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Need a Mascara That Doesn't Flake? We Asked Editors and Experts to Share Their 13 Faves

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Finding the right mascara can feel like winning the lottery. If it checks all the boxes of lengthening, thickening and defining your lashes, then you’ve found yourself a keeper. But even some of the best formulas are prone to flaking and clumping, so we asked a group of mascara-obsessed editors and experts to share their top picks that won’t leave behind a trail of tiny little flakes on your face. 

Meet the Experts 

  • Dafine Neziri is a celebrity makeup artist for Bebe Rexha and Huda Kattan. She’s based in Germany and Los Angeles and specializes in fashion, bridal and red carpet looks. 
  • Helen Dagdag is a Sephora beauty director and makeup artist based in Los Angeles. 
  • Rachel Pagan is a celebrity makeup artist based in Los Angeles. Her clients include Sherry Cola, Anna Kendrick and Tembi Locke.

What Causes a Mascara to Flake? 

There are many factors that can lead to your mascara flaking throughout the day. Here are some of the top reasons it happens:

  • It can be the mascara’s expiration date. “Flakes are often [a sign] that a mascara is past its prime and the formula has dried out,” says Neziri. To prevent this from happening, she suggests replacing your mascara every three to six months (or after a month if you’re using it daily). 
  • It can be air exposure. “Avoid pumping your mascara wand in and out of the tube. It just pumps extra air into your tube, which dries out the formula much faster,” says Dagdag. Instead, try dipping the wand in gently, no more than once or twice per application.
  • It can be the drying time between coats. Dagdag has a helpful tip for preventing clumps: “Apply mascara only when it’s wet. It’s never a good idea to keep layering on more on top of dry lashes.” Pagan also adds, “Wait until the product gets tacky [about 30  seconds] as it will help lock in the moisture [and prevent flaking].” 

It's all too easy to grab any mascara labeled as "flake-free," but the experts we interviewed want you to dig deeper by looking closer at the ingredients. Check out formulas that include hyaluronic acid, castor oil and olive oil, all of which can help condition your lashes while reducing the chances of flakes. 

Now that you’re all caught up, here are the 13 picks you should try out. 

13 Mascaras That Don’t Flake At a Glance

Great for Lengthening

1. Glossier Lash Stick

Glossier

  • Why We Like It: available in black and brown, water-resistant, 12-hour wear
  • Waterproof: no
  • Key Ingredients: biotin, polymers, Japanese fiber technology

As Glossier states, the lash slick mascara provides “extensions without the extensions.” It’s formulated with vegan biotin to condition lashes, polymers to boost shine and Japanese fiber technology to lengthen lashes without weighing them down. Plus, the tapered comb separates each hair, which reduces any chances of flaking later. “It doesn’t flake and it doesn’t clump. I’m a fan of natural-looking mascara that adds length without looking spidery and this one checks those boxes,” says Food Editor Katherine Gillen. 

  • Why We Like It: 2-pack deal, smudge-proof, hypoallergenic
  • Waterproof: yes
  • Key Ingredients: carnauba wax

This mascara promises instant fullness—thanks to its large bristles that separates and defines your lashes. It’s designed with major volume in mind and Managing Editor Rachel Gulmi stands by it. “I love this mascara from Covergirl forever and always. It goes on with zero clumping, doesn’t flake and separates (and lengthens) my lashes like no other. Plus, it washes off with ease too!” she says. 

Great for All Lash Types

3. Rare Beauty Perfect Strokes Volumizing Mascara

Rare Beauty

  • Why We Like It: contains castor oil, paraben-free, long-wearing
  • Waterproof: no
  • Key Ingredients: castor oil, carnauba wax

Whether you’re looking for a mascara that lengthens, curls or adds volume to your lashes, this one by Rare Beauty has something for everyone. The formula features castor oil, which conditions and nourishes lashes so they don’t dry or clump up as the day wears on. It even turned one mascara skeptic into a fan. “My eyelashes are very sensitive, so I avoid using mascara altogether. But I decided to give Rare Beauty's a try since I've been loving all the brand's other products. The first thing I noticed was how long and voluminous it made my lashes without making them look clumpy—and it didn't dry them out,” raves Assistant Editor of Sales and Deals Destine Scott. 

