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 • Makeup  • Makeup Guides  • What Actually *Is* Tubing Mascara? (And Should You Switch to One?)
What is tubing mascara? Miracle product or not worth the hype?

What Actually *Is* Tubing Mascara? (And Should You Switch to One?)

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Main image – Sanneberg/Adobe

Exactly what is tubing mascara — and should you give it a try?

With such a massive range of mascaras available, from those promising to give you pretty, glossy and natural lashes to products that promise the kind of luscious, plump flutterers that cause a gentle breeze every time you blink, it can be hard to know which ones actually deliver the results they promise.

There can be few people who don’t feel a little more wide eyed and bushy-tailed after sweeping mascara over their lashes — but what about tubing mascaras? Do they live up to the claims that they’re what we should all be ditching our regular mascaras for, or are they just another beauty gimmick?

We spoke to expert makeup artist Azesha Ramcharan to find out *exactly* what this kind of mascara might offer that your regular product can’t, the science behind it and all its pros and cons.


What is tubing mascara? Miracle product or not worth the hype?

Image – Lightfieldstudios/Adobe


What actually is a tubing mascara?

While it might sound like a beauty product you should be packing if you plan on taking part on some daredevil water sports on your summer holiday, tubing mascaras are in fact nothing to do with inflatable rubber rings.

It might not come as much of a surprise to learn that they’ve actually been around for years in Japan, but are relatively new to the UK and US markets.

Unlike regular mascaras, which contain pigments, oils and wax and are designed to be brushed over your lashes to coat them, tubing mascaras work a little differently.


What is tubing mascara? Miracle product or not worth the hype?

Image – Vladimirfloyd/Adobe


They contain polymers (look out for polyvinylpyrrolidone (PVP)) on the ingredients list if you’re unsure) which, when applied using the wand, wrap around each individual lash to create a tube. The idea is that by cloaking each lash in this way, they appear super long and very natural.

Azesha explains, “tubing mascaras are formulas that use polymers to enhance the appearance of lashes. These polymers define the lashes by forming a layer or tube around each individual lash.

“They’re different from traditional mascaras which are a blend of pigment, wax and oil.


Are tubing mascaras waterproof?

The majority of tubing mascaras are designed to be ‘water resistant’ so they should stay put if you fancy a swim or happen to watch a weepy movie.

As Azesha says, “tubing mascaras are sweat, water and smudge resistant. They stay put until you take them off.”

However, a little confusingly, they can be removed with just warm water, sliding satisfyingly off each lash in perfect little tubes.  That means that while they *are* waterproof, you might want to remove before getting into a warm bath or similar.


What are the benefits of tubing mascara?

Aside from their water resistant abilities though, there are plenty of advantages to using a tubing mascara (although just be aware that some products are definitely better than others, just as with regular mascaras).

If you decide to give one a go, you can expect it to be really long lasting, smudge-proof and to produce zero flakes over the course of the day due to their more flexible, stretchy nature. They are also great if it’s a lengthening effect you’re after.


What is tubing mascara? Miracle product or not worth the hype?

Image – Lightfieldstudios/Adobe


And if that isn’t enough, there’s the ease with which they can be removed — no unnecessary pulling and scrubbing at the delicate eye area required. Just a gentle sweep over with warm water and your face cloth of choice and away your mascara comes.

As Azesha explains, “tubing mascaras are easy to remove using water, light pressure and a face cloth. You don’t need a makeup remover. Nor do you need to use a lot of tugging or rubbing.

“In that sense tubing mascaras are better for your eyelashes because there’s less risk of damaging your lashes.”


What are the downsides to tubing mascaras?

It is important to know that this type of mascara won’t be everyone’s cup of tea though.

The way in which it slithers off the lashes in tiny tubes can be a little messy, resulting in a sink full of strand-like black bits that can also need washing off your cheeks — in short it can be more time consuming to get rid of than a regular mascara removed using eye make-up remover and a cleansing pad of some sort.

Then there is the fact that, despite its lengthening properties, tubing mascara is not always so great at providing the same kind of volume offered by traditional volumising mascaras.


