If you’re a beauty addict like me, you know how perilous a drugstore beauty aisle can be. Not just because of the multitude of mesmerizing makeup as likely to root you to that linoleum floor as molasses — but because of the risky purchasing. Sure, it's cheaper, but without reading drugstore mascara reviews and lipstick swatching blog posts, you could still end up throwing away a bunch of cash. While it’s all well and good to untwist the latest drugstore lip colors or try your hand at the newest nail polish for free, it's nearly impossible to get your lash loving on without sucking it up and dropping some funds. After all, mascara is a tricky mistress.You can stare at that moody red mascara bottle in store all you want, but you're not going to know what it looks like until you put it on in front of a mirror. Sure, brands have started packaging their mascara with the brush exposed, which lets you know if their bristles mean business. But if the formula's flaky or unpleasantly pungent, you've still got a useless tube of mascara on your hands, and you're out about 12 bucks. Luckily for you, I eliminated that risky business altogether. I sampled about 20 different drugstore mascaras, and from this pool, picked seven final products worth batting an eyelash for. From glittering, amped-up volume to that next-to-nothing natural look, you're sure to find the love of your lashes in one of the picks below!
The Miss Manga oversized metallic pink tube might make you smile, but its 360-degree conical brush did a superhero feat of precision — individually combing each lash with an even application of mega-dark pigment.
Still, a paint scent overshadowed its promised “ultimate wide-eye look” a bit, so I kept it to just one coat.
The serious lack of organic makeup products on the market was enough to get me curious about this 100-percent natural ingredient mascara. Though opting for the purest ingredients was never a huge priority to me as a beauty consumer, this long-lasting product (Physicians Formula promises 24-hour wear; I only got through eight of them before removing) has me singing a different tune.
Its coconut water ingredient is infused with pea peptide, organic aloe, and green tea extract, which works to calm and moisturize the lashes. Brighter lash luster with clump-free volume is just a swipe away!
As someone whose everyday beauty look includes a cat eye, I was especially interested in the results of this lash lacquer. It ended up being one of my favorites from the sample pool, too, flaring my lashes out in a dramatic come-hither stance.Just a few coats added the drama that takes four or more tries with another mascara, so I appreciated the effortless ease this hypoallergenic mascara afforded me. And it also bears mentioning that the sweet vanilla scent sets this product miles above the other stinky selections that didn't take smell into account. If something is that close to my nose, it better be pretty delectable, or at the very least fragrance-free.
OK, so this two-in-one mascara is pretty fun to wear, even if it does take some additional steps. You coat on the mascara, and then follow with the top coat, repeating as needed. The top coat isn't like a nail polish top coat, though — it's a container of black fuzz in a clear serum, which adds build-able body for your thickest lashes yet.The shimmery mascara is enriched with vitamin b5 and avocado oil to keep lashes silky and shining from day to night. Still, if you're looking to streamline your beauty style, you might want to skip this product because of its extra steps.
CoverGirl just gets me. For my lashes in particular, the tiny, bendable rubber bristles on their brushes always do a fantastic job of adding definition and drama without making a big show of it.Plus, this mascara didn't leave my lashes stiff and irritated after it dried — they were soft and smooth, and I really liked the flexible hold that didn't weigh my lashes down. It's a great option for everyday wear, when you're looking for a little something but prefer to leave the false-looking lashes at home.
This mascara seemed to leave my lashes with the lightest coating of them all, which works well for everyday, if your natural eyelash color is so light it's difficult to see. Beach, work, a walk in the park — I might opt for this product if I was doing an activity when I want some coverage but not a ton. Bonus: It's packed with nourishing vitamins your lashes need.
Despite the light coating on me, its brush is designed to lift, separate, and add volume, and all three of these happen on different sides of the brush. It's definitely a cool concept, but it didn't give me the lusciously long lashes I expected.
Essence's product was one I couldn't wait to try, as I wasn't as familiar with the brand. Plus, its crazy evening gown-inspired bottle was unlike anything I've seen. I found the mascara did a great job of lengthening my lashes and adding thickness towards the root, which is thanks to the brush's specially-designed cobra shape. However, the formula did cause a little extra product depositing, which ended up looking like small flakes as they dried. But the tips of the lashes were definitely fluffy, which is always my preferred way to pack on volume without looking costume-y.
Images: Elly Ayres