With new mascaras launching seemingly in the blink of an eye, finding “the one” can get exhausting. It needs to achieve just the right length, volume, separation, and lift — and don’t forget shade! — for your desired effect. And that’s just the beginning.
Once you’ve found a formula with the look and feel you love, there’s the additional (and often more challenging) hurdle that comes with wearability. Can it stand the test of time without managing to clump, cake, and run all over your equally-thought-out foundation, or must the seemingly never-ending search go on? Furthermore, how much of your hard-earned cash needs to be spent in the name of mascara?
To help you break out of the cycle (and avoid breaking the bank in the process), we asked experts to share some of their top drugstore picks, each only a click away.
Best drugstore mascaras according to makeup artists
L’Oréal Paris Voluminous Original Mascara
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Celebrity makeup artist Geoffrey Rodriguez (whose clients include Gigi Hadid and Padma Lakshmi) has relied on L’Oréal Paris Voluminous Original Mascara ($8) and has been a fan since he entered the industry over 20 years ago.
“Voluminous consistently delivers the most beautiful, full, camera-ready lashes and will always be a mainstay in my kit,” he shares. He also notes that the formula is paraben and phthalate-free, without any added fragrance.
Maybelline Lash Discovery Mascara
- Sky High Lash Impact: Maybelline's Lash Sensational Sky High Amplifying Lash Primer lengthens, thickens and darkens lashes when worn with Sky High Mascara. Our tinted formula conditions and nourishes lashes to prep for the perfect mascara application
- Full Volume Meets Limitless Length: Features our exclusive Flex Tower mascara brush that bends to volumize and extend every single lash from root to tip; Ophthalmologist and allergy tested, suitable for sensitive eyes and contact lens wearers
According to makeup artist Ashleigh Ciucci, the magic wand on Maybelline Lash Discovery Mascara ($6) has been a cult favorite among her and fellow makeup artists for ages.
“The super skinny brush gets to every last baby lash and separates for major definition,” she says. “Plus, the lightweight formula never clumps, and it’s ideal for bottom lashes.” She also loves throwing on a light coat for a natural “no-makeup” look.
Pacifica Stellar Gaze Length and Strength Mascara
Cassandra McClure (celebrity makeup artist and expert behind the Clean Beauty podcast) frequently relies on Pacifica Stellar Gaze Length and Strength Mascara ($13).
“It strengthens as it lengthens, just like the name says,” she says. “The brush coats and separates lashes so they look so long,” adding that both the formula and brush are vegan and cruelty-free. Scoop it up in Black Supernova or Brown Stardust.
Covergirl Clump Crusher Extensions LashBlast Mascara
- Plant-powered clean mascara for voluminous lashes.
- Infused with cellulose plant fibers, aloe leaf extract, ceramide and sustainably sourced rainforest maracuja oil.
Andrew Sotomayor (Emmy-winning makeup artist and makeup department head on The Other Two) likes how CoverGirl Clump Crusher Mascara ($6) has fibers to “weave” the formula around each lash, creating longer and fuller lashes.
“The silicone bristles are finer than wire and scratchy plastic bristles, so it’s also more comfortable to use on sensitive eyes as it combs through and separates for a clump-free look,” he explains, adding that he used this mascara on Sasheer Zamata for the Creative Arts EmmysTM.
Honeybee Gardens Truly NaturalTM Mascara
- Organic lash boosting complex, natural silk cotton, and natural fibers condition, thicken, and separate each lash
- Volumizing and lengthening formula
The organic Honeybee Gardens Truly Natural Mascara ($10) has become another one of McClure’s go-to’s for its easy application and nourishing ingredients.
“It contains saw palmetto fruit and avocado butter that condition lashes instead of drying and clumping,” she says. You also have three shade options to choose from: Black Magic, Chocolate Truffle, and Espresso.
NYX Professional Double Stacked Mascara
- On The Rise Mascara: The lightweight matte black mascara formula lengthens and volumizes eyelashes delivering intense drama; In a clinical study, 95 percent of participants saw instant volume and 94 percent saw instant lift
- Innovative Applicator: Lengthen lashes with the innovative hourglass shaped applicator; Part hourglass, part rounded shape for coating each lash in its matte black formula for max lash lengthening
According to celebrity makeup artist Maddie North (whose clients include Katty Ukhanova and Robin Van Halteren), NYX Professional Double Stacked Mascara ($10) could very well replace your false lashes.
“The fibers allow you to achieve such incredible volume and length without getting clumpy,” she says. Once you’re done with the initial mascara and fiber coats, you’ll want to add another layer of mascara to seal the deal.
L’Oréal Paris Voluminous False Fiber Lashes Mascara
- Voluminous Million Lashes Mascara has a revolutionary collagen-infused formula and Millionizer Brush for amplified volume and definition; Fragrance-free; Ophthalmologist-tested and allergy-tested; Suitable for sensitive eyes and contact lens wearers
- L'Oreal Mascara: Get the long, full eyelashes you love with our best mascaras and primers; Choose from our innovative volumizing formulas and variety of brushes
When it comes to drugstore mascaras, celebrity makeup artist Mary Wiles considers L’Oréal Paris Voluminous False Fiber Lashes Mascara ($9) the gold standard.
“It contains fibers that create amazing volume,” Wiles notes. “It also stays in place and doesn’t budge, unlike many others out there.” The artist recently used this formula on actress Caitriona Balfe for the 2019 Golden Globes®.
Maybelline The Colossal Volum’ Express Waterproof Mascara
- Double collagen mascara formula wraps each eyelash from root to tip for colossal impact
- Brush fills out lashes for a pumped up look, with 12x the volume
Last but certainly not least, Maybelline The Colossal Volum Express Waterproof Mascara ($6) means serious business.
“Not only is it amazing at volumizing and pumping up the lashes, but the formula is fully smudge- and waterproof,” says celebrity makeup artist Frankie Boyd (his work can be seen on celebrities like Scarlett Johansson). It’s so long-wearing, in fact, that you might need a little bit of extra help when removing it — Boyd suggests having an oil-based cleanser on hand.