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15 Best Drugstore Mascaras, According to Makeup Pros

Short lashes? Sensitive eyes? There's a top-tested mascara for you.

drugstore mascaras

One beauty buy that you can always count on the drugstore for? Mascara. While there are amazing mascaras from luxury brands that come with hefty price tags, it's no secret that drugstore favorites can perform just as well — if not better.

The Good Housekeeping Institute Beauty Lab constantly conducts new tests to find the best beauty products. There are tons of different mascaras out there, from waterproof mascara to hypoallergenic mascara and more, and our GH Beauty Lab experts consider a wide range before deciding on which ones to test. In the Lab, our pros rates each product's performance and take measurements on ease of application. From there, real consumers test the mascaras and actually wear them throughout a normal day to see how they stand up to real life usage. These consumers record their thoughts, scoring mascaras based on how easy they are to use and how well they wore during the day. Our top picks are volumizing, lengthening, separating, smudge-free and clump-resistant.

Below are our favorite mascaras, a mix of top-tested drugstore buys, picks beloved by beauty editors and online shoppers, Good Housekeeping Seal holders, or a combination therein. With some picks clocking in at under $5 , your lashes — and your wallet — will never be happier.

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Best Overall Drugstore Mascara
Lash It Loud Mascara
e.l.f. amazon.com

In GH's latest mascara test, this mascara came out on top for separating and defining lashes, applying smoothly and having the best brush design.  "Made my eyelashes insanely long and they didn’t clump at all," one tester noted. "I liked the brush and it built upon itself very nicely." The innovative brush has horizontal bristles that help grip and define lashes. 

  • Separates lashes
  • Easy to apply
  • Innovative brush design
Best Value Drugstore Mascara
Clump Crusher Mascara
CoverGirl amazon.com

When the Beauty Lab tested 147 new mascaras, this mascara came out on top for affordable picks. It's called "Clump Crusher" for a reason — testers found that this mascara gives definition and curl without forming clumps on lashes. Even after 60 strokes, testers saw zero clumps. The wand's design is the key here: The bristles are like a fine-tooth comb for your lashes, which means that clumps stop before they even start, and the curve mimics the natural shape of your eye. 

  • No clumps
  • Innovative wand
  • Defines lashes
Best Clump-Free Drugstore Mascara
Total Temptation Mascara
Maybelline ulta.com

For perfectly separated lashes, rely on this GH Seal holder, which was the winner in a recent mascara test. Beauty scientists and consumer testers raved about how it didn't flake, smudge, or clump. "I'm really picky with mascara, but I LOVED this product," shared one tester. "It made my eyelashes look thick and lush."  

  • No flaking
  • Volumizing
Best Drugstore Mascara For Feathery Lashes
Voluminous Feline Washable Mascara
L'Oreal Paris amazon.com

The only thing fancier-looking than the mascara's packaging is how it leaves lashes. Users love the glamorous results that come without a glamorous price, with many raving about longer lashes and the fact that it doesn't flake or smear. And the mascara comes off without irritating or scrubbing.

  • Lengthening
  • Doesn't flake or smear
Most Popular Drugstore Mascara on Amazon
Lash Princess False Lash Effect Mascara
Essence amazon.com

If you've ever combed through the r/MakeupAddiction subreddit, you know that this mascara has become a cult favorite. Reddit users praise this mascara for giving them dramatic results that mimic false eyelashes. In fact, it created so much online buzz that we decided to try it for ourselves. It scored high with GHI testers for being lengthening and has over 20,o00 reviews on Amazon. A Reddit insider tip? Try "sealing" it with a waterproof mascara to make it last extra long. 

  • Lenghtening
Best Natural Look Drugstore Mascara
Length & Lift Mascara
Almay amazon.com

If making your lashes look like the best natural version of themselves is your priority, this is the mascara for you. While this mascara is easy to use and reached all eyelashes, testers reported that it gave them a natural look.  "I like how easily the mascara applied," one tester said.  "I didn’t need to go over my lashes multiple times to get a great application like I do with other mascaras I’ve tried. I love that one coat was all I needed for a fresh, natural daytime look."

