Following last week’s post Zero Waste and Plastic Free Living- Part 1 a review of drugstore mascaras seems hypocritical, but hear me out. For me, the whole point of testing makeup is to work out which products are the best and to stick with high performing options. I do my research and look at reviews before investing time and money into anything, and makeup is no exception. It annoys me when I splash out on new makeup only to find that it’s rubbish; the tube of orange lipstick or smudgy mascara ends up neglected, cluttering the beauty drawer before ending up in landfill.
Thus, a review of drugstore mascaras will guide you (and remind me) to make the best choices for our makeup preferences, saving money and reducing waste! If you don’t wear makeup, that’s cool, but for many people mascara is a staple beauty product, so it’s worth searching for the best options.
Update: I no longer wear drugstore mascara and I encourage you to look for organic and natural alternatives.
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links
I’ve been collecting notes on mascara for the past year and I have a few thoughts on products I’ve used years ago — so this is a fairly comprehensive guide to common mascaras available in the UK and North America! I try to only have a couple of mascaras going at once because they dry up quickly and the product consistency changes. Mascara only has a shelf life of 3-5 months; if your tube starts to smell bad, throw it out (nobody wants an eye infection)!
What I look for in mascara
My preference is for lengthening and volumising. More is more! If I had to pick one, I tend to go with volume. I like my mascara to keep a curl, not smudge, and not flake. I prefer a little bit of a clumpy look, but not too much.
My least favourite thing about a mascara is if it irritates my eyes. If I’m lying on the sofa and my eyes start stinging, that’s it, I have to take all my makeup off. When it does come time to remove my mascara, I want to be able to take it off with either my magic cloth or micellar water with gentle rubbing only (see Daily Skincare Routine). A good performing mascara should stay on but also come off when you need it to!
I get along best with small plastic bristled wands. I’m most likely to stab myself or get smudges on my eyelid when I use chunky bristles — I think this comes down to my hooded eye shape.
Green Beauty Alternatives
I thought I’d make a further note that I’ve yet to try any eco-friendly, natural, or “ethically” branded mascara. Brands like Green People and 100% Pure seem good options, but they’re too expensive for me. I’m also a bit wary of using natural mascara from independent companies on Etsy (or making my own). I’ve got sensitive skin and allergies and I just don’t trust a product that hasn’t had any lab testing going near my eyes (though I prefer brands that don’t lab test on animals). If you use budget friendly natural mascara, I’d love to know your thoughts!
Without further ado, the mascaras (listed alphabetically by brand):
The Super Sizer — Since Max Factor and Covergirl are sister brands, they have similar products sold in different regions. This means that this mascara is similar to my favourite one mentioned below by Max Factor. 😍
Most of the makeup I used as a teenager was by Covergirl, and I have a lot of respect for the quality of their products. If you’re in North America, they’re a safe drugstore choice!
Lash Princess — A popular brand in the US and definitely easier to get a hold of in North America. I ordered mine from Amazon (and paid a bit more), but I can see why it is a favorite among YouTubers. It has nice packaging and applies easily. It is an exception to my preference for plastic over natural bristles. It can be a bit clumpy but, when built, gives a great false lash effect. 😍
False Lash Butterfly —Good but has a strong chemical smell. It gave fluttery lashes as promised, and they extend towards the outer eye. Product didn’t dry out quickly and did not clump. ☺
Volume Million Lashes Feline —Good volume with a flicked look, and an easy to use brush. Formula was wet (marketed as a shiny black) and was extremely hard to remove – it also irritated my eyes after a while (see previous review here)🤔
Lash Sensational— There’s a reason it’s #1 on Amazon.😍 It’s easy to apply, no clumping, and loads of volume.
Great Lash — The OG mascara. The waterproof one was great when I was doing swim lessons and lifeguard training.😊
I’d say if you’re going to start anywhere with drugstore mascara, Maybelline is your best bet.
2000 Calorie — This mascara gives wide, fluttery lashes with lots of volume. It does have a strong smell though… 😊
Length— This brand is available at Boots and it is a good budget option. It isn’t my favourite, but if you like long, natural looking lashes it will work in a pinch. Can get a bit clumpy. 😏
The only version I’ve ever tried was “sensitive” and they don’t seem to make it anymore. It was okay, but not worth the price. 😏
Organic Wear (the green leaf one) — It annoys me that this brand is one of the few “natural” products available at drugstores (though not in the UK), but I hated it! It was hard to apply and I always stabbed myself [painful!] and then it transferred onto the top of my eye. I found it wasn’t very lengthening either. 😠
They have a few other options with different shaped brushes so maybe I’ll have another go…
Extra Super Lash — This is easy to apply, and gives me wide lashes. It’s a good “everyday” option, but I find that my eyes get irritated when I have allergies.🤔
Scandaleyes Reloaded — I couldn’t even remember what brand this was, I just knew that I got it in the UK and it was an orange tube. Turns out this Rimmel mascara is my least favourite. It was clumpy and hard to apply; I remember throwing it out soon after I bought it. 😡
My top 3 mascaras for different looks:
- Max Factor Masterpiece Transform for natural lashes
- Maybelline Lash Sensational for an everyday product
- Essence Lash Princes for falsie look
Honourable Mention to H&M for relatively recently breaking into the beauty market with a product comparable in performance and price to well-established brands.
To try next:
- Physicians Formula – alternative wands
- L’Oréal Original Voluminous
- Lily Lolo
- W3ll People
Please feel free to leave comments on your favourite drugstore/budget mascaras, and natural mascaras! I’ll try to do an update again next year. 🙂