I spent my summer the way every other dude in his mid-twenties spends his summer, by testing every mascara in the drugstore.
It all started when I wanted to test drive a couple new lash products, and Emily said “Wouldn’t it be cooler to test all of the mascaras in the drugstore?” and I was like “OMG yes.” After all, I will do whatever my editors tell me to. And so I, drunk on power, called in every mascara I could get my hands on. But it was almost like these beauty brands weren't taking me seriously.
"Sure, Tynan!" They said. "We'd be happy to send some over. Which ones do you want to try?"
"All of them," I salivated.
"Cool, Tynan," They pressed. "Here are a list of our current mascaras. Which ones would you like?"
"Like actually all of them," I heaved.
"Great. Are there any in particular you want to try?" they plead.
"I'm not sure you're hearing me..."
My persistence paid off. Not a week later, I had in my greedy, perfectly manicured hands, every drugstore mascara I could get my hands on. Below, I've tested the best of the best when it comes to what's available at your local Walgreens, Duane Reade, or whatever your local corner store may be.
So, if you’ve ever wondered about the best product for your lashes available at your local CVS, or if you just really wanted to see about fifty pictures of the top half of my face, then you’re in luck.
We all look for different things in mascara. I, personally, focus on volume over length, because by some act of god I have naturally long eyelashes. If I load on the lengthening mascara, sometimes my lashes will damn near hit my eyebrows, so I tend to focus more on making them look thicker rather than longer. This is the cross that I bear. But, whether you're looking for length, volume, all around drama, or just a trusty standby, you will find what you're looking for below. Trust me.
(You can also skip to the end to see the "winners.")
We start with my favorite drugstore brand, Maybelline, and their newest offering, Pumped Up Colossal Volum’Express.
Maybelline Pumped Up! Colossal Volum’Express, $7.79.
Brush: This is Maybelline's biggest brush, diamond-shaped and very bristly, said to deliver a double shot of product.
It coats your lashes with a healthy dose of mascara in just one swipe. It's a great mascara for both length and volume, giving you long, fluttery lashes.
Maybelline Mega Plush Volum’Express, $7.79.
Brush: Bristled, diamond Shaped, hinged wand.
This is my former all-time favorite drugstore mascara. It's still up there as one my my faves, but now that I tried them all, I've got options. It's great because the product is a gel-mousse, formulated with 40% fewer hard waxes than normal, making it go on smooth and stay flexible. The brush is packed with extra soft bristles and the stem is hinged (!!!). These factors come together to make it a triple threat. It applies lightly while still being buildable without thickening and making your lashes cling together. One coat and your natural lashes are enhanced to be fuller, longer, and more curved. Two or three coats and you've got drama worthy of the Housewives.
This mascara is like having your own lashes, but better. Like your eyelashes spent the summer abroad and came back to school looking way hotter.
Maybelline The Falsies Volum’Express, $7.79.
The Falsies brush in an odd little thing. Instead of being a round brush, it's flat, with bristles on both sides.
From the side:
From the top:
Hmm. It gets the job done, though, that's for sure.
These are some serious Minnie Mouse lashes.
The Falsies promises length, and it doesn't disappoint. My already-lengthy lashes were taken above and beyond with this one. If length is your thing, The Falsies is for you.
Colossal Volum’Express, $7.79:
Brush: Bristled, curved.
Now THIS is a volume mascara. And can I just say that I love that this tube is having a Fran Drescher moment with its leopard cap?
Here we have long, full lashes, and great volume all around. The shape of the brush helps it reach every lash, too. Love this one.
Maybelline Great Lash, $5.99.
The Brush: Small, tightly coiled bristles.
The iconic pink and green tube. Tale as old as time. This one didn't blow me out of the water, but it's easy to see why it's an old standby. Length, volume, and curl, not too much of anything after one swipe.
Brush: Rubber, short spikes, curved. You have to give it up for Covergirl's brushes. Most of them are rubber, which I tend to prefer, and a lot of higher end companies that are releasing mascaras right now are going wild about their rubber brushes. Dior, for instance. Covergirl was ahead of the game.
Clump Crusher provides even application and gives a little more volume than length. My lashes were curled and nicely fanned out. This is definitely an ideal mascara for me.
Covergirl Flamed Out Max Volume, $7.29.
