Tower 28 MakeWaves Lengthening + Curling Clean Mascara Review
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Tower 28 MakeWaves Lengthening + Curling Clean Mascara Review

In my Tower 28 MakeWaves Lengthening + Curling Clean Mascara review, I’ll show you why this is one of the few makeup products I keep in rotation. I love trying new mascaras, so it’s rare for me to finish a tube and have the impulse to rush back out to buy another one just like it.
My excuse to buy and try tons of new mascaras for the last 20 years has always been, “Well, I need to try it for work…” This one so blew me away, it quickly became one of my top three mascaras of all time, and when the first tube was gone, I immediately added another one to my shopping cart in the Sephora app.

Does it live up to its claims? On me, it does. For the sake of this review, I put it through an especially tough day–a sunny Saturday in July, time outside, a workout, and even a shower.

Bottom Line Up Front: It’s Pretty Close to Perfect

The results strike the perfect balance between natural and dramatic. I don’t look like I put on a strip of false lashes, but there’s a definite “WOW!” factor when I go from nothing to a couple of layers of this. Everything from the packaging to the hours and hours of wear, even on sweaty, humid days, makes me happy with this one.

I put it to the test on the day I set out to record my thoughts and take photos for this review. There was one smudge, but it wasn’t the mascara’s fault.


  • Vegan
  • Good for sensitive eyes and contact lens wearers
  • Does-it-all (lengthening, thickening, defining) with no need to layer mascaras for different effects
  • Bright (recycled) packaging
  • A dual-sided brush (one side’s for thickening, the other for lengthening and defining)
  • Castor oil blend that’s supposed to keep your lashes healthy
  • Aquaflex® Technology, which helps lashes hold curl while still feeling soft
  • Gluten-free
  • Cruelty-free


I had no trouble creating a list of pros since this is easily one of my top three mascaras.

  • I love the packaging and colors. That seems silly, but I enjoy seeing the cheerful pop of color in the morning, and it’s easy to find in my makeup drawer.
  • There’s length, volume, and definition, and it even seems to lift my lashes even though I seldom curl them.
  • Though it’s not the least expensive mascara on the market, some others don’t perform as well and cost twice as much (and it’s not that much more than most drugstore options).
  • The tube is easy to open and close.
  • Though the brush has a “spiky” design, I have yet to stab myself in the eye with it. Other brushes with a similar design almost always stab me at least once or twice when I start a new tube. For whatever reason, this one hasn’t caused me pain.
  • My lashes are never weighed down with this formula.
  • On me, it lasts at least 12 hours (even in mid-July, in Georgia). I wore it from 10 AM to 10 PM, and it looked about the same at the night’s end as it did when I put it on.
  • It doesn’t smudge, flake, or irritate my eyes.
  • Even with all that product on my lashes (I load them up), they still felt soft.


  • It only comes in black. If you love brown mascara, you’ll need to look elsewhere. However, this isn’t the darkest black I’ve ever seen, so you might be able to make it work.
  • I still cringe when I spend $20.00 on mascara, even though I know I could do worse. I try to pick it up when Sephora has their Friends & Family sales in April and November.
  • If you love sleek, sophisticated packaging on your makeup, you’ll want to look elsewhere.
  • It could be too dramatic for the people who like natural makeup.
  • It might not be dramatic enough for those who go full-glam daily.
  • I’m on my second tube (not consecutively) and haven’t noticed any of the benefits that are supposed to come from the castor oil blend. My lashes don’t seem especially strong, more conditioned, or less likely to fall out. It didn’t affect me negatively, either, as some mascaras have.
  • It’s only available at Sephora and the Tower 28 website.

About My Lashes (and Lids)

For comparison’s sake, I’ll share what my lashes and lids are like.

My lashes are long but lighter at the ends, so they don’t always look that long. I don’t notice the length until I put mascara on, which can end up on my brow bone (Tower 28 doesn’t do that). They’re medium-brown, other than the ends.

Thickness is average, maybe a little thin. My individual lashes are more on the fine side than thick.

