The Best Waterproof Mascara That Won't Give You Racoon Eyes on Your Wedding Day Picks

Go ahead and cry your heart out; these waterproof mascaras will not smudge.
best waterproof mascaras for wedding
lauren whalley headshot
Lauren Whalley
lauren whalley headshot
Lauren Whalley
Fashion Editor, Beauty & Inclusivity
  • Lauren writes and edits articles for The Knot Worldwide, with a specialty in fashion, beauty and size inclusivity.
  • Prior to The Knot Worldwide, Lauren worked in wedding editorial for Brides, Style Me Pretty and Enaura Bridal.
  • Lauren studied public relations and advertising at the University of Central Florida.
Updated Jan 23, 2024
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Finding the best waterproof mascara is like finding a partner. Sometimes you have to test out a few before you find "the one," and once you do, it will last you through thick and thin (or at least through your wedding day.) Unlike traditional formulas, a great waterproof mascara formula will withstand any "cue the waterworks" moments (and let's be honest, there will be plenty of them!) without giving you the dreaded "raccoon eye" look. So yes, waterproof mascara is practically essential for any wedding makeup look, if you ask my opinion. The best waterproof mascara for brides won't smudge and should last through all of your happy tears, from your walk down the aisle to your father-daughter dance. To ensure your makeup stays intact through it all, I've curated a list of cry-proof mascara formulas that are worth adding to your bridal beauty makeup bag.

In this article:

These Are the Best Waterproof Mascaras for Your Wedding

To save you some valuable time, I asked The Knot editors to share their tried-and-true waterproof mascara picks that give both length and volume without smearing throughout the day. I even combed through a handful of popular Reddit threads to find top-rated waterproof mascaras worn by real brides and everyday users. For better or for worse, these are the best waterproof mascara picks that won't smudge any unexpected sweat or tears.

1. Best Overall: L'Oréal Telescopic Original Waterproof Mascara

L'Oreal Telescopic waterproof wedding mascara
Photo: Target

For brides who crave length and precision, the L'Oreal Telescopic Original Waterproof Mascara is a game-changer. Its unique brush and formula work together to separate and elongate each lash, creating a stunning fanned-out effect. Pro tip: Wiggle the brush at the base of your lashes and comb through to the tips for maximum impact.

Key features: Fragrance-free, ophthalmologist-tested, allergy-tested

TK Editor review: "L'Oreal telescopic has been my go-to for years. Even after trying countless viral brushes and luxury brands, I always come back to this one. I love the small brush and bristles because they lift and separate my lashes without any clumps—it's the perfect formula for lengthy lashes that last all day and hold a curl. Plus, at the price point, it just can't be beat!" - Sarah Hanlon, Celebrity & News Editor

Redditor review: "I'm Asian with short, sparse, downward-facing lashes. The only mascara I use is waterproof telescopic. It holds a curl, gives me length, doesn't clump and no panda eyes! People are really sleeping on this mascara."

2. Best Non-Clumping: Thrive Causemetics Liquid Lash Extensions Mascara

Non-clumping Thrive Causematics waterproof wedding mascara
Photo: Thrive Causematics

If you want feathery lashes that won't clump, Thrive Causemetics Liquid Lash Extensions Mascara is your perfect match. This innovative formula gives you the effect of lash extensions without the hassle. The flexible wand and lengthening fibers coat each lash to create a stunning, natural-looking lift, making it the best non-clumping waterproof mascara. It can withstand teary eyes at your wedding but the clean formula won't irritate even the most sensitive eyes. Not to mention it comes in three colors - black, brown and deep blue.

Key features: Vegan, Cruelty-Free, Formulated without parabens, sulfates, phthalates or synthetic fragrances

TK Editor review: "I love the Thrive Causemetics mascara. It makes my lashes instantly fuller, especially if I am on the go. I've never experienced any flaking or real smudging with Thrive. I also love that it comes in three different shades, which is super rare for a waterproof mascara." - Lauren Whalley, Fashion Editor, Beauty & Inclusivity

Redditor review: "I wear contacts, my eyes water up for no reason sometimes and I would always get smudges from other waterproof brand mascaras. Not with this one! I've never, ever had smudges after using Thrive."

