If you’re anything like me, approaching — let alone deciding from — the never-ending wall of drugstore mascaras is beyond overwhelming. Confused as to which one to buy: Lengthening? Volumizing? Thickening? I tried over 50 drugstore mascaras to help you find The One without breaking the bank. Here, in no particular order, are the 10 best IMO.
1. CoverGirl Plumpify BlastPro by LashBlast Mascara, $12
The brush on this baby is a serious multitasker! It’s thick, so it grabs a lot of lashes in one swoop, and it has a spiral staircase brush design that lifts and twirls your lash hairs, wrapping them in lots of formula. As promised, it definitely “plumpifies,” especially since it deposited product at the base of my lashes, which gave the look that I was wearing liner on my upper inner rim.
2. Rimmel London ScandalEyes Retro Glam Mascara, $5
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I’m a sucker for anything retro, so I was stoked to give this a try. The first thing I noticed was how quickly it worked: In two speedy, haphazard coats, every hair was covered, which never, ever happens for me. The brush also has a cool hourglass shape that pushed all my lashes up (like a lash curler effect), which, moving forward, will cut out one extra step for me when I get ready.
3. Maybelline New York Volum’ Express The Falsies Waterproof Mascara, $5
TBH I didn’t mean to grab the waterproof version because taking off H2O-proof mascara is the worst. But I’m glad I did. This came off drama-free in a second with a makeup removing wipe! More importantly, I loved how light, fluttery, and flirty my lashes looked even though it was a heavy-duty formula. The spoon brush hugs the shape of your hairs as you apply and the formula feels totally weightless. I couldn’t stop winking at people all day.
4. L’Oréal Paris Voluminous Superstar Mascara, $9
The last time I used a two-sided mascara was in high school, but I have no idea why I’ve stayed away from it because it’s really fun. There was something so gratifying about painting on the gray thickening primer in step 1, and then coating on the inky black mascara in step 2 that was packed with lots of little fibers that made my lashes look longer and more lush. Plus, you can create a custom look that’s either subtle or dramatic, depending on the number of layers you swipe on.
5. Revlon Ultimate All-in-One Mascara, $9
Usually I’m not a fan of little brushes and this one is really little. But I decided to stop being size-ist and give it a whirl. Amazingly, the teeny brush really separated and lifted my lashes. And while it wasn’t super OTT, I didn’t mind forgoing drama for the perfect daytime look.
6. Almay One Coat Multi-Benefit Mascara, $8
If you don’t want an XXL brush, a teeny tiny wand, or a multi-step process, and what you’re looking for is just a solid mascara that really works, this one is for you. It has the perfect mid-size brush, a really buildable formula, and a solid amount of coverage. As a bonus, I noticed a wet, shiny finish that catches the light and makes your eyes sparkly.
Can we talk about how this is $3.99? I spend way more every day on iced lattes alone! Aside from its affordable price tag, this formula won me over because it was very flexible, soft to the touch (aka not crunchy), and didn’t smudge at all as I layered it on. I usually need a couple cotton swabs to clean up my mascara smears post-application, but miraculously, my lids were spotless.
8. Maybelline New York The Falsies Push Up Drama Mascara, $6
I loved everything about this packaging at first sight and was mostly excited about how good it would look on my all-red-everything Instagram feed (priorities). But then I swept some onto my lashes and loved it even more. The brush is rubbery and bendy, which made my lashes curl right up, and the curved bristles miraculously distributed a little dot of mascara at the tips of each lash hair, making them seem way longer.
9. CoverGirl The Super Sizer By LashBlast Mascara, $6
First off, this wand is cRaZy. Both the brush and the bristles start super skinny but get thicker toward the end with lots of teeny bristles in between. To apply, you’re supposed to twirl the brush as you apply, so I did that for the first coat, and then broke the rules (I’m a rebel like that) and just used it to detail for the second coat. It seemed to be subtly grouping some hairs together, which was a cool, different effect than anything else I tried. I was also really impressed with how evenly fanned-out and coated my lashes looked when I was done.
10. L’Oréal Paris Voluminous Butterfly Intenza Mascara, $9
This was by far the most volumizing formula I tried. With minimal effort, my lashes were lifted, lengthened, and thickened. This wand has another interesting brush situation; it plays with curves and angles to distribute just enough mascara to triple up your usual thickness. If you’re planning on rocking a liner or smoky eye look, I’d go with this one since your lashes definitely won’t get lost against the dark backdrop.
So, there you have it: The 10 best, tried-and-true drugstore mascaras you can turn to the next time your lashes need a little somethin’ somethin’.