The best mascaras on the market, from drug store to luxury brands

Lifestyle

With so many options, it can be tricky to find one mascara that does it all.

A brand that lengthens, has a quality formula, volumizes and most importantly, lasts. Mascara over the last few decades have evolved from a focus on super curled to waterproof to fan-like lashes, Marie Claire reported, but at the end, the goal is the same: how do you make your lashes stick out?

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Most major beauty brands offer mascaras at major retailers across the country and websites like Sephora or Amazon Canada. Some exclusive or boutique brands can be bought right from the brand’s website.

One thing to note, however, is that mascara really comes down to personal preference: some users will like thick formulas, while others focus on the size of the wand.

Below, we review 20 of some of the most popular mascara brands on the market — the drug store favourites, the high-end contenders, the cult classics and some new green brands that have entered the beauty space.

Best drugstore brands


Photo by Laura Whelan

Good mascara is hard to come by — and high-end brands aren’t the only mascara that can take your lashes to new lengths. Drugstore brands have prices that allow you to try out more than just one type of mascara. It really is possible to get voluminous lashes on a budget. Review by Katie Scott.

WINNER
Name: essence | Lash Princess False Lash Effect Mascara
Price: $19.91
Available at: Amazon
Product specialty: Intense & dramatic volume and length for stunning and long-lasting results, gluten-free.
First thoughts: I was confused at first because this mascara only came in a plastic bag but after opening the mascara, I could tell it had not been tampered with. But after I put one coat of mascara on, I could not believe how amazing this product was. It goes on so easily and it adds such a dramatic volume to any look. The second ingredient in this mascara is beeswax so I find that if you warm this mascara up with your body heat before applying, it looks even better.
End of the day test: This mascara is not waterproof but it does last until the end of the day. No smudges and the volume and length is still there without any touch-ups.
Would you recommend this mascara?: One hundred per cent. My friends might all get this as a gift from now on.
Score out of 5: 10 out of 5


Katie Scott with her winning mascara (on the left). Photo by Laura Whelan

Name: L’Oréal Paris Voluminous Carbon Black Volume Building Mascara
Price: $9.99
Available at: Shoppers Drug Mart
Product specialty: Resists clumping, soften and build lashes up to 5X their natural thickness with 2X the intensity of your regular black shade.
First thoughts: This mascara was a throwback to high school for me. I remember it being much better when I used to use it. I swear I had to put on at least seven coats of mascara to even notice a difference. This mascara also has a weird smell.
End of the day test: By the end of the day, it looked like I wasn’t even wearing mascara.
Would you recommend this mascara?: Never in my life.
Score out of 5: 1

Name: COVERGIRL Lashblast Volume Mascara
Price: $8.47
Available at: Amazon
Product specialty: Provides up to 10x more volume than bare lashes, hypoallergenic formula, patent-pending brush designed to max out every lash, vegan.
First thoughts: The brush for this mascara scares me sometimes because it is so small and gets so close to the eyelid but in the end, the scare is worth it. I think this mascara is better for a less intense, dramatic look. The mascara applies easily and I do like that it is a hypoallergenic formula because everyone can use it.
End of the day test: The mascara was not clumpy or falling off but it was hard to take off with a makeup remover wipe.
Would you recommend this mascara?: I would recommend it to someone who just wants mascara for volume and not length.
Score out of 5: 3

Name: Rimmel London Scandaleyes Retro Glam Mascara
Price: $8.99
Available at: Shoppers Drug Mart
Product specialty: This mascara is supposed to coat lashes individually for a big, false lash look in one simple stroke and no clumps.
First thoughts: This brush is amazing! When I first opened the bottle, I was so happy to see such a big brush. This mascara goes on so easily and I only use 1-2 coats. I’m obsessed. If I didn’t pick Essence as the winner I would have chosen this one. This mascara literally makes my eyelashes touch my eyebrows almost.
End of the day test: The only downside to this mascara is it was a little difficult to get off with just a makeup remover wipe. But this mascara sticks to its promise when it says no clumps and one simple stroke for a false lash look.
Would you recommend this mascara?: I would definitely recommend this mascara.
Score out of 5: 4

