Our 7 Favorite Mascaras – Starting Under $5!

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close up of woman's face putting on mascara

Get luscious lashes on the cheap with our favorite mascaras! 

Your flawless makeup routine is almost complete and it’s time to apply the finishing touch – mascara! While we all might make the same opened-mouthed, slightly shocked face when wisping the wand through our lashes, we all have our own opinions on the best mascara.

Check out our team’s tried and true favorite mascaras – that we use on the daily!

1. Maybelline Volum’ Express is the most affordable of our favorite mascaras.

focus on maybelline falsies best mascara tube and wand

Buy it on Amazon | $3.79

Get the most bang for your buck with this favorite mascara of ours! Right now on Amazon, you can score this incredibly effective mascara for UNDER 5 bucks and it even comes in 4 different colors! 😍 It’s Opthamalogist tested and thoughtfully crafted with a unique wand and pro-keratin formula for maximum buildability.

“This is my all-time personal favorite – I’ve been using it since high school! I don’t know which aspect of this mascara is better – the non-clumping, curl-holding formula or the precisely bristled brush. I always reach for the waterproof version since it keeps my lash curl in place all day long. Plus, I never have to worry about smudging when I’m working out or swimming.” – Emily

2. Essence Lash Princess False Lash Effect mascara is a great budget-friendly option.

essence lash princess mascara

Buy it at Ulta$4.99 (Buy two, get one FREE! No promo needed!)

Don’t think you can expect much from another $5 mascara formula? Think again! This budget-friendly beauty buy is raved about on forum websites like Reddit and even won over one of our Hip2Save team members. Plus, its high rating and over 3,800 reviews on Ulta.com confirm its ability to provide dramatic volume and sculpted length – it’s no wonder it made our list of favorite mascaras!

“It’s a drier formula (which I prefer), so it doesn’t get everywhere after you apply it, and you have time to add a few coats before it dries completely. I’m pretty shocked as I’ve tried most drug store mascaras and usually come away disappointed. But, for like $4-$5, you can’t beat it! Pretty sure it goes BOGO 50% off at Ulta fairly often, too!” – Cass

3. Maybelline Sky High Mascara is a viral mascara that’s my personal favorite.

woman holding makeup in hand with one eye wearing best mascara

Buy it on Amazon$8.98 

I find the Maybelline Sky High Mascara to give AMAZING coverage and the smaller bristles keep the mascara from clumping. Better yet, this also allows for easy buildability which any makeup wearer knows is key to a great mascara!

The formula is infused with bamboo extract and fibers for long, full lashes that never get weighed down. As of recently, it’s my new favorite mascara and I’m so glad I jumped ship!

hand holding tube of purple maybelline sky high mascara

“I saw this mascara all over TikTok a month or so ago and I just had to try it after all of the rave reviews. I am in awe of how much I love it! I really like the wand, and just a couple of coats makes my lashes look amazing!” – Angela 

Hip Tip: You can read my full review of this mascara HERE.

4. Urban Decay Perversion mascara will stimulate lash growth.

3 tubes of urban decay perversion makeup

Buy it on Belk | $25 

Another risqué-named mascara (how did that become a trend in popular beauty products?) is a beloved pick among our team. Aside from its full-bodied texture to ensure each lash has an ample coating, the formula contains a blend of proteins and amino acids that help stimulate lash growth, so you’ll see more length and volume each time you apply!

“This is my absolute favorite mascara! I adore the Urban Decay Perversion Mascara – it gives me the most amazing coverage & lift. I can often achieve the results I am looking for with just one coat and it comes off easily with a little makeup remover.” – Angie

5. KKW Mascara is a mid-range volumizing mascara that won’t disappoint.

hand holding kkw beauty makeup tube in front of tile wall

If you feel like you’ve tried every mascara out there and think each and every one of them is lacking something, my Hip sidekick, Rachel, swears this mascara is the best that has hit the beauty shelves yet! With its lush and creamy formula, it’s said to create some seriously intense thick & full lashes with literally just one coat!

