10 Best Mascaras at Ulta, Tested & Reviewed – WWD

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Makeup trends come and go, but full, feathery lashes are forever. Unlike other eye makeup products like eyeshadow or eyeliner, mascara isn’t a one-size-fits-all makeup product. It performs differently depending on your lash type and length, and comes in a wide variety of formulations for host of lash goals. Ulta’s mascara offerings are best in class, running the gamut across every price point with options from emerging and established brands. WWD Shop editors put the best mascaras at Ulta to the test to identify top picks for exaggerated length, volume, and lift.

Ulta is a premier beauty destination for its broad array of options. Whether you’re shopping heritage drugstore mascara brands like L’Oréal, investing in mascara options from Lancôme, or dipping your toe into cutting-edge indie brands like Colourpop, Ulta’s got it all. Plus, Ulta.com offers far more regular sales events, flash deals, and customer perks than other beauty retailers. Any shopper can get free shipping on orders over $35 and free returns, and members of the Ultamate Rewards program (it’s free to sign up) enjoy other benefits, like points for all purchases that can be redeemed for discounts on the retailer’s wide selection of beauty products.

To curate the best Ulta mascaras that represent every formula type — including lengthening, curling, volumizing, and waterproof options — WWD Shop beauty editors conducted extensive tests and trials of 20 bestsellers. We compared Ulta customer reviews, analyzed cult-favorite formulas, and paid special attention to lash serum-inspired mascara ingredients and formulations that offer different lash effects across the range of price points.

Top Mascaras at Ulta of 2023

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Testing Verdict: Top 3 Mascaras at Ulta of 2023

Since Ulta is a crossover between a drugstore and prestige beauty retailer, there’s an abundance of mascaras to choose from that you won’t find anywhere else. Selecting the right mascara for you will depend on your intended lash effect and lash type. For instance, short lashes will best benefit from a tubing formula, while those with sparse lashes may reach for a volumizing mascara. Instead of choosing just one favorite at Ulta, our editors narrowed down our top three picks for different transformative effects. Our front runners, below:

  • Benefit Badgal Bang! Volumizing Mascara: Benefit often hits the mark when it comes to mascara and Badgal Bang! is no exception. Aside from the fact that it’s Ulta’s top-seller, this mascara stands out to our editors for its clump-busting rubber wand and ultra volumizing formula. Plus, its long wear time even outperforms some waterproof mascaras on the market.
  • It Cosmetics Superhero Elastic Stretch Volumizing & Lengthening Mascara: If you’re in the market for a hero product, take your eyes off the sky and look to this one from It Cosmetics. We love this mascara as an all-around A-plus product to define, separate, lengthen, and thicken the lashes. Its dryer consistency makes it buildable, while biotin, peptides, and collagen condition the lashes for long-term lusciousness.
  • Too Faced Better Than Sex Mascara: It’s Ulta’s highest rated formula and a longtime recommendation among our editors. This mascara delivers on drama with pitch-black pigment and effortlessly buildable volume. It’s no wonder that it’s a cult-favorite, given its conditioning ingredients, curl-boosting wand, and budge-proof formulation.

Best Mascara at Ulta for Short Lashes

Benefit Badgal Bang! Volumizing Mascara

Formula type: Volumizing
Shade range: Black
Key ingredients: Provitamin B5
Top-Quality Store Badge on Google: 4.8/5 stars

This Benefit mascara packs a powerful punch as the top-selling mascara at Ulta. It has a “slimpact!” wand that boasts a unique, 360 degree design that clings to each and every lash as it combs product from root to tip. The narrow, cone-like shape allows for a lash lift on the outer corner, while no inner corner hairs get left behind. Formula-wise, this best mascara at Ulta is infused with provitamin B5, which works to build thickness with each swipe and support lash strength down to the follicle. Benefit Badgal Bang! is a great all-around option for transformative definition without clumps, along with its longwearing and water-resistant formulation that won’t ditch you during the day.

