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8 Best Drugstore Mascaras for Voluminous, Long and Defined Lashes

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Written by Jenna Cartusciello

Let’s ask the big question right off the bat: Are drugstore mascaras worth it? We certainly think so — as long as you know your lash goals and you’ve done your research. If you don’t like clumps, for instance, stick with lengthening and defining formulas. Or, if you want plenty of volume and have sparse lashes, a volumizing formula is a better pick. No matter the look you want to achieve, we have a detailed, comprehensive list of the best drugstore mascaras based on tests, reviews, ingredients and price points.

A word of warning: No matter which mascara you choose, we encourage you to give it more than one chance! Sometimes, a mascara doesn’t work well because a) your eyelashes and eyelids need a bit of pampering; b) you may need to switch up your application technique. Application techniques and eyelash prep can all make a huge difference in terms of your overall look, and the right preparation can help you create a beautiful, volumized look that lasts all day. To learn more about prepping your lashes and lids for mascara, scroll down to our buyer’s guide tips. To dive right into our product recommendations, continue reading below.

8 Best Drugstore Mascaras for Voluminous, Long and Defined Lashes

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Finding the Best Drugstore Mascaras: A Buyer’s Guide

Although you can pamper yourself and purchase a luxurious, expensive mascara, this guide ought to remind you that high-quality results are possible at drugstore prices. Our top picks — Maybelline’s Lash Sensational Lengthening Mascara and L’Oréal’s Telescopic Lift Mascara — both create incredible length and volume under $15. Since a tube of mascara can last up to three months, you will effectively pay less than $5 per month for beautiful lashes.

Of course, not every drugstore mascara will tick all your boxes. Some of our top rated formulas are not cruelty free, and many have a moderate risk of irritation and toxicity. In addition, products with clean ingredients may not perform as well as products that pose long-term risks to your health. This isn’t to say that you can’t find a product that will meet most of your requirements. Still, it’s important to recognize that no formula is perfect.

To prevent you from feeling flustered or unable to make a decision (there are so many things to think about!), think about just these five factors listed below.

What to Consider When Choosing the Best Drugstore Mascaras

Before buying a drugstore mascara, consider the following factors.


There are three main formulations to think about: waterproof, water resistant, and washable. Waterproof formulas have the longest staying power but often contain harsh ingredients. Water resistant formulas have a medium staying power and less-irritating ingredients. Finally, washable mascara tends to have the lowest staying power but wash off easily, which minimizes irritation.

Each type of mascara listed above can be further categorized as lengthening or volumizing. A lengthening mascara creates well-defined, clump-free, long lashes. In contrast, volumizing mascara creates thicker, fanned-out lashes. Some formulas do a little of both.


How important is it to you that your mascara comes off at night? Some people would prefer a formula that has the longest staying power possible, even if it means their cleansing process takes a long time. Others would much rather deal with a little smudging and have an easy removal experience. Whatever you decide, make sure you are completely cleaning your lashes at the end of the day. This will reduce the chance of breakage and thinning.


If you have sensitive eyes and skin, the ingredient list will make or break a product. Most drugstore mascaras have at least some risk of irritation and toxicity, due to preservatives, fragrance, polymers (which enhance staying power), and colorants. If you are able to pinpoint a few ingredients that cause you problems, it may be easier to pick and choose the products you want to buy. However, remembering ingredient lists is a hassle, so we recommend checking out formulas on the EWG Skindeep website instead.

Wand Design

Your lash goals will give you great insight into picking the right mascara wand. If you want lengthened, separated, and well-defined lashes, try a thin brush or a brush made of plastic. If you prefer thick, volumized lashes, try a fat wand with natural bristles. Bonus tips: A curved wand makes it easier to apply just one or two coats of mascara, while a straight wand gives you more control over the application.


How much do you want to spend on your mascara? While a good product can easily cost you upwards of $30, you don’t have to pay more than $20 for an excellent drugstore mascara. Most of the time, you will pay around $10 for a standard-size tube. To keep costs down, we recommend comparing prices across multiple sites. (For example, one site may sell a product for a dollar less than other retailers.)

What Are the Different Types of Drugstore Mascaras?


Waterproof mascaras are oil-free formulas with hydrophobic ingredients (ingredients that repel water). They tend to last for eight hours or more and don’t smudge if you sweat, go under water, or rub your eyes. Of course, that staying power comes with a few consequences: Hydrophobic ingredients are harsh on lashes and may zap them of their natural moisture.

If you are going to wear a waterproof mascara, Sephora Beauty Director Myiesha Sewell recommends applying a mascara primer first. “What this does is, one: It conditions your lashes,” she says. “Think about how your hair would feel if you never conditioned it ever … that’s how your lashes would feel. And [two]: It boosts the results of your mascara. I find if I do wear volumizing mascara, it gives me more volume. If I do wear lengthening mascara, my lashes really look shinier and healthier.”