“I have tried sooo many types of mascaras from Tarte to Too Faced and KKW Beauty is my absolute favorite mascara! When it was released a couple of years ago, I was a die-hard Benefit Cosmetics Roller Lash fan and loved that it, but it was lacking in the volume department. KKW mascara lengthens, defines, and volumizes my lashes to make them look so full and curled and sometimes after just ONE coat! Best one yet!” – Rachel

6. The Benefit Roller Lash mascara conditions lashes while applying.

benefit roller lash mascara

Buy it on Amazon | $21.99 (regularly $25.42)

Give those lashes an instant lift thanks to the curved nature of the Roller Lash brush. Each bristle has a unique hook’n’roll design to grab, separate, lift, and curl, with a formula that resists water and lasts 12 hours. Better yet, it contains Provitamin B5 and Serin, known for their lash-conditioning benefits. You can even score a mini version if you don’t want to splurge on the full-size your first time giving it a try.

black and pink bottles of mascara

“This is one mascara that regularly resides in my makeup drawer! I have short, straight lashes and this mascara never lets me down in the lengthening and separating department. I buy 2 or 3 tubes when they’re 50% off during ULTA’s 21 Days of Beauty sale so that I’m set and stocked for the year.”– Cass

“I received this mascara in one of my Ipsy bags a year or two ago and I have been getting it ever since! It doesn’t goop on but still adds a ton of length and I don’t need to use a lash separator thanks to lack of goop!” – Jessica

7. Beauty Counter Volumizing mascara is a wonderful clean makeup product.

beauty counter mascara tubes

Are you a natural beauty lover? This mascara made from plant-derived ingredients not only creates high-drama glam without clumping, flaking, or smudging but it’s also infused with bataua oil to help soften lashes. If clean beauty is your thing, you’ll want to give Beauty Brands a try. The company bans the use of more than 1,500 questionable or harmful chemicals in all of its products.

“I care a bit more about the ingredients that go into products I use on a regular basis, so this one has been one of my favorites. The lengthening one is nice and simple as well.” – Jami

Bonus: Don’t have a favorite mascara? Some are getting eyelash extensions instead!

eyelash extension application

  • Eyelash extensions initial application – $150-$200
  • Monthly maintenance – $55-$65

While some beauty lovers haven’t found a favorite mascara or just prefer to skip it altogether – many are opting for eyelash extensions instead! It can be a lengthy and pricey beauty procedure, but the convenience can’t be beaten. You wake up every morning looking bright-eyed with impeccable-looking lashes!

Understand the pros & cons of lash extensions before you schedule your appointment.

Don’t miss these hot makeup deals happening now!

Sara is a self-taught blogger and photographer with 5 years of experience having work featured in various building, travel, and fashion publications, most notably Bassett Furniture and Fossil.

Join The Discussion

Comments 55

  1. Adrianne

    Great article. My go-to mascara is IT! Superhero. I love it so much! And my go to water proof mascara is Senegence Waterproof Mascara LashSense. These are two wonderful mascaras that make my lashes look like I have lash extensions.

    • Emily (Hip Sidekick)

      It Cosmetics has awesome products so I’m not surprised to hear their mascara is top notch as well. Thanks for sharing, Adrianne!

  2. Nancygaye

    I have tried many mascaras over the years but I always go back to Great Lash. I’m sure there is better but for the price, it’s great.

    • Emily (Hip Sidekick)

      Well, hey—if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it! Love that you’ve stuck with a classic formula as your go-to mascara pick 😄

    • Julie

      Love Maybelline Great Lash. I recently tried their Falsies (wasn’t sure if I wanted to try something new) but I LOVED IT. Highly recommend. Deserves the top spot above.

    • Evie

      I love it too! Every time I switch, others do not meet my expectations. I need waterproof. Most will say they are/but really are not.

  3. CindyC

    I love Maybelline’s Snapscara! Best I have ever used and it removes easily.

