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Tubing Mascara: No More Lashing Out On Smudges

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Nanyang Tech chapter.

Does your mascara smudge no matter what you do— powdering your under-eye area only to have it look dry and cracked, or trying countless highly touted super waterproof formulas?

That’s where we went wrong.

Waterproof mascaras are strongly waterproof, hence the name, but they are removed easily by oil, a.k.a. the stuff in sweat and sebum, which is exactly what we want our mascara to hold up against! Is it no wonder that in Singapore, a land of intense humidity and heat, we experience mascara smudging when we try to use waterproof formulas? Many also turn to powdering the under-eyes to prevent smudging, but it dries the area out further and doesn’t necessarily resist sweat from unbearable humidity and heat.

Luckily, we have innovative mascara formulas that can resolve this problem. Let me introduce a type of mascara: tubing mascaras.

But what are tubing mascaras? Are they like fibre mascaras? Well, fibre mascaras have fibres as a separate coat to help build length or thickness, but tubing mascaras are slightly different.

Tubing mascaras are mascaras that contain polymers and are easily removable with warm water. When tubing mascara dries and sets, it forms a water-resistant film or tube around your lashes (from which it gets its name). Very briefly, how this works is that the polymers coat the lash. These are water-soluble (dissolved by water) film-formers that dry quickly, are wear-resistant and contract when dry, which helps keep a curl. Normal or traditional mascara formulas are made with wax pigments. Oil removes oil, which is why oil-based removers work well on your typical mascara.

So if tubing mascaras are water-soluble and hence oil-resistant, how can you remove them? Simply shower or wash your face with warm water and lightly rub your lashes (roll your lashes between two fingers) and the mascara should come right off. In my experience, even cold water is fine, as long as I rub my lashes slightly more (gently), but for a longer period of time. Tubing mascara is designed to slide right off, therefore, you don’t need to rub or wipe at your eyes. Note: If you try to remove this product with oil-based makeup removers, it won’t work! Only warm water and some light rubbing will do.

Be careful though, this easy removal with warm water also means that the tropical weather in Singapore may cause your mascara to flake off from the warmth and excess rain or sweat. Tears may also affect its staying power. However, remember that warmth, water, and friction are key to removal, so as long as you don’t rub your eyes vigorously, it will stay put. Even so, I think flaking off is better since I can simply pick it off of my face compared to the smudging of waterproof mascaras smearing around my eyes which can’t be removed except with oil (and hence removing the rest of my makeup with it).

However, before you go out excitedly to buy all the mascaras with the word “polymer” in them, not all tubing mascaras are made equal! Pure polymer mascaras don’t smudge at all, and are good for length and definition, but don’t give much volume. Either fibres or waxes are added to many copolymer mascaras to give them something extra. The proportion of the copolymer to the other ingredients, and the quality of the formulation, determine whether or not they are still smudge-proof.

So, how do you identify tubing mascaras?

1. Polymers as the key ingredient

  • ​ If you look at ingredient lists of tubing mascaras, the word “polymer” should appear as part of another word, such as “acrylates copolymer” or “protein copolymer.” This should be within the first five ingredients
  • Tip: When shopping for Japanese mascaras, look for the words フィルムタイプ (lit. film type) to indicate a tubing mascara

2. Defining factor: Ease of removal with warm water

  • “Polymer” might sometimes not appear in the ingredient list (e.g. Heroine Make’s Advanced Film mascaras), but the product description should include words like “Comes off easily with warm water.” or instructions like “Remove by soaking with warm water and gently rubbing.”
  • When you take the mascara off it doesn’t dissolve in oil like waterproof formulas, it instead loosens the mascara. You will not have black panda smudges, but you should get pieces of gooey mascara that might look like lashes. (Remember, the mascara formed a film around your lashes, so it should look like a mascara cast of your lashes.

3. Not waterproof

  • The moment the product description mentions waterproof, it is absolutely not a tubing mascara. This feature directly contradicts with the mascara being easily removed by water, which is a key feature of polymers that make a tubing mascara so special!


Some recommendations

Products marked with * are available in physical stores in Singapore (Watson’s or Sephora).

Under $20:

  • Tony Moly Double Needs Pang Pang Mascara (available in various styles and black, brown or blue)
  • Cezanne Separate Long Mascara *
  • Canmake Lash Frame Mascara *
  • NYX Doll Eye Mascara

$20 – $30: 

  • Too Cool for School Dinoplatz Escalator Mascara
  • Heroine Make Kiss Me by Isehan “Advanced Film” Series * (available in black or brown)
  • L’Oreal Double Extend Beauty Tubes Mascara *
  • BROWLASH EX Mascara (available in various styles) *

$30 and above: 

  • MAC Extended Play Gigablack Lash Mascara *
  • Hourglass Caution Extreme Lash Mascara *


Zinc Tan

Nanyang Tech '21

Zinc (she/her) is a Sociology undergraduate at Nanyang Technological University and the Senior Editor for HC Nanyang Tech. During her free time, you can find her drinking tea, sewing, or watching films (and often commenting on them). A proud intersectional feminist, she has a passion for creating discourse on inclusivity.