Style

The Case for Drugstore Mascara

stellaafterOur summer intern, Stella, is amazing — and so are her eyelashes. They practically hit her forehead. After staring at them longingly for multiple days in a row, we finally asked: Are they real? “It’s my mascara!” she said, with a laugh…

Great Drugstore Mascara

Her current favorite is Maybelline’s The Colossal Volum’ Express.

“I’ve always used drugstore mascaras. I don’t have a go-to brand — I like trying new ones — but I do prefer volumizing formulas, since then I don’t have to wear eyeliner. I curl my lashes, apply two coats of mascara, and curl them again. I’ve heard makeup artists say never to curl your eyelashes after you have makeup on, so I do it really gently.”

BEFORE

Great Drugstore Mascara

AFTER

Great Drugstore Mascara

Big difference, right?

After some sleuthing, we discovered that not only does this mascara get fantastic reviews — length and volume without any clumps — but there is a solid reason for sticking with drugstore brands. It turns out the age of a mascara matters more than the formula. The newer it is, the more easily the mascara will glide on smooth and clump-free. So, the argument goes, you’d be better off buying cheaper mascara more often (every few weeks) than splurging on pricier formulas and holding onto them for longer.

Here are some other formulas heralded for their lash-enhancing properties: crazy volume, banishing clumps, beautiful lengths and, last but not least, the industry favorite.

Great Drugstore Mascara

Do you wear drugstore mascara? Do you have a favorite?

P.S. A trick for feeling your best.

(Photos by Nicki Sebastian for Cup of Jo)

  1. Those lashes look fabulous but when i tried it look horrible on me. At the end of the day even if a use the waterproof one i ended up with a tiny black shadow. I’ve recently bought the Lancome Hypnose waterproof and it was the best i could do. Now I have long lashes all day long :)

  2. So funny! For YEARS I’ve been a Sephora product snob. The only item in my bag that is always from the drugstore is my Mascara, and it’s Maybelline!! I swear, nothing beats it, and I’ve tried a ton of different brands. So happy so many women are in agreement!

  3. Liz says...

    Non-mascara question: What lip gloss is Stella wearing here? I LOVE it!

  4. I’ve always loved Maybelline’s mascaras, but have mostly stuck to the Full N Soft line! I always get so much compliments on it :)
    Can’t wait to try this one as well! <3
    I see a lot of people mentioning tubing mascara, and I used to be a huge fan as well, but I noticed that they don't hold the curl well :( Any tips on this one?

    xo, elizabeth t.

    https://clothestoyouuu.wordpress.com/

    • Ruth says...

      Not to be relentless about it (ha), but I have found the Kevyn Aucoin Le Volume tubing mascara to hold the curl well and I always curl my eyelashes if I wear mascara.

  5. Ruth says...

    (I like it better than Blinc… other tube mascara ladies, if you like a more volumizing formula, you should try it!)

  6. Ruth says...

    I used to be a drugstore mascara person, but now I do use an expensive mascara, faithfully, for the last several years – Kevyn Aucoin Le Volume. It’s a great mascara but most importantly it’s a tube mascara so it washes off SO EASILY just with water at the end of the day. This is huge for me because I hate using soap or makeup remover on my eyes.

  7. Love this post! For years, I was buying the expensive stuff (Smashbox Full Exposure which I absolutely love!). But recently, I picked up Covergirl’s LashBlast Volume Blasting Waterproof Mascara and there’s no turning back! I highly recommend it!

  8. Karen says...

    I think maybelline mascara’s are the worst!
    As a wedding photographer I get asked for a lot of make up tips.

    The BEST and I mean the BEST is Dior Addict mascara followed by any of the MAC ones, and Eyeko is pretty too, makes lashes long and thick.
    I’ve yet to find a cheap mascara that does anything decent, and I’ve pretty much tried them all. The closest to drugstore that works is
    Benefit, but it’s actually pretty pricey!
    Love reading the comments!

  9. Lynnette says...

    OBSESSED with L’Oreal Voluminous Miss Manga. Nothing has ever worked like it before and now I get comments all the time on how long my lashes are. Try it!

  10. D says...

    It really depends on the person though, have to keep that in mind. My “before” lashes certainly don’t look close to that! But the after with Dior mascara is quite different!

  11. Marianne Hoejaard says...

    I went out and bought this mascara the same day I read this post. The next day I wore it to work and my co-worker complimented my eyelashes. My favorite thing is that there’s no excess mascara on the brush that you have to clean off.

  12. Samantha says...

    I use Maybelline’s The Colossal Volum’ Express too and I don’t understand why anyone buys expensive mascara. I never noticed any considerable difference when I’ve tried the fancy ones.

  13. I am obsessed with mascara. I mostly stick to “tubing” formulas and there aren’t many drugstore versions of that, except 1. L’oreal double extend beauty tubes mascara and 2. NYX doll eyes mascara. Unfortunately, both of these can be a bit hard to find in drugstores. Non-drugstore ones are Too Faced Lash Injection, Blinc, and Fiberwig… there are others.
    I did recently try the newly reformulated Diorshow mascara, which is not a tubing formula, but IS really good (and expensive, haha). I actually put on 1 coat of this, then follow with 1 coat of a tubing formula. :)
    See? Obsessed. I go through SO MUCH mascara.