My lashes aren’t exceptionally straight, but they could still benefit from a lash curler, even though I don’t usually bother with one.

My skin type is normal-to-dry.

Tower 28 mascara before and after application
Here’s the fresh application on just one eye. It makes such a difference. / Image by Crystal Schwanke

Other Products I Wore

My first tube of Tower 28 MakeWaves Lengthening and Curling Mascara never budged. Neither did the first few applications of this tube.

When I set out to take photos for this review, I did my makeup as usual, but I changed one thing. I’m looking for a new color corrector for my dark circles. I used a creamier product in a jar (the Smashbox X Becca Under Eye Brightening Corrector) vs. the thinner, lighter, discontinued Urban Decay option I’m used to.

It does a great job of brightening the area under my eyes but smudges the mascara. Still, after everything I put my makeup through, the mascara held up very well. I rarely use setting powder, so I didn’t do that here.

The Smashbox X Becca product was topped with the NARS Radiant Concealer, which is also creamy (but lightweight).

On my upper lids, I used the Anastasia Beverly Hills Rose Metals Palette and Rare Beauty Perfect Strokes Matte Liquid Liner. I used Urban Decay Primer Potion (Original) under the eyeshadow.

Tower 28 MakeWaves Lengthening and Curling Clean Mascara Claims

Tower 28 MakeWaves Lengthening + Curling Clean Mascara makes several claims, and it lives up to them. What to expect from this mascara:

  • Length
  • Volume
  • Color
  • Definition
  • Holds curl
  • Long-wearing
  • Water-resistance
  • A natural look, with a kick of boldness
  • A lightweight formula that won’t weigh your lashes down
  • Washes off easily when it’s time
  • No clumps
  • Buildable

Who It’s Best For

You might like this mascara if you’re:

  • Looking for a vegan option
  • A fan of drama but not interested in falsies or extensions
  • Looking for a buildable mascara
  • Not afraid of an unusual brush
  • Fine with using black mascara
  • Living in a humid climate
  • Not inspired to curl your lashes every day but want a little lift

The Packaging

The design is solid but lightweight. I already mentioned how much I like the colors and how easy the mascara is to find in a drawer or bag, but I also appreciate how easy it is to open and close it.

Sometimes my hands swell and don’t want to cooperate when opening mascara and other products. CoverGirl LashBlast is the worst for me (I think it’s the shape).

This matte-finish tube has a traditional size and shape, and it isn’t so slick that it’s difficult to grip while twisting the lid. There’s a satisfying “click” when you open and close it, too, so you’re unlikely to overtighten it and make it hard to get into the next time.

The Wand and Brush

Tower 28 wand and brush
It’s an interesting brush shape that works. I’m a fan. / Image by Crystal Schwanke

I was happy that this didn’t have a flexible wand or bristles. While I like some mascaras that have those, they tend to be messier, in my experience.

The dual-sided brush has an “inner wave” you use first to apply the product and make your lashes look thicker. Then you go back over that with the outside of the wave/curve for length and definition.

Some mascara brushes claim to have a dual-sided design, but then I spend five minutes staring at the brush, trying to see the differences so I can apply the product correctly. There’s no question here. The brush is curved, with teeth on the inside and outside.

close-up of Tower 28 MakeWaves brush
Here’s a close-up view of it. You can see that there are teeth on the “inner wave” and “outer wave.” / Image by Crystal Schwanke

The Application

Even with the easy-to-understand brush design, application still requires more attention than your average mascara. I’ve tried two methods, and it didn’t seem to make much difference in the final look:

  • Inner wave (one or two coats) immediately followed by outer wave (two or three coats) on the same eye
  • Inner wave on both eyes, followed by outer wave on both eyes

It doesn’t smudge onto my upper lids during application. It is incredibly buildable. I’m not sure I’d go much past two “inner wave” and three “outer wave” layers because it would probably start getting clumpy and weighed down, but all mascaras have limits.

directions on how to use the Tower 28 Make Waves mascara on the side of the box
Application is a two-step process, but it’s quick and effective. / Image by Crystal Schwanke

The Wear

I love mascara that’s good for sensitive eyes. Mine don’t suffer as much as they did before LASIK when I had contacts, but allergies still make them itchy, red, and dry. When my eyes water, the mascara doesn’t budge. Even when I rub my eyes, it stays put. It doesn’t have that “crunchy” feeling waterproof formulas have, though.

