Best Cheap Mascaras

Here is where I admit to being kind of a makeup snob. It makes sense to splurge on the items you apply directly to your face on a daily basis. It was even easier to switch from CVS to Sephora when I realized I can go through meaningful romantic relationships faster than I go through eyeshadow palettes.

That’s not the case with mascara, though. I don’t leave the house without it (gym is exempt…sometimes) if I want anyone to know that my lashes –naturally an annoyingly light red– actually exist. With regular use, a tube should last a couple months before getting too clumpy, but definitely toss that test tube of bacteria after 3.

The convenient thing about mascara is that drugstore brands are as good as, if not better, than designer brands. (For a full list of which cosmetics to splurge or save on, check out this handy article my friend Roni linked me to a while ago.)

Basically, the FDA only wants you putting a few certain ingredients within a millimeter of your eyeball. Maybe it’s because they’re squares. In effect, you can’t pay Dior enough to source rare African fruits that provide some pseudo-scientific benefit for your eyelash batting. The “Maybe it’s Maybelline” slogan should be changed to “Might as Well Maybelline.”

Here are a few formulas that will give you the most bat for your buck (all available at

Maybelline Great Lash Big Mascara, $4.79

The original formula of Great Lash has been around FOREVER. It’s a cult favorite, apparently. But my theory is that this stuff has only been on the shelves for 50 years because the company doesn’t want a mountain of hate mail (lol @ physical mail!) from old grandmothers who’ve used it their whole lives. The main issue is the tiny brush. Here’s where the simply named “Big” comes in. It’s the same tried and true product, but with a big, full brush that delivers a substantial coating with the speed expected by the kind of women who don’t buy stamps.

Covergirl Lashblast mascara, $7.79

Since the success of the original Lashblast, CG has come out with several variations that are all equally lovely. Well…the shimmery one (“Luxe”) did not really have discernible sparkles, but I got over that disappointment quickly because I’m an adult. Plus, some famous makeup artist swears by Lashblast and includes a free tube in each of the black patent makeup bags she sells under her name. Hopefully this nameless name dropping has convinced you.

Wet n Wild Mega Protein mascara, $1.99

Cheapest of all! There’s actually a lot of product in the tube. It’s not too thick, so it goes on smoothly and coats evenly. Plus it’s made with soy and wheat protein. They’d probably charge you more than $2 for that at Jamba Juice.

Last thought: Rimmel is usually meh and Revlon 5-day-lasting lash tint failed to make my dreams come true.


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