When it comes to cheap thrills, few things leave a beauty-lover more elated than having the best drugstore mascara in tow; a tried-and-true tube that curls, volumizes, defines, and comes with a price tag that encourages you to layer it on liberally. From richer color payoff to smoother, creamier textures that don’t flake or smudge, the offerings at the pharmacy are only getting better, furthering the stakes when it comes to what you ultimately toss in your basket. Here, the best drugstore mascara formulas to stock up on.
L’Oréal Voluminous Mascara
An all-time favorite pick for five of the makeup artists we spoke with, L’Oréal’s Voluminous Mascara comes out on top. “I’ve been using this mascara forever and it’s a staple in my kit,” explains celebrity makeup artist Gita Bass. “It’s super-black and adds incredible volume and curl, and never clumps or flakes.” On top of the aforementioned aspects, fellow artist Alana Wright can’t get enough of the brush, which she considers the perfect size, shape, and density “to still able to reach those tiny lashes in the inner and out corners of the eyes,” she says. Another bonus is the gentle, non-abrasive formula. “It doesn’t irritate even the most sensitive eyes,” says Los Angeles–based makeup artist Autumn Moultrie. Celebrity makeup artist Rob Rumsey emphasizes how buildable it is—“You can do one swipe for a natural look or you can do multiple coats for more drama.” While Carbon Black is the most popular shade, both Moultrie and editorial pro Akiko Owada also like reaching for Black Brown, which can have a softer effect. “It provides clump-free lashes, it doesn’t run, and it’s easy to control,” adds Owada of the formula’s all-embracing appeal.
CoverGirl Lash Blast Volume Mascara
For bolder, more intense lashes, CoverGirl’s Lash Blast is another tried-and-true go-to. “I love its creamy texture, which gives you volume and length instantly in one coat, and it’s easy to layer it for more drama,” explains French makeup artist Cedric Jolivet. “I find the silicone brush [makes it easy] to grab the lashes from the root, and it totally works on short lashes!” Makeup artist William Scott, whose clientele includes Padma Lakshmi and Mette Towley, agrees. “It’s perfect for those who want maximum volume on the first swipe, and with a lash comb, it can be spread over the lashes to make them more fluttery.” There’s just as much to love about its waterproof formula: “It will dry a bit faster, which help the eyelashes to stay curled,” says Jolivet of why it’s worth the extra time spent removing it at the end of the day. “I always curl the lashes first, but I noticed a lot of mascaras don’t hold a curl and make your lashes look heavy…not this one!”
Neutrogena Healthy Volume Mascara
For Matin, who counts Angelina Jolie as a longtime client, it’s all about Neutrogena’s Healthy Volume Mascara with its nourishing ingredients and jet-black pigment. “It’s a true volume mascara that doesn’t dry out the lashes,” he says of the formula, which is supercharged with vitamin E-rich olive oil and protective sweet almond. “It stays flexible and won’t crumble throughout the day.” Another major draw? “It has a giant brush!” adds Matin. All the better to coat every little lash.
This mascara counts celebrity makeup artist and Neutrogena brand ambassador Amy Oresman as a fan, too. “This silky formula has an olive oil base, is incredibly buildable, and separates every lash with no clumps and no flakes. It also hydrates and strengthens lashes for those days you want to go without makeup.”
Maybelline Sky High Lash
“It’s by far one of the best mascaras on the market—and relatively newer, too,” says Colby Smith, who works with Dua Lipa and Charli XCX, of Maybelline’s Lash Sensational Sky High mascara. “I love that it’s super-black,” he continues. “A few coats and you really get that full long lash. It has the look of a high-end mascara without breaking the bank.” And Smith isn’t alone in his love of this mascara, considering how it took over TikTok in 2021.
L’Oréal Telescopic Mascara
For soft, supple lashes, you can’t beat L’Oréal’s Telescopic Mascara, insists Scott. “I love its applicator and slick formula, which make it easy to apply to bottom lashes and give long and defined lashes all around,” they explain, emphasizing the lengthening powers of its patented plastic-bristle comb brush. “It’s very versatile in that one swipe delivers length and the wand makes it easy to keep the lashes separated, and the formula builds nicely to add some volume.”
