Every Type of Mascara Wand, Explained

Today in "why life's not fair": Little kids always seem to have incredible eyelashes. Meanwhile, the rest of us are furiously coating on five layers of mascara to look like our lashes even exist. But the trouble is that not all mascara wands are created equal, and if you pick the wrong one, all your efforts are usually for naught. Here's a rundown of what each one does so you can choose the wand that will give you the luscious lashes of a newborn baby.

6 Mascara Mistakes You Might Be Making

diorshow mascara full wand

Full Wands

Best for: Volume
Why: A bigger wand means more product and more product means out-of-this-world volume. With each swipe, the majority of the mascara will get deposited at the base of your lashes, building girth with every coat.

Try: Charlotte Tilbury Full Fat Lashes 5 Star Mascara ($29); COVERGIRL LashBlast Volume Mascara ($6); Dior Diorshow Lash-Extension Effect Volume Mascara ($30)

l oreal telescopic mascara skinny wand

Skinny Wands

Best for: Lengthening
Why: Its thin silhouette grabs lashes right at their base, and because it coats each lash evenly from the very bottom to the very tip, they end up looking naturally longer. Stamp the wand at your lash line to deposit a bit of mascara for a super-quick tightline.

Try: L'Oréal Telescopic Carbon Black Mascara ($10); e.l.f. Lash Tiny Mascara ($4); NYX Professional Makeup The Skinny Mascara ($7)

How to Tightline Your Eyes

eyeko black magic mascara curved wand

Curved Wands

Best for: Curling
Why: The arc hugs the natural shape of your lashes to help coax them upward. Make sure to wiggle the wand mid-stroke to hit every lash.

Try: Eyeko Black Magic Mascara ($26); Maybelline Volum' Express The Colossal Chaotic Lash Mascara ($6); Benefit Cosmetics Roller Lash Curling and Lifting Mascara ($24)

make up for eve smoky extravagant mascara tapered wand

Tapered Wands

Best for: Volume and definition
Why: The brush holds most of its volume at the base, but thins out toward the top, which is ideal for plumping and separating each individual hair. The cone-shaped tip makes it easy to coat bottom lashes, too.

Try: Smashbox Full Exposure Mascara ($22); Make Up For Ever Smoky Extravagant Mascara ($24); bareMinerals Flawless Definition Mascara ($20)

givenchy beauty phenomen eyes mascara ball tipped wand

Ball-tipped Wands

Best for: Definition
Why: The spiked sphere on the end means you can spend time detailing individual lashes for a totally custom look. Hit every point (teeny-tiny inner lashes, bottom lashes and longer outer lashes) better than conventional one-swipe mascaras.

Try: It Cosmetics Hello Lashes Extensions Mascara ($24); Benefit They're Real! Lengthening Mascara ($24); Givenchy Beauty Phenomen'Eyes Mascara ($31)

too faced better than sex mascara hourglass wand

Hourglass Wands

Best for: Eye opening
Why: The U-shaped brush reaches the outer corners of lashes, pulling them up and out with each swipe. You’ll get tons of volume and definition at the outer edges for a bright-eyed look.

Try: Too Faced Better Than Sex Mascara ($23); Marc Jacobs Velvet Noir Major Volume Mascara ($26); COVERGIRL Flamed Out Mascara ($10)

milk makeup ubame mascara corkscrew wand

Corkscrew Wands

Best for: Lifting lashes
Why: It hits your lashes at three different points with every stroke. Wiggle it side to side from base to tip to ensure total coverage, and then hit the backside of lashes for even more lift.

Try: Milk Makeup Ubame Mascara ($24); Too Faced Size Queen Mascara ($21)

maybelline the falsies push up angel mascara comb wand

Comb Wands

Best for: Thickening
Why: Much like a comb for your hair, it grabs every little lash, separates and coats with minimal clumping. So if your lashes are barely there to begin with, this wand will make them look more filled out.

Try: Maybelline The Falsies Push Up Angel Mascara ($9); Clinique High Lengths Mascara ($18); COVERGIRL Total Tease Mascara ($7)

BL Headshot
Brianna Lapolla


Brianna Lapolla formerly held the role of Senior Commerce Editor at PureWow covering all things shopping across beauty, fashion, and lifestyle. Now, she's putting her 12 years of...
read full bio