  14. I discovered a mascara by the brand Pacifica last year and am sticking with it for the long haul – and this is coming from someone who loves trying out new products. Not only is it 100% cruelty free and vegan, but it’s my favorite mascara in terms of quality too. It never clumps and doesn’t make my lashes feel crunchy, which so many others do. It’s $14, which is still far less than the designer mascaras out there.

    http://www.pacificabeauty.com/makeup/eyes/stellar-gaze-length-strength-mineral-mascara

    • Thanks for the recommendation! I am in the process of changing out all of my current products for cruelty free, natural options. I had been eyeing this product and was worried about leaving my lashes crunchy and flaky. I will give it a shot.

  15. Raechel says...

    I would love to use drugstore mascara’s but with several brands that I’ve tried – my eyes actually sting. I have no clue whats in the cheaper ones but they irritate my eyes like no other!

    I’m in love with the Marc Jacob’s mascara and it was a free sample from sephora! Sephora is great if you make big purchases for giving those freebies and a little travel size last at least a month in my experience!

    • Samantha says...

      Are the ones that make your eyes sting waterproof? A few friends of mine and I have noticed that we tend to react poorly to an ingredient in the drugstore waterproof versions, but don’t get itchy when we use regular drugstore mascaras…

    • Raechel says...

      I’ll have to try that Samantha! I just splurged and bought some more marc jacobs mascara. I’m in love with that and bad gal!

  16. My favorite drugstore mascara is by Prestige – My Blackest Lashes. You can find it at Ulta or Rite Aid for only $7.00. It makes my lashes look REALLY full, without getting clumpy or crunchy.

  17. Wendy says...

    I make my drugstore mascara last even longer by mixing in a few drops of contact solution when it starts to dry out. Make that $7 last!

  18. I’m a huge advocate for Maybelline Falsies. I’ve been using it for years, my absolute favorite! I totally agree, the newer the mascara, the better, and at less than $9 a tube, I am totally guilt free when I dispose after just a mere few months. Great article!

  19. Emily O. says...

    I love the Maybelline Falsies mascara. I use the waterproof version (I’m the type gets emotional and can cry at the drop of a hat) – it is so easy on my eyelashes, not difficult to remove, and stays put all day if I cry or I’m in the pool.

  20. I’m definitely a drugstore mascara girl. I like my high end makeup, but find that mascaras at the drugstore are just as good, and sometimes better than department store ones.
    My current favourite is Covergirl’s Full Lash Bloom. It gives me long, fluttery lashes, which I love. For volume I also like Maybelline’s Colossal Volum’ Express.

    Kristi | Be Loverly

  21. Teresa M says...

    Mascara lover here! I’ve tried a ton of mascaras (high end and drugstore). Here are some of my faves:
    Maybelline: The Rocket, Full N Soft, Lash Sensational
    L’Oreal: Telescopic (BEST lengthening mascara), Voluminous Carbon Black
    Tarte: Lights Camera Lashes
    Benefit: Roller Lash
    Make Up For Ever: Smoky Lash, Smoky Lash Extravaganza

    I actually don’t like the Maybelline Great Lash at all! I always go back to it to see if maybe I’m just crazy…nope. Maybelline makes the best drugstore mascaras, though, IMO.

  22. Beth says...

    I’ve been using Maybelline Lash Discovery for years! I love the mini-brush for my tiny lashes, especially for the corner lashes. This makes me want to experiment a little, but my habits can be hard to change. :)

  23. L’Oreal Miss Manga is the BEST. I’m a mascara snob. I’ve tried everything. Even crazy expensive ones. Overall, it’s a great product and definitely a MOST bang for your buck kind of product.

  24. Terry Beasley says...

    I understand drug-store mascara is cheap and works well. However, I can’t justify purchasing drugstore make-up/mascara after reading about how animals in testing centers are treated. Giving another living thing cancer in order to save 15 dollars isn’t worth it.

  25. To Leah at 2:30am_
    I have had some severe allergic reactions to L’Oreal mascaras, and some others. I now use these three with no issue.
    Tarte- Lights, Camera, Lashes!
    Korres-Rice Powder mascara
    Almay mascara

    • Leah says...

      Thanks, Jen! And rice powder mascara sounds fascinating… :)

  26. Maddy says...

    I can’t do drugstore mascaras unfortunately because so many of the companies test on animals :( I am loving Alexa Chung’s Eyeko Skinny brush, which I believe is available at Sephora <3

    • Tiffany says...

      I also don’t buy drugstore make up because much of it is tested on animals–such as Maybelline, unfortunately. I use Mineral Fusion, which is cruelty free and natural. No beagles or bunnies were harmed for my mascara. :) I find it at Whole Foods and Sprouts.

  27. Taylor says...

    Woah, your eyes are gorgeous, Stella!

  28. Liz b. says...

    I have this mascara (waterproof) and use it! Yes this does work!!
    Biggest drawbacks: 1 It smudges. 2. Getting it off!! Omg!! It’s a 2 step process of face oil, followed by eye make remover. Sometimes two rounds.
    On the plus side cvs always has a it on sale. 😛

  29. Meg says...

    Mascara is my #1 gotta-wear-it makeup item, but my pet peeve is when it smears. It’s way too frequent that I look in the mirror only to see big black smudges below my eyes and on my lids — ugh! Has Stella had good luck with her Maybelline mascara smearing or smudging?

    (By the way, I currently use Maybelline Full n Soft, and would recommend it unequivocally besides the sometimes smudging!)

  30. I work in the beauty industry and have heard from multiple cosmetics experts that when it comes to mascara, the technology is mainly in the applicator. So you could also use the brush from a favourite high-end brand with drugstore mascara and have the best of both worlds!