Editor testing and review notes: “As someone who doesn’t settle for anything less than long, separated lashes that sweep up to my brow bone, this Benefit mascara is a dream. I have naturally straight, fine, and average-length lashes, but, with a pump of an eyelash curler and a few coats of Badgal Bang!, I have superstar lashes. Keep in mind that you may experience minor smudging if you have especially oily eyelids like me, but as long as I apply eyeshadow primer it’s a non-issue. Upon application, I didn’t have any issues with clumping. I especially adore the rubber mascara brush for its true ability to separate the lash line for visible and defined volume. — Commerce Writer & Producer Olivia Cigliano

Price upon publish date of this article: $28

Related: Alix Earle’s Makeup Routine

Best Mascara at Ulta for Volume

Lancôme Monsieur Big Volumizing Mascara

Formula type: Volumizing
Shade range: Black
Top-Quality Store Badge on Google: 4.8/5 stars

Looking for va-va-voom volume? Meet Monsieur Big by Lancôme. It wins the silver medal among Ulta’s bestseller list, and our editors aptly agree. As the name suggests, this mascara has a big, chunky brush that’s densely packed with wavy bristles. It layers on the volume and evenly distributes rich pigment across the lash line, all while extending lash lengths for a true false lash effect.

Editor testing and review notes: “Lancôme’s Monsieur Big is a mascara I like to keep in rotation for special occasions or events — it brings the drama. Sticking to a lash serum with nightly use has made my lashes nice and long, but the tips can disappear into thin air without the right mascara. This defines those fine hairs so they look thicker, therefore making my lashes look longer. One coat of this delivers volume you’d only achieve from two to three coats of other mascaras.” — Senior Beauty and Lifestyle Commerce Editor Claire Sullivan

Price upon publish date of this article: $30

Best Curling Mascara at Ulta

Fenty Beauty Full Frontal Volume, Lift, and Curl Mascara

Formula type: Curling, volumizing 
Shade range: Black
Top-Quality Store Badge on Google: 4.8/5 stars

Rihanna knows a thing or two about ultra-fierce eye makeup, and Fenty Beauty’s Full Frontal Volume, Lift, and Curl Mascara is evidence. Fenty designed it as an all-in-one mascara that effectively fans out the lash line for precise definition and volume. It features a double sided, paddle-like brush that lifts and curls hairs upward to extend their length, while expanding their splay horizontally. The flexible formula also allows plenty of time to build on the volume with additional clump-free coats.

Editor testing and review notes: “Upon initial application, this mascara and I became instant BFFs. I always prefer a dryer formula, rather than one that’s thinner or wet, but they’re too often prone to flaking. This one didn’t crunch, clump, budge, or transfer during application and left my eye looking bigger and brighter. It doesn’t irritate or run into my contacts when I exercise, which is a major plus for me. I love to wear this mascara for long days at WWD’s office.” — Cigliano

Price upon publish date of this article: $24

Best Tubing Mascara at Ulta

Clinique High Impact High-Fi Full Volume Mascara

Formula type: Volumizing, lengthening
Shade range: Black, black/brown
Key ingredients: Coconut, argan, and moringa oils
Top-Quality Store Badge on Google: 4.8/5 stars

Clinique’s Hi-Fi is a stellar Ulta tubing mascara — its formula is blended with teeny tiny extension fibers that seamlessly elongate at the lash tip. This particular formula comes as a lightweight gel with a super hydrating feel from coconut, argan, and moringa oils. Not only does the mascara support lash growth and condition the lashes with wear, but it also won’t dry to a crunchy, flaky coating. It’s ophthalmologist-tested, allergy-tested, free of fragrance, and safe for sensitive eyes, which are just a few reasons why our testers scored this best mascara at Ulta with high marks across the board.