CoverGirl Lash Blast Clean Volume Mascara
If sustainability in beauty is a 2022 goal of yours, swap out your old mascara for CoverGirl’s Lash Blast Clean Volume—a vegan, cruelty-free formula infused with argan and marula oil that won’t clump or flake. Think of this as a skin and environmentally-friendly take on the coveted classic CoverGirl Lash Blast mascara.
Essence Lash Princess False Lash Effect Mascara
“I have incredibly sparse, thin lashes with minimal volume and this is one of the few mascaras that is ultra black, ultra lengthening, and gives me incredible volume,” says makeup artist and TikTok star Mikayla Nogueira of the Essence Lash Princess mascara. “It makes my lashes truly stand out and appear as if I have a small false lash on. I’ve bought it over and over again.”
L’Oréal Voluminous Volume Building Waterproof Mascara
“My favorite drugstore mascara is L’Oréal Voluminous Hydrofuge Mascara. I have been using this mascara since I was in high school,” admits pro makeup artist Liz Castellanos. “It gives major volume to your lashes, adds length, depth, and stays put. It’s a staple in my makeup bag.”
Maybelline Great Lash Washable Mascara
The nostalgic Maybelline Great Lash mascara is still a drugstore staple—a formula crafted to thicken and condition lashes simultaneously. It’s the ultimate no-fuss mascara when you’re looking to quickly coat your lashes or to keep a bottle stashed in your beauty bag.
L’Oréal Voluminous Lash Paradise Mascara
If feathery voluminous lashes are your look, consider picking up L’Oréal’s Lash Paradise mascara that’s known to lengthen and separate lashes with just one coat. Even more: The brand’s new formula incorporates floral oil for softer, fuller lashes.
This top-reviewed concealer is the game-changer you need in your beauty routine.
Does the perfect concealer exist? That depends on your skin type, the time of year, and the climate. If you are looking for a great beauty product that’s actually affordable, it might seem like an impossible task. However, 96,500+ people may disagree with that sentiment.
You can use this beloved product to conceal fine lines, blemishes, redness, and dark circles, according to the brand. Or you can get a darker shade and use this to contour. If you’ve tried everything, you might as well check out this amazing deal. For $7, what do you have to lose? The (the appearance of) some under eye bags.
Maybelline Instant Age Rewind Eraser Dark Circles Treatment Concealer, Brightener
This concealer has up to 12 hours of hydrating wear, according to the brand. It’s crease-resistant and you can use it to 1. conceal 2. color correct or 3. to contour. This applicator makes blending it so easy to blend your look and there are 18 beautiful shades to choose from.
Maybelline Instant Age Rewind Eraser Concealer Reviews
A shopper declared, “Holy grail concealer!!!! HELLO where have you been all my life? How have I slept on this drugstore product for so long?! It gets glowing reviews everywhere and now I know why. Started using concealer about 6/7 years ago and never in all those years found something that either matched my skin tone or didn’t crease and look awful – or both. From the high end to the organic to the low end, never found it. Enter this simple product and the quest is over. Formulation is light and creasing is barely noticeable on me even without setting.”
Another shared, “I like the product so well that I am on my third one. I use this all over my face where needed to blend In any dark spots and under eyes . It never cakes. Light is a perfect blend for my skin. Cant tell I have anything on . I feel that it makes me look years younger.“
Someone else explained, “I have tried countless concealers for my under eye circles—most of which cost triple the price of this one by the way. I figured I’d try this on a whim because the reviews were so great and it was so inexpensive. It’s officially become my new favorite concealer. It’s not cakey, it blends easily, it doesn’t crease and it lasts all day.”