“Tubing mascara wraps each lash in water-resistant, tube-like polymers, like a little cap that washes off,” says makeup artist Caroline Barnes. “If you don’t want the hassle of waterproof mascara which can be a pain to take off, Tubing mascara might be for you.” The benefits of tubing mascara include easy removal (just use warm water) and water resistance to cold water. It’s also a good in-between if you have sensitive eyes and can’t wear waterproof mascara, but still want a water resistant formula.


Washable mascaras are those that come off quickly at the end of the day. They don’t often contain hydrophobic ingredients, which repel water and increase staying power. However, manufacturers have gotten better at creating smudge and flake-resistant formulas that still rinse off easily. In other words, you don’t always have to live with smudging if you choose a washable formula.


Maybelline Lash Sensational Lengthening Mascara


  • Sky-high length
  • Smooth application
  • Brush reduces clumping


  • Not as volumizing as other brands
  • Difficult to apply to lower lashes
  • 3/10 toxicity rating
The Maybelline Lash Sensational Lengthening Mascara ticks nearly all the boxes. It has a curved, plastic wand with different sets of bristles — some shorter to create volume, and some longer to separate lashes and create length. The wand significantly reduces the chance of clumping, so the result is sky-high, well defined lashes. Of course, no mascara is perfect. This product isn’t as volumizing as other brands because the plastic bristles don’t create clumps (you need a little clumping to give the illusion of thicker lashes). The thick brush also means that it’s hard to apply product to the lower lashes without getting a little messy. This formula has a toxicity rating of three out of 10 (one being the lowest level of toxicity).

L’Oréal Telescopic Lift Mascara

Best Overall Runner-Up


  • Lengthening and defining
  • Create volume with multiple coats
  • Low toxicity rating


  • Very wet formula
  • May cause lashes to droop
  • Hard to remove
Remember when L’Oréal Telescopic Lift went viral on Tiktok? Some reviewers didn’t think it was worth the hype, but we do! The key is to follow the instructions to achieve long, defined lashes. First, use the short side of the brush (the side with short, tightly-packed bristles) to apply your first coat. Then, turn the brush to the side with long, spaced-out bristles to apply your second coat. The short side is evenly applies product for an instant lengthening effect, while the long side creates volume and definition. Now, some reviewers don’t like the look or feel of this product. The formula is wet, so you have to wipe off a decent amount of product from the brush before applying. In addition, it’s somewhat heavy, which may cause your curl to droop. This product has a low toxicity rating of two out of 10.

L.A. Girl Jetsetter Lash & Go Mascara


  • Smudge and flake-proof
  • Great for water activities
  • Smooth application


  • Hard to remove
  • May not hold a curl
  • 3/10 toxicity rating
Need a rock-solid mascara that can withstand sweat, tears and water? We recommend the L.A. Girl Jetsetter Lash & Go Mascara. This product uses a straight brush with rounded edges to help you grab the lashes in the outer corners. The formula is a little thick and takes a few minutes to dry, but once it does, it doesn’t budge. (Just ask YouTuber and makeup artist Zabrena, who ran water over her eyes to prove how well it holds.) Like most waterproof mascaras, this formula is difficult to remove. You may need to soak a cotton swab in makeup remover or baby oil and hold it on your lashes for a few minutes before trying to wipe it away. It can also lead to lash breakage if you don’t remove it completely. This product gets a three out of 10 in terms of toxicity.

NYX Worth the Hype Waterproof Mascara


  • Great for water activities
  • Lightweight
  • Lasts 10+ hours


  • May clump
  • Brush may hold too much product
  • 4/10 toxicity rating
We’ll try not to over-hype this one — but the NYX Worth the Hype Mascara is so great that it’s hard not to. The lightweight, smooth-application formula creates excellent lift and length. The long-bristled, straight brush tapers off at the end so you can easily apply product to the outer corners and your lower lashes. And when NYX says waterproof, they mean it; this formula doesn’t budge. Since this formula is volumizing, it may clump. The brush can easily grab too much product, so be sure to wipe it on the sides of the tube opening before applying. This formula gets a toxicity rating of four out of 10.

Flower Beauty Dream Warrior Volumizing Mascara


  • Versatile, straight brush
  • Buildable volume
  • Washable


  • Brush gets overloaded with product
  • Thin formula, may need multiple coats
  • Potentially irritating ingredients
You may already know about Lash Warrior Volumizing Mascara from Drew Barrymore’s company, Flower Beauty, but did you know they recently released a new product? The Dream Warrior Volumizing Mascara is now one of our top picks for thin lashes, thanks to its straight-shaped, thin brush. The bristles are versatile and dynamic, so you can grab each lash and pull it upward — even the baby lashes on your inner and outer lid. The formula is also buildable so you can customize the volume. Unfortunately, the stopper at the top of the tube does not work well, so the brush gets overloaded with product. It’s very important to wipe off excess product on the side of the tube opening before applying. Otherwise, you may create goopy, clumpy lashes. This product does not yet have a toxicity rating, though it does have a few potentially irritating ingredients such as phenoxyethanol (fragrance).

