Our Guide to Tubing Mascara for Smudge-free, Flake-free Lashes

Suffering from lacklustere lashes? Try these tubing mascara's and inspire some double-take lash envy

Want eye-popping makeup? These new polymer-based mascaras literally form a tube around each eyelash

Tubing mascaras are the answer for anyone who’s ever complained of smudging, flaking or running mascara. Pandas are adorable, but “panda eyes” are not.

This sub-category of mascara differs from its traditional sisters in that instead of using the typical formula of oils, waxes and dyes, it uses a polymer formula that literally forms a tube around each lash. Once it’s set, this plastic formula develops a film-former that becomes a single unit, so there’s nothing to smudge, flake or run off.

If that sounds worrisome, here’s the other amazing benefit to tubing mascaras: they wash off easily with warm water.

Tubing mascaras can withstand almost anything – exercise, rain, sweat, tears, humidity and more. What other mascara can promise this, and actually deliver?

Most people never turn back after trying one.

How to identify a tubing mascara

Frustratingly, most tubing mascaras don’t self-identify as such. Look for words like “polymers”, “high tech”, “easy to remove”, etc. Tubing isn’t a sexy word. But for everyone who’s ready to ditch the overhyped promises of mascara that truly deliver, learn to read between the lines and you’ll find a whole new world of miraculous tubing mascaras.

Tubes for length

Because of their formula and function, tubing mascaras tend to be a bit thinner in consistency than regular mascaras. And while they deliver beautifully on lengthening, most don’t add heaps of volume. If that’s a concern for you, try using an eyelash primer first, which will bulk up your eyelashes. Or experiment with layering a tubing mascara before or after a coat of regular mascara.

Removing tubing mascaras

To remove tubing mascaras, simply splash warm water onto your face a few times, then gently pat or wiggle along your lashes and they’ll simply slide right off. The first time you see little black tubes in your sink can be startling – trust me, those are the polymer tubes, not your eyelashes.  Don’t use an oil-based cleanser, they have very little effect on this kind of formula.

Read on for 12 tubing mascaras that will banish panda eyes forever.

Clinique Lash Power Mascara, $19

A classic and popular tubing mascara, Clinique’s Lash Power is a a wetter formula, so between that and its polymer formula, don’t do the traditional zig-zag or wiggle methods. Stick to even strokes and you’ll be left with beautifully defined, long lashes. This is a such a beloved mascara that it even comes with a complementary, smaller version for bottom lashes (check out the next slide).

Available in two different shades at Clinique counters and at Sephora.

Clinique Bottom Lashes Mascara, $12

Clinique’s Bottom Lashes Mascara is the same formula as the popular Lash Power Mascara and deserves a separate shout out because it’s simply genius. It’s a beautifully designed product that perfectly reaches and defines your teeny, tiny bottom lashes.

Tip: if you have particularly short, sparse lower lashes, hold the wand vertically and use the fine-tipped point to catch every last lash.

Available in two shades at Clinique counters and at Sephora.

Blinc Mascara and Blinc Black Lash Primer, $24 and $26, respectively

Regarded as the original tubing mascara, Blinc remains an industry darling, winning awards and praises every year. It’s one of the better ones at delivering volume, but if you’re looking for even more oomph, Blinc has a new primer out.

The primer is a lash treatment and enhancer in one, helping to encourage new growth while conditioning at the same time. Plus, since it’s a black base, there’s no dilution of colour, just rich, saturated black lashes.

To use the primer, put on as many layers as desired within 60 seconds, then immediately apply Blinc mascara.

Blinc Mascara is available in six different colours at Sephora. Blinc Black Lash Primer is available now at sephora.com and blincinc.com, and will be available in Sephora stores starting 2015.

L’Oreal Double Extend Beauty Tubes Mascara, $14.99

L’Oreal’s Double Extend Beauty Tubes mascara is the only tubing mascara you’ll readily find in drug stores. It’s a double-ended tube with a primer/conditioner on one end, and the tubing mascara at the other end. The primer is white so make sure to carefully coat your lashes well with mascara to cover up all the primer.

The primer contains Ceramide R and D-Panthenol and definitely does help to add a bit of bulk to lashes, but this mascara formula is on the thinner side, so the net result is still very natural looking lashes. It does add great length however and, interestingly, this mascara seems to perform better after a week or two, so press on if your first impressions are lukewarm.