I can apply Tower 28 MakeWaves mascara at 10:00 AM on the weekend, hang out with my family inside and outside the house on a humid July day in Georgia, and it’ll still look the same at 10:00 PM when I wash it off that night. I don’t know what kind of miracle this is, but I’ll take it.

It washes off easily when it’s time, though. I don’t swim, so I haven’t tried it in a pool, but between humidity, allergies, and the occasional rain shower, it’s safe to say it lives up to the water-resistance claim.

One Smudge Under My Eye

This is the part where the creamy undereye product tries to make me (and the mascara) look bad. Tower 28 mascara usually doesn’t go anywhere at all. Because I switched brightening products under my eyes and spent about 40 minutes looking down to read in the back seat of a warm car while my husband taught our daughter how to drive to a coffee shop we enjoy, then spent some time sitting in the sun with an iced coffee at a café, it smudged a little.

I left the smudge there to see if it would worsen or stay the same as I went through the rest of my day. I didn’t notice the smudge until I was back home, and I wasn’t planning to go out again.

three hours into the day with Tower 28 mascara.
That one smudge is driving me crazy because I know it’s the product I wore under my eyes this day–not my usual. It usually doesn’t smudge. Still, it was a hot day and I spent some time outside. And a lot of time looking down at a book. / Image by Crystal Schwanke


Tower 28 mascara, two hours into the day, looking down
Here’s another look at the mascara (and the smudge), this time while I’m looking down, about two hours after application. It was a hot day and I spent time looking down at a book in the car, then sat outside a coffee shop in hot, humid weather. / Image by Crystal Schwanke

A Workout and a Shower

After all the heat and sun, I took a quick break at home and then changed into leggings (I mention that because I should’ve chosen shorts). I took a 20-minute class on the bike in a room that was hotter than any basement has a right to be because our air conditioner died. It was just me, the instructor, some music from the early 2000s, high humidity, and the heat. I was a sweaty mess by the end. The smudge didn’t get worse. There were no other issues. The mascara survived.

Tower 28 mascara application, six hours in, post-workout in a hot basement
This is about six hours after application and immediately after my sweaty Peloton ride in the basement with a broken a/c. The smudge from earlier hasn’t gotten worse. / Image by Crystal Schwanke

Once I’d recovered, I headed for the shower. My water heater is a bit of an overachiever, so even when I try to keep the water a little cool, it gets hot. More humidity. More heat. More water, though I tried to keep my face out of it. Still, the mascara hung on. It almost looked freshly applied, other than that smudge that wouldn’t have been there on a regular day.

10 hours into the Tower 28 mascara review day. The smudge is still there, but hasn't gotten worse.
This is 10 hours into the day. By this point, I’ve looked down at a book a lot, spent time in the hot, humid weather, taken a spin class in a hot basement, and taken a shower. The smudge is still there, but hasn’t gotten worse. / Image by Crystal Schwanke

Does the Tube Last?

I hate when I buy a new mascara, and it’s so watery it needs a week or more to thicken up before it applies well. I also dislike when a tube dries up and/or gets thick and gunky before it’s expired (three months after opening).

Luckily, this Tower 28 mascara does neither of those. It’s perfect when you open the tube and still perfect at the end of three months.

Alternatives to Tower 28 Mascara

I have a few ideas if you’re looking for an alternative to Tower 28 MakeWaves mascara. These will give you length, volume, definition, and color. Most of them will lift your lashes and, in some cases, even a hint of curl.

Benefit They’re Real!

They’re Real! is a long-time favorite of mine. It has a spiky brush design that aims to lengthen, volumize, curl, lift, and define your lashes, but overall, it doesn’t feel too different from a traditional mascara brush when you use it. I love how “grippy” the bristles are. They deposit the product well, then comb it through so every lash is coated.