Maybelline Volum’ Express Colossal BIG Shot

Best Runner-Up for Volume


  • Smooth application
  • Volume and length with just one coat
  • Easy to remove


  • May clump
  • May cause drooping
  • 4/10 toxicity rating
The brush on the Maybelline Volum’ Express doesn’t look all that impressive, but trust us — the application experience is divine. It creates impressive volume and length in just one coat, and with two coats you’ll have fanned, sky-high lashes. The formula is washable, too, so you don’t have to scrub your eyes at the end of the day. The downsides? As with most volumizing mascaras, this drugstore favorite can get clumpy if you’re not careful. The formula is also on the heavier side which could cause freshly-curled lashes to droop. This product has a toxicity rating of four out of 10.

Wet n Wild Big Poppa Mascara


  • Lifting and defining
  • All-day curl
  • Cruelty-free


  • Wand may be hard to use
  • Brush gets overloaded with product
  • 3/10 toxicity rating
If you want to create long lashes that swoop upwards toward your brows all day long, choose the Wet n Wild Big Poppa Mascara. The thin formula provides lift and length, creating well-defined lashes that don’t clump together. The wand is on the chunkier side, which helps the bristles grab onto each lash and apply product evenly. It’s also buildable, so you can choose your volume level. However, the wand is tricky to use. Depending on your eye shape and lash type, you may end up grazing your lid with mascara more often than you’d like. The wand can also get loaded with product which creates overly-saturated lashes. Our verdict? It’s great for the price. This formula gets a three out of 10 toxicity rating.

Essence Lash Princess False Lash Effect Mascara


  • Vegan
  • Sky-high length
  • Works on top and bottom lashes


  • Clumps during second coat
  • Not as volumizing as other products
  • 3/10 toxicity rating
There are a few reasons you will always see the Essence Lash Princess False Lash Effect in buyer’s guides: It costs just $4.99, offers impressive length and volume, and works for both the upper and lower lashes. The brush is straight, slightly tapered and uses soft bristles to coat the lashes evenly. After testing this product, I greatly enjoyed the shape of the wand — it made it easy to apply mascara to the top and bottom lashes without creating a mess. However, the product clumps during a second coat. It also doesn’t create as much volume as other products. This formula gets a toxicity score of three out of 10.

People Also Ask

  • Q: How do I prep my lashes for mascara?

    A:We recommend applying a foundation powder or a light-colored eyeshadow to your lid and underneath your eye. This will make it easier to fix accidental splotches of mascara on your skin. Plus, the powder should help absorb your skin’s natural oils and reduce the chance of smudging. Then, we suggest that you apply a mascara primer to lock in moisture and create a smooth surface for the mascara.

  • Q: What type of mascara wand is best?

    A:If you want lengthened, defined lashes, try a thin, tapered wand. If you want volumized lashes, consider a thick, curved wand.

  • Q: What’s the best option for me — waterproof, tubing or washable mascara?

    A:A waterproof mascara is best for humidity, sweating and water activities. Washable mascaras are great for a healthy, everyday look and tubing mascaras are a great in-between (they’re water resistant but easy to remove).

  • Q: If I have sensitive skin, what ingredients should I avoid?

    A:It isn’t easy to figure out which ingredients irritate your skin. Instead of trying to pinpoint specific ingredients, we recommend avoiding the following: tin oxide (a bulking agent), Black No. 2 CI 77266, aluminum powder, blue 1, BHT, phenoxyethanol, sodium hydroxide, lecithin, myristyl lactate, cyclopentasiloxane and SD alcohol 40.

  • Q: How much should I expect to pay for drugstore mascara?

    A:Drugstore mascaras range between $5 and $20, while most cost around $10.

Why trust Us

At Us Weekly, we aim to inform readers to make smart purchasing decisions, saving you both time and money. Our editors are obsessed with finding products in a variety of categories from fashion and beauty, to home and fitness.

We try various products, so we can recommend our favorites, and we also summarize feedback and data from other customers. Data, like product reviews and ratings, helps us recommend the best product choices for individual price points and needs.

On top of that, we highlight unique product features for special use cases, ingredients preferences, and more. We strive to make sure you are discovering new products that can make your life easier, while keeping you up to date with the best product choices for types of items you already know and love.

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By Jenna Cartusciello

Affiliate Commerce Writer Jenna loves recommending great products to her friends and family, so helping the rest of the internet on their quest to find the best stuff makes tremendous sense! Though she mainly writes in-depth buyer’s guides these days, Jenna still enjoys crafting the occasional health article. In her spare time, she loves immersing herself in creative writing. Her favorite authors (for anyone who is willing to geek out with her) include Neil Gaiman, Cheryl Strayed, and Jennifer Egan.

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