Brush: Thick, bristly, hourglass-shaped, wire brush. Good for really getting in the lashes and "flaming" them out (?). I guess that means fanning them out.
The formula is thick and so is the brush, which the combination to look for if you're going for volume.
Covergirl LastBlast Length, $8.79:
Brush: Small brush, tiny rubber teeth, good for getting product on each and every lash.
As you've probably gathered from the name, this mascara is all about length. This is one of the best to get long, beautiful lashes. All length, no volume, extreme lash separation.
Covergirl LashBlast Fusion, $10.49.
First of all, I just need to say that I would buy this mascara just to carry around with me because I love that beautiful violet tube.
The stem of the brush is thicker than normal, but the spikes on the brush are pretty short. This allows it to pick up and deposit a lot of product onto your lashes for volume, while the teeth comb it through for length, thus making it a fusion mascara.
This is definitely a the best of both worlds. Great thickness at the base, length all the way through, separation for fluttery lashes at the top. Covergirl killed it with this one.
Revlon Grow Luscious Plumping, $7.99.
Brush: Coned, spiraled bristles
Grow Luscious Plumping provides great lash separation as well as length. I found the formula to be a little clingy, so I had to clean as much product off of the brush as I could manage to make sure my lashes were even.
Revlon Grow Luscious Bold Lacquer, $7.99.
Look into my dead eyes and see the combination of volume, length, and separation. It almost looks like I'm wearing eyeliner, which I am not. Again, I found this formula to be a little more difficult to work with, but the end result is great.
Revlon Photoready 3D Volume, $8.79.
I love this brush. It's got a short stem, and little plastic rubber teeth, perfect for getting in between every lash.
Length for days, thicker lashes, very black. Not extreme in any regard but definitely a solid product.
L'Oreal Voluminous Miss Manga, $7.99.
The brush is a small triangle shape, with multi-length bristles and a HINGED STEM. I love the shape of the brush.
The mascara is ultra-lengthening and the hinged wand helps to really fling your lashes out and add curl. This one isn't playing around.
I was a little skeptical at first because I wasn't sure if this wing tip brush would make a difference, or was just another gimmick to make this otherwise normal mascara fly off of the shelves. Turns out, it really does what it promises.
The brush combs product through and flicks out your lashes for an intense, winged out effect. It's dramatic in all the right ways and the brush does all the work for you. Definitely worth buying if you like your lashes big, black, and bold.
Brush: long stem, little rubber teeth. Easy to work with and get into every lash.
ALERT ALERT THIS IS ONE OF MY NEW FAVES. Also, it looks like I'm in the act of passing out in that photo, which I probably was. Amazing volume, nice length. The thin formula coats lashes without looking too thick, and is easy to build without overdoing it. It's like having the lashes you were born with, if you were born some slutty sex robot from space, which I was.
L'Oréal Voluminous Original, $8.49.
The Brush: Bristly.
Um, so this is like everyone's go-to, holy grail, beauty-editor-essential-will-never-leave-home-without. K. It's great, but like we're barely halfway through and everything is beginning to blur together.
No JK this one is a great standard, and it's easy to see why everyone swears by it. It's awesome all around. The formula is very black, it gives you good length without looking like you're trying to be a teen pop sensation (which I am, always), and noticeable volume.
Almay One Coat Thickening Mascara, $7.79:
Brush: Coiled bristles. The one gripe I have about Almay is that each brush I tried had like, a flyaway bristle, which got in the way of application. I will forgive this because each of their formulas are good.
The thickening mascara is, well, thick, so it took a steady hand to get even application, which made me nervous, but I really liked the final look. All volume, no added length and no separation.
Almay One Coat Get Up & Grow Mascara, $7.99:
Brush: Bristly, hourglass
This mascara and brush combo give you an awesome combination of volume at your lash base and lash separation at the ends, leaving you with big, full, flirty lashes. I kind of think I look like I've got extensions in the photos, minus a ton of added length. ONE DAY. Anyway, I love this one.
Almay One Coat Lengthening Mascara, $7.79:
I liked this one because it gave me good length with proportional volume, without making the lashes too long and spindly. The formula wears nicely and doesn't dry out, which is sometimes a problem for lengthening mascaras. I don't care about long lashes, but I care about this lengthening mascara and you should too.
Almay Triple Effect Mascara, $8.49:
The Brush: Little brush, little bristles. For being a triple effect mascara, this was not the brush I was expecting.