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Name: Maybelline New York Volum’ Express Mascara
Price: $8.49
Available at: Amazon
Product specialty: Patented spoon brush and pro-keratin fibre formula, builds 8x more volume without clumping, unique flexible wand helps lift and separate, to provide the look of 3x more lashes.
First thoughts: I’m all about a good mascara brush and this product definitely has that. The mascara brush is completely straight (instead of curved) which can be hard to use for some people. I thought the application process was pretty easy but I also found this mascara worked better when I would warm it up with my body heat first before applying.
End of the day test: This mascara was still on my eyelashes at the end of the day but a lot less volume than what I started out with. In the description for this mascara it says that it is “washable” which was true. This mascara came off easily.
Would you recommend this mascara?: Yes
Score out of 5: 3

High-end favourites


Photo by Laura Whelan

Should you spend over $25 on a mascara? These high-end favourites aren’t cheap, but some of them are worth your money. For those who like to splurge on beauty products or try out the latest designer makeup, these top-rated mascaras offer a mix of volume, lengthening and smudge-proof wear. Review by Laura Hensley.

WINNER

Name: Milk Makeup KUSH Waterproof Mascara
Price: $29
Available at: Sephora
Product specialty: Hopping on the cannabis-infused beauty train, Milk’s KUSH mascara is made with hemp-derived cannabis seed oil. According to Milk, this means the product offers “healthier-looking lashes” and “fuses fibers to lashes for thickness without fallout.”
First thoughts: It takes a couple coats, but this Milk mascara is really thick and defines your lashes. I loved it because not only did it offer a volumizing effect, it was also easy to apply and waterproof.
End of the day test: Hardly any under-the-eye smudging! I even wore it while working out and it stayed on nicely. Only downfall is that I found it to be a tad clumpy if you really layer it on.
Would you recommend this mascara?: Yes.
Score out of 5: 4.5


Laura Hensley with her winning mascara (on the left). Photo by Laura Whelan

Name: TARTE Big Ego Mascara
Price: $30
Available at: Sephora
Product specialty: A vegan mascara that promises to “lift your lashes” and give them a serious “flutter” aesthetic for up to 16 hours.
First thoughts: I was really excited to try this product as I’ve heard so many good things about Big Ego. But, when applying the mascara, I found the applicator to be hard to use and awkwardly shaped. The product does offer decent volume, but not as much as other brands and the applicator was the biggest turnoff for me.
End of the day test: Had a bit of under-eye smudge. Otherwise, lashes looked OK.
Would you recommend this mascara?: For the price, no.
Score out of 5: 3

Name: Caution Extreme Lash Mascara
Price: $34
Available at: Sephora
Product specialty:
First thoughts: The gold triangular shape of this mascara is fun, and stands out from other products on the market. The brush is thin but mighty; it really lengthens lashes! Because I prefer thicker mascaras, this was a bit on the thinner side for me. Still, if length is your priority over thickness, Caution Extreme Lash is a solid choice.
End of the day test: No clumping and no flaking. Lashes looked pretty much the same as they did when I applied the mascara in the morning.
Would you recommend this mascara?: Yes
Score out of 5: 4

Name: Dior Diorshow Mascara
Price: $36
Available at: Sephora, Shoppers Drug Mart, Hudson’s Bay
Product specialty: This is one of the most talked about mascaras on the market, praised for its “buildable volume.” It’s known to create a full-lash aesthetic, inspired by runway makeup.
First thoughts: I love the shape of the brush, but it’s a bit big. If you want to really get in between lashes or prefer a smaller applicator, the size of the brush can be a turnoff. That being said, Dior’s Diorshow really does build volume, and creates a thicker lash effect.
End of the day test: This mascara goes on nicely, but is a bit on the drier side. After a full day and evening of wear, lashes can get a bit crusty.
Would you recommend this mascara?: Yes — if you can afford it. Otherwise, other more affordable mascaras on the market also build great volume.
Score out of 5: 3.5