3. Best Volumizing: Lâncome Monsieur Big Waterproof Mascara

Volumizing Lâncome waterproof wedding mascara
Photo: Sephora

When it comes to volumizing mascaras, Lâncome Monsieur Big Waterproof Mascara steals the show. This iconic mascara provides epic volume, incredible length, and intense color payoff. The soft-bristle brush grabs every single lash, coating them evenly for a full and bold effect. Apply two coats for a voluminous look that will make your eyes pop in every wedding photo. Remember to start at the base and wiggle the wand upwards to achieve the best lift and separation.

Key features: Formulated without sulfates, phthalates and parabens

TK Editor review: "I like Lâncome Monsieur Big Waterproof Mascara because you don't have to sacrifice volume for water resistance. I love the applicator because the brush is thick with bristles that help you get a full, lush application without clumps. Volume + waterproof = dream wedding photo combo!" - Hannah Nowack, Senior Editor, Weddings

Redditor review: "Lâncome Monsieur Big Waterproof Mascara is amazing; it's a sleek black formula that envelops your lashes for a super-volumeized look that you won't believe but it doesn't stop there. It also separates and lengthens beautifully—so fabulous you think you're wearing falsies! Try this mascara, and I promise you won't be disappointed!

4. Best Clean: Ilia Limitless Lash Mascara

Clean Ilia waterproof wedding mascara
Photo: Credo Beauty

For those seeking the best clean waterproof mascara, look no further than the Ilia Limitless Lash Mascara. Not only does it lengthen and volumize your lashes but it also nourishes them with a blend of beeswax and shea butter. The unique brush design allows you to reach every lash, ensuring a clump-free application. With its clean and gentle formula, this mascara is perfect for brides with sensitive eyes or those who prefer natural beauty products.

Key features: Cruelty-free, Gluten-free, Recyclable packaging, Clean formula

TK Editor review: "I've been using other waterproof mascara and wishing I'd just gone with the Ilia because the look is similar (fluffy, thick, volumized lashes) without all the work it takes to make the BTS not clumpy. It's a great clean beauty pick." - Nicole Seligman, Fashion Content Strategist

Redditor review: "The Ilia mascara is great!! It's buildable and holds a curl well (which my eyelashes are nonexistent without), even without an eyelash curler!"

5. Best for Sensitive Eyes: Clinique High Impact Waterproof Mascara

Clinique waterproof wedding mascara for sensitive eyes
Photo: Clinique

This iconic Clinique High Impact Waterproof Mascara is a fan favorite for a reason. Not to mention, it is ophthalmologist-tested and often praised for being safe enough for sensitive eyes and contact lens wearers. The specially designed brush coats each lash precisely and adds volume and length without irritation. Whether you shed a tear or two during your vows, this mascara will stay in place, keeping your eyes looking bright and vibrant throughout the wedding day.

Key features: allergy-tested, Fragrance-free, ophthalmologist-tested, Safe for sensitive eyes, safe for contact lens wearers, Paraben free, Phthalate-free, sulfate-free, Mineral oil-free, gluten-free, and alcohol-free

TK Editor review: "I'm a third-generation Clinique lover and this mascara is no exception. It's super easy to apply and does not budge. It doesn't smudge all over my glasses (a common problem I have) nor does it irritate my eyes when I wear contacts. It's the best non-clumping waterproof mascara I have ever used for my sensitive eyes. - Lauren Whalley, Fashion Editor, Beauty & Inclusivity

Redditor review: "Clinique High Impact waterproof mascara is it for me! I feel like I've tried every waterproof mascara under the sun, and this is the only one that stays put and doesn't make me want to scratch my eyes out. I have sensitive skin, sensitive eyes/eye allergies, and sweat like no one's business."

6. Best Drugstore: Maybelline Lash Sensational Waterproof Mascara

Maybelline waterproof wedding mascara
Photo: Target

Maybelline Lash Sensational Waterproof Mascara proves that you can achieve stunning results without a high-end price tag. This budget-friendly gem adds length, volume, and definition to your lashes. The unique fanning brush separates and coats each lash, leaving you with a beautiful, clump-free look. From the ceremony to the after-party, Maybelline Lash Sensational will stay put all day (and night) long.