  31. Danielle D. says...

    I love the Maybelline line as well. I don’t have long eyebrows, but these do a good job of extending them without it looking clumpy, etc.

    I also like the Neutrogena mascara and Avon sells some good mascara believe it or not-I like to try different ones too sometimes.

    There is no Sephora or the like within 30 minutes from me (a good thing for my pocketbook, lol), so the drugstore/Target is usually my go to place. There is some makeup I will splurge on, but $8 is the max for mascara. That and a little blush work wonders.

  32. I love drugstore mascara! I once read that it’s one of those products you don’t have to splurge on. However, I love the Full Fat Lashes mascara by Charlotte Tilbury. It’s quite pricey but it’s amazing if you don’t have those gorgeous lashes that Stella has!
    xx,
    E.
    http://www.theslowpace.com

  33. I’ve tried nearly every mascara under the sun and always go back to Maybelline The Falsies. I just can’t justify spending more than that on a mascara when I have to replace it all the time.

    Erin | http://www.beingerin.com/

  34. Leah says...

    Does anyone have suggestions for uber-sensitive eyes? (I also wear contacts. Helpful, yes.) I’ve tried soo many mascaras over the years, but within minutes I’m clawing at my eyes. We’re off to a wedding this weekend, and I’d love to try again….

    Leah x

    • Stephanie says...

      I have really sensitive dry eyes and hate all the chemicals in mascaras. Two good ones for those with sensitive eyes are Kiehl’s (no parabens!) and Tarte’s Amazonian Clay mascara (no parabens, SLS, and mineral oils).

    • Margaret says...

      I love Dr. hauschka mascara. Gentle on eyes, no funky stuff.

  35. Emily says...

    I’ve tried a bunch of different types from drugstore to fancy, and I keep going back to Mac Opulash. It’s the perfect blend of length and volume, and it’s clump free! I’m disappointed every time I try a new brand, even the cult classics like They’re Real. The only downside is that it’s only sold at Nordstrom, but luckily there’s one not too far from me!

  36. Caroline says...

    I rarely wear mascara (because I find my lashes with it are too long and run into my glasses). That said, when I do, I like the Maybelline Great Lash.

    I bought a ton of different expensive waterproof mascaras for my wedding. In the end, the only mascara I liked was the Maybelline Great Lash waterproof, the same stuff my mama used when I was a little girl.

  37. Jill says...

    I had this constant battle between wanting mascara that didn’t smudge all over my face and one that didn’t require paint thinner to get off. Then they discontinued my go to Loreal, and I accidentally picked up a similar tube. Loreal double extend tubes. Life changer!! It goes on beautifully and comes off like silicon with just water. No smudges all over your face or goop in the corners of your eyes. Just don’t get caught in the rain!!

    • Natalie says...

      Thanks for the tip! I used to be a die-hard L’oreal Voluminous fan until I suddenly became allergic to it (after years of use!) so I’ve been searching for a new fave. Sounds like this one won’t be smudging or flaking under the eyes, which is a constant issue with the other drugstore mascaras I’ve tried.

  38. tammy says...

    I’ve been experimenting a lot with drugstore mascaras lately. I’ve been loving the Lash Sensational (maybelline). It’s (almost) a Benefit Roller Lash dupe and has been amazing at making my non-existent eyelashes look long and curled!

  39. Sharon says...

    I should add that I do have fairly long lashes to begin with (makes up for my teeny eyes?). And the mascara runs about $32 which is far from drugstore prices, but worth it to me for the fun factor. I don’t replace as often as I prob. should but it lasts forever and I still get great results a few months later. 90% of the time people think my lashes are real, and not enhanced! And they do not test on animals, also important to me.

  40. Sharon says...

    So there’s this brand that people sell individually (kind of like a Mary Kay type situation) that I LOVE. It’s called Younique. It comes with two different applicators, one for the gel, and then one for the ‘fibers’ which adhere to the gel. You don’t *have* to use the fibers to get great lashes (in fact, I only use it about 50% of the time), but wowee when I do! I get comments ALL the time on my mascara. I have zero commitment or involvement with Younique and don’t know where to tell your readers to find it (a friend locally sells it) but if you google it, you’ll prob. come up with someone near you who sells it

    • I use the same product. It’s excellent and most people think I have extensions!

  41. I’ve been using a combination of L’Oreal volume express, followed by Cover Girl Lash Blast for years. The first coat makes them nice and thick and the second coat lengthens and adds more drama. Bottom lashes get the Covergirl only. For extra oomph, I’ll curl gently after as well but only for special occasions. Oh and black. Always in black.

  42. Alison says...

    Beautiful lashes Stella! Great tips :)

    Just a weird observation – I feel as though Stella could be another ‘twin stranger’ of Niamh Geaney, who co-ordinated the Twin Strangers project: http://www.twinstrangers.com/

  43. I hate the whole makeup removal routine, and I could never find the right mascara that wouldn’t flake, smudge or irritate my eyes. Eyelash curler all the way!

  44. Have been wearing Maybelline Great Lash for YEARS and even men comment on my eyelashes! Such a classic!

    • Lynn S says...

      Me too!! People ask me what I use all the time — just Maybelline. Pink tube, green top! Works every time.

  45. I am not a big make up gal, so mascara/blush/eyelash curler are my staples. My addiction for the last 10 years is Blinc mascara (you can get it online or at Sephora). It doesn’t irritate my eyes, doesn’t smudge, and it comes off in tiny strings but only with warm water (sounds weird, but look it up haha). AKA you never have raccoon eyes and you don’t have to buy makeup remover. If anyone reading this likes to keep it low maintenance, try it… I promise you’ll love it. :)

    • Katherine says...

