Drugstore Mascaras to Save Money and Add Impact

Curated by Claudia Shannon / Research Scientist / ishonest

Who knew that the best drugstore mascaras could rival the top end of the spectrum?

The best drugstore mascaras are something that we all either flock to or avoid altogether.

ishonest No.222 - Fine Lines & Wrinkles

No.222 - Fine Lines & Wrinkles

Because let's be honest, most of us can admit to being guilty of limiting our search for the best mascara to the high-end launches that come with all the bells and whistles, not to mention the snazzy, dressing-table-worthy packaging. But when we end up with a drawer of abandoned mascaras rolling around because we can’t seem to find “the one”, then we know it’s time to widen the search parameters – and a delve into the best drugstore mascaras may just give us what we’ve been looking for.

There’s no denying that Maybelline is up there with the best when it comes to the best drugstore mascaras on the market, so unsurprisingly it appears twice on our list, most importantly with The Falsies Lash Lift, which will make anyone look like they’ve walked out of a lash appointment. We also love the makeup artist favorite, Max Factor, for bringing a touch of luxe to budget options and their 2000 Calorie makes for a stellar premium offering in the drama department. And, of course, no best drugstore mascaras round-up would be complete without the bestselling Essence Lash Princess False Lash Effect, which is so effective with such a small price tag (less than a fiver) it has even become a celebrity favorite.

How to choose the best drugstore mascaras

When it comes to choosing the best drugstore mascaras, it can take a bit more detective work than sifting your way through the more in-your-face luxury buys at the top of the spectrum. The good news is, unlike the best foundations, cheap mascaras are often easily as good as expensive buys. You just have to know what to look for.

“The first thing to do would be to have a look at more luxe brands and see if they have smaller or more budget brands in their same company,” advises celebrity makeup artist Tahira. “For example, L’Oréal has many brands in their house. They have some that are more expensive – like Yves Saint Laurent, Lancôme, Armani and IT Cosmetics – and some that are cheaper. They also own Maybelline and NYX.” It's no coincidence that the best Maybelline mascaras have such a good rep.

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The next important thing to be aware of when choosing the best drugstore mascaras is what kind of wand the mascara offers.“Good mascaras should have a really good brush,” says Tahira, “but that all depends on the type of lashes you want. The more spidery comb-type brushes are better for lengthening, while fatter, fluffier brushes are what you need to be using if you want volume.”

How we tested the best drugstore mascaras

Cheap or not, a mascara isn’t worthy if it doesn’t pass the all-day test. So, when looking for the best drugstore mascaras, we wore each one for 12-14 hours a day and if there were no panda eyes present by the time we got into bed, it made a worthy inclusion here, in our eyes.

Of course, there were a couple of gym sessions along the way to really test the resilience of these mascaras and, not to admit to any emotional instability over here, but we do get teary-eyed at the first sign of any moving TV, so when these mascaras made it through some of our favorites being voted off MasterChef Australia, we were won over.

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