Key features: Ophthalmologist-tested, Safe for contact lens wearers

TK Editor review: "This is my ride-or-die mascara (waterproof and not-waterproof) It's the only mascara I've found that doesn't give me raccoon eyes after a few hours, and coming from someone who has dry eyes that tend to water a lot, the waterproof mascara always stays put. It's super lightweight on the lashes. Plus, it always gives my lashes a massive lift that never falls. I also love the applicator; it doesn't get super messy and clumpy, which is key for me when applying my mascara." - Lucy Ferut, Social Media Specialist

Redditor review: "Maybelline lash sensational in waterproof is seriously the most waterproof formula I've tried. I think I like falsies in waterproof better but the lash sensational literally will not budge."

Are smudge-proof and waterproof mascaras the same?

When it comes to mascaras, the terms "smudge-proof" and "waterproof" might seem interchangeable, but they actually refer to slightly different attributes. Smudge-proof mascaras are designed to resist smudging and smearing, even in varying weather conditions or when you touch your eyes throughout the day. They are formulated to stay in place and maintain their boldness without leaving unsightly marks under your eyes. On the other hand, waterproof mascaras are specifically formulated to withstand water, such as rain, tears, or humidity. These mascaras have a special formula that creates a barrier on your lashes, preventing water from causing the mascara to run or smudge. So while both smudge-proof and waterproof mascaras offer long-lasting results, waterproof mascaras are specifically formulated to be resistant to water, making them ideal for teary-eyed moments during your wedding day or your hot and humid honeymoon destination.

How To Keep Waterproof Mascara From Smudging Under Your Eyes

Let's face it, even waterproof mascara can sometimes have a mind of its own. Don't worry, though; I've got some tried-and-true tips to keep that mascara in line and prevent any smudging under your eyes.

First things first, make sure to prep your lashes before applying mascara. Curl them with an eyelash curler and then dust a little bit of translucent powder or eyeshadow on your under-eye area. This creates a barrier that can catch any mascara flakes that might fall during application and prevent them from smudging on your skin. Genius, right?

In addition to prepping, it's crucial to apply the right amount of mascara. One coat is usually enough for a natural look, but if you want to amp it up, go for two coats max. Any more can lead to clumping, which is a breeding ground for smudges. Remember to let each coat dry between applications to avoid any possible messes.

Tips for Testing Your Waterproof Mascara Before Your Wedding

By testing your waterproof mascara in these real-life scenarios, you'll have peace of mind knowing that you found the best tear-proof mascara that can handle anything on your wedding day. Here are a few scenarios where you can easily test the waters:

  • Work up a sweat: Lace up your running shoes and go for a jog or hit the gym. A waterproof mascara that can withstand your sweat will likely hold up against tears as well. So, put your waterproof mascara to the test and see if it stays in place throughout your workout.
  • Hit the sauna: If you have access to a sauna or steam room, bring your mascara along for a steamy session. The heat and humidity will help simulate challenging conditions for your mascara. If it can survive the steam without smudging or running, you can feel confident that it will stay put during any teary moments on the big day.
  • Movie night with your besties: Get your bridesmaids together for a movie marathon night packed with emotional rom-coms. Laugh, cry and let those tears flow freely as you put your mascara to the ultimate cry-deflection test. If your mascara can withstand the waterworks, it's a winner.
  • Take a dip in the pool or ocean: Take a plunge in the pool, visit the beach or even your own shower to test your mascara's waterproof capabilities. While most waterproof mascaras are not designed to be 100% waterproof when submerged, this test will give you an idea of how well they hold up against water splashes and light rain. Just make sure to avoid rubbing your eyes or harshly toweling your face, as that can cause deliberate smudging.
  • Wear it for a long day: Finally, put your waterproof mascara to the ultimate endurance test by wearing it for a long day. From morning until bedtime, let your mascara experience the ups and downs of a regular day, including humidity, sweat and daily life. Check for smudging or flaking throughout the day, and if it passes the test, you can trust it for your wedding day.
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