The 9 Very Best Drugstore Mascaras, According to Makeup Artists

Let’s start with the bad news: Mascara has the shortest shelf life of all beauty products. You should be tossing yours just three months after opening it.

Now for the good news: You can find some of the best mascara at your local drugstore for less than $10.

We talked to several makeup artists, who gave us their opinions on the best drugstore mascaras. Here’s what they told us.

Note: Prices are accurate as of June 29, 2020.

9 Best Drugstore Mascaras That Cost Less Than $12

Covergirl LashBlast Volume Mascara

Cost: $6.17 at Walmart

Best for: Everyday mascara

Why we like it: This is a classic, according to Tiffany Ascensio, a beauty blogger based in Kansas City.


“It’s great for long, feathery lashes without clumping,” she said. “This mascara is perfect for everyone and every day.”

Cruelty free? Yes

L’Oreal Voluminous Original Mascara

Cost: $8.99 at Ulta

Best for: A dramatic look

Why we like it: This is comparable to the much more expensive Lancome Hypnose, said Mindy Green, a makeup artist and owner of MG Beauty, a mobile beauty business.

This drugstore mascara is available in black, blackest black and carbon black – as well as waterproof. The carbon black formula contains panthenol and ceramides to strengthen your lashes, Green said.

Cruelty free? Yes

L’Oreal Paris Voluminous Lash Paradise Mascara

Cost: $9.89 at Target

Best for: The false eyelash effect

Why we like it: Ascensio loves to combine the L’Oreal Voluminous Lash Paradise Mascara with the Voluminous Lash Paradise Primer.

“Together, these two products make the ultimate duo,” Ascension said. “They lift, separate and build your lashes, giving you that big, bold, Instagram lash look.”

Ascensio even said this combo makes you look as if you’re wearing falsies daily without the hassle and glue.

Cruelty free? Yes

Maybelline Full ‘N Soft Waterproof Mascara

Cost: $8.99 at Ulta

Best for: A natural look

Why we like it: One or two coats of this drugstore mascara looks really natural — but if you’re looking for more, you could add another coat or two, said Jarry Lee, a New York-based beauty influencer and model.

“It’s great for anyone looking for a more natural lash look,” she said. “It really helps to separate and define your individual lashes while providing good lift, and hold as well.”

Bonus: It’s also waterproof.

Cruelty free? Yes

Maybelline Great Lash Mascara

Cost: $4.89 at Target

Best for: A great mascara that’s truly budget friendly

Why we like it: This formula doesn’t dry quickly, said Nyssa Green, the Emmy award-winning makeup artist and owner of Atlanta-based The Green Room Agency. As a result, it works well, even for beginners — just wipe it off if you’ve messed up.

“I sometimes use it on clients before using a waterproof mascara to keep the lashes from drying out,” Green said.

Cruelty free? Yes

Milani Most Wanted Lift & Curl Mascara

Cost: $9.99 at CVS

Best for: A great instant lift

Why we like it: This drugstore mascara is all about the volume. This makes your eyes look camera-ready, giving your lashes a full appearance sans the crunchy feeling, said Andrea Claire, a Canadian celebrity hair and makeup artist based in Singapore.

Cruelty free? Yes

NYX Doll Eye Mascara

Cost: $9.49 at Target

Best for: Building stronger lashes

Why we like it: This mascara contains ingredients including Vitamin E and other oils designed to make your lashes stronger and healthier. It’s also waterproof, cruelty-free and doesn’t irritate sensitive eyes.

“I keep on switching my makeup products as a blogger, but this mascara is one I keep going back to at times,” said Ashi, a blogger and makeup enthusiast.

Cruelty free? Yes

NYX: The Rise Volume Liftscara Mascara

Cost: $11 at Ulta

Best for: An option that’s both vegan and cruelty free

Why we like it: “I adore this mascara first because of its brush,” said Niamh Jordan, Dublin-based creator of Kind Beauty Buys. One side of the brush is an hourglass shape, and the other half is a more rounded shape.

“This helps coat each of your lashes evenly with their matte black formula,” Jordan said.

NYX is a cruelty-free brand that’s certified by PETA. It’s free from beeswax and other animal ingredients, making this a vegan-friendly mascara as well.

Cruelty free? Yes

Physicians Formula Organic Wear Natural Origin Mascara

Cost: $10.49 at CVS

Best for: People with sensitive eyes

Why: This is a 100% organic mascara that’s hypoallergenic, fragrance-free and approved by ophthalmologists as safe to use on the eyes, said Jessica Rose, founder of Clean Beauty Gals in Vancouver, Canada.

Organic ingredients include olive fruit extract, orange fruit water, soybean oil and olive leaf extract. The accompanying wand has soft plastic bristles for thicker coverage, producing a fuller illusion.

“I love that the bristles are gentle on my lashes without tugging,” Rose said. “This mascara is perfect for anyone with sensitive eyes, or those who are looking for an affordable mascara with clean ingredients.”

Cruelty free? Yes

Danielle Braff is a contributor to The Penny Hoarder.

This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017.