Editor testing and review notes: “Clinique’s latest mascara launch is a dream for daytime wear. Where many volumizing mascaras can leave you with super dense looking lashes, this one separates those hairs nicely for a fuller look without clumps. The medium-length bristles give you good control on short lashes, and they have a wavy design that grabs baby hairs with ease.” — Sullivan

Price upon publish date of this article: $27

Best Affordable Mascara at Ulta

E.l.f. Big Mood Mega Volume & Lifting Mascara

Formula type: Volumizing, lifting
Shade range: Pitch black, black, deep brown
Key ingredients: Jojoba wax
Top-Quality Store Badge on Google: 4.8/5 stars

E.l.f. continues to wow our editors with each new product we test. Whether it’s a hydrating makeup primer, makeup brush set, or one of the best drugstore foundations on the market, the brand offers so many must-haves at an affordable price. Although eight dollars is on the more expensive side of E.l.f.’s lineup, the Big Mood mascara is the most affordable option on our list. It brings drama with an oversized hourglass wand that lifts the lash line as you swipe. Jojoba wax in the formula makes for a more creamy consistency, which effectively locks a curl, applies evenly, and reduces risk of flaking.

Editor testing and review notes: “If you have sparse lashes that are in need of a boost, this mascara is a good bet. The dark formula glides on so effortlessly and the big wand combs the lashes up and out for a much fuller look. Keep in mind that the wand may be too big for smaller eyes. Otherwise, considering its price, this mascara is a must-try.” — Cigliano

Price upon publish date of this article: $8

Courtesy of Too Faced

Best Rated Mascara At Ulta

Too Faced Better Than Sex Mascara 

Formula type: Lengthening, volumizing
Shade range: Black and waterproof formulations
Key ingredients: Acacia Senegal tree extract and peptides 
Top-Quality Store Badge on Google: 4.8/5 stars

Whether or not this mascara is better than — ahem — is still up for debate, but our editors surely believe it lives up to its hype. The famed Too Faced Better Than Sex Mascara is among the most popular and highest rated formulas at Ulta, with over 15,000 five-star reviews. Beauty shoppers rave about its signature hourglass wand that applies product evenly as it defines and separates. Our testers give extra points for its day-to-night building capabilities, along with its exceptional volumizing and lengthening effects. We couldn’t agree more, and, if you’re looking for a reliable waterproof Ulta mascara, one of our editors can’t stop singing the praises of the alternative formulation.

Editor testing and review notes: “If you love thick, black, voluminous lashes and you haven’t tried this mascara — you’re missing out. Better Than Sex has been one of the most reliable mascaras in my makeup bag over the years because I know it’ll always give me a dramatic effect. While its formula and hourglass wand is comparable to the lower cost L’Oreal Paris Voluminous Lash Paradise Mascara at Ulta, I still always go back to Too Faced for its dryer consistency.”— Cigliano

Price upon publish date of this article: $29

Best Lifting Mascara at Ulta

Anastasia Beverly Hills Lash Sculpt Mascara

Formula type: Lifting, lengthening
Shade range: Black
Key ingredients: Biotin, collagen, peptides
Top-Quality Store Badge on Google: 4.8/5 stars

Anastasia Beverly Hills is best known for its top-notch eyebrow pencils and brow growth serums, so it’s not a total shock that the brand excels at lashes, too. The Lash Sculpt mascara improves upon the typical conic wand, as this fluted iteration is tightly constructed to snatch and stretch lash hairs to maximum length. The wand crescendos in width, which lifts the outer lashes up as you wiggle from root to tip. Its formula is infused with the biotin, collagen, and peptides to condition the lashes underneath the product, leaving them soft to the touch.