    • Emily (Hip Sidekick)

      Ooo I’ve never tried that one from Maybelline, thanks for the recommendation CindyC!

  4. joni

    Loreal Lash paradise is my current fave

    • Empty Nest

      Agree. Tried it after a CVS deal and I completely switched from Bobby Brown.

    • Emily (Hip Sidekick)

      That one is so popular! I’ve heard so many people refer to it as a dupe for the Urban Decay BTS mascara, only a lot more affordable. Thanks for the tip Joni!

  5. Allyson

    The Essence Lash Princess that you have listed is my go to mascara, very affordable and makes my lashes long and not clumpy. I also really like Benefit’s Bad Gal Bang but I only by it when it is on sale. It is a little to liquidy when you first open it, it gets better with a little time. It is awesome for lenghting my lashes.

    • Emily (Hip Sidekick)

      Haha I actually totally agree on some formulas being a bit too liquidy at first use. I feel the same way about the Maybelline Volum’ Express—while I love that they pack it with so much of the mascara formula, I’m wiping off excess product for the first week or so. But then it gets to the perfect application amount after that! 😊

  6. Casey

    I have tried many mascaras. Tarte- Lights, Camera, Lashes is my absolute favorite. I’m not a Better Than Sex fan at all. Every time I wear it, it flakes under my eyes and all over my face. It is not a great look!

    • Emily (Hip Sidekick)

      Totally understandable, Casey. Glad to hear that the Tarte formula works well for you though!

  7. Lori

    I recently discovered Ulta’s Lash Princess and love it! It goes on cleanly (no clumps) and makes my tiny eyelashes the perfect length. For the price, you can’t beat it!

    • Emily (Hip Sidekick)

      I’m still waiting to try that one out myself since I hear more and more people raving about it! Especially love that it’s only $5!

  8. Alishia

    I like the Essence that you have listed! I also love Thrive Mascara.

  9. JennB

    Thrive mascara is awesome!! Received it as a gift for Christmas and I can’t use anything else now.

    • Bertie

      I also use Thrive. Also, their CC cream is amazing!!

    • Emily (Hip Sidekick)

      I’ve been using a highlighter from Thrive and really like it. I need to check out more of the beauty products— thanks for the heads up on their awesome mascara!

  10. Ashley

    BEAUTYCOUNTER is having a site wide 15% off sale ENDING TONIGHT! If you’re interested in “clean” living, BeautyCounter is making waves in the beauty industry; not just selling cosmetics, we’re making a change for our children – just Google it. I’d love it if you shopped my personal website: http://www.beautycounter.com/ashleybredemeier TIA 💋

  11. Kitty

    Just ordered the essence lash princess since it is cruelty free! Read that I need to change mascara every 3 months so time for a new one 🙂

    • Emily (Hip Sidekick)

      Hope it works out well for you! Let me know what you end up thinking of it 🤗

  12. Tina9222

    Any Mary Kay mascara, it has a lot of tint.One application is all your need,they don’t flake either.

    • Michele

      I agree! Mary Kay mascara seems to stay on all day and not be all wet and get all over when applying. I’ve recently tried to go cheap with great lash but I’m going back to Mary Kay because that stuff is so much better!

    • Emily (Hip Sidekick)

      Great recommendation! Love that it packs a punch of color and staying power with just one application. Thanks for sharing!

  13. Angela V.

    I was a die hard lash extension regular for three years, then developed allergies to the adhesive and had to stop. Now I use L’Oréal Paris Makeup Double Extend Beauty Tubes Lengthening 2 Step Mascara and am in awe with how long my natural lashes look and that it stays in place until I wash it off. No more raccoon eyes and it’s super affordable!

    • Ashley

      Yes! This is my fave as well! Other brands both cheap and expensive gave me raccoon eyes, and never felt like they wash completely clean. I love how the “tubes” never flake or run, but come off so cleanly when I wash my face. Plus it’s usually under $6 with amazon S&S, so you can’t beat the price.

