We’re huge believers that some of the best beauty things in life don’t have to cost you an entire month’s rent. And because mascara is such a personal product—there really isn’t one size fits all—we like to lay out all the options that are both effective and economical (#frugalbeauty). Short, stubby lashes require different wands and formulas than long, thin ones do, and even though the drugstore provides plenty of options to get you to falsie status, there’s the whole “no trying” part that makes it harder to select the right one for you.
To help you make the right decision, we polled top makeup artists to share the budget-friendly mascaras they count on for every gig, and lucky for us, they were happy to share their secrets. And because we consider ourselves pretty knowledgeable about the subject, we shared some of our drugstore favorites too. A girl needs options, you know.
Keep scrolling to see the best drugstore mascaras, as recommended by beauty editors and makeup artists.
“This is hands down my favorite mascara right now—it is the holy grail of mascaras. I am a huge proponent of fluffy, feathery lashes, and this is what Lash Paradise delivers. I love a fiber wand for my mascara, so that is what I typically look for when searching for mascara. It grabs a lot of product, which in turn delivers a lot of product to the lash and really coats them.” — Sir John, L’Oréal Paris celebrity makeup artist
“It’s by far the best (tiny) mascara brush I’ve found for short or lower lashes, and the waterproof formula doesn’t transfer.” — Lisa Aharon
“I love this mascara because its formula is much more lightweight than others and it’s buildable, which we all love. It gives a beautiful and natural look to the lashes without weighing them down. Less weight means more lift, and that is the key when it comes to lashes! I also love this mascara for the wand. It’s so big and feathery, which helps you coat the lashes without getting too much product in one place.” — Katelin Gan
“It’s a high-end formula in a drugstore price.” — Katie Jane Hughes
Keep scrolling for team Byrdie’s favorite drugstore mascaras!
Byrdie assistant editor Erin Jahns swears by this cult-classic volumizing option from CoverGirl, and for good reason: It adds volume without any clumpiness and makes thin lashes look thick and full. “I’ve been using this mascara since high school because I haven’t found a formula since (drugstore or otherwise) that can volumize while creating nice separation and lift,” she says. “Plus, it never smudges or flakes—even on my lower lashes.”
Byrdie Senior Editor Hallie swears by this drugstore mascara, saying the unique curved shape of the plastic brush lifts her lashes and gives a super wide-eyed look. “Maybelline makeup artist Grace Lee once told me this mascara is like a push-up bra for your eyelashes,” she says. “I’ve used it every day since. The secret is in the brush—it sweeps lashes to the side while lengthening and plumping each hair from the root. Then the formula holds your lashes in place. First sweep your inner lashes in an upward and outward motion from root to tip. Repeat (I like to do three to four swipes) until you’ve achieved that lifted, volumized, and winged-out effect.” (Note: Byrdie Editorial Director Faith likes to use this mascara as a second coat over a volumizing formula to really lift and extend every lash.)
Byrdie’s managing editor, Lindsey, swears by this yellow tube from Maybelline, swearing that its volumizing abilities go unmatched. “It’s great for adding natural-looking volume, and unlike other formulas, makes your lashes look thick and full after just one swipe,” she says.
“My lashes are thin and long, and this mascara makes them look fluffy and full with just a few swipes,” says Faith. “I make sure to curl my lashes first, and then apply a coat or two. I love that you don}t have to apply that many coats in order to see a difference. The amazing thing about this mascara is that it doesn’t clump, no matter how much you reapply. Plus, it smells like a weirdly appealing mixture of lipstick and flowers.”
Need more makeup artist favorites? See the pros dish on their favorite products in our brand-new video experience.
This story was published at an earlier date and has been updated by Faith Xue.