Shop the Best Mascara – 7 That Are Actually Better than Sex (Starting Under $5!)

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Get those lashes on point with the best mascara on the market!

close up of woman's face putting on mascara

Get luscious lashes on the cheap with our favorite mascaras! 

We’re sharing the best effective and affordable mascara brands. Even better, all of them have been Hip2Save team tested for years so you can’t go wrong!


1. Essence Lash Princess False Lash Effect mascara is the most budget-friendly option on our list.

essence lash princess mascara

Essence Lash Princess False Lash Effect mascara$4.99

  • Get FREE shipping at ULTA when you spend $35+

Don’t think you can expect much from a $5 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 4,700 reviews on Ulta.com confirm its ability to provide dramatic volume and sculpted length.

“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, Hip sidekick


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

woman holding makeup in hand with one eye wearing best mascara

Maybelline Sky High Mascara as low as $8.47 (regularly $12.99)
Opt to Subscribe & Save (5% – 15% off + free shipping)
Final cost as low as $8.05 shipped (5% off) or $7.20 shipped (15% off)!

The Maybelline Sky High Mascara gives you AMAZING coverage and the smaller bristles keep the lashes 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!

Read my full review of this mascara!

Some of my other Hip sidekicks love this mascara since I raved about it!

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 

“I tried this mascara after hearing Sara rave about it and I totally love it too! It adds SO much length to my lashes in just a coat or two, and I’ve had no issues with it flaking off during the day! The wand is so easy to use and I don’t need to use a lash separator after applying. It’s worth giving this one a shot!” – Erika, Hip sidekick


3. Urban Decay Perversion mascara will stimulate lash growth.

3 tubes of urban decay perversion makeup

Another risqué-named mascara, but 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 because it gives me the most amazing coverage and lifts. 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, Hip sidekick


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

benefit roller lash mascara

Benefit Roller Lash mascara – $23 (regularly $26.95)

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.

“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, Hip sidekick


5. Lancome Lash Idole mascara is Emily’s new favorite “clean” makeup splurge.

woman holding up lancome mascara smiling

Lancome Lash Idole mascara – $27

Looking for a cleaner best mascara to buy? Emily recently fell head over heels for this formula which is free of silicones, oils, and parabens. Plus, it’s volumizing, lengthening, and long-wearing so what more could you want in a mascara?! If that’s not enough to sell you on this mascara, their clinical results showed that 95% saw an instant lash lift, 94% saw instant volume, and 90% saw clump-free lashes!

“I got the travel size and I think it’s a perfect size and I have been regularly using it for months now! I was influenced by Angela Rose on Instagram who normally does home DIY stuff but she talked about this the one day and was mentioning how she was truly obsessed and it wasn’t sponsored and I totally see why. It’s amazing!” – Emily, Hip sidekick


6. MAC MACstack mascara is a name brand any beauty lover knows and trusts. 

hand holding mac mascara wand with tube in background

When you hear “MAC”, you know you’re getting a great makeup product from a brand many of us love and trust. If buildability is key for your skinny lashes, then you’ll want to scoop up this endlessly buildable mascara. After 111 women used this productfor a week, 95% saw gravity-defying volume, 95% saw instant lash lift and length, and 95% said mascara builds endlessly. The sky’s the limit, ladies!

“My favorite mascara was discontinued and I love this replacement even more! My lashes are naturally long, thick, and more on the straight side so if I don’t have the right mascara, I get yucky spider lashes. This MAC formula separates, lifts, and curls my lashes while still feeling lightweight (even with 2-3 coats!) and the brush is amazing and combs through all of my lashes to keep them separated. Plus, the packaging looks super sleek and fancy in my makeup bag…something I’m sure isn’t that important but for the pretty penny this costs, it sure is show-stopping all around!” – Rachel, Hip sidekick


7. Clinique High Impact mascara is Ani’s favorite because it doesn’t clump.

hand holding tube of clinique high impact mascara

Another name brand to love and trust, this top beauty buy that made our list is perfect for adding volume and definition without clumping. It’s also 100% fragrance-free, paraben-free, and allergy and Ophthalmologist tested so it’s perfect for anyone with sensitive eyes or those who wear contacts.

