I’ve myself spending a lot of time lately searching for terms like the best mascara for short lashes, the best mascara for thin lashes, the best mascara for volume…you get the deal. Partly it has to do with hitting the other side of 40 (and beyond). Partly it has to do with getting off the lash extension wagon during pandemic times. Partly it has to do with face mask culture.

Let’s be honest, in a world of all masks all the time (you’re wearing yours out of the house, right?), mascaras are the new lipstick.

Zoom calls not withstanding.

So I’ve spent some time over the past few months trying various mascaras for my short lashes, based on editor recos, friend recos, and customer reviews. Here’s where this picky cosmetics consumer come out.

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Related: When to replace makeup? An easy, common sense, non-alarmist guide that can even save you money


The best mascara primer for short lashes: Lancome Cils Booster XL

If you really want more length and volume, you have to start with a primer.

A while back I wrote about Magnifibres, wonderful brush-on fibers that extend and thicken your lashes before you apply mascara. But now that I can only find them through eBay and other more um, dubious sites, I’ve wanted an alternative. I finally found it in Lancome’s Cils Booster XL.

Best mascara for short lashes: Start with a lengthening primer like Cils Booster XL from Lancome

I received a little sample tube of it with a purchase recently, and instant love! (So, good sampling, Sephora. Or Nordstrom. Or whoever sent it to me.) The Cils Booster XL brushes on with a mascara wand, making your lashes look a day spent up in the North Pole. Then, you brush on your mascara as usual.

The feathery bits aren’t quite as pronounced as the Magnifibres, but it’s an excellent primer to give even short lashes significantly more length, as well as a decent boost in volume.

If you have short lashes like mine and need some help, start here my friends. Whatever mascara you end up with. I’m buying the full-size one now.

(Lancome’s Cils Booster XL $26, Sephora, or $13 for the mini)


The best drugstore mascara for short lashes: L’Oreal Voluminous Lash Paradise

After trying a bunch of drugstore mascaras over the year, falling in and out of love, then trying more, I’ve finally come across one I just keep buying for my short lashes: L’Oreal Voluminous Lash Paradise. WOW is this stuff good! And not just “good for a drugstore mascara,” but as good as nearly any higher end department store mascara I’ve tried.  I’ve even moved away from Maybelline’s The Falsies which is a runner up for me, but just seems to dry out faster. I’d rather spend the few extra bucks on Lash Paradise.

Best mascara for short lashes: L'Oreal Voluminous Lash Paradise. Before/after photos: CoolMomPicks.com

It gives me length, volume, minimal clumping, and goes on fairly fast and easy. And again, it doesn’t dry out too quickly — I know you’re supposed to replace your mascara every three months according to experts, but if I can get 5-6 months out of a tube I’m happy. And that’s what I’m getting here.

This is pretty much my go-to, day-to-day mascara. And truth be told, I could take it over my more expensive pick, below. I cannot recommend it more highly.

(L’Oreal Voluminous Lash Paradise $10.99 Ulta, $11.69 Target)


The best splurge mascara for short lashes: Two-Faced Damn Girl! Mascara 

So speaking of expensive picks… I first tried Damn Girl! mascara when a trusted makeup aficionado friend said, “Ignore the mixed reviews! This stuff is great!” Well call me impressed with Damn Girl! mascara from Two-Faced, a company that also happens to make my favorite eyeshadow kit these days. It also reminds me of the time a professional makeup artist said before a shoot,” damn girl…where are your lashes?” So that was fun.

But I digress.

Two faced damn girl mascara review: Is it good for short lashes?

Now let me be honest — I think all the reviews are pretty accurate, both good and bad. On the good side, you do get “shocking volume, dramatic lift and curl, and 24-hour wear” as the company promises. In fact, that 24-hour wear is for real. If I pass out without washing my face at night (as one does these days), I can wake up the next morning and jump onto an emergency Zoom call with just a brow touch-up. Really! No smudging! There’s something to be said for that.

I also find that if I wiggle the teddy bear brush back and forth, that in two coats I can get a lot of length. Just know that the before/after photos on the Sephora site feature models who start out with pretty long lashes to begin with, so if you have short lashes like me, your lashes won’t necessarily bonk your sunglasses.

That said, I do agree that it’s a little clumpy, mainly if you’re going for crazy length and volume, which I’m not. For us regular “I just want to look human popping into the grocery store” women, I imagine it’s less of a problem.

My main caveat is that the formula dries out faster than I would like, especially considering the price. But apply this stuff over that Cils Booster… and this here regular old non-beauty-influencer mom can achieve a lash look I really like. Even with those sad, short lashes (sniff).

See below.

Best mascaras for short lashes: Two-Faced "Damn Girl" Mascara pros and cons
A combo of Lancome Cils booster XL and Too-Faced Damn Girl Mascara. Pretty good for a mom with “no lashes”

(Damn Girl Mascara by Two-Faced, $26 Sephora or $14 for the mini)