The 4 Drugstore Mascaras That Are Weaning Me Off Of Prestige Formulas

I am a grownup, and being a grownup involves more than coating my eyelashes with luxury tar, so sometimes you have to cut some unnecessary corners when it comes to spending.
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Publish date:
February 28, 2014
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maybelline, favorites, covergirl, mascaras, loreal, drugstore beauty

As a general rule, I try not to splash my cash on any and
everything, but save it up for something worthwhile. My purse strings err a
little on the loose side if I don’t keep record of my disposable income, so I
tend to exact this rule especially on beauty products because they’re just too
damn easy to justify needing. (Damn you, cosmetic marketing industry!)

For a few
years I would only buy mascara from prestige brands. Dior Blackout, Benefit They’re Real, and Tarte Better Than Sex were a couple mainstays. To this day,
nothing but false lashes will get me the length, volume and deep dark color
like Dior Blackout. When I die, I’ll be burned at the stake, war-crying “DIOORRRRRRRRRRR!”

But since I am a grownup, and being a grownup involves
more than coating my eyelashes with luxury tar, sometimes you really have to
cut some unnecessary corners when it comes to frivolous spending. I mean, L'Oreal
owns, like, EVERYONE, so there’s a perfectly good chance that the mascara I’m
paying upwards of $20 for at Sephora is the same quality as magazine favorite, Voluminous. Also,
drugstore mascara is usually less than $10, and if I’m not into it, I can even return it to most chain stores (even though I got so much side-eye at CVS one time that
I’ll probably just eat the cost from now on).

I stocked up on a couple crowd favorites, to find My One. My
lashes are short and on thin side, so anything promising length and volume are
like the little glowy bob on an anglerfish for me.

CoverGirl Flamed Up Mega Curl Mascara

Novelty contender came in the form of CoverGirl’s Flamed Up
mascara. CG was doing that whole Hunger Games collection, foil-printing sinuous
flames around their Flamed Out mascara tube. I mean, makes sense right? Girl on
fire would totally flame out her lashes, duh.

I’m pretty sure the whole “flame”
approach had to do with boasting its curling capabilities. It has one fatty of
a curved brush. I felt like I was applying mascara with a caterpillar. But curl
it did. Not so much with the lengthening,
but I did get quite a kick of volume out of this one. I mean, it sounds weird,
but I want to call it “thickness” rather than volume, but I’m probably just
mincing words.

Maybelline Volum' Express The Mega Plush Mascara

I was attracted to Maybelline's Volum' Express Mega Plush
mascara because of its comically large brush and sproing-y wand. I imagined
applying mascara with the wand springing back like a flicked antenna, to the
Benny Hill soundtrack. No such thing happened, and I’m still kind of perplexed
as to what that whole flexi-straw wand is about.

The bristles proved to be way
too far-spaced to evenly coat my lashes, which were like toddlers jumping for
monkey bars here. The formula, however, was super light and smooth, with hardly
any flaking. The only other formulas I’ve tried that felt this light were the
ones with those little tubes that encase your lashes with tiny extension fibers
attached to the tip of each lash. (Those are great, by the way, but I feel like
I get a lot of lash loss when I wash those off.)

Little disappointing, but it’s cool, Maybelline, because you
bring it on back with the perennial favorite...

Maybelline Full 'N Soft Mascara

With its modest
cylindrical tube and no-frills packaging design, I’d barely pay it any mind if
its virtues had not been extolled by so many people, blogs, and beauty sites.

It
has a basic nylon bristle brush, which doesn’t taper at the end, so getting to
the baby-er lashes takes some sniper finesse. With a couple coats, my lashes
were noticeably lengthened and, indeed, full AND soft, even with the waterproof formula. And yes, they were
VERY BLACK, as advertised.

Don’t underestimate what a good, deep, black, opaque
blackness will make up for in a mascara. Full' N Soft, you have my full
('n soft) approval.

L'Oreal Voluminous Butterfly Mascara

Last and the opposite of least, is the piece de resistance
of drugstore mascaras, L'Oreal's Voluminous Butterfly mascara (not to be confused with the
Ashton Kutcher film, The Butterfly Effect, even though that’s kind of what
they’re pushing here). I was drawn to its futuristic-looking tube and it’s
wacky, asymmetrical Lady Gaga-looking brush.

I generally shy away from silicone
brushes because I feel like they apply too much product at once to my lashes
and weigh them down. Butterfly's wand had one side with longer silicone
bristles than the other to catch your end lashes. It’s designed to be like the
bear trap of mascara wands, catching all the lashes at once.

The formula is
dramatically lengthening, much to my surprise, and the short end of the
bristles are easy to use on your bottom lashes. There was some flaking throughout the day, but I didn’t buy the
waterproof version because CVS was out of it (grrr).

Here’s a side-by-side of my two favorites, FNS on the right
and The Butterfly Effect on the left. For some reason, my lashes are longer on
one eye, so I took that in account, not butterflying them too much because I
didn’t want to make Maybelline feel bad or anything.

With an arsenal of mascaras all under $10, I no longer need
to mourn my Blackout and They’re Real (which is good because that was just an
awkward thing to say). I mean, that’s not to say the next time I have a spare
$26 not going towards dinner or topping off my Metrocard, I might breeze by a
Sephora, lured in by the smoky khol promises…