An Amazon customer said, “This inexpensive dark circle concealer is the best I’ve ever found. It goes on very easily and stays on for hours on my skin. It blends easily with a light touch of my finger. It really does hide my dark circles! I feel so lucky to have tried it. I was fortunate to order the right color for me. I am 72 years young and had almost given up on products like this. It’s never too late.”
Eyeliner is a makeup bag staple for a reason: that seemingly simple line traced around your eyes makes a statement. Heck, the use of eyeliner dates as far back as 10,000 BC across Mesopotamia and Ancient Egypt where that statement read, the thicker the lines, the higher your status. Thankfully, in today’s modern world, finding a quality eyeliner doesn’t require a high standing status—or a splurge for that matter. One stroll down the drugstore aisles will reveal dozens of eyeliner options to meet the needs of beauty professionals and first-time liners alike; many of which have also lined the eyes of celebrities like Emma Stone, Camila Cabello, and Sofia Vergara.
But truth be told, the right eyeliner can mean the difference between crisp, lined definition, and a smeary, smudgy mess. That’s where we helped cut through the beauty clutter and rounded up a collection of editor- and makeup artist-approved drugstore eyeliners that you can rely on for any makeup look.
If you’re searching for a great everyday product, Revlon Colorstay Eyeliner received the best overall for its waterproof formula, always sharp tip, and wide range of colors—from neutrals to jewel tones.
From classic pencils in unexpected vibrant colors, to liquid and gel liners that hold up to the elements, these drugstore eyeliners are proof that it doesn’t take a designer liner to master a gorgeous eye makeup look.
What We Love: This creamy, waterproof liner has a built-in sharpener so you’ll always have a fine tip for easy lining.
What We Don’t Love: You will need a good makeup remover and gentle rub to take it off.
There’s a reason—scratch that—many reasons—why this eyeliner is a beloved favorite among beauty professionals and novices alike, and earns the top spot on our list. The hybrid design combines the precision tip of a twist-up pencil, with the ease-of-use of a traditional pencil liner. The dual-ended pencil houses a creamy, waterproof formula on one end, and a blending tip on the other, which also pops out to reveal a tiny, shreds-free sharpener for an extra-fine point. The pencil glides on smooth making it ideal for everything from simple lining to graphic swooping, and stays put until you decide to wash it away.
Best Pencil Liner: L’Oreal Voluminous Smoldering Eyeliner
What We Love: The soft, jet black pencil is intensely pigmented for dramatic lines.
What We Don’t Love: This pencil is only available in one shade.
This classic pencil liner strikes the delicate balance of having a just-soft-enough tip that is perfect for strategic smudging, without turning smeary and messy. “While sometimes we’re looking for a pencil that doesn’t move, we also might want something smudgy and sexy,” makeup artist, Ashleigh Ciucci told InStyle. “This pencil is super soft and creates nice density but it blends out effortlessly for a smoky liner look,” she adds. While the dark kajal pencil is only available in an inky black shade, it’s an intense black that’s perfect for a smoldering eye makeup look.
Type: Pencil | Color Range: 1 black shade | Waterproof: No
Best Liquid Liner: Milani Stay Put Matte 17 Hr Wear Liquid Liner
What We Love: The deep matte pigment is intensely bold at first swipe and holds up well to moisture.
What We Don’t Love: It doesn’t have the finest point for precision lines.
There’s something about the two-piece ink pot and applicator design that makes this drugstore eyeliner feel exceptionally fancy as you apply it. The rich pigment goes on smooth and dries in seconds, so that meticulously traced line remains smudge-free from the minute it hits your face. The pretty matte finish adds a softer, understated effect to the eyes that pairs well with bold shadows, and the long wear pigment lives up to its all day (and night) promise without so much as a crease, crack, or smear.
Type: Liquid | Color Range: 4 dark shades | Waterproof: Water-resistant
Best Ink Pot: e.l.f. cream eyeliner pot
What We Love: The creamy pigment is rich and inky, but sets in seconds and won’t smudge.
What We Don’t Love: It requires a fine point eyeliner brush for application.
