The 6 Best Inexpensive Mascaras

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Whether you're creating a super minimal look for daytime or full-on face complete with a smokey eye, mascara is the cherry on top of many makeup routines. With all the amazing, affordable formulas on the market, it's important to know that a great mascara shouldn't have to cost you a ton of money. But since there are so many out there, it can be hard to decipher the best inexpensive mascaras from the lesser-quality ones.

Since a lot of the most popular makeup brands are owned by the same parent company (L'Oréal, for example, owns Lancôme, Maybelline, and Garnier), there tends to be a lot of crossover in formulation between their products. That means you might be able to buy a L'Oréal mascara that works just as well as its pricier Lancôme counterpart. Also, here's a tip: because mascara formulas are highly-regulated, due to the fact that they go so close to your eyes, there often isn't a ton of innovation happening in terms of the formula itself, so it's much more important to pay attention to the brush.

Below, find six of the best affordable mascaras you can snag on Amazon.

1. Cheap: An Award-Winning Drugstore Mascara That Rivals 'Better Than Sex'

One of the better dupes for Too Faced's cult-favorite Better Than Sex mascara is L'Oreal Paris Voluminous Lash Paradise. Reddit users and beauty editors agree that these two formulas are dead ringers for one another — but L'Oreal's mascara costs just $7, while Too Faced's costs $24. One of the overall most popular drugstore mascaras on the market and an Allure Best of Beauty award-winner, Lash Paradise adds major length and volume thanks to its thick, fluffy brush. It doesn't clump, and instead helps separate your lashes, without making them feel crunchy or hard. All of that, for under $10.

2. Cheaper: A Mascara Formulated Specifically To Prevent Clumping

An even cheaper option (though only slightly) CoverGirl Clump Crusher Mascara is perfect for folks who can't stand lumpy lashes. Thanks to a curved, plastic brush and well-spaced bristles, this mascara glides onto your lashes sans-clumps, regardless of how many coats you pop on. The formula is super creamy, too, so lashes don't become stiff or hard by the end of the day. And while CoverGirl's mascara isn't waterproof, it is water-resistant, so it will hold up to humidity and sweaty situations quite well. It's Leaping Bunny-certified cruelty-free, which is always a huge bonus, and comes in 'black,' 'very black,' and 'black brown.'

3. Cheapest: A Beauty Insider-Favorite Mascara For Dramatic Lashes

Another cult-favorite drugstore mascara is the super affordable Lash Princess False Lash Effect Mascara from Essence. For just $5, you get everything you could possibly want from a mascara: it lengthens, adds volume, and has a thin enough tip that makes it easy to reach into your inner corner lashes. It's cruelty-free, gluten-free, and by far one of the best affordable mascaras you can buy in its price range.

4. Best Drugstore Waterproof Mascara

If you need a mascara that holds up through sweat, humidity, and impromptu dips in the water, then L'Oreal's Paris Voluminous Waterproof Mascara is the way to go. Not only does it add four times the volume to your lashes, but it's also completely waterproof. Unlike other waterproof mascaras, which can leave your lashes brittle, this one contains ceramides and panthenol to help keep them soft and conditioned.

5. Best Skinny Mascara For Bottom Lashes

If you like a more natural effect, or you're looking for a mascara specifically for your lower lashes, try Innisfree's Skinny Microcara Mascara. It works to separate and lengthen each lash, which is important for application on the bottom, and it's also a great choice for the no-makeup-makeup look. Instead of deep black, it comes in brown; many makeup artists say to use black on top and brown on the bottom for a less harsh effect. If you are interested in getting it in black, however, you can find it here.

6. Best Clear Mascara (That Doubles As An Eyebrow Gel)

No list of affordable mascaras would be complete with Maybelline's Great Lash, the classic drugstore pick that was the first ever mascara many of us ever owned. But all these years later, it still holds up, creating a just long and full enough effect without being too dramatic. Though it comes a wide range of shades and formulas — black, blue, and brown, waterproof and washable — this clear formula belongs in every makeup bag because it's perfect for natural daytime looks and also doubles as an eyebrow gel. Keep it in your beach bag or toiletry kit for a subtle lash enhancement that runs no risk of smudging.

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