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“Some waterproof mascaras aren’t waterproof at all,” lamented my mother-in-law after a session in the pool with her grandkids.

“I used to use Max Factor 2000 Calorie Extreme Lash Plumping Waterproof Mascara, and I never got a smudge under my eye. But I can’t find it anywhere now.”

I poked around online and found that it was available at certain Walmarts or on eBay for $24.99. I also asked my friends what they were using during these wet summer months.

My blonde friend Betty doesn’t even fight the battle. “I specifically look for mascara that washes off easily. That way, when I get it wet, I don’t worry about streaking or raccoon eyes — it just all washes off. That’s why I like Cover Girl mascaras the best [$4 to $10, available at most drug stores]. I don’t need makeup remover to take them off, just soap and water. And if I go swimming, it just washes off.”

Fellow blonde Melanie told me, “I use Neutrogena Healthy Lengths Waterproof in black or brown. It’s around $9 at Rite Aid, and it has the best staying power. If I sleep in my makeup — which I often do, because who stays awake long enough these days to wash their face? — it doesn’t end up in black rings under my eyes, and so I don’t look even older and more tired than I am. And, bonus: my makeup is already on for taking the kids to school! Seriously, though, I’ve tried a lot of mascaras, and this Neutrogena is good and it’s cheap.”

Cherie, who is sometimes blonde and sometimes brunette, chooses L’Oreal Double Extend Waterproof Lash-Fortifier and Extender ($10 at Walmart). “It’s kind of a two-in-one,” she said. “First you apply the conditioning treatment, which also thickens and lengthens the lash. Then you apply the actual mascara. You get the effect of two coats but without looking like you’re wearing lots of thick black goop.”

Laurie, a brunette buddy, goes for Clinique Lash Power Mascara ($15 at Clinique counters). “I love mascara — couldn’t live without it. The Clinique is not technically waterproof, but it lasts through rain, sweat, humidity, and tears. I have never had it smudge or run. One tube lasts me three to five months.”

Sophie, a slightly darker brunette, told me she started using waterproof mascara all the time because, “I’m an emotional-type person. I figure the motto ‘Be prepared’ applies to makeup emergencies. Usually I’m a drugstore-makeup kind of gal, but I found this product in a magazine: Anastasia Beverly Hills Lash Genius. It’s a clear coating; when you apply it to regular mascara, it renders it waterproof.” Julie at Sephora in Fashion Valley (619-220-0771; sephora.com) told me she carried it for $21.

I tried a few more stores. Louis at MAC Cosmetics in Fashion Valley (619-296-9955; maccosmetics.com) offered “Zoom Waterfast Lash and Splashproof Lash [both $15]. The Zoom is new. It lengthens the lash as well as waterproofing. You need an oil-based makeup remover to take it off. When you use it, your lashes are not super soft, but they’re still flexible.”

My redheaded friend Mary Ann had a different approach. “I gave up on waterproof mascara because it bugged my contact lenses. Instead, I get my eyelashes tinted in the summer.” Lisa Getz, owner at Original Skin & Body Care Boutique in Normal Heights (619-295-7313; originalskinboutique.com) explained the process: “Eyelash tinting is just coloring the lashes with a permanent hair color. The product we use, Refectocil, sets very fast — normal hair dye takes about 40 minutes, but this takes only 20 minutes. Most people get black, but there are other colors: brown, chestnut, or blue-black.”

Getz continued, “We place an anti-wrinkle patch under the eye to protect the skin.” Even so, there may be some mild stinging. “The tint is applied with a little paintbrush. I usually do the top lashes, but if the person can keep still with her eyes open, I can do the bottom lashes as well.” The coloring lasts “for the life of the lash. The lifespan of a lash is 90 days, but by the time it’s full length and we’re tinting it, it’s about 45 days old. The cost is $20.”

Tinting is also available for $28 at Lounge Esthetique in El Cajon (619-592-4800; loungeesthetique.com).

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