      +++ on the Blinc recommendation. It’s the best thing ever. I hate the raccoon thing and this never happens with Blinc. I also wear their liquid eyeliner everyday and it never moves, never smudges. Happy happy!

    • Elliesee says...

      Yes, Blinc, previously Kiss Me – I even sleep with it. It never runs yet it’s easy to remove. Some mornings this winter the cold was just to harsh here in Canada and I had to skip the mascara.

  46. katie says...

    I’ve been tinting my lashes for the past 20+ years. Game changer.

  47. Lindsay says...

    I’m such a sucker for new mascara. But thinking about, I’ve only ever really tried Covergirl as far as drugstore brands go. For a really natural look, I love the yellow tube, Lashblast Length. It layers really well and it never clumps and the formula stays for a long time. Sometimes I forget to replace the tub e because it stays so consistent.

    I also subscribe to birchbox and I’ve had the chance to try so many great mascara’s all over the board, price wise. Really love the brand blinc, the formula creates little tubes that you rinse off with just water and it never leaves any residual gunk on my face. Love it.

    They’re real is great but it can look fake super really quick, and when I said that to the lady at Sephora, she was like, yeah, that’s the point.

  48. Jacqueline Rios says...

    Wanna laugh? I wear Maybeline Great Lash mascara – and it’s clear!! It’s always been my favorite and I don’t think I will ever change!!

  49. Amy says...

    I am a firm believer in drugstore mascara! But, um, are we really supposed to be replacing mascara every few WEEKS?? Oops.

  50. Diane says...

    I use Loreal Voluminous Volume Building Mascara and have for YEARS. It lengthens my scrawny lashes and doesn’t irritate like a number of other brands seem to. I have never purchased an expensive brand.

    • sil says...

      Love Loreal Voluminous, of all the ones I’ve tried this is definitely my favorite!

  51. I have always been partial to loreal paris voluminous (grey tube with gold lettering and wand top)

    • sil says...

      My FAVORITE too!! Been using it for years, keep trying others and always go back to using this everyday!

  52. I do love the covergirl one in the orange packaging… and I’m planning on returning to that after I’m done with my rimmel one which unfortunately smears all over my lower lids every single time…..

    • kristin says...

      i loved that one too! the carrot looking packaging!

  53. Her lashes look amazing! I have to try this. I usually pick up NYC’s $1 mascara, but I also look for what’s currently on sale.

  54. Drugstore mascara is all I use. I go for the classic green and pink tube but lately I’ve been mixing it up a bit with the Miss Manga and I’m loving it! :D

  55. CindyLou says...

    Maybelline! In the 1970s I lived in Iran and when I came back to the U.S. for visits I would stock up on Maybelline Great Lash. It’s still the best.

  56. Amy says...

    When I still wore mascara, I loved Maybelline Full’n’Soft. It looked really natural (I got it in dark brown) and didn’t clump or look spidery. Full and soft was an apt name for it. I got asked about it occasionally, too. It started disappearing off the shelves and Maybelline no longer had it on their website so I bought about five tubes (I hoped they would stay okay for a while as long as I didn’t open them!). I just checked online and it looks like it might be back, though!

    • Lesley S says...

      I love Full ‘n Soft. I recently started using it again and it is so great. I always find it at Walgreens. I have a drawer full of expensive mascara that I don’t care for – now I know it’s probably the age of the mascara rather than the formula.

    • Roxana says...

      Yay! I love Maybelline Full’n’Soft. It is seriously the best, particularly in dark brown. I would be so happy to see it again. I’ve only been able to find it in black, or have found the brown on Amazon and haven’t ordered it for fear that it’d be too old. Here’s to hoping the dark brown reappears!

    • Annie says...

      Full & Soft is my favorite! I usually buy it in black from Target or the grocery store. Adds length but looks natural.
      Only complaint is when I get really sweaty (cycling or running in hot weather), it melts off onto my skin – so I just make sure to take it off before working out.

  57. Kate says...

    I hate to say it but I really think the effectiveness of mascara has to do with what starting material you are working with. Stella clearly has long, thick lashes even without mascara, so of course they look great with a drugstore brand. My lashes are similar except that I’m blonde so it LOOKS like mascara makes my lashes amazing but really it’s just coating what I already have and making them visible. Friends are always dismayed after trying my drugstore recommendations because they don’t get the same results and unfortunately I just have to tell them that life’s not fair and I start with great lashes!

  58. Eliza says...

    Great Lash has been my go-to year after year, though I did once receive a gift of Lancome Definicils, and it was pretty amazing. I’m just not willing to pay the price!

  59. jen says...

    I’ve always worn drugstore mascara. I tried a designer sample once and hated it; the cheaper stuff doesn’t clump my fine, long eyelashes into spiders. For that I’ve found that it’s not usually the mascara formula, but the shape of the brush that really makes a difference.
    P.S. The day I switched to brown instead of black mascara, I got tons of compliments.

  60. R says...

    I have used Maybelline Lash Discovery for years. I have thin, stick-straight Asian eyelashes, and the tiny brush is perfect for this!

  61. Karen says...

    Great Lash fan. Been using it for 30 years. I’ve tried others but always
    come back to this one. I have long lashes and this coats them perfectly
    without clumps.