If winged eyeliner is your beauty mantra, this gel-pot gives you ultimate control so you can pack as much (or as little) pigment onto your brush as you need. The rich cream-gel formula is silky smooth, making it easy to manage how thick, thin, subtle, or dramatic your eyeliner looks. A single pass of any one of the three highly pigmented shades (black, brown, and teal) delivers intense color payoff. Plus, the long-wear formula holds up impressively well through anything, including happy tears and hot yoga.
Type: Gel | Color Range: 3 shades | Waterproof: Water-resistant
Best Gel Liner: CoverGirl Ink It Perfect Point Plus Eyeliner
What We Love: The mechanical twist-up pencil gives you a fine tip for every use.
What We Don’t Love: The color selection is limited to only two shades, black and brown.
Here’s a tried-and-true eyeliner that strikes the goldilocks ideal. Its texture is just soft enough for an easy glide application; the tip, just fine enough to master a precise tightline or dramatic wing; and the formula sets just fast enough, so lines remain crisp without any bleeding. However, you also have just enough time to buff or blend for a sexy smudge. The twist-up mechanical pencil ensures a precise tip for every application and its waterproof-ability is a notch above the rest.
Type: Mechanical gel pencil | Color Range: 2 shades | Waterproof: Yes
Best Longwear: Rimmel Exaggerate Waterproof Eye Definer
What We Love: The smooth glide formula traces a fine, yet bold line with one pass.
We Don’t Love: The long-wear waterproof formula is difficult to remove.
If you’re looking for a sharp line that you don’t have to continuously trace over for bold, striking color, this retractable twist-up pencil delivers. The dual-sided liner hosts a creamy gel formula on one end, with a built-in smudger on the other, which comes in handy for subtle blending when you’re going for a softer, blurred effect. The soft tip glides on like a dream without dragging or tugging, and once the lines set, it’s there until it meets a good makeup remover and a bit of rubbing.
Type: Mechanical gel pencil| Color Range: 8 shades | Waterproof: Yes
Best Felt Tip: NYX Epic Ink Liner
What We Love: The fine, flexible, pointy tip is ideal for precise lines and effortless wings.
What We Don’t Love: The inky formula has a longer dry time.
The flexible, paintbrush-like tip makes this liner stand out from the pack, and with good reason: it allows for an ease of use that makes cat-eye flicks and graphic, winged swoops completely effortless, no matter your beauty skill level. You’ll need to wait a good 20 seconds for the pigment to set before any fussing, but once it dries that crisp liner look will remain sharp and defined all day. The glossy hue is also rich enough that all you need is one coat for striking definition around the eyes.
Type: Liquid | Color Range: 2 shades | Waterproof: Yes
Best Cruelty-Free: Wet n Wild Mega Last Breakup-Proof Liquid Eyeliner
What We Love: The pigment gradually dispenses as you line for added control.
What We Don’t Love: The marker tip can dull over time.
This eyeliner looks more like a fine-tipped marker than a traditional pencil liner and that’s exactly what makes it special. The marker is thicker than most liners and sits comfortably in your hand, allowing for better control which is especially helpful for more novice makeup do-ers. “I love this marker’s fine point, it glides on smoothly and is blacker than black,” Ciucci told InStyle. The feathery tip is fed by a mini built-in ink tank that dispenses a steady flow of pigment as you line, helping with an even application. “The real selling point for this baby is that it’s beyond waterproof and doesn’t pill.”
Type: Liquid | Color Range: 1 black shade | Waterproof: Yes
Best for Cat Eye: Maybelline Tattoo Studio Liner
What We Love: The gel liner is sharpenable and available in a nice array of shades.
What We Don’t Love: The formula sets fast, posing a challenge for smokey eye looks.
This unique gel-pencil liner delivers the best of both worlds: a silky gel-like formula paired with a pencil-like fine tip. Unlike most twist-up gel liners, which fall short in delivering an ultra-sharp tip, this gel pencil is sharpenable, giving you a precise point for easy lining and allowing you to better control the thickness of the lines for more dramatic cat eye styles.
