The 10 Best Drugstore Mascaras to Buy in 2018

Take your lashes to new lengths without sacrificing your budget

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Great budget cosmetics aren't only affordable, but also offer the same quality as higher-end Holy Grail products. This especially holds true with many drugstore mascaras on the market today. If you’re reluctant to shell out lots of cash for mascara at the department store, you should definitely consider the latest and greatest drugstore formulas. Cheaper drugstore mascaras can still provide the volume, length, and drama you may crave from a mascara while saving your wallet from being drained.

When picking your drugstore mascara, it's important to consider the overall look you're going for: voluminous, long, glamorous, or natural-looking. Then, choose a formula that meets your needs. You should also consider whether you want a waterproof or regular mascara formula. Waterproof formulas may be better suited for those with oily eyelids or those who spend a lot of time in warm, humid climates.

Read on to learn more about the best drugstore mascaras you can buy now.

The Makeup Addiction Reddit thread has an ode to this mascara from Essence, a German drugstore brand, with a before-and-after photo that went viral late last year. Plenty of mascaras claim to leave you with falsie-like lashes, but this Essence mascara actually lives up to that promise. The formula sweeps on to lashes and creates volume and length. It also manages to keep lashes curled throughout the day. The wand-like applicator is easy to maneuver into inner corners and can even reach bottom lashes with ease.

One reviewer said that after trying this Essence Lash Princess mascara, she'll never buy higher priced mascaras ever again. The best part (besides the kitschy, vaguely icing-like details on the tube)? This mascara clocks in at under $10. 

This pink-and-green classic from Maybelline is your basic standby waterproof mascara. The neon packaging hasn’t changed, and neither has its old-school mascara wand. Reviewers reported clump-free volume and longer lashes when using this drugstore mascara. The formula can also help lashes to appear more curly, even without an eyelash curler.

Perhaps this mascara's greatest strength is its imperviousness to weather conditions and tears alike. The Great Lash mascara stays on through rain, humidity, sweat, an entire day at the beach, and even a crying session. If you use eyedrops regularly, this mascara will stay on through that, too. The slim wand works for both upper and lower lashes and layers well with other mascara formulas.

L'Oreal® Paris Telescopic Original Mascara
Courtesy of Target

This pick works best for those who only want longer, natural-looking lashes. This lengthening mascara from L’Oreal is available in dark brown, regular black, and an even darker black, with a skinny wand that extends and darkens your lashes. The wand helps brush out lashes evenly and helps with separation of individual lashes. Some reviewers said it even helped keep their eyelashes curled, and didn’t transfer to their undereyes, a problem with many mascaras.

However, if you like generous layers of mascara, beware: Other reviews suggest not over-applying since they started to notice clumping around the third or fourth coat. If a bit of length and a natural yet defined look is what you're trying to achieve, though, this mascara is a good option for you. More »

No7® Stay Perfect Mascara Black - .23oz
Courtesy of Target

For a mascara that separates lashes without clumps or flakes, reviewers love this one by British cosmetics brand No. 7. The Stay Perfect mascara is what’s a called a “tube mascara.” Tube mascaras work to define lashes by wrapping the mascara formula around each individual lash for ultimate coverage. When you remove the mascara at the end of the day, black strands that appear to be lashes come off, but they’re actually the mascara “tubes.”

This formula is labeled as “water-resistant,” but multiple reviewers said it lasted just as long as other waterproof mascaras. The mascara does dry quickly, but is easy to remove. With warm water and/or micellar water, it comes off without tugging at your lashes. One reviewer said the mascara wand also catches corner lashes, flaring them out for a cat-eye look. More »

Cruelty-free brand The Balm is a relative newcomer to drugstore aisles, but its Mad Lash mascara is a great option for those searching for their new favorite formula. This mascara lengthens and thickens lashes without clumping. “I feel like I can take flight with them,” one reviewer wrote of her eyelashes afterward. “Will never use any other brand again.”