I ended up really liking this brush because its small size let me get to every lash, in a way that I couldn't with a big hourglass brush. And it does what it says, length, volume, and curve.
Rimmel Extra Super Lash Lash Building Mascara, $3.59:
Brush: Bristly, tightly spiraled cone. Good for getting in to smaller lashes.
Impressive length, enough volume to balance out the length, pretty, fanned out effect. Fluttery, flirty, fine, fresh, fierce, etc. Killer mascara for under $4.
Rimmel Lash Accelerator With Grow-Lash Complex, $7.99:
Brush: Bristly, diamond shape.
This formula was a little sticky, but the brush was great for separation and getting every lash, so it wasn't a problem in the end. I love the end result, very black, super long lashes.
Rimmel Lash Accelerator Endless With Grow-Lash Complex, $8.99:
Brush: Coned, medium rubber teeth
Again, the formula was a bit sticky on this one, but the rubber brush with mid-length teeth helped apply the product evenly. I found the formula to be a bit stiff, but I wasn't mad at the end result. Lengthy and very curly.
Rimmel Scandaleyes Retro Glam, $5.99:
Brush: Big fat hourglass.
In my humble opinion, I am serving you Twiggy with these long, dramatic, separated lashes. The hourglass brush gets between each lash, coating and curling them for a big, dramatic look that is apparently retro. This is an awesome mascara for an even better price.
Rimmel Scandaleyes Lycra Flex, $5.99.
Brush: Coned, dense bristles.
This is another one that's great overall, and the fact that it's made to be more flexible is a huge plus to me. Mascara that stiffens lashes gets in the way of application and never wears as ones that are flexible. Even worse, they tend to flake onto your face after just a few hours of wear, which is not a good look. A flexy mascara is more ideal for me, and this one did not disappoint. Just look at my massive lashes. I can feel your jealousy from here.
Rimmel Scandalize Volume Flash, $6.99.
Brush: Thick, coned bristles.
OMG. We've established that I love volume but this hits you with major thickness and impressive length. It's a bit on the thinner side, so it goes on nicely for a look that's dramatic without looking like your lashes are caked in product. JUST LOOK AT MY LASHES. This is all from a mascara that will run you just around seven dollars.
Rimmel Glam'Eyes Day 2 Night
So this little gem is like having two mascaras in one tube, one for length and one for volume, and I'm here to tell you that it actually works. This is essentially the same idea that one of the luxury brands came out with a while ago, for a much better price.
Again, I was skeptical, because I have trust issues, but this is how it works.
There are two caps, attached to two stems inside the bottle, but only one brush.
If you unscrew the cap for length, it pulls the brush through the tube that you use to apply for volume, so it's straining some of the product off the the brush, leaving more teeth to get in between the lashes to lengthen them.
If you unscrew the cap for volume, you're getting a brush that's very saturated with mascara to coat your lashes and make them appear thicker.
Used separately, they really do lengthen and volumize, respectively, or you can use them together and really go for it. Having not used this, I wouldn't buy it, but now that I've used it, I'd definitely recommend it.
E.L.F. Eye Enhancing Mascara, $3.00.
Brush: Rubber, tiny teeth, bulbed?
This one not only gave some major length and volume, but radically changed the shape of my lashes and gave them major fan and curl. I'm not even sure the picture does it justice, but this was one of the best end results I came across, and all from a three dollar mascara!
E.L.F. Lengthening & Volumizing Mascara, $3.00.
Brush: Diamond shaped, small bristles.
Just like the last E.L.F. mascara, it was not only true to its name with length and volume, but really gave my lashes great definition and curl!
SO. I hesitate to say that one beauty product is the best, since I know every product works differently for everyone, but here are the ones that I think are the best among the mascaras I tried. Omg this is just like the VMAs. The OMGs.
BEST MASCARA FOR LENGTH:
The Falsies by Maybelline!
BEST MASCARA FOR VOLUME:
LashBlast Fusion by Covergirl!
L'Oréal Shocking Extensions Telescopic!
WAIT THE ONE THAT IS STILL MY FAVORITE:
Mega Plush Volum'Express by Maybelline!
Are you still with me? What's your favorite drugstore mascara? Or drugstore product in general? Tell me everything in the comments!
Tynan is using eye makeup remover on Twitter @TynanBuck.