Here’s a well-kept secret that makeup artists know all too well: expensive mascara isn’t always better. In fact, many of the cheap drugstore options use exactly the same types of formulas and ingredients as the high-end varieties but without the costly markups. But how do you tell the difference between a high-quality bargain and one that should probably stay on the shelf? It requires some serious research. Luckily, we’ve done it for you.
We examined various formula options, weighed pros and cons, and evaluated thousands of reviews from verified customers to find the eight best cheap mascaras that deliver premium lash looks. Plus, we’ve broken the results down even further to bring you our picks for the best volumizing mascara, the best lengthening mascara, the best waterproof mascara, and the best bargain mascara.
Just how good of a bargain is it, you ask? Let’s just say that it would look right at home at Dollar General.
The Best Cheap Mascaras for Bargain Beauty-Lovers
Best Volumizing Mascara: Read more.
Essence Lash Princess False Lash Effect Mascara
Best Lengthening Mascara: Read more.
L’Oréal Paris Makeup Telescopic Original Lengthening Mascara
Best Waterproof Mascara: Read more.
Maybelline New York Lash Sensational Waterproof Mascara
Best Budget Mascara: Read more.
Wet n Wild Megawear Mascara
When something has earned more than 200,000 perfect 5-star reviews on Amazon, you kind of have to see for yourself what all the fuss is about. That’s the case with this essence Lash Princess Mascara. It delivers premium lift and lengthening for a false-lash effect that lasts all day long. People love it (obviously), and the tiny price tag is the cherry on top.
If you’ve been longing to take your stubby lashes to new heights, this Telescopic Lengthening Mascara in Carbon Black from L’Oréal Paris can take you there. It extends lashes by up to 60%, and the flexible brush design delivers maximum precision, so no lash is left behind. The Carbon Black pigments offer 2X the intensity for a truly wow-worthy eye look.
Waterproof mascara can be tough to get right. You want a formula that can stand up to the elements while still delivering killer lashes. And wouldn’t it be nice if it wasn’t impossible to remove? Maybelline New York Lash Sensational Waterproof Mascara does all this and more. Over 100,000 glowing Amazon reviews rave about its staying power, volumizing effect, and curved brush with ten layers of bristles. Plus, it’s easily swiped away with a makeup remover.
The “clean” in the COVERGIRL Lash Blast Clean Volume Mascara has two meanings. For one, it refers to the sleek and natural look that this mascara delivers. The second meaning is the ingredients, which are free from talc, mineral oil, sulfate, and parabens. It’s also 100% vegan, and the packaging is made from 80% recycled paper sourced from well-managed forests.
Mascara that gives lashes length and thickness can often also make them stiff and flakey, but that’s not the case with this L’Oréal Paris Voluminous Mascara. The unique formula leaves lashes incredibly soft and inviting, and the bold color options include burgundy, deep green, and cobalt blue.
Makeup and skincare combine in this Almay Waterproof Multi-Benefit Mascara. The non-irritating hypoallergenic formula is safe for sensitive eyes, and the added keratin nourishes, strengthens, and conditions lashes. More than 870 customers give it a perfect 5-star rating, with many reviewers specifically shouting out the non-irritating formula.
It turns out the old saying “You get what you pay for” isn’t always accurate, and this Wet n Wild Enhance and Define Megawear Mascara proves it. The formula is 100% vegan, free from parabens, and cruelty-free, and the soft-bristled helix brush allows for easy application. Oh, and it also happens to cost one dollar.
Think outside the basic brush with this L’Oréal Paris Makeup Unlimited Lash Lifting and Lengthening Mascara. The pivoting wand can be used straight to stretch and lengthen lashes or bent to lift and intensify smaller lashes. Choose from washable or waterproof formulas.
Looking for more mascara recommendations? Check out this comparison of high-end mascara versus the bargain best-seller.