  62. Sarah says...

    I use Mally Beauty mascara that I discovered from Birchbox and I think of it as kind of between drugstore and the designer mascaras. It’s awesome! But I love the tip about switching your mascara every few weeks. I’m going to try Maybelline.

  63. Kelli says...

    I am in LOVE with Rimmel Scandalash mascara! It’s about $5 a pop, and is great for everyday use (one or two quick coats!), but it also builds amazingly well with a few more if you are feeling some super flirty lashes! I don’t know whether or not Rimmel tests on animals and appreciate all of you who are really dedicated to supporting companies who do not. I like to mix it up every now and then when buying drugstore brands but keep going back to this one!

  64. Susan says...

    L’Oreal Volumizing!

  65. I use this mascara as well and get SO many compliments on my eyelashes! I love it – and you can’t beat that price.

  66. That’s exactly the one I use since a couple of years!
    :-)

  67. Bridget says...

    After many trial runs I’m a committed luxury cosmetics user (Laura Mercier products are my favorite)….EXCEPT for when it comes to mascara. I’ve been using Maybelline mascara since I was twelve (I’m now 36) and I still LOVE it. I’ve tried others but always go back to Maybelline. Their waterproof define-a-lash has been my go-to for about five years now. Enhances natural lashes beautifully with no clumping.

    • Right there with you on Laura Mercier! Her tinted moisturizer changed my mornings

  68. Sarah says...

    I used to swear by Maybelline & Cover Girl mascaras but then decided to make the switch to cruelty-free makeup products. Like others have commented, it’s definitely worth doing your research and paying a bit more rather than supporting companies that force animals to suffer through horrible tests. My new favorite is Pixi Large Lash Mascara. It’s available at Target for $16 and, as an added bonus, is Paraben & fragrance free. You can find cheaper drugstore products that don’t test on animals — like Physician’s Formula and even NYX ($6). Elf even has mascara for 2 bucks!

  69. molly says...

    Stella is so lovely!! And thanks for the awesome tip! I just signed up to get that brand monthly thru Subscribe + Save, and I bought a new curler :) Thanks again xo

  70. Judy says...

    It’s so frustrating, because here in NZ we still pay so much for drugstore brands, Maybelline, Covergirl, L’Oreal etc all cost almost the same as MAC so that’s what I usually end up buying.

    • Hi Judy, I’m an American living in NZ and I was shocked when I moved here to see how much drugstore products were. Well actually how expensive everything is!

  71. Stella, you’re gorgeous! I guess I’m a creature of habit because I’ve been using Maybelline’s Lash Discovery in Very Black for probably 10 years now. I love the tiny, micro brush and feel it gets my also, decently long lashes even better. My hairdresser mentioned it to me years ago and I love it.

  72. Laura says...

    You are a cutie, Stella! Thanks for sharing your beautiful eyes with us today!

  73. Anitra Sweet says...

    I LOVE Covergirl’s “The Super Sizer”! It’s amazing!!

  74. Kukla says...

    I’ve been given such long and naturally curly lashes that I get more compliments when I don’t wear any! On the very rare occasions, I pull out my Chanel (always a winner in my opinion). XO

  75. Hanna says...

    Oh PLEASE. This beautiful woman already has kick ass eyelashes. No mascara in the world is going to do for me what it does for her. Still, I am picking up every bit of advice that my girl Stella is putting down because I can use all the help I can get. :) Thanks, ladies!

    • cg says...

      Amen, Hanna. Exactly what I was thinking when I saw the before picture. In fact, I took a double take to make sure it was indeed “before”. What I would give up for those before lashes. Try stubby, straight Asian lashes. No amount of mascara and curling -high brand or drugstore would ever get me to that “after” point.

  76. Maire says...

    I am a loyal user of CoverGirl mascaras. The Professional in the long blue tube is great, but I am currently loving the Bloomin’ or Full Bloom or something along those lines in the pink tube! I find that CG products are easy to remove, other higher end products are terrible to try and get off!

    Also Almay stuff if nice.

  77. abigail says...

    Nearly every drugstore brand I’ve tried makes my eyes dry and itchy. I switched to the pricier mascaras a few years ago, and while I don’t think they actually do a better job, my eyes don’t itch. But, I hate the price, so I live off of free samples! I also always choose mascara with my Sephora points, and I can almost always find Benefit’s They’re Real in a small size at Ulta or Sephora for $8-10!

  78. Talia says...

    I only wear drug store mascara! I replace every three months (on orders of my ophthalmologist), so buying expensive is out of the question. AND! drug store mascara is amazing.

  79. Lenna says...

    “Illegal length”

    Lol.

  80. A lot of drug store mascaras are as good as the high end ones but much more affordable. I love L’Oreal’s Miss Manga waterproof mascara. It lengthens my lashes and holds the curl well.

    http://www.thefondfox.com

  81. I tried all sort of mascaras at any price point and I keep going back to LashBlast by Covergirl. It gives amazing lashes and it comes in brown as well, which is great for blondes and redheads!

  82. Kendra says...

    I jump into using drugstore mascara’s when mine runs out.
    I do love my expensive stuff though. I use Benefit’s “They’re real”. I have long eyelashes that naturally curl #blessed and i used to slather on mascara. I wear so much. Just because they are my asset and I want them as fly as possible. With the benefit stuff, 2 coats and i’m done.
    But i do have a few go-to drugstore ones

  83. Nina says...

    Would be happy to save money on drugstore brands but almost all test on animals. And unfortunately the testing is quite horrible – and all for the name of “beauty”? Ouch. You have to really be current with the list too. It is constantly changing. For instance, the parent company Estee Lauder just went back to animal testing. The cover over 25 brands including ones you’d think would be cruelty free (BUT THEY ARE NOT) like Origins, Clinique, Aveda, Bobby Brown, Bumble and Bumble, Donna Karen, MAC, just to name a few. – all testing on animals. No judgement on the folks who purchase these products its just something I prefer not to support with my consumer dollar.

