When it comes to cheap thrills, few things leave a beauty-lover more elated than having the best drugstore mascara in tow; a tried-and-true tube that curls, volumizes, defines, and comes with a price tag that encourages you to layer it on liberally. From richer color payoff to smoother, creamier textures that don’t flake or smudge, the offerings at the pharmacy are only getting better, furthering the stakes when it comes to what you ultimately toss in your basket.
Best Drugstore Mascara
- Best Overall: L’Oréal Voluminous Mascara, $11
- Best Volumizing: CoverGirl Lash Blast Volume Mascara, $13
- Best Falsies-Effect: Essence Lash Princess False Lash Effect Mascara, $5
- Best Lengthening: Maybelline Lash Sensational Sky High Mascara, $13
- Best Clean: Honest Beauty Extreme Length Mascara + Lash Primer, $20
To take the guesswork out of your next trip to the store, we asked a panel of 12 pro makeup artists about their top picks for effortlessly full, fluttery lashes. Here, the best drugstore mascaras, according to the pros and Vogue editors.
L’Oréal Voluminous Mascara
An all-time favorite pick for five of the makeup artists we spoke with, L’Oréal’s Voluminous Mascara comes out on top. “I’ve been using this mascara forever and it’s a staple in my kit,” explains celebrity makeup artist Gita Bass. “It’s super-black and adds incredible volume and curl, and never clumps or flakes.” On top of the aforementioned aspects, fellow artist Alana Wright can’t get enough of the brush, which she considers the perfect size, shape, and density “to still able to reach those tiny lashes in the inner and out corners of the eyes,” she says. Pro makeup artist Liz Castellanos is also a fan, noting it’s been her go-to since high school. “It gives major volume to your lashes, adds length, depth, and stays put. It’s a staple in my makeup bag.”
Another bonus is the gentle, non-abrasive formula. “It doesn’t irritate even the most sensitive eyes,” says Los Angeles–based makeup artist Autumn Moultrie. Celebrity makeup artist Rob Rumsey emphasizes how buildable it is—“You can do one swipe for a natural look or you can do multiple coats for more drama.” While Carbon Black is the most popular shade, both Moultrie and editorial pro Akiko Owada also like reaching for Black Brown, which can have a softer effect. “It provides clump-free lashes, it doesn’t run, and it’s easy to control,” adds Owada of the formula’s all-embracing appeal.
CoverGirl Lash Blast Volume Mascara
For bolder, more intense lashes, CoverGirl’s Lash Blast is another tried-and-true go-to. “I love its creamy texture, which gives you volume and length instantly in one coat, and it’s easy to layer it for more drama,” explains French makeup artist Cedric Jolivet. “I find the silicone brush [makes it easy] to grab the lashes from the root, and it totally works on short lashes!” Makeup artist William Scott agrees. “It’s perfect for those who want maximum volume on the first swipe, and with a lash comb, it can be spread over the lashes to make them more fluttery.” There’s just as much to love about its waterproof formula: “It will dry a bit faster, which help the eyelashes to stay curled,” says Jolivet of why it’s worth the extra time spent removing it at the end of the day. “I always curl the lashes first, but I noticed a lot of mascaras don’t hold a curl and make your lashes look heavy…not this one!”
Lash Blast Volume Mascara
Maybelline Lash Sensational Sky High Mascara
“It’s by far one of the best mascaras on the market—and relatively newer, too,” says Colby Smith of Maybelline’s Lash Sensational Sky High mascara. I love that it’s super-black,” he continues. “A few coats and you really get that full long lash. It has the look of a high-end mascara without breaking the bank.” And Smith isn’t alone in his love of this mascara, considering how it took over TikTok in 2021.
Lash Sensational Sky High Mascara
L’Oréal Telescopic Carbon Black Mascara
For soft, supple lashes, you can’t beat L’Oréal’s Telescopic Mascara, insists Scott. “I love its applicator and slick formula, which make it easy to apply to bottom lashes and give long and defined lashes all around,” they explain, emphasizing the lengthening powers of its patented plastic-bristle comb brush. “It’s very versatile in that one swipe delivers length and the wand makes it easy to keep the lashes separated, and the formula builds nicely to add some volume.”
Telescopic Carbon Black Mascara
Honest Beauty 2-in-1 Extreme Length Mascara + Lash Primer
The draw to Honest Beauty’s mascara extends beyond its clean composition. Its EWG Verified formula is infused with jojoba esters to aid lash strength, and it works to enhance your mascara’s staying power. The dual-ended tube features a mascara wand on one side and lash primer on the other to lengthen each lash for hours-long wear.
2-in-1 Extreme Length Mascara + Lash Primer
Neutrogena Healthy Volume Mascara
For Matin, it’s all about Neutrogena’s Healthy Volume Mascara with its nourishing ingredients and jet-black pigment. “It’s a true volume mascara that doesn’t dry out the lashes,” he says of the formula, which is supercharged with vitamin E-rich olive oil and protective sweet almond. “It stays flexible and won’t crumble throughout the day.” Another major draw? “It has a giant brush!” adds Matin. All the better to coat every little lash.