Editor testing and review notes: “Serious makeup lovers know that Anastasia Beverly Hills won’t steer you in the wrong direction: The brand’s products supply high color payoff without looking painted on. The Lash Sculpt Mascara is a gorgeous addition to any caliber of glam; the formula’s wet consistency makes it highly buildable, so I can go light for daytime wear or pack on the pigments for a bolder look.” — Sullivan

Price upon publish date of this article: $26

Best Drugstore Mascara At Ulta

L’Oréal Voluminous Lash Paradise Mascara

Formula type: Lengthening, volumizing 
Shade range: Blackest Black, Black, Mystic Black, Black Brown, Millennial Pink, and waterproof formulations
Top-Quality Store Badge on Google: 4.8/5 stars

This mascara is a prime example of the beauty of shopping at Ulta — you can compare products across a wide price range to see if it’s better to save or splurge. The L’Oréal Voluminous Lash Paradise Mascara is a comparable affordable alternative to the Too Faced Better Than Sex Mascara that’s listed above, however, we did notice slight variations that make them both worth the mention. This formula is has a wetter consistency, which works best for those with naturally short or coarse lashes, because it elongates the lash line as it builds volume. This best mascara at Ulta is also a favorite among celebrity makeup artists such as Mary Phillips and Ariel Tejeda whose A-list clients are constantly sporting thick, feathery lashes.

Editor testing and review notes: “The Voluminous Lash Paradise Mascara’s medium-large, slight hourglass wand fits snugly under the lash line and successfully works to grip, comb, define, and satisfyingly stretch each lash. The formula of the mascara is wet but not too watery, which aids in its ability to build thickness and avoid clumping. I found that it wears well over a long day, with no running or smudging, holds a curl, and is effortless to wipe away with a makeup removing cloth.” — Cigliano

Price upon publish date of this article: $12.99

Courtesy of Sephora

Best Mascara at Ulta for Length and Volume

It Cosmetics Superhero Elastic Stretch Volumizing & Lengthening Mascara

Formula type: Volumizing, lengthening
Shade range: Black and waterproof formulations
Key ingredients: Biotin, collagen, and peptides
Top-Quality Store Badge on Google: 4.8/5 stars

Holding out for a hero? You can count on It Cosmetics’ Superhero Mascara to save the day. Its long and narrow wand allows maximum control as you address the full lash line in one pass. The dryer formula is most effective for building thickness, separating the lashes for volume, holding a curl, and laying down major length. It’s also infused with biotin, collagen, and peptides, which support healthy lashes and nourish the surrounding skin.

Editor testing and review notes: “The name says it all — this mascara should wear a cape. The formula isn’t slick-wet, but just damp enough to separate and lift my lashes while building impressive thickness and length. It’s the best mascara for a false lash look; I haven’t touched my stock of falsies in ages because just one or two coats of the pitch-black formula does the trick for a night on the town. I like to focus the product on my outer lashes for a fanned-out look, which are easy to access with the narrow brush applicator. ” — Cigliano

Price upon publish date of this article: $28

Courtesy of Ulta Beauty

Best Brown Mascara at Ulta

Colourpop BFF Mascara

Formula type: Lengthening, volumizing, etc. 
Shade range: Black, brown, pink, yellow, red, blue, peach
Top-Quality Store Badge on Google: 4.8/5 stars

Ulta is the only widely-accessible beauty retailer that carries Colourpop in-store and online, so the only other way to get your hands on it is directly from the brand’s site (but you’d miss out on Ulta deals and perks!). Colourpop is favored for its high-pigment color cosmetics, like statement lipsticks or poppy cream blushes. The BFF Mascara is no exception — you can choose color options from blue, pink, yellow, or red, but we’re especially impressed by the Brownie Points colorway. The formula adds both pronounced volume and precise length upon instant application, while avoiding bulky product deposits that would otherwise overwhelm the lash line. The comb-like, twisted wand is made of nylon fiber, which boosts the lash line in a lift and reinforces a curl with each coat.

Editor testing and review notes: “As a long-time lover of Colourpop makeup, I was curious to try the brand’s take on mascara. Each hue from the line passed with flying colors, but the Brownie Points shade stood out from other brown mascaras we tested. I’m a super dark natural brunette, and its rich, warm brown color appeared natural but not too soft, as it effectively defined my eyes with depth. Aside from the color, BFF’s formula hits the sweet spot between not too wet and not too dry, meaning it delivers on length without clumping, and allows for building up to three coats.” — Cigliano

Price upon publish date of this article: $9

Tips for Shopping for the Best Mascaras at Ulta

Ulta is one of the best places to shop all kinds of cosmetics, whether in-store or online, because it’s always offering deals for savvy shoppers. There are so many deals that it can be tough to keep up with what sale event is in the pipeline. We’re breaking down key sales, plus other smart ways to shop mascaras at Ulta.