This is a reliable all-in-one option. The only drawbacks are the price ($28.00) and that it only comes in black. The brush is the same all the way around. Instead of a curved design or different bristle lengths to be used in order, you wiggle the wand from side to side, then follow up by pushing the lashes upward while holding the wand vertically.

The tube is sleeker than Tower 28’s, but it’s still easy to open and close. It never seem to go bad before expiration, and the wear time is similar to Tower 28’s.

Maybelline Sky High

sky high mascara

I’ve recommended Maybelline Sky High over and over again because it comes in a few shades and gets me more compliments on my lashes than anything else.

It’s also inexpensive. I don’t love the flexible wand, but it’s not as off-putting or ineffective as others. The lengthening effect is so stunning it’s worth using the brush. And honestly, that little bit of flex and the tapered shape of the brush make it easy to get even the tiniest lashes in the corners. Lashes look longer, more defined, and thicker.

You can get this one in True Brown (as well as Blackish Brown, Blackest Black, Cosmic Black, and Very Black), which makes this a standout option in a sea of black mascaras.

L’Oreal Lash Paradise

L'Oreal Lash Paradise

You can pick up L’Oreal Lash Paradise in regular or waterproof, so this could be the right option if you want something that promises more than water-resistance. I can only speak on the regular version of Lash Paradise, but even that one claims to be smudge-resistant and last up to 24 hours. It comes in four colors–three black shades and Black Brown.

I like this one because it achieves my length and volume goals with a traditional brush style. There’s no careful, multi-step application process. It can get a little clumpier than Tower 28 MakeWaves mascara, and there’s less of a lift/curl from it, but my lashes still have the same natural-with-some-drama look I prefer.

Maybelline Great Lash

Maybelline Great Lash

I don’t always love this one on myself. However, it looks so amazing on others, I keep trying it. Great Lash has won several awards because it’s good at lengthening, separating, and adding oomph to your lashes.

It’s one of the cheapest drugstore options and comes in a wider variety of shades than most other mascaras (royal blue, anyone?). My issue with it concerns my allergies–the mascara goes into my eyes and down my cheeks at the first hint of watering.

Needless to say, it’s easy to remove at the end of the day.

The classic packaging is bright pink and green, so it’ll be easy to find in your bag. There are a few variations in packaging and brush styles (some brushes are extra-large for more volume, while others are curved for more lift and curl).

Ulta Maximum Lashes Mascara

Ulta Maximum Lashes Mascara

I love this mascara’s volumizing, lengthening, and lifting effects, but I’m not in love with the brush because it tends to stab me in the eyes if I’m not extremely careful. The bristles seem longer than average, and they’re spiky. However, they’re fabulous at depositing color and sweeping it through the length of the lashes without any clumps or smudging.

It’s only $11.00 and comes in Jet Black, Soft Black, and Black Brown. The formula is a little drier than Tower 28’s, so I’m not sure the tube of this would last as long as a tube of Tower 28. (I’m on my first Maximum Lashes Mascara, and I’ve only had it for about a month.)


Question: What is the difference between volume and curling mascara?

Answer: A mascara that gives you volume will make your lashes look fuller. Volumizing mascaras can make each lash look thicker and may give the impression that you have more lashes than you do. A curling mascara usually has a curved brush and may or may not add any volume, but it will lift your lashes and help them hold a curl.

Question: How do you remove Tower 28 mascara?

Answer: Your favorite eye makeup remover will work, but I usually skip that step and wash my face and eye area with my regular face wash. It comes off with little effort once a face wash is involved.

Question: Where is Tower 28 mascara made?

Answer: Tower 28 Beauty products are made in the United States and Canada.

Conclusion: Buy It

If you like mascaras that do a little of everything and love that sweet spot somewhere between natural and glam lashes, you should try the Tower 28 MakeWaves Lengthening + Curling Mascara. It wows me almost daily, offering length, curl, volume, color, and definition without the threat of clumping, smudging, flaking, or weighing my lashes down. It’s about as close to a perfect mascara as you can get.

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