Splurge-Worthy

4. Chanel Le Volume Mascara

Chanel

  • Why We Like It: great for thin and short lashes, natural formula, mixed bristles
  • Waterproof: no
  • Key Ingredients: beeswax, carnauba wax

This luxury find delivers voluminous lashes that complement both simple and bold makeup looks. Featuring acadia gum and natural waxes like beeswax and carnauba, the formula curls and thickens lashes with each coat, while the bristles (a mix of long and short lengths) help to separate them so you get a flake-free finish. “While Benefit is my go-to for daily wear, the Chanel mascara has a traditional brush and a more flake-free formula that adds a decent amount of volume if you have the patience to add several coats to your lashes,” says Commerce Director Nicole Briese. 

The Natural Pick

5. Ilia Limitless Lash Mascara

Ilia

  • Why We Like It: clean ingredients, award-winning mascara, gentle formula 
  • Waterproof: no
  • Key Ingredients: beeswax, keratin, shea butter

If you’re looking for a natural alternative, look no further than this mascara by Ilia. It’s formulated with a wax blend (aka beeswax and carnauba), shea butter and keratin to nourish, lift and enhance your natural lashes. “I'm obsessed with the Limitless Lash mascara! The brush makes all the difference when it comes to getting a clump-free application on both my top and bottom lashes. It has staying power, too. Huge fan here!” says Special Projects Director Rachel Bowie. 

Great for Volumizing

6. Hourglass Caution Extreme Lashes

Hourglass

  • Why We Like It: buildable results, 2-in-1 brush design, vegan formula
  • Waterproof: no
  • Key Ingredients: paraffin, carnauba wax

This mascara doesn’t play around in the length department. The brand claims it can provide 400 percent more volume due to its wand design, which features 2-in-1 bristles that stretch your lashes with a single swipe. For Assistant Commerce Editor Natalie LaBarbera, it’s exactly what she’s been looking for in a mascara, “I’ve been searching for a go-to mascara for months now and I love that the Hourglass Caution Extreme Lash mascara doesn’t clump or smear beneath my eyes—even after a long day.” 

Great for Curling

7. About-Face Mascara

About-Face

  • Why We Like It: clean ingredients, 14-hour wear, cruelty-free
  • Waterproof: no
  • Key Ingredients: vitamin B5, coconut oil, castor oi

Need help in the curling department? This all-in-one formula aims to lengthen and lift straight lashes to the sky. It's designed with an elongated brush to stretch and separate your top and bottom lashes. Plus, the clean formula features vitamin B5, coconut oil, castor oil and vitamin E, which moisturizes and conditions lashes. “The formula isn’t clumpy or thick like a lot of other mascaras [I’ve tried], so it glides on nicely. Plus, it's vegan and only $15,” shares Commerce Editor Olivia Dubyak. 

Suitable for Daily Wear

8. Freck Beauty Lash Enhancing Mascara

Freck Beauty

  • Why We Like It: clean ingredients, matte finish, great for all lash types
  • Waterproof: No
  • Key Ingredients: red clover extract, panthenol, biotinoyl tripepide-1

If you’re looking for a daily mascara, this one should be on your radar. Infused with peptides (like panthenol and biotinoly tripepide), the formula aims to improve the health of your lashes while red clover strengthens them and promotes healthy hair growth. “I’ve been using this mascara for a few months now and I love it. It doesn’t flake or leave smudges around my eyes, and it makes my lashes look really long and lush with just one or two coats,” says Fashion Editor Abby Hepworth. “The only downside is that it’s not waterproof, but outside of wearing it when I’m working out or literally crying, I haven’t had any issues with flaking or smudging.” 