    • Amy says...

      Recently I’ve been trying to find cosmetics with fewer chemicals since I’m putting them on my face. I just bought Mineral Fusion mascara and when I read your reply to this post I thought, “Oh no! I didn’t check to see if they tested on animals!” (Just Googled…they do not. Phew!) I am not a staunch animal rights person, but I’ve seen pictures of animal testing cosmetics and it makes me cry so I try (not always succeeding) to be conscious of it. I think it’s a great point to bring up especially when we talk about how we spend our $$ (which points to what we think is important).

    • Melissa says...

      I feel the same way! It takes effort, but it is not that difficult to avoid products that are tested on animals. I realize that due to price-point, etc not everyone can do the same — but, it’s something (fairly small) I choose to do. I love Tarte for this reason. Great products. Cruelty-free. Even vegan in some cases.

    • Darcy H says...

      Maybelline definitely does animal testing. So many great make-up companies don’t though! It’s not hard to buy the friendly stuff!!

      Almay, a great quality mascara, is in all the drug stores, for example. Almay hasn’t animal tested for over 20 years.

      Lots of beauty bloggers do cruelty-free mascara ratings. Google turned up a ton just now.

  84. Emma says...

    I love Cover Girl’s Lashblast line – I’ve probably used all of the variations (lengthening, volume, etc.) and they are great! I read a trick years ago that I’ve put into practice ever since and I always get compliments on my lashes: curl your lashes, then just touch the very tip of your lashes to the mascara wand. Allow that to dry before applying 2-3 coats. That first little “dip” into the brush lengthens the lashes and really makes a difference.

  85. Oh, drugstore mascaras are definitely the way to go, and maybelline always hits the nail on the head! My favorite is Mega Plush, from their Volum’ Express line. The wand has tons of long bristles, and the wand is also flexible. It gives great volume, length, and separation. It’s by far my favorite from their line!

  86. Girlfriend still has gorgeous lashes even without the mascara!

  87. i love maybelline mascara! unfortunately i have crazy skin allergies that prevent me from using it :( it’s actually one of the beauty products i miss the most. these days i use two faced size queen, which is great, but there is just nothing like drugstore mascara.

  88. I am all about the drugstore mascara. I am a loyal CoverGirl Lashblast Volume wearer!!

  89. Two other tricks from someone who gets asked if my lashes are fake all the time.

    1. Apply a little bit of sheer powder to your lashes before applying the mascara. It makes them thicker as the mascara has more to grab onto.

    2. When applying coats, allow each one to breathe for about 30 seconds. Apply one coat – wait about 30 seconds – apply next coat. Waiting between coats allows the previous one to hang on, so the second one doesn’t just cancel it out, it builds onto it.

  90. I have never been that big on expensive mascara and her lashes are the reason why. I don’t really see a difference in higher priced mascara. I love my L’Oreal voluminous and it works just as well as super expensive brands.

    http://aneducationindomestication.com

  91. I know it’s not drug store, but Benefit’s “they’re real!” mascara is amazing. My eyelashes are similar to Stella’s (but blonde) and I always get compliments on them especially after I started wearing the they’re real mascara. It even makes my friends with shorter lashes look va-va-voom!

    • Rose says...

      Can I ask how you apply mascara to your blonde lashes? I can’t figure out how to do it without leaving a blonde gap at the roots.

    • Susan S. says...

      Hi Rose,
      Make-up artist here …
      Use the finger of your other hand to gently pull your lid up so you can see the underside of the lashes, then use the tip of the mascara wand (right when you take it out of the tube, when it still has kind of a gob on the tip) to dab the mascara gently at the roots on the underside. Then use the side of the brush normally to brush and blend it up through your lashes. You can also use a liquid eyeliner and run it along the base of your lashes on the top to cover blond roots. Hope that helps!

  92. I am a sucker for all Dior mascara and have been using for years, so afraid to venture out of my comfort zone (silly me)! All my LA friends tell me to give drugstore mascara a try so I can save a ton of money! If only I had Stella’s lashes!!! xo

    Kisses,

    (=’.’=)
    -Lauren
    adorn la femme

  93. Katie says...

    my mascara secret is to buy the travel size mascaras from sephora! they are the same price as drugstore mascara ($8-10) so I don’t mind buying a new one every three months like you’re supposed to. plus, I feel like I actually use the amount that I buy. who has ever really finished a tube of mascara?? I feel the same way about nail polish.

    p.s. stella has incredible eyelashes– mascara or not!

  94. Neutrogena Healthy Lengths in carbon black is THE best. Doesn’t flake, smudge or irritate eyes with unnatural fibers. So obsessed.

  95. Hmm, I like the argument that you’re better off buying cheaper mascara more often! I always buy pricey mascara, but I don’t use it much so it gets clumpy in my makeup bag. Maybe I should switch my approach!

  96. I have naturally long lashes but love the opportunity to make people even more jealous with a few coats of mascara. I love L’Oreal Voluminous in brown-black with the curved brush.
    Curl, first coat rolling the brush upwards, second coat in a zig-zag motion to make sure there are no clumps, and curl again.

