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Beauty fans know that makeup can be an expensive hobby. The sheer number of skincare and beauty products on the market is enough to make your head spin, not to mention some brands can get pretty pricey. But take solace in knowing that not all beauty products will cost you a fortune. Case in point: mascara. It’s a well-known fact among editors and fans alike that some of the best mascaras can be found right at your local drugstore. I personally don't stray from my drugstore faves, but take it from the pros: Celebrity makeup artist Shadi Malek is also a fan of cheap mascara. She tells Marie Claire, “In my makeup kit, I gravitate mainly towards drugstore mascaras because I find the formulas are some of the best out there!”
If you’re still on the fence, we’ve rounded up the best drugstore mascaras for you to shop to your heart’s content. Maybe you’re hoping to achieve sky-high lashes with a lengthening mascara, or you're planning for a night out and need one of the best volumizing mascaras. Whatever your case may be, this list is sure to have your next favorite pick.
Keep reading to shop the best of the best mascaras that won’t put a dent in your wallet. You’ll find favorites from familiar drugstore brands like CoverGirl, Maybelline, and L'Oréal Paris, plus a few viral TikTok picks. The best part is that each of these products retails for under $15—and some are even less than $10.
The Best Drugstore Mascaras
- Best Overall Drugstore Mascara: L'Oréal Paris Lash Paradise
- Best Lengthening Drugstore Mascara: Maybelline Sky High Mascara
- Best Volumizing Drugstore Mascara: Blk/Opl Colorsurge Super Volumizing Mascara
- Best Waterproof Drugstore Mascara: L'Oréal Paris Voluminous Volume Building Waterproof Mascara
- Best Clean Drugstore Mascara: CoverGirl LashBlast Clean Volume Mascara
Best Viral Drugstore Mascara
If you're on beauty TikTok like I am, there's no way you haven't seen at least a dozen videos of makeup fans reviewing this mascara. Maybelline's Sky High Mascara went viral on the platform for all of the right reasons. This drugstore mascara will have every single lash reaching insane new heights, and each lash is super defined. If your lashes suddenly reach your eyebrows, you can blame it on this mascara's flexible brush and fiber-infused formula.
Pros: Lengthening; Defining; Available in four shades; Long-wearing.
Cons: Difficult to remove; Not as volumizing.
Best Overall Drugstore Mascara
This L'Oréal Paris pick is my current go-to mascara for my everyday makeup look. It delivers on fluttery, flirty lashes without any clumps or flakes. It also lasts throughout my entire day with very minimal smudging. And if I'm heading out to happy hour after work, I simply brush on an extra layer to add some wow factor. Others have dubbed it as a dupe for a much more expensive version with a very suggestive name. All of that for just $13 is why we named it one of the best mascaras out there.
Pros: Editor-approved; Lengthening; Volumizing; Curling; Long-wearing; Clump-free; Buildable; Available in four shades.
Cons: Dries out faster than others.
Best TikTok Drugstore Mascara
At the beginning of the year, you couldn’t scroll through TikTok without an influencer singing praise for this pick. This Essence mascara does exactly what the name suggests: gives your lashes a falsie effect. In just a few swipes, lashes are volumized, lengthened, and fanned out just like your favorite falsies. Plus, with over 198,000 5-star reviews, it’s safe to say that this affordable option is worth a try. Did I mention this mascara is probably cheaper than your Starbucks order?
Pros: Under $5; Lengthening; Volumizing; Defining.
Cons: Takes a while to dry; May smudge and flake with wear.
Best Pro-Approved Drugstore Mascara
L'Oréal Paris’ Voluminous Volume Building Waterproof Mascara is yet another classic that has made it to cult-favorite status. This was the first mascara I tried as a pre-teen and I still find myself reaching for it when I want clump-free thick lashes. While the original formula comes in seven colors, I prefer the Carbon Black version for super dark and intense lashes. Pro makeup artist Shadi Malek says this is one of her favorite drugstore formulas.
Pros: Pro-approved; Highly pigmented; Volumizing; Defining; Buildable; Clump-free.
Cons: Only offered in one color
Best Clean Drugstore Mascara
The classic orange tube got a major upgrade and is now better than ever. If you're already a fan of Covergirl's Lash Blast Clean Volume Mascara, you're sure to love this version even more thanks to its clean and vegan formula. With the same brush as the original, lashes come out instantly volumized and clump-free in one coat, but three or four coats really does the trick. Argan and marula oils also condition your lashes while creating that perfectly curled shape.
Pros: Volumizing; Clump-free; Conditioning formula; Clean and vegan formula.