What is tubing mascara? Miracle product or not worth the hype?

Image – Deniskomarov/Adobe


According to Azesha, “these formulas may not produce as much volume as conventional mascara. Tubing mascaras can clump and are often not buildable like traditional mascaras.

“You might not be able to layer additional coats for more length and volume like you can with traditional mascara.”

Tubing mascara can be a little trickier to apply than standard mascara too, although the wand style you choose will also play an important role here.

And, finally, tubing mascaras can take a little longer to dry than regular products as they are slightly wetter in consistency — no sneezing just after application!

Azesha explains, “depending on the brand, tubing mascaras may be wetter than traditional mascaras and may take longer to dry.”


How do you apply tubing mascara?

Tubing mascara is applied in much the same way as regular mascara, starting at the very base of the lashes and carefully wiggling the wand up and out to the tips. However, unlike traditional mascaras, you will usually only need one coat of tubing mascara.


Is tubing mascara safe for sensitive eyes?

Tubing mascara can be a great option for those with sensitive eyes as the fact that it won’t smudge or flake makes it less likely for product to get into and irritate your eyes. As they don’t require make-up removers to sweep them away this can be another bonus.

Azesha explains, “tubing mascaras are also a great choice for contact lens wearers and those with sensitive eyes. These formulas won’t flake which can cause eye irritation.”

That said, no two formulas are the same and if you have very sensitive eyes you should definitely be looking out for products that specifically state they are suitable for those with very delicate peepers.

You need to be on the lookout for hypoallergenic products and avoid anything containing irritants such as synthetic fragrances, sulphates, parabens, talc, alcohol, essential oils, and preservatives such as formaldehyde.


What is tubing mascara? Miracle product or not worth the hype?

Image – Sanneberg/Adobe


The best tubing mascaras

So which products does the expert recommend then?

Azesha says, “Blinc Original Tubing Mascara (£19.55 from Blinc UK and $26 from Sephora US) is the first tubing mascara and entered the market in 1995. The original formula remains very popular and the brand has since introduced newer tubing mascaras specifically formulated for lengthening and volumising.”


What is tubing mascara? Miracle product or not worth the hype?

Image – Blinc


She adds that Clinique Lash Power Mascara Long-Wearing Formula (£24 from Clinique UK and $25 from Sephora US), “has a precision brush. It’s great for coating each lash as well as applying mascara to the bottom lashes.”

Meanwhile, Maybelline Snapcara Washable Mascara (£6.99 from Amazon UK and $8.99 from Maybelline), “is a great budget friendly option.

“It’s perfect for anyone who wants to try a tubing mascara for the first time and it’s easy to find at a variety of retailers.”


The takeaway

Just as with all mascaras, tubing mascaras vary in their quality and the results they deliver.

Some people just can’t get on with them at all, finding them hard to apply without clumping, while other people swear they’ll never go back to regular mascara after trying one of these.

Those after a very dramatic lash effect with lots of volume and length may be better suited to a traditional mascara, while anyone who is keen to give eye make-up removers a miss, is looking for great lengthening and has a steady hand might find tubing mascara just the ticket.

Before buying a tubing mascara be sure to check out the size and style of the wand — some people love curved wands, for example, while others can’t use anything but dense, bushy wands. Check the ingredients carefully if you have sensitive eyes too.

And, finally, some tubing mascaras are available in mini versions, which are cheaper than full size and ideal for trying out before spending a huge amount of your hard-earned cash on something you just can’t get on with.



Meet the expert

Azesha Ramcharan is a makeup artist based in NY’s Hudson Valley region. Clients have included NBC, The Juilliard School, Hessel Museum of Art, Craftsy, VOZ, and Kate McCleod.






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Natasha Brinsmead has had a stellar journalism career spanning more than 20 years, during which she’s been able to interview the likes of Jo Wood, former wife of Rolling Stones’ legend Ronnie Wood and founder of cult classic beauty brand Jo Wood Organics. While fighting a life-long battle with frizzy hair and first emergence of wrinkles, Natasha loves everything about researching, testing and spreading the word about the very best in skincare, haircare and beauty products.