Name: Lancome HYPNÔSE Mascara
Price: $35
Available at: Shoppers Drug Mart, Hudson’s Bay
Product specialty: This Lancome favourite promises to make “barely there” lashes thick and full “from root to tip.”
First thoughts: Everyone raves about this product, and it’s been years since I used a Lancome mascara (I stopped as I found their formulas to be thin). While this is a reliable mascara that definitely lengthens, I was hoping it would make a bit more of a noticeable impact. Unlike some of the thicker applicators, I needed multiple coats to achieve the fullness I wanted. The product does go on easily, though, as the brush is very user-friendly.
End of the day test: No clumps! Looking pretty good.
Would you recommend this mascara?: Yes, if you like a lengthening mascara.
Score out of 5: 3.8

The natural picks


Photo by Laura Whelan

In an effort to lessen its impact on the earth, the beauty industry is going “green.” These are some of the best organic mascaras on the market, as rated by Canadian consumers. The options range in price, colour and specialty, but all promise to use nearly 100 per cent natural ingredients that won’t irritate your eyes or the surrounding skin. Review by Meghan Collie.

WINNER

Name: Pure Anada Natural Mascara
Price: $14
Available at: Well.ca
Product specialty: PH balanced for the eyes to ensure no burning or stinging.
First thoughts: Upon first inspection, the wand — bent at a 45-degree angle — completely terrified me. But after layering the product onto my lashes, I realized the mild bend actually helped with application… especially on the pesky outer corners of my eyes, which are usually missed by my first swipe. Plus, the scent is very refreshing. It actually smells like you’re wearing a natural, fruity product.
End of the day test: My biggest issue with mascara prior to this experiment was flaking. It felt like I would find new shreds of product on my cheeks every time I went to the bathroom. Not with Pure Anada! It stays put all day, and it’s extremely light, so there were even a few times when I forgot I was wearing it.
Would you recommend this mascara?: Yes
Score out of 5: 5


Meghan Collie with her winning mascara (on the left). Photo by Laura Whelan

Name: Nude by Nature Allure Defining Mascara
Price: $24
Available at: Nude by Nature
Product specialty: Buildable product for lengthening and separating lashes
First thoughts: This wand is atrocious. It takes some force to pull it out of the tube, and when you finally get it out, there’s little to no product on the end of the stick. I love a light touch when it comes to mascara, but it took six or seven coats of this product before I noticed a difference in my lashes. It’s even harder to put the wand back than it was to get it out. The first few times I tried to slide it back in, I actually bent the wand.
End of the day test: What very little mascara I started the day with had almost completely disappeared by the time I got home from work.
Would you recommend this mascara?: No
Score out of 5: 2

Name: Burt’s Bees Nourishing Mascara
Price: $14.99
Available at: Shopper’s Drug Mart
Product specialty: Lengthens and defines lashes
First thoughts: There’s much hype around this product, and I can see why. The wand glides out naturally and with just the right amount of mascara. It’s a classic shape, so it’s relatively easy to put on. The mascara itself is buildable and lightweight.
End of the day test: It held up pretty well, but I was disappointed when it came to removal. My typical makeup removal process (micellar water on some cotton pads) streaked the product across my face, and it took an extra pad to get it all.
Would you recommend this mascara?: Yes
Score out of 5: 4

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Name: Fitglow Vegan Good Lash +
Price: $44
Available at: The Detox Market
Product specialty: Volumizing, promotes lash health and growth
First thoughts: The packaging alone is enough to get you pumped about this mascara. It’s metallic pink with floral decals — so cute! I really liked the full coverage of this mascara, but I did get it on my cheekbones a couple of times because of the wand’s chunky top end. This is the mascara that held up best against my eyelash curler.
End of the day test: No flakes! No smudges! Comes off easily! This would’ve been my runner-up, I think.
Would you recommend this mascara?: Absolutely
Score out of 5: 4