Cons: May need multiple coats for lift.
Best Shiny Drugstore Mascara
You’ll never not want diamond dust in your mascara after trying this pick from Physicians Formula. This mascara contains diamond dust to give your lashes a subtle shine from root to tip. Its curved brush lengthens, lifts, and separates every single lash. Plus, the formula is 100 percent vegan and contains boosting peptides, mineral water, and vitamin E to make your lashes stronger than ever. For days when you're going for the no-makeup look, this mascara also comes in a clear version.
Pros: Strengthening formula; Buildable volume; Leaves a subtle shiny finish; Lengthening.
Cons: Brush can get clumpy.
Best Drugstore Mascara for Thick Lashes
If you were wondering what this mascara does, it's all in the name. This pick will take your lashes to the next level of volumized thanks to its fiber brush and innovative thickening complex. You'll only need one swipe to add drama to your lashes. Not only will your lashes be thicker than ever, but they will also be conditioned at the same time with lash-loving ingredients vitamin E (tocopherol) and vitamin B5 (panthenol). Reviewers also say the pigmentation is extra intense.
Pros: Volumizing; Conditioning formula; Highly pigmented.
Cons: Formula is thick.
Best O.G. Drugstore Mascara
There is a very good chance that your mom and/or grandma loved this green and pink tube from Maybelline. Launched in 1971, this mascara has stood the test of time and will probably continue to do so thanks to its incredible quality. With its classic bristle brush, the formula goes on smoothly and evenly and clump-free, too. The formula also conditions, so lashes will feel soft and fluttery. According to Maybelline, this mascara is so well-loved that one tube is sold every five seconds.
Pros: Buildable volume; Under $10; Goes on smoothly; Clump-free; Conditioning formula.
Cons: Takes a while to dry.
Best Drugstore Mascara for Natural Looks
Not everyone is a fan of super thick, dramatic lashes and that's okay! If soft and natural is more your vibe, you'll love this pick from Neutrogena. Reviewers say this mascara gives off the perfect amount of subtle glam for an everyday look and is particularly great for sensitive eyes. Lashes are wrapped in a nourishing formula made of rice protein, vitamin E, and olive oil, which create an extra lengthened look. This mascara also comes in a brown shade if black is a bit too intense for you.
Pros: Lengthening; Great for subtle looks; Smudge-proof; Available in two shades.
Cons: May need extra coats for volume.
Best Newcomer Drugstore Mascara
Revlon’s new mascara gives off an insane amount of volume without weighing down your lashes. Its molded, tapered wand has 252 layered bristles of varying lengths so each one of your lashes is generously coated. Think of the brush as a comb for your lashes that lifts them up, up, and away. If you're looking for curled, over-the-top lashes, look no further than this Revlon pick. One Amazon reviewer even said it works just as well as high-end, pricier options.
Pros: Volumizing; Glossy finish; Lifts lashes; Dries fast.
Cons: Not as lengthening; May flake with all-day wear.
Best Classic Drugstore Mascara
Long, doll lashes are easier than ever to achieve with this lengthening mascara. In just a swipe, your lashes are immediately sky-high, defined, and lifted. In a few more swipes, the length really gets insane. What's even more impressive about this mascara is that if you do decide to go for extra coats, it still stays relatively clump-free. Its lengthening and defining power all comes down to the wand, which acts as a flexible comb to reach every lash.
Pros: Lengthening; Defining; Clump-free.
Cons: Hard to remove; Not as volumizing.
Meet the Expert
With just under a decade of experience in the makeup industry, Shadi Malek's extensive list of clients goes far and wide. From brides and models to your favorite celebs and social media stars, Shadi tailors her glam to match every client's unique visage. She first started honing her craft in Vancouver, Canada, and is now based in Los Angeles, one of the world's largest makeup hubs. Shadi often lends her expertise to publications such as WhoWhatWear, Bustle, Byrdie, Popsugar, and more.
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Brooke Knappenberger is Contributing Writer at Marie Claire, where she writes across the board from fashion and beauty to books and celebrities. As a pop culture junkie, Brooke obsessively consumes and writes about the latest movie releases, streaming TV shows, and celebrity scandals. She has over three years of experience writing on fashion, beauty, and entertainment and her work has appeared on Looper, NickiSwift, The Sun US, and Vox Magazine of Columbia, Missouri. Brooke obtained her Bachelor's Degree in Journalism from the University of Missouri’s School of Journalism with an emphasis on Magazine Editing and has a minor in Textile and Apparel Management.
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