As we get older, we begin to have fewer and fewer eyelashes and the ones we do have begin to grow shorter and even lose some of their pigmentation. Our go-to mascara, which used to work wonders, just doesn’t deliver the results it once did. If we were younger, we might consider hopping on the lash extension bandwagon to compensate; but, as it is, lash extensions can feel too fussy and like too much work. So what’s a girl to do? Well, lucky for us, there’s a new formulation of mascara that women — especially those over 50 — are raving about called tubing mascara. What is tubing mascara? It works like a lash extension without, well, the lash extension. Keep reading to discover the benefits of these new the easy-to-wear, easy-to-remove wonders, why it’s a miracle-in-a-tube for women over 50 and what we think are the very best tubing mascaras of 2023. 

What is a tubing mascara?

Tubing mascara gets its name from the way it works: It’s made to wrap around the lashes and dry into a rubbery, no-smudge “sleeve “tube” that slips off when broken down with warm water. That’s all thanks to special polymers that “coat each individual lash, giving a bit more noticeable separation,” explains celebrity makeup artist Lauren O’Leary, whose work can be seen on famous clients like Niki Taylor.

Even better, says celebrity makeup artist Jamie Greenberg, founder of JamieMakeup, who has worked with stars like Kaley Cuoco and Rashida Jones, “most tubing mascaras are considered water resistant and optimize the length and volume of your lashes without all the clumping involved.” They also don’t smear if you rub your eyes — they simply roll off your lashes!   

Why tubing mascaras work well for women over 50

Mature woman applying tubing mascara smiling.
  1. They’re smudge-proof: Tubing mascara is less likely to smudge, which can be helpful when you have fine lines, wrinkles or oily eyelids, preventing the “raccoon eyes” effect. What’s more, says New York-based makeup artist Lisa Pimentel, whose work has appeared on fashion runways and the pages of magazines, “they’re also great for people with age-related dryness of the eyes, as they don’t flake and get into the eyes.”
  2. Removal is a cinch: Tubing mascaras are known for their easy removal. They typically come off with warm water and gentle pressure, as opposed to other mascaras that may require tugging, so lashes don’t get pulled out in the process. Plus, adds Pimentel, it’s a gentler option for those with sensitive eyes or those who may have difficulty with traditional makeup removers.
  3. They’re long-lasting: This ensures your lashes look long, thick and lush all day without the need for frequent touch-ups.
  4. They don’t clump: You can build up the volume and length of your lashes without the formula clumping or looking heavy. This can help create a more youthful and wide-eyed appearance without the mess.
  5. They’re gentle on lashes: Tubing mascaras are often formulated to be gentle on lashes, which can be important as lashes may become more delicate with age, explains Pimentel. They can help prevent breakage.

How to apply and remove tubing mascara

O’Leary says to apply tubing mascara just like you would normal mascara. The only difference: “It does tend to dry down quickly so I typically recommend doing one eye, then the other and not jumping back and forth between coats.” Greenberg adds, “I always recommend wiggling your brush a little to help grab every lash, as well.” 

When it comes time to removal, Pimentel says you can “remove gently with a washcloth and warm water — no soap or eye makeup remover needed!” 

The 10 Best Tubing Mascaras

Like regular mascara, tubing mascara is not a one-size-fits all. Read on to find the one that will best suit your needs.

1. Best Lengthening: Thrive Causemetics Liquid Lash Extensions Mascara 

Thrive Causemetics

Buy from Thrive Causemetics, $25

This mascara was named by all three of our experts as being completely obsession-worthy. It has a flake-free technology as well as an orchid stem cell complex that nourishes as your wear it. O’Leary insists, “What I love about this formula is that it is really black, separates the lashes really well and stays on a really long time.”