  • Ulta 21 Days of Beauty: This sale event lasts for three weeks, starting every March and August, as Ulta’s most anticipated marathon of markdowns. The most recent fall 2023 installment offered limited-time deals, called Daily Beauty Steals, where customers could score up to 50 percent off new releases and bestselling products. There are new deals every day, across both prestige and drugstore makeup, skin care sets, hair care, hair styling tools, and makeup brushes. Those with an Ultamate Rewards membership also earn bonus points with every purchase during the sale.
  • Ulta Black Friday Sale: Ulta always offers some of the best Black Friday beauty deals. Last year, Ulta kicked off the season of giving by surprising shoppers with a full week of price slashes, which was similar to a shortened version of 21 Days of Beauty. Annually, the discounts tend to peak at 50 percent off and cover the range of top-rated beauty products, including sales on beauty bundles, makeup brushes, and other offerings from hundreds of brands. In 2023, we’re hoping they repeat history and offer extra perks, like luxe gifts with purchase.
  • Buy More, Save More Offers: No matter the time of year, Ulta always provides opportunity to save as you spend. You can browse all of Ulta’s digital coupons, BOGO deals, and special gifts with purchase by navigating to the Featured Deals page on Ulta.com. Here, you’ll find limited-time promotions on everything from cult-favorite bestsellers to high-quality hidden gems.
  • Ultamate Rewards: Ulta’s membership program allows customers to rack up points with every purchase, which can be used to add extra beauty goodies to your card. It also grants you access to exclusive discounts, early sale entry, and a free gift on your birthday. You can sign up for free, or spend a minimum of $500 to $1,200 to qualify for the Platinum and Diamond membership tiers, which will get you the most perks.

How We Tested and Reviewed the Best Mascaras at Ulta

Since 1910, WWD — often referred to as “the fashion bible” — has been the leading industry voice of authority for senior executives in the global women’s and men’s fashion, retail and beauty communities, while also informing the consumer media that cover the market. Today, WWD’s breaking news and trend coverage continues to be a trustworthy resource for both fashion insiders and consumers alike. Our shopping editors continue to uphold WWD’s editorial standards and values with quality, expert-backed product selections.

To curate the best mascaras at Ulta, we conducted comprehensive testing, as well as extensive research across the beauty market to determine quality formulation, application, and ingredient blends. We tested bestselling mascaras at Ulta, TikTok-viral formulations, and picked up our personal favorites to pinpoint the best options for different lash types and preferences. Additionally, we sifted through hundreds of customer review quotes to compare different experiences and recommend the most satisfactory products on the market. Learn more about us here.

Meet the Testers and Author

Claire Sullivan is the Senior Beauty and Lifestyle Commerce Editor for WWD and Footwear News. She’s spent over five years researching, reporting on, and writing about the beauty industry for publications like Martha Stewart Living, Martha Stewart Weddings, InStyle, and Byrdie. She’s tested hundreds of products during her time as a beauty editor, so she’s well-versed in selecting makeup products, like the best mascaras at Ulta, that make a meaningful difference in your beauty routine. Sullivan contributed to product testing for this article.

Olivia Cigliano is a Commerce Writer & Producer at Footwear News and WWD where she writes shopping content across fashion, beauty, footwear, TikTok style trends, and more. Cigliano received her bachelor’s degree in journalism from Emerson College, and her byline can be found in publications including Elite Daily and CR Fashion Book. She is currently based in New York City. Mascara is Cigliano’s all-time-favorite, desert-island beauty product, so she has a keen eye for comparing mascara formulas for different lash types and preferences. Cigliano contributed to mascara testing and wrote this article on the best mascaras at Ulta.

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