Available at drug stores across Canada.

MAC Extended Play Lash Mascara, $20

MAC’s Extended Play Lash mascara deposits intense, inky colour while leaving lashes long and fluttery. This is also a great tubing mascara that does add some volume to the lashes and helps with a curl. The wand is thin and nimble, so it’s easy to maneuver around both top and bottom lashes.

Available in two shades at MAC counters and stand-alone stores.

Lise Watier 24 Hrs Glam Mascara, $23

24 Hr Glam is a great mascara from Montreal darling Lise Watier. It’s definitely glam in design (love the gold animal print), but like all tubing mascaras, it provides a very natural look. And this one in particular benefits from a single coat. Second and third coats can lead to lashes sticking together, especially if you let the mascara dry in between. But if you stick to one round, you’ll be set for 24 hours with beautifully inky, long and defined lashes.

Available at London Drugs and other select drug stores.

Anna Sui Lash Amplifying Mascara, $29

Anna Sui’s Lash Amplifying Mascara is the exception to the tubing rule – it actually does deliver amped up lashes that are longer (a lot longer) and dramatically thicker. But here’s the catch: you’ll look like an anime character, which definitely has its place in the fashion world… if that’s your scene.

The application wand isn’t your typical fluffy, spoolie brush. It’s a three-pronged spatula. Instead of holding the wand horizontally, you need to hold it vertically and paint this thick lacquer on. Learn to do it with a steady hand and you’ll be using it as an eyeliner at the same time.

It also layers beautifully, in case you was extra-amplified, doe-eye lashes. The only downside to this that it will weigh your lashes down, so unless they are naturally curled, you’ll notice drooping by the end of the day.

Available at select Hudson’s Bay and Shoppers Drug Mart stores.

Stila Glamoureyes Mascara, $29

As long as you don’t actually expect glamorous lashes, then you’ll be very happy with Stila’s Glamoureyes mascara. The formula is wet, but dries quickly so it will hold a decent curl. It lengthens nicely while separating lashes and deposits an inky colour. The brush is large and fluffy so take your time with it at first if you’re not used to this kind of brush.

Available at select Shoppers Drug Mart and Murale stores.

Clinique High Impact Mascara, $19

High Impact is another tubing mascara from Clinique. The brush is fuller, tighter and softer than the Lash Power brush, which is a bit better for those with really fine lashes. This mascara will leave your lashes beautifully long and tapered. And like all of Clinique’s packaging, it’s sleek and slim, making it a cinch to carry in your purse.

Also available in an Extreme Volume and Waterproof formulas, in two shades, at Clinique counters and at Sephora.

Cargo 3: Triple Action Mascara, $24

Cargo’s 3: Triple Action mascara promises to be a triple threat by lengthening (yes), thickening (meh) and curling (no) your lashes. Anyone with bone straight lashes will know that nothing but a lash curler is going to deliver lasting, curly eyelashes.

However, since this is a polymer-based formula (like all the other mascaras in this piece), if you simply hold the brush at the roots of your lashes (after applying the first coat) and let the mascara dry with this lifted action, it will help elevate the lashes. Not curl them, but lift them. Other than that, this is a fine tubing mascara that will deliver a nice, basic look.

Available at London Drugs and other select drug stores.

Estée Lauder Sumptuous Infinite Daring Length + Volume Mascara, $28.50

This is Estée Lauder’s latest (and longest-named) mascara that features their first molded brush, giving you two lengths of bristles in one brush. In theory, the short bristles will deposit more product quickly to develop volume, and the longer row acts as a comb to separate and lengthen lashes. In reality, it doesn’t seem to make much of a difference, although using a proper metal lash comb does work very well with this mascara, which can clump after multiple layers.

It’s still a great tubing mascara and does have fibres in its formula (much like the cult classic, Fiberwig mascara from Japan), which certainly help thicken lashes a little more than regular tubing mascaras.

Available at Estée Lauder counters and on their website.

Geisha Ink Ultra Volume Mascara, $30

Geisha Ink is an independent, cult brand with few (but stellar) products including their Ultra Volume tubing mascara. This one does deliver a bit more volume, as well as lots of length. There’s also a small trick to using this formula: wipe down the wand when you first use it, and do so again in a few weeks or whenever you notice the formula starting to clump on your lashes. Trust me, it really