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12 Best Tubing Mascaras for Long, Smudge-Free Lashes

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Lush lashes have always been an icon’s most essential asset: think Elizabeth Taylor’s inky Cleopatra wings, Twiggy’s exclamation points, even Minnie Mouse’s flirty spikes. While a new brush shape launches almost monthly, the basic mascara recipe (wax plus pigment) has remained about the same since Thomas Williams mixed coal dust into Vaseline for his sister Mabel (and launched Maybelline) in 1913.

What Is Tubing Mascara?

Say hello to tubing: the not-so-pretty word that may be one of the more exciting terms ever to be embossed on a mascara label. “Instead of the traditional oils and waxes used in mascaras, tubing formulas use a flexible polymer that is an excellent film former,” says cosmetics consultant and chemist Nick Morante. Tubing mascara goes on slightly wetter than regular versions; when it dries, the lacquer shrink-wraps around each lash, giving “360-degree coverage,” according to makeup artist Troy Surratt. As more of the polymer is brushed on, the tube builds up and out, like the structure of an icicle or a stalactite, adding millimeters to even the shortest of hairs.

“It’s like you’re actually stretching out the lashes. You can keep building length at the end,” says Stila makeup artist Sarah Lucero. “It gives you a precise, pristine, retouched look.”

Is Tubing Mascara Easy To Remove?

Not only does the emulsion of tubing mascara create a smooth, shiny surface, but it’s also water soluble, so while normal sweat and tears won’t disturb it, several splashes of H2O will cause the tubes to swell and loosen their grip on lashes, easily rinsing off. The smudge-prone (eye rubbers, those with oily skin, or those who live in a humid climate) love that the tubes are immune to smearing; sensitive types with easily irritated eyes or fragile lashes appreciate the formula’s easy-off aspect.

Is Tubing Mascara Bad For You?

So 10 years after tubing first hit the U.S., why doesn’t it have more fans? “Some women got a little freaked out by the sight of all the tubes rinsing off into the sink. They were worried that they were losing lashes,” Surratt says. And although tubing polymers allow you to add length to each lash, they don’t dramatically increase plumpness. Now companies such as Blinc and L’Oréal cater to those who want showgirl style results—lashes that look long and full—with a two-step approach. Their tubing primers provide a creamy base coat of moisturizing ceramides and panthenol plus thickening pigments. In addition to pumping up the volume, “the primer replenishes lashes and ensures an even mascara application,” says Roseanne Fama, head of L’Oréal’s Cosmetic Product Development.

Which Tubing Mascara Should I Get?

The good news is that more people are getting comfortable with the idea of tubing mascaras, which means there are more options on the market now. Whether you’re into a drugstore bestseller or a luxe high-end formula, here are 12 incredible tubing mascaras that will make you toss out your older versions.

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