“Clinique’s High Impact mascara feels extremely smooth when I apply it to my eyelashes and it’s super easy to wash off. One of the benefits I look for with mascara is no clumping, so this gets an A+ in the non-clumping department!” – Ani, Hip sidekick


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 73

  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!!

      • Lynds

        Me too. I started with the blush stick and eye highlighters and just got their mascara…love it all. And it’s so simple:)

    • 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!

    • shandabell

      Yes! Best Mascara even with sensitive eyes!!!

  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!!

    • Sarah

      The urban decay perversion is definitely my go to. Thick, whispy and long lashes without clumping.

  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?

    • orie4reel

      Only one I Ever found was (believe it or not?!) was Avon’s Wash off waterproof mascara!! Stays on all day, never came off if I sweat or went into pool & came right off with any makeup remover or soap & water, super easy & didn’t pull my lashes out!!!

      • Shea

        Thanks

  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”.

      • Pat

        Nasbfhdfh maybe wasn’t making a joke. I’ve heard for years that one cannot apply mascara without opening they’re mouth. I challenge myself all the time.

      • JJ

        How was that a joke? I’m able to do it without opening my mouth, but I also know that’s odd compared to most women.

  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!

    • Olgraygirl

      Believe it or not, my life long go-to eye makeup remover is Vaseline (or other petroleum jelly). I wear waterproof mascara and it comes off like a charm. Does not harm lashes, and can’t beat the price!!

      • Jessica (Hip Sidekick)

        Awesome! Thanks so much for that helpful tip! 💞

  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!

  31. Lesomom

    After trying MANY I found Tarte Lights Camera Action, L’Oréal lash paradise and L’Oréal double extend to be the best and better than the Better than Sex

  32. JanetVB

    Thanks for the list! I have a problem with mascaras smudging. My 2 faves: Wander mile high, and Smashbox Super-Fan mascaras!

    • Jessica (Hip Sidekick)

      You bet! Thanks for sharing your favorites with us! 🥰

  33. uma

    i have found over the years that maybelline mascara works well for about 2 weeks . the products that make your lashes grow contain a chemical (still) that might put brown spots in the iris of certain people with green eyes.it happened to me some years ago. my go to is diorshow.although lately MILK kush has been pulling my attention. happy shopping!

  34. Ursolina

    The only mascara I can use, because I have to curl my eyelashes as they are stick straight, is Maybelline the Rocket Volume Express waterproof. Has to be that specific formula. $6/$7 depending on sale. Otherwise I have found countless other mascaras to be too wet and immediately straighten my eyelashes. This is the only one that doesn’t do that.
    As for removing the mascara, I use a cotton ball and baby oil.

  35. themayofamily

    I use L’Oréal mascara on my top lashes with a L’Oréal primer and use waterproof on the bottom lashes to keep the smudges away. Works like a charm. I’ve tried many mascaras but always go back to L’Oréal.

    • Jessica (Hip Sidekick)

      Thanks so much for sharing your favorite mascara with us! 💕

  36. Erica

    I love this post and all the comments since I’m always searching for the perfect mascara! I always get under dye smudge immediately so in the last few years I’ve been on the “tubing” mascaras. Blinc is the ultimate for not transferring to the lower eye, it’s waterproof through brief tears, and washes off with warm water and a cloth, but it doesn’t give much additional length or curl. (They developed a second formula to do more length and honestly I hate it.) Blinc is available at Sephora but not ulta sadly. You can also find it on Amazon and of course their own website.

    • Jessica (Hip Sidekick)

      YAY! So glad this post was super helpful for you, Erica! Thank you for sharing your recommendations! 🥰

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