What are the best drugstore mascaras? There are a thousand choices for mascara at the drugstore and it’s hard to know which one is the right one for you. It is my opinion that drugstore mascara can be (and often is) just as effective as high end mascara. I feel the same about drugstore foundation. I use a lot of drugstore products in my everyday makeup routine. I have only found a couple high end mascaras that I think are truly worth the price but that’s a post for another day. In this post, I am sharing with you the best drugstore mascaras updated for 2021, along with reviews, the pros and cons and also, which ones I would never buy again.
This post on the best drugstore mascaras has taken me about 9 months. Part of the reason is I bought about 15 mascaras and I really wanted to give them at least a week of wear before making any decisions. And then I fell in love with some so they got more like 2-3 weeks of wear. Then COVID-19 hit and wearing mascara just was not high on my list of priorities while in quarantine. Once I came back to work, I decided to cycle through some of the mascaras again just to see how they held up and now here we are, 9 months later. Here is my list of the best drugstore mascaras.
For reference, here is a full list of each drugstore mascara tested:
- Essence Lash Princess False Lash Effect
- L’Oreal Bambi
- L’Oreal Telescopic Carbon Black
- Maybelline Snapscara
- L’Oreal Lash Paradise
- L’Oreal Voluminous
- Maybelline Lash Sensational
- Cover Girl Clump Crusher
- Cover Girl Lash Blast
- Maybelline Falsies Lash Life
- L’Oreal Extend Beauty Tubes
- Cover Girl Full Bloom
- Maybelline Lash Stiletto
- Maybelline Colossal Big Shot Volum Express
- NYX Worth the Hype
- Maybelline Lash Sensational Lucious
The Best of the Bunch
L’Oreal Bambi Eye Lasting Volume Mascara
This mascara is one of my faves of the bunch. Definitely in my top 3. You get great length, volume and it holds a curl all day long. There was no smudging and my lashes still looked great at the end of the day. This one was a definitely a winner and one that I will continue to purchase. Get it at Ulta or Target.
Maybelline Colossal Big Shot Volum Express
This one was a winner! It provided me with great length, volume and curl holding power. I will absolutely re-purchase this one. It also did not smudge during normal day to day activity. However, if you apply it to your lower lashes and go workout, it can tend to run juuuuust a bit, but it was minimal. Overall this was a really great mascara. Get it at Ulta or Target.
Maybelline Lash Sensational Lucious
Apparently Maybelline is just knockin' it out of the park with drugstore mascaras. This mascara was SO good. I thought L'Oreal Bambi was my fave of the bunch but this one definitely may take the cake. Great length and volume and holds my curl all day long. This mascara does need an additional swipe with an eye makeup remover after you wash your face to get all the way off but it's so worth the 24 hour hold up! Get it at Ulta or Target.
Cover Girl Lash Blast Volume Mascara
This mascara was hands down the most highly recommended when I asked for recommendations on my Instagram account. When I used it the first day, I didn’t understand the hype. It wasn’t bad but it just wasn’t mind blowing in any way. It finally started to show its potential on day 3. This mascara gave me great volume and separation. It held a curl well and there was no smudging. This is fa great every day reliable mascara. I used about 3 coats to get it to the volume and darkness I prefer. When I went back and re-tested a couple months later, it still held up well! Find it at Ulta or Target.
L’Oreal Telescopic Carbon Black Mascara
I’ve tried telescopic in the past and didn’t love it. I didn’t have high hopes for this Carbon Black version either since the carbon black series from L’oreal usually ends up smudged all over my eyelids. Well, color me impressed cause this mascara was awesome! Amazing length and separation! Lashes stayed curled all day and zero smudging. I will say this one didn’t give me as much volume as something like Bambi or Lash Blast but the length was super impressive. So if you have shorter fuller lashes, this will be your best friend. This mascara dries fast so you have to work quickly if you want to build to 2-3 coats. The brush is really tiny which makes it great for grabbing those tiny corner and bottom lashes. My only gripe is because the brush is so long , sometimes when I was in a hurry it was a hassle to get it back into the tube. It would kind of bend and move around making it difficult to get back in the tube. Besides that, this mascara was AWESOME and has earned its spot on this list of best drugstore mascaras. Find it Ulta and Target.
L’oreal Double Extend Beauty Tubes Mascara
This mascara is SOLID. I liked it from the get go and after a week of testing, it still retained its performance. This mascara comes with a lash primer on one end and then the mascara on the other. I found that it lengthened, volumized and separated my lashes. All while holding a curl all day and with absolutely zero smudging. A total win in my book! I hadn’t really tried a tube mascara in a while so one thing to note is that this doesn’t come off like your typical mascara, which is probably what helps it not smudge. It comes off with my usual facial cleanser but it comes off in weird chunks versus simply running down your face. It almost looked like little spider legs as it came off but don’t worry it’s not your lashes falling out. Just the tubes of mascara coming off. You've been warned. 🙂 Grab it at Ulta and Target.
