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If there's one makeup product we can agree almost everyone uses daily, it’s mascara. The beauty bag staple is famous for drawing attention to the eyes by providing instant lift and definition to lashes.
However, when it comes to buying mascara, it can be difficult to find a high-quality formula with a more affordable price tag.
Luckily, you don’t have to purchase a high-end mascara from a luxury brand to achieve your lash goals. There are numerous types of mascaras that you can find at any drugstore or pharmacy—and we’ve used our unique, data-driven algorithm to determine the best ones to purchase. Ahead, you'll find tried-and-true classics and some new and exciting finds. Most importantly, these mascaras are all under $10—so you can be sure to find something that works with your budget. Whether you’re looking for a big volume boost or simply something waterproof, we’ve got you covered with our roundup of the best drugstore mascaras for bold and beautiful lashes below.
And, we didn't just stop there. In true Rank & Style manner, we made sure to provide you with all the information you need when it comes to making a confident purchase decision. Read on to discover the major differences between high-end and drugstore formulas as well as shop and choose the right drugstore mascara for your lashes.
High-End Mascara vs. Drugstore Mascara
It’s the eternal question: is luxury makeup worth the price tag, or is it comparable to drugstore products?
It all depends on what you aim to get out of your mascara, as well as what you’re willing and able to spend. If you're on a tighter budget, it’s probably best to stick with a more affordable product. If you’re new to makeup, it may be better to practice and experiment with something less costly; that way, you can build your skills and learn your preferences before splurging on a luxury product. However, if you have the budget for it, are trying to achieve a specific look, or are a mascara master, it may be worth your while to indulge in something from a luxury beauty brand.
Furthermore, there may be some quality differences between affordable and luxury mascaras. Cosmetic chemist Ni’Kita Wilson notes that luxury brands can use “high-end ingredients that drugstore mascaras cannot afford.” This can result in a better designed-brush or higher-quality formula that makes a luxury mascara a worthy investment. However, Wilson also warns that “this may not be the case across all luxury brands,” and that drugstore mascaras can also be highly effective.
Is Expensive Mascara Worth It?
A luxury mascara isn’t always worth the price tag. A product may be more expensive, but that doesn’t automatically mean it’s better than a more affordable product. Like budget options, there can be a lot of variety in the quality of luxury mascaras. However, there’s no guarantee that a pricier product will truly be better. If it is, investing in that mascara may be worth it—but if not, you’ll end up spending more money than you need to.
That being said, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with splurging on luxury beauty products. If you find high-end mascara easier to work with or better for your lashes, then it’s totally worth it! Just know that you don’t have to spend a lot of money on mascara to get bold and beautiful lashes.
How To Choose The Right Mascara
In the makeup aisle of your local drugstore, you’ll find dozens of different types of mascara. This selection can be overwhelming if you aren’t fully prepared. Before heading out, consider the following:
Learn Your Lashes: First and foremost, you should know what type of eyelashes you have. Are they thin or thick? Straight or curled? Dark or blonde? Short or long? If you know what your lashes are naturally like, you’ll be better equipped to pick something that suits your needs.
Find The Right Formula: What type of experience do you want from your mascara? Are you looking for something you can use with your favorite pair of falsies? Is it important that your mascara is vegan or natural? Do you wear contacts or have sensitive eyes? There are special and uniquely-designed formulas for a variety of purposes, so don’t settle for something that doesn’t work for you.
Wonder About The Wand: There are a number of different wand shapes to choose from. While that may seem like a marketing gimmick, it can actually affect how the mascara coats your lashes. It’s also important to consider whether your wand shape complements the formula you’ve chosen. With the right combination, you can maximize the effectiveness of your mascara.
Contemplate The Color: Mascara comes in all different colors. While a classic black mascara will always be in style, you may want to try something new. For something subtle, go for brown, navy, or dark purple mascara. If you feel bold, experiment with a bright or unexpected color, like pink, yellow, or green.
Consider Your Collection: Think about what other types of mascara you already have. Is it time for something new or different? Further, consider what kind of eye makeup you plan to use it with. Do you have a new eyeshadow palette to play with, or will you be pairing this mascara with your favorite eyeliner for everyday use? If you know how you plan to use it with your other products, it’ll be much easier to narrow things down.
It can take time and patience to pick the perfect mascara—especially when price is of the utmost importance. If you aren’t sure where to start, try one of our favorites. Backed by reviews, best-seller lists, editors, beauty gurus, and more, we can pretty much guarantee you that you'll find one that fits within your budget and makes your lashes stand out.