  97. Jodi says...

    I’m a HUGE fan of Maybelline Great Lash! I do however bounce between drugstore mascara and higher-end mascara, usually when the sales associate lures me at the department store. Yes, I do like pricier versions but often times I can’t see enough of a difference for it to be worth the extra dough. I always go back to my trusty Maybelline!

  98. I’m allergic to Maybelline mascara (which apparently isn’t uncommon!), but I am wholly devoted to Cover Girl Lash Blast Volume. I have long lashes, but they’re sparse, and this mascara pumps them up like crazy!

  99. yes! I only use drugstore brands for that exact reason. I usually use anything by Cover Girl.

  100. Jami says...

    Definitely not a drugstore brand but bobbi brown smokey eye mascara is the most amazing thing I’ve ever put on my lashes. It almost makes them look false because it beefs them up so much!

  101. In addition to concerns about animal testing, I worry about what all is in my mascara. It’s so close to our eyes, which are so sensitive, that I decided to try a more natural option. I found this brand that is affordable and uses fruit extracts and teas, and I really love it. It even smells nice when I apply it. It’s called 100% Pure Fruit Pigmented Mascara, and it’s available on Amazon. Highly recommended :)

    • Kate says...

      You might be onto something here… Lately my eyes have been super irritated from allergies and what-have-you that I’ve just been foregoing mascara and contact lenses. (It’s just not worth it, right?) But now I’m intrigued by this option… thanks for the rec!

  102. You linked to all my favorite drug store brands :) Does Stella have a blog? I love finding new ones and following along. (Also, I love the name Stella!)

  103. Kathryn says...

    I love Maybelline Full and Soft and always get compliments on my mascara. It can be heard to find but it’s worth stocking up when you find it.

  104. Leah PS says...

    This is the very best mascara on the market. I will never use another kind. For years, I used Max Factor 2000 Calorie mascara, but it was discontinued or maybe just no longer available in the US. Maybelline Colossal Volum’ is LEGIT. 3 cheers for drugstore mascara!

  105. Courtney says...

    I want to start curling my eyelashes but I’m soooo scared of pinching my eyelid with the curler! Anybody know of an eyelash curler for beginners??

  106. Amy says...

    I’ve almost always been a drugstore mascara girl. A few years ago I went crazy trying all the kinds available and spending WAY too much on mascara in that time. (easily hundreds of dollars-they’re so expensive!) but I always come back to two drugstore favorites. Volum’ express and Full n’ soft. love them both, and love to layer them!

  107. Jill says...

    I’m an esthetician, makeup artist, and mascara enthusiast. I totally agree that drugstore brands are where it’s at, especially loreal products. If only my eyes weren’t soooo sensitive, I wouldn’t be spending the $20 on CK water based stuff (which is awesome too, just pricier).

  108. Margaret says...

    I have used drugstore mascara before. I now use a mascaraa that sephora used to carry and no longer does. I had to research the brand and I learned that it is made in Japan, where it is a drugstore mascara! So I buy my mascara on ebay from someone who buys it in a drugstore in Japan. (when I run out, I rely on U.S. drugstore mascara; I’ll have to add this to my list to try) Funny how that works and our perspective on it! One of the brands I use that comes from Target is supposedly sold much more exclusively (in malls and dept stores only) in Europe.

  109. Natalie says...

    My favorite drugstore brand is CoverGirl Lash Exact – the brush is perfect, it’s never clumpy and it makes my lashes long and defined. I wore it on my wedding day. Lately, I have been wearing all-natural make-up and I love Pacifica’s Stelllar Gaze, which you can get at Target. It’s more expensive, but it’s mineral-based and actually good for your lashes.

  110. jessica says...

    This is sort of in jest but do you only hire brunettes with straight hair?? Joanna, Lexi, Caroline and Stella…you could all be related!

  111. Amanda says...

    I think you guys need a green eyed blond in the office… :) I’ll be the other intern!

  112. jenna says...

    Physicians formula. Its thick and doesnt hurt animals.

    • Myev says...

      Yes! I’m all for drug store brands, but many are tested on animals. And those poor creatures are put through unspeakable suffering just for things like mascara. The extra few dollars for less cruel product is worth it to me.

  113. Laura says...

    I always snag sample size mascaras from Sephora or Ipsy–like an earlier commenter said, they last the perfect amount of time before expiring. I’m currently using a tarte one, and have Clinique and Lancome lined up. I haven’t bought mascara in about two years!

    That being said, I might have to try Stella’s now…

  114. Ashlyn says...

    I love Rimmel’s Lash Accelerator Mascara – it supposedly helps your lashes grow! Who knows if it does, but the brush really helps separate out each lash and lengthen them. (I love to try different brands, like your intern, too!)
    I work for a luxury beauty brand and I have always used drugstore mascara – even though I can get our pricey product for a song! I have a theory that it’s relatively all the same goop and that the brush (and age of the goop) is what really makes the difference.

  115. What a fun post!! My makeup artist friend has had me on a fancy mascara kick for a couple of years. I’m so excited to try some of these that are new to me, but won’t break the bank! Thanks Caroline and Stella!

  116. I’ve been wearing Maybelline Volum’ Express The Mega Plush Washable Mascara for about a year and a half and I’ve never wanted another mascara. Its volumizing and stays clump-free for much longer than other mascaras, and the best thing is that it has a kind of gel formula that stays put all day and never flakes. Its also like $7. Its a great find- I’ve never tried designer mascaras or really anything more expensive, but I don’t need to!

