a close call when this mascara entered the ring. Too Faced made the bold claim in 2013 that its sultry metallic-pink bottle of pigment could seduce you better than any partner could. And as it turns out, more than a few agreed; the Better Than Sex mascara became the brand's top-selling product in the years that followed (via The Zoe Report). So we decided to bring the bottle home, despite our intimacy issues.

From the bottle, a feathery hourglass-shaped brush emerged, product clinging to every bristle. It looked like it was going to be a messy affair — and it was, especially for someone with shorter lashes. The wand better suits longer lashes, but it made sure to stay compatible with both in terms of depositing product. Almost immediately, it swiped off anything "natural" about our lashes, and after a few more coats, the original lashes were lengthened and thickened beyond recognition. However, this product did clump our lashes after the third coat, so we'd be cautious after strike three.

Essentially, Too Faced offers falsies in a bottle that stay on without flaking for almost 8 hours. That's a pretty good deal for $27. And if you're someone who doesn't want to glue on your lashes, this is the option to swipe right on.

Covergirl Lash Blast Clean Volume mascara: Runner-Up

On the opposite side of the spectrum, Covergirl's sustainable and clean version of its iconic Lash Blast mascara is the mascara you'd wear on the daily. There's no drama when it comes to this mascara — it imitates your lashes while lengthening them significantly. The bristles on the wand work hard to keep your lashes separate entities and there's absolutely zero clumping. The formula is light and not as pigmented as the others we've tested, so if you're going for a natural look, this product is perfect. It's also enriched with argan and marula oils so your lashes are left moisturized and soft.

For clean shoppers (and there are many of us, per World Economic Forum), the Lash Blast Clean Volume mascara is formulated without parabens, sulfates, talc, or mineral oil. And if the mint green packaging didn't signal "earth-friendly" to you, the brand also lets us know that it's made from 80% recycled paper.

Overall, this mascara is great for lengthening your lashes to the ceiling and for minimal clumping and flaking. It's not very buildable, so you may want to skip dramatic looks for this one. However, the moisturizing and long-lasting formula for $11 makes this one easy to commit to. There's also not too much smudging, making it an ideal partner to run errands with.

Benefit They're Real Magnet Extreme Lengthening mascara: Runner-Up

The concept of this innovative mascara enamored many; a magnetically charged wand that uses a "Magnetic Mineral Enriched Formula" to lengthen and define lashes isn't something we can pull from our vanities often. Benefit Cosmetics released They're Real Magnet Extreme Lengthening Mascara last year and they've definitely made their presence known. The product even has its own hashtag on TikTok with 8 million views, while 300,000 people have it favorited on Sephora.

The novelty of the mascara made it especially exciting to bring home. After we hid our fridge magnets, we put on a fresh coat of the thick formula, which we'll admit was a little clumpy. But with a wave of the wand, our lashes were curled and impressively thickened. The product also seemingly had no boundaries when it came to length; tiny ferrous oxides determinedly stacked on top of each other to create dramatically long lashes. We felt like the bristles didn't entirely separate our lashes so we ran them over with another wand, which admittedly was not a good idea. The volume was lost almost immediately. The wand was made for this formula, and we think Benefit would like us to stick to that.

The mascara also avoided smudging and flaking for an entire work day, although the promised 36 hours is a stretch. Nevertheless, this is a product that mixes fun with functionality, and you can get all of it for $27.

Honest Beauty mascara: Runner-Up

Jessica Alba's sustainable beauty products have become crowd-pleasers since the line's launch a few years ago. Across collections of makeup, skincare, and now home products, Honest ensures an affordable price for products that really deliver. We decided to try the famous Honest Beauty Mascara, a staple that's garnered over 12,000 positive reviews on Amazon, won awards from various publications, and is said to give "incredible length" by Alba herself.

There are two sides to the bottle: a whitish primer at one end and a jet black mascara at the other. As instructed, we applied the primer to our lashes and waited for 30 seconds. There was a bit of residue, which we didn't love the look of, but it vanished after a single coat. Priming lashes may seem like an unnecessary step, but we could see the difference in smudging and flaking when we tried the mascara without the primer. With the primer, the mascara stayed put for an entire day without flaking or getting into our eyes; without primer, it only lasted a few hours. The pigment is also buildable, but we'd use this mascara for natural, separated, spidery-looking lashes as opposed to dramatic ones. 

The Honest Mascara retails for $17 (Alba's staying true to her promise!) and that's a two-in-one deal we'd recommend taking. Now you just need our favorite eyeliner and you're all set to slay!