Smudge-Free Formula

9. Clinique High Impact Mascara

Clinique

  • Why We Like It: available in black and brown, ophthalmologist-tested, fragrance-free
  • Waterproof: no
  • Key Ingredients: carnauba wax

One of the main causes of flaking is simply applying too many coats of mascara. Luckily, this pick is known for delivering results in one swipe. “I like that the spoolie is very narrow, so I can really get under the lashes without creating racoon clumps,” says Editor-in-Chief Jillian Quint. The brand suggests starting at the base of your lashes and wiggling the wand to the tips to build volume and lift the hairs up. 

Great for Long Wear

10. GXVE Beauty Lenghtening Mascara

GXVE Beauty

  • Why We Like It: long-wear, clean ingredients, lightweight formula
  • Waterproof: no
  • Key Ingredients: castor oil, argan oil, vitamin B

The formula (featuring castor oil, argan oil and vitamin B) helps strengthen, soften and thicken lashes. It’s also been known to last all day without the need for reapplication. “GXVE Beauty's mascara totally wakes my face up. I like that the rounded tip helps you reach those baby lashes in the corners of your eyes, and best of all, the mascara stays put [all day]. I've been burned by mascaras that send particles into my eyes halfway through the day, causing me to tear up in meetings and excusing myself to flush out my eyes. It’s the worst,” says VP of Editorial Candace Davison. 

French Beauty Pick

11. Vivienne Sabó Paris Cabaret Volume Mascara

Vivienne Sabó

  • Why We Like It: two shade options, buildable formula, 15,000+ five-star reviews
  • Waterproof: no
  • Key Ingredients: beeswax, paraffin, carnauba wax

Jump into the French beauty game and try out a fan-favorite formula. With over 15,000 five-star reviews, this mascara delivers on definition and volume. Although the wand is smaller and thinner than most others we've seen, reviewers say it helps with getting a precise application without creating clumps. It also gets a stamp of approval from one of our experts, “It’s made with a formula that guarantees flake-free lashes and it’s completely transfer-proof. Also, I like that this mascara isn’t too heavy, so you can easily use it to get a soft, natural look,” says Neziri. 

Budget-Friendly

12. Sephora Collection Size Up Mascara

Sephora

  • Why We Like It: vegan, buildable formula, long-wear
  • Waterproof: no
  • Key Ingredients: cellulose microspheres

If you have thin or straight lashes, this Sephora favorite promises to beef them up just the right amount. The key ingredient—cellulose microspheres—is a fiber that adds volume and shapes lashes after a few swipes. “It’s super affordable and offers the best of both worlds—volume and length—with no flakes. I also love that you can replace it regularly without breaking the bank,” says Dagdag. 

Expert Pick

13. Tower28 MakesWaves Mascara

Tower28

  • Why We Like It: clean ingredients, safe for sensitive eyes, water-resistant
  • Waterproof: no
  • Key Ingredients: castor oil, aquaflex technology

“It offers length and volume from the moment it’s applied and it’s easy to remove,” says Pagan. The formula contains castor oil to condition and strengthen lashes and an aquaflex technology that’s usually found in hair care products to define and lift every last hair. 

Some Best Practices:

What's the Best Way to Store Your Mascara?

Neziri recommends storing your mascara in a cool and dark place (so not your bathroom cabinet). She also notes that the mascara should be carefully closed with the lid securely tightened before putting it away. This crucial step will reduce the chances of the formula drying out, which will prevent flakes the next time you use it. 

What's the Best Way to Apply Mascara Without Causing Flakes? 

The best tip is to always apply mascara on clean lashes and after you're finished applying the rest of your makeup (i.e, foundation, concealer, eye shadows, etc). “I always apply my mascara once I’m done with the rest of my makeup, including setting everything with a light dusting of powder to soak up any excess oils from my skin. This will also help [prevent smudging and extend the wear] of your mascara,” explains Pagan. 

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Associate Editor, Ultimate Fangirl, Aspiring Beauty Guru

Chelsea Candelario is an Associate Editor at PureWow. She has been covering beauty, culture, fashion and entertainment for over a decade. You'll find her searching the internet...