    Kate
    kateintheclassroom.com

  117. Ashley N. says...

    I will never understand why the industry loves Maybelline Great Lash!? One of life’s great mysteries.

    I do quite a bit of layering with drugstore mascaras. I curl my lashes, apply a few coats of Rimmel Scandaleyes (really great brush), then a coat of Rimmel Lash Accelerator, and then a coat of Loreal Telescopic (silver tube) to separate and really lengthen.

    I just tried Physicans Formula Organic Lash Wear, it’s pretty decent as a stand alone. I usually am not a fan of Maybelline or Cover Girl mascaras, I find they don’t do much for my lashes and dry out pretty quickly. I do like the lengthening mascara from Flower Beauty.

    • I always thought that too, until I bought the Lots of Lashes version. The wand makes all the difference, and now I’m in love.

    • Tania says...

      Yes, I agree! I like some of Maybelline’s other mascaras but Great Lash is the worst mascara I’ve ever tried, by a mile. It’s a marketing myth, I think :)

  118. Lin says...

    I’ve recently become familiar with cruelty-free listings of drugstore brands http://www.crueltyfreekitty.com/cruelty-free-drugstore-brands/ and other sites like leaping bunny http://www.leapingbunny.org/shopping.php for all cruelty-free cosmetics. I know the debate is ongoing, but there are so many brands out there that might be considered. Consumers will drive changes in the beauty industry, and I would love to see you cover this topic with available resources in one of your posts. So enjoy reading your blog!

    • Patricia says...

      I absolutely agree with Lin. I’d love to see this issue explored here.

    • Trish O says...

      Thank you for this list. I will admit, this issue is not one I normally consider when shopping for cosmetics but having a list like this will help me keep it in mind.

  119. Amy Lauree says...

    If I could pick one make up item that mattered the most to me, it’s mascara hands down. I’ve tried many drugstore brands and to be honest, they are all the same. I usually use MAC mascara and always notice a huge difference and it lasts longer. My lashes look long and I can build them up within a few coats whereas drugstore mascara just doesn’t do it the same. I always want to love drugstore brands but usually end up disappointed.

  120. Allison C says...

    I love Covergirl’s LashBlast Length. It doesn’t clump or flake (I get waterproof), and the brush is fantastic.

  121. I’m also on the L’Oreal Voluminous bandwagon! I replace it every 3-4 months because I definitely notice a difference in texture. Plus, it’s harder to get off at the end of the day when it’s older. I think the formula changes after it’s been exposed to air too many times.

    • Aimee says...

      Devoted L’Oreal Voluminous user here, too! I recently splurged on a Diorshow because I got sucked in by all of the rave reviews. So disappointing! It barely coats, and does nothing for length. I really just need to learn to stick with what I know. Though, oddly, I like the results from my Voluminous after it’s a few weeks old…I get crazy volume when it’s a little drier, vs when it’s a brand new tube.

  122. Cindy says...

    I love mascara! it’s the only eye makeup I wear. I do splurge on a great Smashbox one, as I am a huge believer in no animal testing. I know Physicians formula doesn’t test on animals. I’ll have to try them out and save myself a bit of money :)

  123. I’m so excited that I’m not alone in my love for Maybelline mascara! I have super long lashes (I know, I know) and I have a hard time finding mascaras that do a good job holding them up. I’ve spent far too much money on expensive brands but keep coming back to Maybelline Great Lash. I’m right there with ya, Stella! :)

    Katy
    http://www.alittledailyhappiness.com

  124. Rachel says...

    My issue with drugstore mascaras is that almost all of them are tested on animals. My absolute favourite mascara (and I’ve tried many) is Lush Eyes Right Fresh Wheatgrass Mascara. It’s good for your lashes and it doesn’t hurt after wearing it for a full day (many other mascaras hurt my eyes.) It is a little more expensive than I would like – about $20 with tax but I haven’t found another mascara that wears as well.

    • Carolyn Schwent says...

      Agreed!! This is the problem I have as well. I would love to buy drugstore mascara because I’d prefer to save money and I agree that it works just as well (if not better) than many of the pricier options, but I hate animal testing for makeup :(

  125. Amanda says...

    Maybelline Falsies mascara is my absolute go-to. I’m currently trying the new Lash Sensational and it really lives up to the hype. So great!

  126. Caz says...

    Yes I totally agree about the age thing; once you open them they start drying out (apparently you should never “pump” the wand in and out of the tube as this forces air inside and makes it dry out faster).

    And if you’ve got something that works, why pay more? I always buy drugstore mascaras. My long standing favourite is Max Factor False Lash Effect, it’s amazeballs!

  127. My favorite “secret” and one that costs as much as a drug store brand is buying prestige brand mascara in sample / travel size. The mascara will stay fresher, go on smoother and is twice as much cost effective than buying the full size that often dries out within a month or two. My absolute favorite go-to mascara is Lancome Hypnose Drama. One tube lasts me over a month to three months and costs me maybe $3-4 max.

  128. Liz says...

    I’ve been wearing L’Oreal’s (waterproof) Voluminous Million Lashes in blackest black for years. I swear by it! No clumps, great length. 100% recommend.

  129. Cynthia says...

    I like to try all kinds of mascara, and I usually wear drugstore brands unless I have a Clinique sample. I’m currently wearing L’Oreal’s Voluminous Miss Manga in Blackest Black and I love it! My daughter gave it to me for Mother’s Day. As you’re supposed to replace your mascara every three months, I see no point in buying high-end mascara. Physician’s Formula makes some nice mascaras too.