L'Oreal Voluminous Lash Paradise
I tried this mascara a few years ago and did not understand the hype whatsoever. But it was another highly recommended one on my Instagram so I decided to give it another go. I tried this mascara without a primer, with the primer I love and use daily and also with the primer that is made for it. It definitely performs much better with a primer. This is a mascara that took at least a week of wear to show me its potential. But somewhere in between week 1 and 2 I started to really like it. It gives me long, very full but separated lashes and it helped up great throughout the day. Grab it from Target and Ulta.
Maybelline Lash Sensational Full Fan Effect Mascara
This mascara was definitely promising! I had a hard time deciding if I wanted it to go up top in the faves or here in the average Joe section. I think it’s actually a step above average joe but not quite one of my faves. So it's going at the end of my favorites list. It performed well and smudging was minimal. It gave me long, volumized lashes and held up well throughout the day. This is a fast drying mascara so definitely work quickly if you’re going to wear more than 1 coat or it can get clumpy. Find it at Target and Ulta.
Maybelline Falsies Lash Lift Mascara
When I first tried this mascara I was not a fan. It felt like I had to put like 80 coats just to get it to show up and it didn’t seem to do anything great for my lashes. After about 3-4 days I had a change of heart. It's definitely not my favorite but it was a good contender! This mascara is good for those with fuller lashes as I feel its strength is length and curl hold but not as powerful with the volume. Find it at Ulta and Target.
Cover Girl Lash Blast Clump Crusher
In the beginning these mascara reminded of Maybelline Full N Soft. It is great with separation and gives me very soft and natural looking lashes. I didn’t notice much in the way of intense length or volume but it definitely did well for a natural every day look. I just prefer a lot more drama when it comes to my lashes but if the big lashes drama isn't your thing, this stuff is great! Find it at Ulta and Target.
Maybelline Lash Stiletto
This mascara is definitely good for those of you lucky ones with thicker lashes. It didn’t give me a ton of volume but it did really deliver in the length department. It smudged just a little by the end of the day which is why I am placing in this average Joe section but overall it’s definitely a decent mascara. Get it at Ulta to Target.
Cover Girl Full Bloom Mascara
This mascara was very similar to Clump Crusher. The main difference is that I definitely get much more volume with this one and less on the length. I actually really like this mascara for days I am not really wearing makeup. It’s one of those that’s great for a more natural look.
Drugstore Mascaras I Would Not Buy Again
Essence Lash Princess False Lash effect
This mascara was so promising at first swipe. The length was awesome and there was great separation. Fast forward a few hours and it was smudged alllll over my eye lids. Like everywhere. This one was a quick and fast no for me. Someone on Instagram suggested for me to leave the brush out for it to dry out a bit but that just seemed like a lot of work for a $5 mascara. I tried it for the sake of research but nope – still looked like a racoon. I was so bummed because this mascara is all over social media as an “influencer” favorite but it’s a no for me.
NYX On the Rise Volume Mascara
I really liked this upon first wear but a few days in, it was a clumpy disaster. On top of that, it tended to smudge during the day. This mascara works decent for one coat, but it is definitely not buildable. Any more than one coat and all my lashes just seemed to stick together. If you’re into a more natural, soft look, this may work for you for just one light coat. The other con is that the brush felt really scratchy on my lash line for some reason.
I retired this mascara after 4 days of testing. It just didn’t do anything for me. It held a curl decently but that’s about it. The volume and length weren’t great and it got really clumpy the more I wore it and my lashes felt dry whenI used it. I wouldn’t recommend this one.
L’Oreal Voluminous Mascara
Ok hear me out before you get mad at me for this one. Everyone seems to be obsessed with this mascara but I just can’t get on board with it. It’s not TERRIBLE but it just doesn’t seem to do much for my lashes. I find that by midday my curl is gone and there is a some smudging. It’s not a mascara I would buy again even if it does look good initially. And I swear I try this mascara out every few years thinking I will magically love it but it’s always just kinda meh for me.
NYX Worth the Hype
This one was pretty disappointing. It did not do much for my lashes in terms of length or volume. It also didn’t hold a curl very well so it’s one I will not be repurchasing.
My Other Favorite Lash tools
While we are on the subject of the best drugstore mascaras and lashes, it’s good to know that with all of these tested mascaras, I used the same lash curler which is my tried and true Shu Uemura. It is one of my favorite non makeup beauty products. I will never use another curler. It is that amazing. Holds all day long, gives a gentle curl and just does exactly what I want it to.
I also tried these mascaras on their own and with a primer. My favorite primer is from Lancome. It is the only lash primer I have ever used that I truly feel makes a difference in the look and performance of my mascara. I swear by it and I buy it over and over again!
Lastly, in terms of lash treatments, I LOVE Grande Cosmetics Lash MD. This stuff is magic. I tried it after having lash extensions when all my baby lashes were damaged and it was like miracle grow. In fact, I got to a point where I had to stop using it because my lashes were getting ridiculously long. Lol I mean, when have you ever had THAT happen?! I used it nightly before bed and I would say I notice an improvement within 4-6 weeks of continuous wear. Takes some patience but it is SO worth it!
So that’s all for now! Those are my reviews for the best drugstore mascaras. As I try more I will definitely update this list. Do you have a favorite I’m missing out on? Let me know in the comments!