Often, you can get a great drugstore dupe for high-end makeup items, but I’m a firm believer that mascara is worth splurging on. It’s pretty much my favorite beauty product of all time, so I don’t mind spending a little extra, especially if it means scrimping on other items. I’ve tried a lot of drugstore versions, and almost every one has fallen short compared to specialty products. These are my favorite formulas.
1. Urban Decay Perversion Mascara ($22): My current favorite. I wear this every day, as it instantly became a staple in my makeup bag as soon as I tried it. The big brush gives thick, long, jet-black lashes that create a beautiful fringe. It gives all you need in just one coat, but you can layer it on without it getting clumpy for extra drama. It’s long-wearing, doesn’t flake, and doesn’t irritate contact lenses…it just doesn’t give up. I love it.
2. Giorgio Armani Eyes to Kill Mascara ($32): This used to be my all-time fave. It’s seen been ousted by Perversion (partly because Perversion is $10 cheaper), but it’s still an amazing luxury mascara. It gives both volume and definition without clumping or flaking, and makes for really beautiful lashes. Think falsies, but more natural and easier to wear.
3. Kevyn Aucoin The Mascara – Volume ($28): This mascara doesn’t look like much, but it is so amazing. The skinny brush gets right up into the lashline for a thick fan of lush black lashes. It’s a cult favorite for a reason!
4. Josie Maran Argan Black Oil Mascara ($22): The secret to this mascara is its double-helix wand, which deposits color evenly and gets in between lashes to coat every single hair for maximum volume. It gets its inky black color from minerals, and it’s infused with argan oil to nourish lashes as you wear it. It really does make an impact!
5. Yves Saint Laurent Volume Effet Faux Cils Mascara ($32): This mascara is totally blow-you-away awesome, but I’ve given up on adding into my kit because of the price. If you’re in the mood to splurge, this has everything you’d ever want in a mascara: smooth formula, fat brush that creates loads of volume and length, inky black color, pretty gold tube. It’s called Faux Cils (False Lashes) for a reason!
6. Make Up For Ever Smoky Lash Mascara ($23): This mascara has a thicker, waxier formula, so you think it will be heavy, but it’s light and doesn’t weigh down lashes at all, and has no problem holding a curl. It’s great for lashes that are solid black, wispy and so, so pretty.
7. Clinique Bottom Lash Mascara ($10): A tiny brush that packs a powerful punch. It’s tricky to coat lower lashes in mascara, as traditional brushes can often be too clunky, and result in undereye mascara smears. This tiny brush makes it easier to maneuver in that cramped space, and the effect is so pretty (think big, doll-like eyes).
8. Origins GinZing Brightening Mascara ($18.50): While this one doesn’t totally live up to its claims, it’s a solid mascara. Volumizing and never flaky. It’s equally good for everyday wear and nighttime looks.