It's easy to spend an arm and a leg on beauty products, but if there's one item that you can get on the cheap and still see quality results, it's mascara. The best cheap mascaras feature formulations similar to their pricier counterparts, and deliver equally luscious lashes. An affordable mascara is all it takes sometimes to make you feel like a million bucks.
All of the mascaras below are priced at under $10, so you can rest assured they're not going to break the bank. But aside from price, choosing the right mascara mostly comes down to your lash type and the effect you want to achieve. Do you have short lashes that you want to lengthen, or light lashes that need some va-va-voom? Is your biggest priority finding a non-clumping, flake-free mascara that won't leave you with raccoon eyes at the end of a long night? Or do you have sensitive eyes and need a mascara that won't sting or make your eyes water?
The other thing to ask yourself is if you prefer a silicone mascara brush or a traditional bristled wand. Some beauty insiders swear by the separating ability of silicone/rubber "teeth", while others couldn't live without the flexible, coating power of a classic bristle brush.
Once you zero in on your personal preferences, it's time to start shopping. The mascaras below all come highly rated on Amazon and have fans raving about their ability to transform lashes.
1. The Best Cheap Mascara Overall: Award-Winning Volume & Length
L'Oreal Paris Voluminous Lash Paradise Mascara
As a winner of both an Allure 2017 Best of Beauty award and 2018 Readers' Choice award, L'Oreal Paris Voluminous Lash Paradise Mascara has earned an army of beauty fans. Priced at just $7, it certainly gives you a lot of lash for your buck. The soft, wavy brush boasts more than 200 bristles to give you longer, fuller lashes that look feathery soft. The 'Smooth Glide' formula goes on flawlessly, and doesn't clump or flake. Plus, it doesn't weigh down your lashes like some thicker mascaras do.
What fans are saying: "I've tried just about all drug store brand and style mascaras. I've even tried a few expensive ones from dept. stores. This L'Oréal mascara is hands down the best one I've EVER owned and I will never try another so long as they keep making this one! No clumps, makes them full with one application, and doesn't flake even in the 90° heat today after I sweated my butt off running around after my niece and nephew. I love love LOVE this stuff!!"
2. Best Cheap Mascara For Dramatic Lashes
L’Oreal Paris Voluminous Million Lashes Mascara
With a 4-star rating on Amazon, and more than 1,300 customer reviews, L’Oreal Paris Voluminous Million Lashes Mascara is a budget-friendly mascara that delivers premium results. The collagen-infused, ophthalmologist-tested formula glides on smoothly, adding "look at me" volume and definition. The Millionizer elastomer (i.e. rubber) brush separates and amplifies, leaving no lash behind. What's more, this no-clump, long-lasting mascara comes with a built-in wiping system that removes clumps from the brush for a clean-lash look.
What fans are saying: "I've never had lashes like this. This mascara is absolutely amazing. It lengthens, thickens and has a nice color. I haven't even mentioned the applicator brush! It perfectly applies the mascara without clumping or skimping."
3. Best Cheap Mascara For Short Lashes
COVERGIRL Total Tease Mascara
If you're dealing with short lashes, you need a wand with micro bristles that can reach the root and elongate to the tip, and COVERGIRL Total Tease Mascara does just that. The "dual-function" wand features a 135-bristle brush on one side that separates and defines every lash, and an 8-bristled comb on the other side designed to target and tease even the tiniest lashes. The waterproof, polymer-enriched formula thickens and adds volume, but be warned, it is really waterproof!
What fans are saying: "Definitely delivers what it claims. I’ve tried tons of different mascara. This one is far more superior. People are always complimenting me on my long lashes, which I never had before. Love it! The only thing I would change is the amount in the bottle is very minimal.. I run out often. But I want the results I get so I still buy it."
4. Best Cheap Mascara For Sensitive Eyes
Maybelline Great Lash Lots Of Lashes Washable Mascara
It might seem surprising that this classic drugstore staple is a smart choice for sensitive eyes, but there's a reason it's been around for decades! Maybelline Great Lash Lots Of Lashes Mascara is hypoallergenic, ophthalmologist-tested, contact lens safe, and washable. Plus, the unique, heart-shaped silicone wand is easy to wash for hygienic care. With this time-tested mascara, your eyes will feel good and your lashes will look beautifully long and thick too.
What fans are saying: "I've been a dedicated Great Lash user for YEARS now, and this is the best formula/brush combo they have. I've been using this exact mascara ever since it first came out in stores. I hate the look of overly thick, clumpy lashes, and this has been an answer to my prayers! Adds great volume while still looking natural, and (the best part) the brush easily removes any and every little clump you might notice. Super easy to use, and has never irritated my eyes (I am a daily contact wearer with a slight astigmatism in one eye). Love, love, love!"
5. Best Cheap Waterproof Mascara
L’Oreal Paris Voluminous Original Waterproof Mascara
Whether you have watery eyes from allergies, live in a humid climate, or regularly hit the pool or gym, a waterproof option is the only way to go — and you're not going to find a better one than L'Oreal's Voluminous Original Waterproof Mascara. It's definitely waterproof, so you're going to need a makeup remover to get it off, but you can take comfort in its smudge-proof staying power. It's uniquely formulated to separate and build lashes up to four times their natural thickness, and even includes hydrating ingredients, like D-Panthenol and Ceramide-R, to protect and condition. The maximizing bristle brush glides on smoothly and evenly, and resists clumping.
What fans are saying: "This is a great mascara. It goes on smoothly, no clumps, and stays all day. I don't have to worry about smudges or smears beneath the eyes. This is truly a waterproof mascara. I can go swimming, or take a bath, and it still looks fabulous! It comes off easily when I want it too. With my casual summer job, I have even worked with "yesterday's mascara", just washing the rest of my face."
Elite Daily may receive a portion of sales from products purchased from this article, which was created independently from Elite Daily’s editorial and sales departments.