    • Emily (Hip Sidekick)

      I’m sorry to hear that about your adhesive allergies Angela, but that’s great you were able to find a mascara alternative! That formula sounds so interesting, I may have to give that a try. Thanks for the tip!

  14. 50ShadesofLipstick

    The Too Faced Better than Sex mascara is a good one (I’ve never had issues w/ it rubbing under my eyes or flaking whatsoever), but my absolute favorite is Chanel’s Le Volume de Chanel…it’s the blackest black, adds volume, lengthens my lashes, *and* keeps a curl all day. Definitely not a budget item, but totally worth the splurge for me! Nars Climax is really good too.

    • Emily (Hip Sidekick)

      Certain beauty products are so worth the splurge so I totally get it! Thanks for sharing your recommendations!

  15. Harlow

    Revlon mega multiplier mascara with blue teal top is wonderful I’m gonna use wedding day no clump AT ALL plum brown color is gorgeous too on fair skin

    • Emily (Hip Sidekick)

      That sounds lovely! Have a wonderful wedding day, Harlow!

  16. Lau

    My go to lately is Bad Gal lash by Benefits. Hit a 50% off deal which got me to try it. I won’t pay full retail for anything … Just wish they offered it in brown.

    • Emily (Hip Sidekick)

      Well, no wonder you’re a Hip2Saver 😆 I love scoring a great beauty deal, especially to try out new products for less. Thanks for sharing!

  17. Sandy

    I love Too Faced BTS mascara too! It’s just a bit pricey. But, my favorite mascara of all time and have been using it for over a decade is Loreal Voluminous mascara. You can’t go wrong with the quality and price. Oh, and I just discovered Loreal’s lash primer….OMG, where have you been all my life?! Amazing product!

  18. Vil

    Epic mascara by Younique is AMAZING!!! I’ve tried them all and by far this one is the best!

  19. Sara

    Love L’Oréal x fiber mascara and L’Oréal lash paradise!!

  20. Erin Ohl

    Younique a Epic mascara is…. well…. Epic! It’s amazing!

  21. Shea

    Looking for a recommendation for a great soap and water washable yet waterproof mascara… are any of these?

  22. Nancygaye

    Just got Essence Lash Princess False Lash Effect mascara and it’s amazing! Under $6!

  23. Heidi Gail

    I use Lash Accelerator Endless Mascara by Rimmel. It’s $7.99 on Amazon and my lashes stay curled and pretty for at least 16 hours.

  24. Pensxfan

    My fave is definitely the Roller Lash!!! I feel that its the only mascara that i dont get on my eyelids. I mean i may be just a messy mascara applier but..LOL.

  25. juli-1

    The younigue epic is my fave. I always get compliments on my lashes.

  26. Emily

    My favorite is Lights, Camera, Flashes (the gold tube) from tarte with a close second being the TooFaced Better Than Sex mascara!

    • Amber (Hip Sidekick)

      Thanks for sharing your favorites with us, Emily!

  27. nasbfhdfh

    the real question is, how did she put mascara without opening her mouth?

    • LJ

      That’s really unkind. Your attempt at humor failed.

      • Lindsey

        I don’t think it was meant to be unkind; most people can’t put mascara on without opening their mouths and the model above is smiling, not making the typical “I”m applying mascara face”.

  28. just me

    I live in the desert and my favorite thing to do come with the summer heat is to ditch my mascara and just dye my lashes black. It’s easy to do and take only 15 minutes to have 6 weeks of darkened lashes.

  29. Ella

    Now I’m interested in favorite eye makeup removers!

    • Amber (Hip Sidekick)

      Great suggestion! Thanks for the request, Ella! I have passed this post idea along to the team!

  30. carol ann ellis

    I am looking for Risque Beaute Seductive Length mascara and can not find it. Is the company out of business? Does anyone know…thanks!

    • Amber (Hip Sidekick)

      I’ve searched a bit for it and I’m not finding any. We’ll keep an eye out!

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