Love our 10 Best Drugstore Mascaras list? Then we think you’ll really enjoy our 10 Best Eyeshadow Sticks! Opening image: @lorealparis
September 21, 2021
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L'Oreal Paris Double Extend Beauty Tubes Mascara
BEST DRUGSTORE TUBING MASCARA
WHY YOU NEED IT: Thanks to the dual-ended primer and mascara wand, this pick will help you reduce the number of makeup products in carry in your makeup bag.
LOVED FOR: The tube-like formula provides 80% longer-looking lashes and is one of the few formulas that's both smudge-proof and easy to remove.
Maybelline The Colossal Waterproof Mascara
BEST PLUMPING DRUGSTORE MASCARA
WHAT IT DOES: This top-rated mascara is infused with collagen to deliver nine times the volume with one simple swipe.
USER REVIEW: "My friends have recommended these high end fancy and expensive mascaras many times and I have even tried them out. But nothing has ever compared to the Maybelline yellow stick. It does amazing work on my eyes. Volume AND length. Been using it for over a decade and I wont switch till they stop selling it."
Maybelline Full N' Soft Waterproof Mascara
BEST DRUGSTORE WATERPROOF MASCARA
BEST FOR: Use this thickening mascara to create softer and fuller looking lashes in a flash.
USER REVIEW: "I can't believe I finally found a mascara I don't hate! I actually love this stuff & it's awesome! It goes on smoothly, no clumping or smudging."
L’Oreal Paris Makeup Voluminous Original Volume Building Mascara
BEST DRUGSTORE MASCARA FOR VOMUME
WHY YOU NEED IT: This unique formula resists clumps and builds lashes up to five times their natural thickness all while keeping them super soft.
USER REVIEW: "This is a great mascara. It goes on smoothly, no clumps, and stays all day. I don't have to worry about smudges or smears beneath the eyes. This is truly a waterproof mascara. I can go swimming or take a bath and it still looks fabulous!”
Maybelline Great Lash Mascara
BEST DRUGSTORE MASCARA FOR FULL LASHES
WHY YOU NEED IT: There's a reason this drugstore mascara is an all-time favorite. The building brush makes it easy to achieve a full-lash look without picking up a few annoying clumps or globs on the way.
LOVED FOR: Say goodbye to raccoon eyes. This lengthening mascara's washable formula is easy to remove without any scrubbing or rubbing.
CoverGirl LashBlast Volume Mascara
BEST DRUGSTORE MASCARA FOR LENGTH AND VOLUME
USER REVIEW: "I've been using this product for years now and it is hands down the best mascara that exists. It stays on all day and never needs to be re-applied. The brush is silicone/plastic/rubber (or something) which I think is what truly sets this apart. The mascara NEVER and I mean NEVER gets clumpy."
WHAT IT DOES: This affordable mascara is designed to max out the length of every lash, resulting in 10 times more volume instantly.
Essence Lash Princess False Lash Effect Mascara
BEST CRUELTY-FREE DRUGSTORE MASCARA
WHY YOU NEED IT: This product is formulated to last all day without causing any flaking, fading, or clumping problems. The conic shape fiber brush delivers maximum drama and sculpted length.
STYLE WITH: Go full-mod glam with this volumizing mascara and a punchy red lipstick pout.
Maybelline Lash Sensational Washable Mascara
BEST CLUMP-FREE DRUGSTORE MASCARA
WHAT IT DOES: Hello, volume! This best-selling mascara features a unique fanning brush made with 10 layers of brushes that grabs every lash from root to tip.
LOVED FOR: In addition to providing length and volume, this formula is known for evenly coating every lash.
L'Oreal Paris Telescopic Original Mascara
BEST DRUGSTORE MASCARA FOR LENGTH
WHAT IT DOES: A dual precision brush combs, separates, and coats each lash with every stroke, resulting in lashes being lengthened by up to 60%.
WHO'S IT FOR: This top-rated mascara is ophthalmologist-tested and suitable for sensitive eyes and contact lens wearers.
L'Oreal Paris Voluminous Lash Paradise Waterproof Mascara
BEST DRUGSTORE MASCARA OVERALL
WHY YOU NEED IT: Quite possibly one of the buzziest beauty products on the shelf, Too Faced Better Than Sex Mascara is praised for its ability to thicken, lengthen, and curl lashes in one single swipe. We're happy to report that all the way down to the rose-gold packaging, L'Oreal Paris Voluminous Lash Paradise is its drugstore twin.
FUN FACT: This viral dupe boasts over 3,500 glowing reviews on Amazon, and sales went up a whopping 2,000% during the annual Prime Day sale. No joke.
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