It also swaps the drier, waxier pigments of a traditional pencil liner with a rich, creamy gel that glides on smooth, saturated with color, and stays put, even along the waterline. It has a wide shade range of nine colors, in classic and playful hues.
Type: Gel| Color Range: 9 shades | Waterproof: Yes
Best Color Variety: Pixi by Petra Endless Silky Eye Pen
What We Love: The liner is available in tons of colorful shades and different finishes.
What We Don’t Love: This pencil requires frequent sharpening to maintain a fine tip.
The super-soft liner glides on smoothly and gives just enough time to smudge out for a sexy, smokey effect before it dries and sets for hours. It’s also available in a playful variety of vibrant and classic colors, which includes shiny, matte, and shimmer finishes, at an inviting price point that encourages experimentation. The creamy texture makes it especially comfortable for tracing along the waterline without tugging or poking at the delicate eye area, but you will need frequent sharpening to keep a fine tip for precision lining.
Type: Pencil | Color Range: 23 shades | Waterproof: No
Best for Waterline: NYX Professionals Slim Eye Pencil
What We Love: This intensely pigmented liner comes in an impressive range of classic and vibrant shades.
What We Don’t Love: The formula is not waterproof.
One pass of this superior pencil liner is enough to recognize it’s a cut above the other pencils of its kind — and at a fraction of the price. The vibrant range of ultra-pigmented liners are formulated with coconut oil which keep the pencil tips silky enough to glide along the delicate waterline without poking, tugging, or pulling. It also has impressive staying power so it won’t disappear after you blink. The $5 price tag is reason enough to add a pop of color to your makeup bag, and the vibrant mint green, baby blue, and purple liners will serve as a welcome change from classic black and brown.
Type: Pencil | Color Range: 24 shades | Waterproof: No
Best for Sensitive Eyes: Neutrogena Nourishing Eyeliner
What We Love: It’s formulated with conditioning olive oil and shea butter that won’t irritate the eye area.
What We Don’t Love: The creamy texture can smudge on oily lids.
Nourishing isn’t typically a word we associate with eyeliners but we’ll admit, this formula lives up to its name. The creamy tip contains olive oil and shea butter that gently conditions the delicate area as you trace with it, so you don’t experience any creasing or cracking from dry skin. The formula is also made to not irritate sensitive eyes and skin.
While the color selection is limited, the shades feature light-diffusing pigments which appear as a soft, subtle shimmer that, once applied, highlight the whites of your eyes for a more defined gaze. The built-in sharpener and smudger on the opposite end of the pencil also make for easy lining.
Type: Gel | Color Range: 4 shades | Waterproof: No
What to Keep in Mind
Eyeliners come in many different forms, each with their own unique benefits when it comes to control, precision, and ease-of-use. There are traditional pencils which require frequent sharpening to maintain a point, and mechanical or twist-up pencils with a gel-like formula that sometimes have a built-in sharpener. You can also find liquid or cream pigments in pots that require a fine liner brush for application. These formulas tend to be for more advanced makeup wearers.
Finding the right pigment type (kohl, kajal, liquid, gel, or cream), and application mechanism (pencil, pen, felt tip, or brush) to match your comfort level and preferred style will make for easier application.
Identifying the right formula for your eye makeup look will help guide you to the best result. If you’re looking to achieve a smokey effect, you’ll want to look for softer, creamier formulas that allow time for blending and buffing, but will also set so you’re not left with a smudgy mess. There are also long wear and waterproof formulas that promise to hold up through hot days, sweaty workouts, or marathon nights. In that case, look for a formula that sets quickly and won’t wipe away at the first sign of moisture.
The finish of an eyeliner might seem like a subtle detail (as compared to the finish of an eye shadow), but shiny, matte, or shimmery liner can make a big impact on your overall look. Matte liners offer an understated definition, while shiny and shimmery liners can create a dramatic, eye-catching effect. In the end, choosing the finish comes down to personal preference.