This drugstore option also doesn’t smudge, flake, or transfer onto your undereyes or brow bone. Like the rest of The Balm’s products, this mascara comes in adorable packaging with an ode to retro movie posters. If you're a fan of higher end mascara's you'll be happy to know that this option is a great  dupe for Lancome’s Hypnose Drama mascara. You can apply a single coat for soft, natural-looking fringe, or double up on coats for a more dramatic finish.

As you age, your eyelashes can become sparse, thin out, and overall, not look as lush as they once were. That being said, you may want to swap your regular old tube for a version that does more than add color and temporary volume to your fringe. That’s where this mascara from Almay comes in. The anti-breakage, vitamin-infused formula combined with super soft bristle brush work together to coat lashes in a nourishing formula.

The strengthening yet shiny formula defends against damage, so you don’t have to worry about losing lashes when removing or applying the mascara. The mascara comes in a variety of natural shades like brown, black, and very black depending on your preference.  Thanks to the strengthening, shiny formula, your lashes become visibly longer and stronger overtime.

It’s also clump-free and extra gentle so it won’t irritate the area. Luckily, this one-coat-wonder’s unique brush fits your eye contours, so you don’t need to apply multiple coats if you don’t want to. Start at the base of your lashes and wiggle from side to side to reap this awesome mascara’s full effects. More »

L'Oréal® Paris Voluminous Lash Paradise
Courtesy of Target

The L’Oreal mascara creates dramatic, spidery lashes, similar to the effect you get with Benefit’s Bad Gal Volumizing Mascara. It’s also drawn comparisons to the Too Faced Better Than Sex mascara, except the Lash Paradise is lighter and better at holding a curl.

Reviewers mentioned that while this mascara layers well, it also dries quickly so you need to swipe on coats quickly to prevent clumping. This formula does come in a waterproof version, but this one stays on so well that there’s barely a difference between the two, except a removal process that’s much less torturous for your lashes. More »

Mascaras tend to antagonize sensitive eyes, but if you can’t give them up, this mascara from Neutrogena is your best bet. The Healthy Lengths mascara contains lash conditioning ingredients that lengthen and define eyelashes for a natural, fuss-free look. You'll be left with a more soft, pretty fringe instead of dramatic lashes, but the mascara won’t irritate your eyes. One reviewer with hooded eyelids wrote that this mascara didn’t smear or transfer on to her lids. The wand is small enough to apply the mascara exactly where you want it, whether it's your bottom lashes or inner corner lashes, without getting mascara everywhere.

When searching for a mascara that volumizes lashes it’s not always as easy as grabbing one that has volumizing claims on the packaging. Many formulas and brushes fall short when it comes delivering that perfect dose of long-lasting thickness and volume that stays put from morning ‘til night.

Enter this mascara from Maybelline, which features innovative cup-shaped bristles that latch onto your lashes coating them in an inky black formula. The creamy, wet formula glides over lashes smoothly and evenly without clumping or flaking. Another plus is that you can layer this mascara to achieve your own desired level of volume without it turning messy or flaking off.

To apply, wiggle the wand from roots to tips, and repeat as desired. It also is ophthalmologist tested, so it's a suitable choice for those who have sensitive eyes and for contact wearers. At the end of the day (or night) saturate a cotton round in an oil-based makeup remover, and gently sweep away the mascara. More »

When it comes to mascara and light lashes there’s always been a debate about whether you should go with black or brown mascara. Brown mascara tends to look a bit more natural, but doesn’t always deliver the same drama that an inky black version does. To hit that sweet spot, we suggest selecting a black-brown mascara—like this one from CoverGirl.

The clump-free mascara boasts a plastic-bristle brush that grabs onto each and every lash, coating them the espresso-colored formula. It instantly provides up to 10x more volume and length than your bare lashes, and luckily doesn’t flake or fade throughout the day.

Another unique quality is the touchable, yet transfer-proof formula. This is especially important for those with light lashes as you don’t want the product to run down your face as it wears. Wiggle the wand from the base of your lashes, then lift the wand upwards. Repeat until you achieve your desired level of volume. More »