Layering Mascaras: Which Ones Work?

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the best mascaras to layer together for longer and fuller lashes

Last week I shared with you how I layer two mascaras for amazing results. In truth, it isn't terribly different from using a lash primer and a mascara, except that you're using a mascara (black or brown) instead of a primer (usually white. Why?? Why??)

When I first started layering mascaras, I mentioned it in my Faking Falsies: The Ultimate Guide to Amazing (and Real) Lashes! Post. I think I mentioned that it didn't really matter very much which mascaras you picked to layer. Since that post, a few years have gone by and after a lot of mascara experimentation and testing (which hasn't always been mentioned on the site), I have a few guidelines for layering mascaras.

1. Use two different formulas
If you're layering two mascaras, you should get the best of both worlds! Go for a lengthening and a volumizing formula. Using two lengthening formulations doesn't really make your lashes extra long, unfortunately.

2. The first mascara should be volumizing
You want to grab every little lash, and in general a volumizing formulation will be better at that. To really make sure I'm getting every last lash, I grab a mascara with a super full brush and really work it into my lash line.

3. The second mascara needs to be clump resistant
I'm not a fan at all of the super clumpy mascara look. It will take a bit of trial and error to find the right formulation, but there are some mascaras out there that just don't work as well when they are the second mascara. They push your lashes together and leave little clumps all over. It just isn't attractive.

Formulations that are a bit thinner work especially well as a second mascara since they glide better over your lashes, creating a thin coat. As well, look for brushes that are molded plastic or have fewer bristles. Those bristles will be able to pull apart existing clumps and prevent new ones from forming.

4. Only the second mascara needs to be waterproof
Waterproof mascara is really hard to remove. And if you're layering, only the second mascara needs to be waterproof to get that benefit (unless you're swimming, then all bets are off).

5. Avoid specialized formulations
Layering mascara just doesn't work well with tube or fiber mascaras. Just... don't. These are both formulated to do their thing when used alone, don't mess with them.

the best mascaras to layer together for longer and fuller lashes

So, after all of that, which mascaras are my favorite to layer? I always start with a volumizing mascara that grabs all of the lashes. Always, always, always. You can check out a list of my favorites in my eBay post, the best volumizing mascaras.

Remember, for the top layer you want to avoid anything that clumps. Brushes that are molded plastic with a few longer, wider spaced bristles are best. You can really use those bristles to pull apart any clumps or stuck together lashes from the first layer of mascara.

Here are the mascaras that I love to use as the top layer:

1. NARS Audacious (buy it at Nordstrom, NARS or Sephora)
(this is the one I'm using most often lately)

2. L'Oreal Voluminous Butterfly (at Amazon, Target or ULTA)

3. CoverGirl Clump Crusher (buy it at Amazon, Target or ULTA)

4. L'Oreal Voluminous Million Lashes Excess (get it from ULTA, Amazon or Target)

5. Ciaté London Triple Shot Mascara (from Sephora or Ciaté London)

Product Sent for Review I Bought It Affiliate Links
The NARS mascara was originally sent as a PR sample, but I repurchased it already (that's true obsession right there), and I bought the other mascaras. Because I'm the mascara lady. That's like being a cat lady, but without the litter changing duties.


  1. I love love LOVE this post. I've always been a fan of layering mascaras, but until now, it's kind of been a crapshoot (have you tried They're Real on top of BadGal Lash yet?). Thank you for these tips & recommendations! xoxo Susannah

  2. Actually ... one fiber mascara that I DO layer with is the Touch in Sol Stretchex Stretch mascara (hilarious name ;) ). It says it's a fiber mascara, but it's not like all other fiber mascaras. Aka, there's no fallout of any sort, the fibres don't shed. It's hard to believe it's a fiber. I only notice the fibers when I take it off, otherwise I wouldn't believe that it's a fiber macara lol. And it's a pretty incredible mascara for length! Unfortunately, it had ZERO volume or thickening effect. Even after a gazillion layers. So I tried my Rimmel Scandaleyes Retroglam on top and bam, my lashes looked pretty amazing!

  3. I think its interesting that none of your "second layer for lengthening" mascaras are actually branded as "lengthening." Is it more about the brush shape for you? I'm just discovering how the buy the "right" kinds of mascara. But I'm still not ready to spring for $20+ when my natural lashes are pretty good to start with.

  4. @Susannah, I'm actually pretty much boycotting Benefit after their racist antics on social media last year. Not sure what they'll need to do to get me back... It's going to have to be pretty amazing!

    @Miki I'll have to look for that one! In my experience the fiber mascaras just cause crazy clumps and fallout everywhere!

    @MrsT You're kind of right (the NARS is billed in most of the NARS PR stuff as lengthening), in the past I've mostly used lengthening and as a general rule lengthening is better. Lately it's more about the brush shape, being able to pull apart clumps of mascara is really important!

  5. I use Clump Crusher as my first layer and Cover Girl Super Sizer as the top layer and I get great results.

  6. Thank you for the great advice, and all of the research behind it. Because of your other posts about mascara, I've been doing some homework myself. So far, L'Oreal Voluminous Butterfly is my mascara of choice (sans the waterproofing, for the reason you mention). It consistently works well and doesn't damage my lashes. I wish it didn't leave mascara speckles under my lower lashes, but that's a small price to pay for better looking lashes. Thank you again for all of your great beauty advice. Cheers, Ardith

  7. What a great post! I've actually never thought to layer my mascaras but it's such a good idea. I'm going to start trying this out for sure!

  8. I have and still love mascaras that volume, lengthen and/or define!! Mass retail brands like Maybelline/Loreal/Covergirl still works for me and now Rimmel London is great too!


  9. My eye doctor recommended using a makeup remover cloth dipped in a diluted tearless baby shampoo solution to not only remove mascara, but to thoroughly clean the eyelid every night. I wear contact lenses so Physicians Formula seems a little gentler on my eyes. I've had trouble with tear duct infections in the past, and cleaning the eyes before bed has helped to avoid this.


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