2. Best Budget Buy: AOA Studio Paw Paw Big Boss Mascara 

AOA Studio Paw Paw Big Boss Mascara

Buy from Miss A, $1.55

If you’re looking to try a tubing formula without breaking the bank, you can’t do better than this under $2 wonder. And for a low price, it packs an impressive punch, thanks to the rich pigments inside and flexible wand that makes it easy to get into the corners of your eyes. Some find that it flakes off with water rather than creating true tubes, but for the price, you can’t beat it. 

3. Best Clump-Free: Victoria Beckham Beauty Vast Lash Mascara

Victoria Beckham Beauty tubing mascara

Buy from Victoria Beckham Beauty, $32

Pimentel loves this formula. “It gives a great voluminous lash due to the intense curve of the brush,” she says. The thin-but-luxe liquid glides on and coats lashes completely without creating clumps or globs, making it a dream-come-true for ladies who loathe a spidery finish. 

4. Best Volumizing: essence Bye Bye Panda Eyes! Smudge-Proof Volumizing & Defining Mascara

essence Bye Bye Panda Eyes!

Buy from Amazon, $4.99

This intensely black formula is a true winner with a price tag that means you can have a tube in your bathroom, your purse, your travel bag and your gym bag. It’s a bit thicker than some of its competitors, which makes it great for thickening the look of your lashes. One warning: There can be a bit of flaking by the end of the day, but that just brushes right off with no smearing. 

5. Best Buildable: KVD Beauty Full Sleeve Long + Defined Tubing Mascara

KVD tubing mascara

Buy from Sephora, $25

This mascara has a cult following thanks to its smart ingredients. It features acacia senegal gum to give the formula some stretch, making for excellent length and definition and lightweight berry wax, which adds volume and helps hold curl. It’s also incredibly buildable, so you can layer it on to get the exact amount of oomph you’re seeking. 

6. Best Conditioning: caliray Come Hell or High Water Mascara

caliray Come Hell or High Water Mascara

Buy from Sephora, $24

This one made Greenberg’s list because “it’s a clean volumizing formula made with next-generation tubing tech and features film forming agents for water-resistance.” She adds, “I also love that it contains argan oil in the formula for extra lash conditioning, and the brush is a nice added bonus as it has multi-dimensional fibers that help to define lashes and curls without the clumping.”

7. Best Dramatic: L’Oréal Paris Makeup Double Extend Lash Extension Effect

Loreal Paris Double Extend

Buy from Ulta, $13.99

The double-ended mascara is a must-have for Pimentel, thanks to its innovative two-layer process. One side offers a white nourishing primer that coats every lash. Then, the mascara on the other side lays down an ultra-lengthening black coat on top. The final effect: Drama, drama, drama.

8. Best For Sensitive Eyes: Maybelline Snapscara Washable Mascara

Maybelline Snapscara Tubing Mascara

Buy from Walmart, $7.44

This highly pigmented formula offers an intense finish thanks to its lack of dulling wax. What it also makes it great for? Contact wearers or anyone with sensitive eyes. Another plus for this mascara is that along with brown and black, it comes in fun colors like blue and cherry for those who like to be a bit more adventurous with their makeup hues. 

9. Best Multi-Tasking Splurge: YOUNIQUE QUADRA 4-in-1 Serum Primer Tubing Mascara


Buy from YOUNIQUE, $55

While a splurge, this formula does the work of a lash serum, a primer and a mascara that also happens to create a protective barrier around each strand with an amino acid peptide complex. It’s particularly great for anyone looking to grow their lashes, withstands 12 hours of wear and has a custom dual-bristle brush that offers even coverage on one side and volume and separation on the other. 

10. Best Daytime: No7 Mascara Stay Perfect Waterproof Tubing Mascara

No7 Stay Perfect mascara

Buy from Target, $8.99

If you like a softer mascara for daytime, this one will be your new go-to. With a no-flake formula that slides on without a hint of clumping, it’s a terrific no-fuss option. Oh, and did we mention it offers 24-hour wear? 

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