Without a doubt, mascara is one the hardest-working products in our kit. It’s often the quickest cure-all for a plethora of beauty emergencies. From looking like less of a zombie, to hitting snooze too many times, to making eyes appear bigger, a few swipes of mascara has the power to instantly make us look awake and put-together.
While it may only take a minute to actually apply mascara, finding the formula that’s the perfect match for your lashes is a little more time consuming, and (since wands have to be replaced more frequently than other products) pricey—if you’re partial to high-end brands.
If you’re looking to save some cash in the mascara department, you’re in luck. Some of the best formulas can be found in the aisles of your local drugstore and deliver the same lash-enhancing benefits as your current fancy wand. Read on for high-performance mascaras that won’t leave you penniless.
1. Maximum Volume
Multiply your fringe with Maybelline New York Volum’ Express Falsies Big Eyes mascara. One end of the double-sided brush has a plush bristles specifically for your top lashes, while the skinnier end caters to the lower lash line where tiny hairs can easily be swiped over.
Maybelline | $8
CoverGirl’s Clump Crusher mascara doesn’t just stomp away clumps—it prevents them. Use its curved brush for smooth, defined lashes with every single application.
CoverGirl | $8
Even if you’re a seasoned veteran with an eyelash curler, sometimes your lashes need an extra curve. Rimmel London Wonderful Lift Me Up mascara will give lashes an extra lift that will have you considering retiring your curler to your bathroom drawer.
Rimmel London | $8
4. Lash Lengthening
The name says it all: Almay’s Get Up And mascara instantly elongates lashes while nourishing them with a formula that also helps strengthen lashes over time.
Almay | $8
Give your eyelash curler a rest. Revlon’s Ultimate All-In-One is a highly pigmented, multitasking mascara that lifts, defines, and lengthens lashes in a just a few simple swipes.
Revlon | $6
Many waterproof mascaras are prone to drying out lashes and causing breakage. The secret behind L’Oréal Paris Voluminous Million Lashes Waterproof mascara is a formula that conditions as it gives you your best lashes yet, through water, rain, tears, or sweat.
L'Oreal Paris | $9
7. Sensitive Eyes
Physicians Formula Organic Wear 100% Natural Origin mascara is all-natural right down to its recyclable packaging. That doesn’t, however, mean it skimps on lengthening and plumping, so it’s a no-brainer for sensitive eyes.
Physicians Formula | $8
8. Lower Lashes
The ultra slim brush of NYX’s The Skinny mascara makes it ideal for defining and lengthening the lower lash line, and zoning-in on hard to reach lashes.
NYX | $7