Best and worst of drugstore mascara

Just like my drugstore lipstick roundup, I've been spending the past few months wearing and testing seven different drugstore mascaras that all cost under $10.

As a bit of background, I chose some mascaras that I had heard or read were other people's drugstore favorites, as well as a couple of curve balls with alluring claims that sucked me in (PS: none that I sampled were waterproof—I don't like waterproof mascara). In all of my pictures below, I am only wearing the mascara on my left eye to attempt to show the contrast with my natural lashes. Further, I am not wearing any other eye makeup. 

I was surprised at the range in results, especially within a single brand. I'm excited to share my findings with you!

L’Oreal Voluminous Million Lashes

If I was very careful in my application—which I learned was best if I slowly twirled the brush in my hand as I pulled it out towards the ends of my lashes—I loved the results from this mascara: so much length and curl. However, there were two slight downsides to this mascara, both of which, though, I think can be avoided, as long as you have other mascaras in your arsenal. This is not a mascara that I’d use for my lower lashes; it just isn’t delicate enough and too easily looked thick and uneven. And additionally, this mascara flaked after a long work day, which is a negative for me on those days I need a lot of staying power. But for nights out or shorter stints of time, I am happy to have a new great option for longer lashes.

Verdict: Would buy again, but with caveats


I became a fan of this mascara rather quickly. It’s got a funky shaped brush designed to curl and separate with the different shaped/sized bristles, and I think the brush is dynamite. I’ve gotten my technique down pretty well, pulling the outside half of my lashes outward, and pulling the inner half inward for a great curled and splayed look. This mascara doesn’t add a ton of volume or va-va-voom to my lashes, but then again, it’s very hard to achieve that ever with my lashes, so good curl, no clumping, and a long-lasting look go a long way for me. I’m happy to have found this mascara, and especially the unique wand that really allows you to get to the base of your lashes and produce a nice curl. 

Verdict: I absolutely plan on buying this again for easy, curled lashes that last

CoverGirl LashBlast Volume

This is one of my favorite mascaras that I tried and will now remain among my mascara arsenal. If you give it a slight wiggle at the base of your lashes and slowly pull it outward, being careful to not go over the same area more than twice, this gives a nice voluminous look to your lashes. It gives the appearance of uniform volume from base through the tip of each lash. It’s a bit touchy in the way that it can clump if you overdo it, but once I got my technique down, I really liked the intensity it gives the lash line, especially for nighttime. Another random bonus was how easily this eye makeup washed off, even just with face wash and a swipe of a towel.

Verdict: So happy I found this, and for the price, I’d certainly buy it again, especially for a more dramatic nighttime look with liner and/or shadow

Almay Triple Effect One Coat Nourishing

I was surprised how much I liked this one because I was scared that its hypoallergenic and extra gentle formula would come at the cost of its effectiveness. It was easy to apply and gave a kind of sexy, imperfect look to my lashes—not perfectly curled, but more naturally splayed, and darker, longer, and fuller at the base. I could see wearing this during the summer, with a tan, and not much more makeup. I am very interested in trying out more Almay products after such success with this one.

Verdict: Very pleasantly surprised and would buy again for natural looking, long lashes

Maybelline Great Lash

AKA the pink and green tube that your mom, aunt, and sister used. It’s been sticking around for a reason! I consider it my failproof go-to for daytime mascara. It goes on so smoothly and really just darkens and accentuates your eyes and lashes in their natural form...i.e. it’s not going to be your ticket to Kim K. lashes unless you were blessed with a set at birth. It’s more of a tool for making lashes look as if they've been simply dyed darker. Great Lash is an easy answer for those days (every day?) I can’t bring myself to spend time putting on makeup. I can throw on this mascara in about 10 seconds flat (using very little finesse or precision) without clumping it up, instantly helping to bring my gray/blue eyes to life. Simply put, it’s a no-frills mascara that I (and a bajillion other women) can never seem to part ways with.

Verdict: Will always keep this in my arsenal for quick makeup days and especially love it for delicate bottom lashes

And, a couple of failures:

CoverGirl The Super Sizer

This thin brush made it way too difficult to strike the balance between enough mascara to coat my lashes and applying too much and it clumping into dark, thick sections, and without great curl. The solution felt sticky and artificial, and also flaked after only a couple hours of wear.

Verdict: No thanks

Maybelline Colossal Volum' Express

Strangely, after reading from more than one source that this is a favorite mascara, I’m going to have to disagree. This mascara solution feels chunky and is therefore very difficult to work with. If colossal volume comes at the expense of smooth lashes, then I’m out. I understand where the name comes from because this stuff made my lashes thick and dark, but with a cheap and caked on finish that immediately looked and felt dry.

Verdict: No thanks