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Why tubing mascara is a total makeup game changer

Give your lash game a smudge-proof update…

Assortment of tubing mascaras
Orin Carlin
Content Writer
Updated: 9 May 2024
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As far as makeup woes go, there is nothing I find more infinitely maddening than mascara smudges. The beauty junkie's equivalent of a 4 o'clock shadow, panda-esque rings under the eyes are so not a vibe.

Take it from me, I'm a chronic smudger. Previously in my beauty lifetime, unsightly rings were something of an inevitability. A combination of dry skin (therefore having to apply a rich day cream close to my eye area) and hay fever-beholden eyes, left me wild with frustration.

That was before I discovered the pure genius of tubing mascara.


Best high-performance all-rounder: Sensai's Lash Volumiser 38°C Mascara, £34.00

Best for major lift & curl: Trish McEvoy's Lash Curling Mascara, £22.50

Best for everyday affordability: Elf's Lash XTNDR Mascara, £7.00

What is a tubing mascara?

Model applying mascara © Getty
The formula is designed to last without smudging

For the smudge prone, I'm not exaggerating when I say that tubing mascara will revolutionise your makeup routine. It is an innovative formula that covers your individual eyelashes with polymers, essentially coating them in small, smudge proof tubes.

What is the difference between tubing and normal mascara?

Normal mascara works by coating lashes with thick layers of pigment. This is great for volume purposes, especially those that are buildable. But the downside of these typically wax-based formulas is they "tend to flake easier and can be difficult to remove", according to cosmetic chemists Daniela Del Ciotto and Martin Mackenzie-Smith of The Cosmetic Experts.

Tubing mascara on the other hand, is all about endurance. "Once product is applied on the lashes, the water evaporates, and the polymers dry to form a film," Daniela and Martin explain. "The polymers coat each lash in a tube-like casing which has water-resistance properties, and it is less likely to smudge."

"Tubing mascara formulations are longer-lasting, and the film will remain until removed by mechanical forces or by warm washing. The mascara will then come off easily as very small tube-shapes. Formulations can still be enriched with ingredients like butters, oils, and waxes to provide additional lash-conditioning properties."

How can you tell if a mascara is a tubing formula?

In my own experience, tubing mascaras are rarely marketed as such. Understandably, without the word "tubing" on the label, it may be a bit unobvious. Turn your attention to the ingredient list – look for "acrylates copolymers", "polyvinylpyrrolidone" (also known as PVP) and other PVP-type film formers, all indicative of a tubing formula.

How to remove it

Soak a cotton or reusable cleansing pad in hand-hot water, wring it out and press it against your eye. Using your thumb and forefinger, gently swipe downwards over your lashes and the mascara should fall off in small tubes.

How we chose:

  • Performance and personal testimony: The buys chosen below are products that I (Hello! Fashion's resident beauty obsessive Orin Carlin) personally really rate. 
  • Smudgeproof quality: After scrupulously testing a range of tubing mascaras, I have picked out the formulas that delivered the goods in terms of length, curl, separation, volume and staying power.

Hello! Fashion shares the best tubing mascaras to shop now: 

  • Best Tubing Mascaras

    Sensai Black Mascara

    Lash Volumiser 38°C Mascara


    Key benefits...

    • Innovative triple spiral wand designed to coat each individual lash 
    • Approved by the pros 



    Sensai's Lash Volumiser 38°C was recommended to me by Princess Diana's makeup artist Mary Greenwell, and suffice to say, the industry maven knows her craft inside out. This mascara is superb, excelling in separation with not a clump in sight. The silky formula is seamless to apply, and the triple spiral wand is lightweight and non-bulky, allowing you to get right into the inner corners. Obsessed. 

  • Glossier Lash Slick Mascara

    Lash Slick


    Key benefits...

    • Pretty, natural-looking effect 
    • Remarkable level of curl 



    I always employ a healthy amount of suspicion towards products that promise results similar to that of a treatment. (Botox in a bottle? I'll believe it when I see it. As of yet, I haven't.) Fair play to Glossier, its Lash Slick genuinely delivers on the 'baby extensions' descriptor. It requires a certain amount of effort (back and forth wiggling upwards motion) to get to my lashes going, but it creates an outstanding level of curl, including on the outer corner for that faux extension effect.

  • Ruby Hammer Mascara and Brow Duo

    Mascara & Brow Duo

    Ruby Hammer

    Key benefits...

    • Micro wand for the utmost precision 
    • Little to no clumping 



    I was really not expecting to like this super-skinny wand as much as I did, but it's actually rather great. Makeup artist Ruby Hammer's handy double-ended version (also featuring a clear brow gel) is great for precision. The ultra-fine wand allows you to go in and separate where necessary, and although it does take a little while to build up drama on the top, on bottom lashes it's a dream - soft and fluttery, not spidery in the slightest. If you only suffer from smudging on the bottom, this is a solid choice. 

  • Trish McEvoy Tubing Mascara

    Lash Curling Mascara

    Trish McEvoy

    Key benefits...

    • Exceptional lift and curl 
    • Buildable if you want extra drama 



    Pressed for time when it comes to curling your lashes? You needn't worry about skipping the extra step with Trish McEvoy's nifty Lash Curling Mascara. The brush is slender, but still thick enough that you can build up a good level of volume, certainly enough for everyday wear. The lifting effect makes my eyes look so much more defined and refreshed, plus, I find the lift & curl combo actually stays put all day.

  • Merit Clean Lash Mascara

    Clean Lash


    Key benefits...

    • Full, feathery flutter
    • Feels almost weightless on the lashes 



    Pared back, cool-girl-approved beauty label Merit has delivered a fair few corkers (I'm mad for The Minimalist, its genius complexion touch-up stick), and Clean Lash is yet another knockout. What sets it apart from the rest is its ability to create a soft, full-fan effect without the lashes feeling heavy or verging into clumpy territory. It's extremely easy to build up volume, especially if you go in close to the root to give the illusion of liner. 

  • Elf Tubing Mascara

    Lash XTNDR


    Key benefits...

    • Perfect for a pretty, everyday lash 
    • Affordable price point 



    If you're after high-performance affordability, Elf's Lash XTNDR is the one to beat. The tapered silicone wand allows for easy separation and my lashes not only look noticeably longer, but can also hold a lovely, long-lasting curl. Seven quid. A no-brainer.

  • Hourglass Tubing Mascara

    Unlocked Instant Extensions Mascara


    Key benefits...

    • Buildable, great for a 'going out' lash 
    • Slim, pliable wand - suitable for bottom lashes as well as top



    Housed in elegant gold casing is Hourglass' Unlocked Instant Extensions Mascara. Not only is the packaging beautiful and thoughtful, it also packs a punch. The slender, slightly flexible wand catches each individual lash, including those in the tricky-to-reach inner corners. It also allows you to get super close to the lash line, allowing for extra definition. 

Why you should trust me:

Orin Carlin is Hello! Fashion’s SEO Content Writer. Promising to leave no stone unturned in the name of fashion and beauty journalism, she is the proud creator of our ‘Try The Trend’ series. With a particular interest in formula innovation, microtrends, royal and bridal beauty, perfume, rituals, treatments, fashion history and vintage icons, she can either be found interviewing major industry names (previous subjects include Georgia May Jagger, Mary Greenwell and Sam McKnight) or scouring the internet for must-have pieces. It's not just a job; it's a personal quest to unearth noteworthy pieces that resonate with style and beauty enthusiasts.

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