  • Defines lashes
  • Easy to apply
Best Waterproof Drugstore Mascara
Lashblast Clean Waterproof Mascara
CoverGirl Walmart

The cult-favorite Lashblast now comes in a clean, waterproof formula. In the Lab, this mascara had a perfect score for resisting running when exposed to water, and it was also the best option for volumizing and thickening eyelashes. It's also easy to remove, which can be tough to find in a waterproof formula. Some testers noted that it flaked throughout the day, but this is still a great waterproof pick. 

  • Doesn't run
  • Volumizing
  • Waterproof

  • May flake
Best Tik Tok-Approved Drugstore Mascara
Maybelline Lash Sensational Sky High Waterproof Mascara
Maybelline ulta.com

There's a reason this mascara went viral on Tik Tok — the Lab found that it resists smudging, smearing and running throughout the day. "I wore it throughout the day, as it felt comfortable," one of our experts noted. "Typically, waterproof mascara feels like barbed wire on my lashes. It almost completely came off when I took a shower at night."

  • Resists smudging and running
  • Easy to remove
  • Waterproof

  • Not the easiest to apply
Best Volumizing Drugstore Mascara
LashBlast Volume Mascara
CoverGirl walmart.com

This hypoallergenic mascara has consistently come out at the top in Beauty Lab tests. Testers praise it because it goes on easily, it adds volume, lengthens, separates, and absolutely does not budge once you've coated your lashes, yet comes off easily at the end of the day. Our Lab also gave it a perfect score for not running when it's exposed to water.

  • Volumizing
  • Easy to apply
  • Easy to remove
Best Longwearing Drugstore Mascara
CoverGirl Peacock Flare Mascara Waterproof
CoverGirl ulta.com

In a Lab test, this was one of the best waterproof options tested. Even when testers' splashed their faces with warm water 10 times (yes, 10!) and rubbed their eyes, it did not smear or run. Talk about amazing. That being said, it is tough to take off, so prepare to dance the night away while wearing this one. 

  • Waterproof
  • No smearing or smudging

  • Difficult to remove
Best Drugstore Mascara for Straight Lashes
Great Lash Waterproof Mascara
Maybelline ulta.com

This is probably the first mascara you remember using. It's well-known as a cult classic — and for a reason. The waterproof formula does a good job of resisting smudging or flaking, but what really took this mascara to the next level for our testers was how well it holds a curl. It even works on stubborn lashes, with one tester noting that it curls "long lashes that like to stick straight out." 

  • Waterproof
  • Holds a curl
Best Easy-to-Remove Drugstore Mascara
Professional All-in-One Curved Brush Mascara
CoverGirl amazon.com

One of our top-ranking hypoallergenic mascaras, this Seal star is made specifically for sensitive eyes that are prone to irritation. It's hypoallergenic and won't bother contact lens wearers, either. "The shower washes it off, but it doesn't run in the rain or sweat," one reviewer said. "It doesn't flake, it has a practically shaped brush." It's  perfect for clean, defined lashes.

  • Non-irritating
  • Easy to remove
  • Doesn't flake
Best Cruelty-Free Drugstore Mascara
Thickening Mascara
Almay walmart.com

Almay is known for being good for sensitive skin, and this best-selling formula is no different. It's hypoallergenic, ophthalmologist tested, and cruelty-free. Reviewers love how this mascara gives them feathery eyelashes. "It's clump free, builds my lashes thicker," said one reviewer. "No smudging or flaking. It conditions my lashes with aloe and easily removes with makeup remover or face cleanser." 

  • Non-irritating
  • Volumizing
Best Drugstore Mascara for Short Lashes
The Falsies Lash Lift Washable Mascara
Maybelline New York amazon.com

Maybelline Falsies Lash Lift Mascara This lash lift in a bottle scored high among our testers for being easy to use and easy to take off. It leaves lashes looking — and even feeling — natural and feathery. "I liked the brush shape on this one," said one tester. "The rounder, thicker end made it really easy to use vertically in order to get the smaller lashes in the inner corners of my eyes." You can also count on this mascara not to smudge.  

  • Lengthening
  • Easy to use
  • Easy to remove
Best Drugstore Mascara for Sensitive Eyes
Age Perfect Lash Magnifying Mascara
L'Oréal Paris
L'Oreal Paris amazon.com

Backed by the Good Housekeeping Seal, this lash-defining L'Oréal mascara is ophthalmologist-tested and suitable for sensitive eyes. It removes easily, making it gentle on lashes, and leaves them soft and smooth, Lab data evaluation confirmed.

  • Non-irritating
  • Easy to remove
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