Living in a humid climate? Work in a hot kitchen? Need your mascara to be both water resistant and smudge free?
Working outside for the past 10 years, cooking in hot kitchens without air conditioning, and spending long days teaching outdoors, I've scoured the earth for a mascara that lasts even in the most difficult of environments for a mascara to thrive in - hot and humid climates and conditions.
Everyone's skin chemistry is different, and mascara formulas also break down over time due to contamination of the container, but despite both of these considerations, there is absolutely no reason you can't find a mascara that lasts.
Plowing through the waterproof mascara pages of the internet you, like me, have probably come across several conclusions:
Waterproof mascara is usually more waterproofed because the wax to pigment ratio is higher meaning it sticks to your lashes better but also, there's extra wax to interact with the oils on your lids, making waterproof mascaras typically more smudge-prone than non-waterproofs
Though there are multiple formulations of mascara, most mascaras are wax-based. Meaning, they will tend to break down when the sweat and oils from your lids or climate interact with the formula, so most mascaras don't work in high heat and humidity environment, or when the oils of your skin hit the tops of your lashes.
Mascara has to come off, somehow, and generally, it is through an oil or water-based solvent, making mascara formulas either primarily water-resistant or primarily oil-resistant. Water removal formulas are more oil-resistant, and oil removal formulas are more water-resistant. However, thanks to modern science there are now hybrids, which we'll talk about below.
Recommending exact brands can be a challenge, but when looking for the perfect high test mascara, consider these options:
Try a wax-based hybrid mascara.
Your best holding power in a mascara is one that is resistant to both tears and sweat, and this will be one that will be an oil-water hybrid mascara.
A mascara like this would be great for the beach, crying at a humid funeral, hot tubs, stuff like that.
An example of a hybrid like this would be Tarte's Lifted Mascara which is a dimethicone, rice bran and wax blend that comes in a black-brown color.
Look for a paint based mascara, with wax as the third to sixth ingredient if at all.
Mascaras with the main ingredient Dimethicone, or Acrylates Copolymer, are essentially paint-based mascaras, rather than wax based. These come off in warm water, meaning they won't be the most resilient in a hot tub, but they will be the most resilient in humid weather, and in hot kitchens, and sweating, places where wax mascaras will tend to melt off.
Blinc Mascara or Blinc Mascara Amplified would be good ones to try here, and for those interested in a drugstore alternative I'm happy to report that L'Oreal's Double Extend does work in a pinch. But, don't use the last one unless it's an emergency. There are level seven safety warnings on some of L'Oreal's formulas. Either way, these are both excellent sweat and humidity resistant mascaras, but only mildly waterproof. So great for kitchens and fires, but not hot showers or swimming with manatees, the above Tarte formula would be better for that.
Finally, if all else fails (or before it does, ideally) try calculating the rate of smudge (ROS) for your mascara prior to purchasing it.
Yep, I just made up that statistic! ROS, rate of smudge. But it works, I've tested it out several times.
A. Find any beauty website that has their customer feedback public and sortable, such as Ulta.com.
B. Then sort that feedback with the words "Smudge/Runs or Bleeds/Doesn't Last."
C. Then, take the number of comments that say "Smudges/Bleeds" over the total number of comments, multiply times 100, and you have your Rate of Smudge (ROS).
For example, to find out if that $32 mascara your considering might tend to smudge, find sortable reviews of it on a beauty site like Ulta.com (they have the best data right now) and do this calculation for it:
(# of commenters say it Smudges/total comments) X 100 = Rate of Smudge
Anything less than 2.5% ROS tends to hold really well. Between 3-9% is the iffy zone and anything above 10% responders say it smudges, you can pass - that's Panda territory. Not all mascaras will have this data, so also if one out of every five or so reviewers says it smudges that's usually a good estimate you may want stay away, too, especially if you live in a really humid climate or are really oily and everything slides off you.
Thankfully though, there have been many new developments in mascaras on the market in recent years, giving us more options to products that hold up pretty well to sweat, humidity and yes, some even light and heavy tears.
So if you have oily, dewy or naturally hooded lids, try a few of these tips for finding your perfect high test mascara.
Amanda Linette Meder
*Note: Even the best formulas will smudge when they start to break down and de-stabilize once the container gets contaminated. To keep contamination rates lower, don't use the included brush with any of the tubes, use your own mascara brush that you wash, dry and sanitize with each use and keep your mascara in the coolest, darkest area of the house you can. Humid climates tend to see quicker breakdown rates, and mascaras are more likely to "go" in the summer more quickly than in the winter. Keep this in mind when purchasing and stocking up! For example, you may not want to break into your most expensive mascaras during the warmest months unless keeping them in the fridge to help them last the longest.