Name: 100% Pure Fruit Pigmented Ultra Lengthening Mascara Black Tea
Price: $37
Available at: Well.ca
Product specialty: Lengthens, water-resistant
First thoughts: To be honest, I was pretty disappointed with this mascara. I loved its list of ingredients (practically all items I recognized!), but the product wasn’t strong enough to illicit any major feelings one way or another from me. It took multiple coats to get the length and fullness I desire, and then I struggled with smudging under the eyes as my day went on.
End of the day test: I had to check for smudges every time I was in the bathroom, but there wasn’t any flaking.
Would you recommend this mascara?: Probably not
Score out of 5: 3

Cult classics


Photo by Laura Whelan

The cult classics are the mascara brands that have been around for decades. They are the go-to picks of beauty experts, makeup artists and most often, consumers. Cult classics can range from both high-end and low-end brands, and often, top bestseller lists for multiple companies. Review by Arti Patel.

WINNER

Name: Benefit Cosmetics BADgal Bang! Mascara
Price: $33
Available at: Shopper Drug Mart
Product specialty: Volumizing, 36-hour product
First thoughts: I am a sucker for good presentation and this product comes in the slickest bottle and is completely lightweight. The brush can carry a lot of product, your lashes instantly become thicker, fuller and it is easy to reach those tricky lashes at the end.
End of the day test: Not only will your mascara last all day (I didn’t test out the 36-hour method), but it will still look like you have fresh mascara on all day. My only complaint about this mascara is that it takes some time to remove — but looking at the bigger picture, this is a problem one should have.
Would you recommend this mascara?: Yes!
Score out of 5: 5


Arti Patel with her winning mascara (on the left). Photo by Laura Whelan

Name:
Too Faced Better Than Sex Mascara
Price: $31
Available at: Sephora
Product specialty: Volumizing, hourglass-shaped brush
First thoughts: The wand holds a lot of product. Before applying the mascara, make sure you remove any excess product or it will become clump onto your lashes. I thought the application was straightforward and for the most part, my lashes were extended throughout the day.
End of the day test: Unfortunately, this mascara did not meet the end of the day test. I tested it out during a wedding event and by the end of the night, my mascara was dried out and leaving residue under my eyes.
Would you recommend this mascara?: I would pass on this one for long-day coverage.
Score out of 5: 3

Name: In Extreme Dimension 3D Black Lash Mascara by Mac Cosmetics
Price: $30
Available at: Mac Cosmetics
Product specialty: Lightweight, lifting, flake-proof
First thoughts: Prior to testing this mascara this time around, I was a die-hard fan for years. If you are a fan of other Mac Cosmetics, then you will already be familiar with the quality of the company’s products, and when it comes to mascaras, this one sticks out by far. The brush is probably one of the best features of this mascara, it is moulded, long and is designed to avoid clumping. Application was simple and the shape itself is quite chic.
End of the day test: This mascara passed my end of the day test. It may not have looked as fresh as it did in the morning, but it was still obvious I had layers of the product on.
Would you recommend this mascara?: If you are looking for a lightweight option, I would highly recommend this mascara.
Score out of 5: 4

Name: Eyes To Kill Classico Mascara by Giorgio Armani
Price: $43
Available at: Holt Renfrew
Product specialty: Volumizing, lengthening, award-winning
First thoughts: This mascara has been on top of many “best of” lists in the past and even has an award. When it comes to brushes, I would say this one was probably my favourite from the cult classics. The formula itself wasn’t overpowering, but I am more of a fan of a chunky look.
End of the day test: This mascara does last, but it does tend to flake at the end of the day.
Would you recommend this mascara?: It is a great brush and for some, this is an important factor. If that’s the case (and you’re willing to splurge), I would get it.
Score out of 5: 3.5

Name: Maybelline Great Lash Blackest Black Mascara
Price: $7.99
Available at: Shopper’s Drug Mart
Product specialty: Lash doubling, thickening formula, long-lasting
First thoughts: For any beauty lover, this truly is the ultimate cult classic and for years, this was my go-to. After trying out different brands in this category, I have to say this cult classic may be overrated. Price wise, it is a great find, but the brush is too short, the formula isn’t as thick and I didn’t find my lashes got “doubled.”
End of the day test: For the most part, yes, but a lot of it had flaked off.
Would you recommend this mascara?: On a budget, yes.
Score out of 5: 3

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