Some things in life are absolutely worth splurging on. (Ever had bodega wine? Not recommended.) But mascara, happily, is not one of those things. The best mascaras under $10 perform just as well, or even better, than their prestige counterparts, whether their formulas are volumizing, lengthening, separating, curling, or a combination of those things. And since every mascara featured here is available on Amazon, they’re easier to get your hands on than, say, ordering from a department store (or, horror of horrors, going to a store).
Drugstore brands excel in making high-performing mascaras — which is why you’ll find three of the biggest drugstore names (Covergirl, Maybelline, and L’Oreal) well represented here. And while the mascaras on this list are these brands’ most popular offerings, you honestly can’t go wrong by choosing any mascara in their repertoires. Choose what sounds the best for you based on your desired effect, wand shape, bristle material, shade, and the like, but use this guide as your jumping off point.
And in this scenario, any trial and error involved in finding your ideal mascara is very low stakes. Start by checking out seven of the best mascaras under $10, listed ahead.
We only recommend products we love and that we think you will, too. We may receive a portion of sales from products purchased from this article, which was written by our Commerce team.
1. The Classic
A master class in “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” Great Lash hasn’t changed much in the 40-something years since its debut — the iconic pink tube, the water-based formula for easy removal, and the lengthening/separating/non-clumping formula all remain true to the original. But you have a few more variants to choose from now, like a clear formula for a minimalist effect (or to use as a brow gel), or the ultra concentrated black featured here for something more dramatic.
- Available shades: Clear, Washable Blackest Black, Washable Very Black, Washable Brownish Black, Waterproof Very Black
2. The Best-Seller
Great Lash may be the most iconic mascara out there, but this essence mascara is far and away the most popular on Amazon — it’s garnered over 50,000 (!!!) five-star ratings and number-one best-seller status. Reviewers consistently confirm that this $5 mascara outperforms expensive brands in terms of intensity, longevity, and its smooth application. And that “false lash effect” name is not a marketing ploy: Just one or two coats will make even the shortest of lashes look like they're sporting a pair of falsies.
3. The Volumizing One
Covergirl Lash Blast is well on its way toward achieving cult-classic status — after Great Lash, this was the second mascara I ever used in my makeup-wearing life. But where Great Lash can be maneuvered from natural-looking to semi-intense, this chubby brush delivers pure, unadulterated, ultra thick drama. This also does a good job of separating and de-clumping your lashes while thickening them, unlike lots of volumizing mascaras out there.
- Available shades: Black, Brown, Black Brown, Very Black, Translucent
4. The Lengthening One
This mascara's skinny wand delivers tons of length and definition, so it's basically the closest you can get to Twiggy’s famously long, separated lashes without the use of falsies. And the wand is made of flexible elastomer, so you can easily wiggle it through your lashes to up the intensity. This isn’t known for its curling effects, however, so you may need to go in with a lash curler first if you want a little more lift.
- Available shades: Washable Black, Washable Black Brown, Washable Blackest Black, Washable Carbon Black, Waterproof Black
5. Author's Pick
My love for Too Faced Better Than Sex mascara runs deep (and has been previously documented), but I can’t always justify paying $26 for a mascara when there are so many good drugstore options out there. This $10 mascara from L’Oreal is definitely the best alternative I’ve tried. The thick, hourglass-shaped brush head is very similar to Too Faced's, as is its intense pigmentation, buildable formula that doesn’t flake or smudge, and dramatic final result. I also like that the brush is made of soft fibers, which feels much less irritating on my sensitive-ish eyes than hard, plastic brushes do.
- Available shades: Washable Black, Washable Black Brown, Washable Blackest Black, Washable Mystic Black, Waterproof Black, Waterproof Blackest Black,
6. Editor's Pick
Elite Daily's Associate Commerce Editor Carina Finn favors this volumizing mascara from Etude House, a cult-favorite Korean beauty brand. Although it’s designed for shorter, thinner lashes, she says it works equally well to “amp up the volume on longer, thicker lashes.” She adds, “Its lightweight formula coats individual lashes without clumping for a more natural look,” and you can easily remove it with warm water when you’re ready to take your makeup off.
7. Another Editor's Pick
If you want an even more subtle effect, try Maybelline New York Lash Discovery — a favorite of Elite Daily Associate Commerce Editor Wesley Salazar’s. “This is great for anyone who's looking to subtly add length and tint to their lashes,” Salazar says. “The mini-brush easily separates and coats each lash — without annoying clumps. You can layer it to build more volume, but it's really best for when you're looking for something natural-looking.” Get the waterproof version if your eyes tend to water, or if you’re looking for something truly long-lasting. Have an oil cleanser or micellar water on hand for fuss-free removal.
- Available shades: Washable Very Black, Waterproof Very Black