Professional Makeup Artist Reveals Top Mascaras Under $20

Arielle Benasillo
Arielle Benasillo is a 23 year old New Yorker who's passion for makeup is real. Growing up with both parents as hair stylists, the skill ran in the family. She recently graduated from Make Up Forever Academy New York certifying her in beauty & fashion, theatrical, special effects makeup and body painting. Arielle is now a freelance makeup artist working on photo shoots, weddings and events, as well as being employed at Salon S for makeup artistry. On her free time she enjoys traveling, being outdoors, froyo night with her roommates, and taking advantage of bottomless brunch in Manhattan with friends.

Look no further. I found a handful of mascaras that are reasonably priced and do a damn good job. In no specific order:


1. Maybelline Lash Stiletto Ultimate Length ($8.99)k2-_ded0d58f-32a7-44c9-9c63-bf2a311e2d5c.v1

First, we need to appreciate the packaging of this mascara – how cute? If that doesn’t draw you in, you will be pleased to know it really works. It doesn’t give you dramatic lashes – and if that is what you’re looking for, I would keep movin’ down the list. However, it gives you a natural finish with a definite increase in length with no clumps! It’s a close match to Lancome Definicils ($31), but this is a much more reasonable price.



2. L’oreal Voluminous Volume Building ($7.99)300

This mascara has been in my makeup kit since the very beginning. It builds up well and leaves your lashes with big volume. I prefer non-waterproof over waterproof, but the choice is yours. The formula is a tiny bit different for each. It’s one of cheapest on this list, and in the drugstores.



3. Smashbox Full Exposure ($20)img-thing

I love love love this mascara! This one is my most frequently used products. I have one for myself and one in my kit. This gives your lashes a thick and full look without clumping or flaking. It also has olive oil compounds for softening lashes, which is very easy on sensitive eyes. This mascara certainly won’t leave your lashes brittle. Full Exposure is not waterproof, but it does hold!



4. Maybelline New York Great Lash ($4.50)2232651

This is the first mascara I ever used, probably because my mom used it. And now I know why she did – because it’s a good product for a great price! It does a little bit of everything, but nothing too dramatic – making it a great daytime mascara. It adds volume and lengthens all for the price of $4.50. Can’t pass that one up.



5. Covergirl Lashblast Volume ($8.99)covergirl-lashblast-mega-volume-mascara-en

I don’t have many waterproof mascaras that I love, but this is definitely one of them. I would say this is the drugstore alternative to Benefit’s “They’re Real” mascara. Curl your lashes, apply this mascara and it will hold all day. You can cry, jump in a pool, it won’t matter – your lashes will still hold! I am also a fan of the brush. The bristles help to apply your mascara evenly and easily. You can build up this mascara with however many coats you need. Make sure you do all your layers before it dries or your lashes will start to stick together.



6. Rimmel London Lash Accelerator Endless ($8.99)LashAcceleratorEndlessMascara_PRODUCT_02

Procapil, biotin and keratin: three ingredients that are not normally in mascaras, but this one makes the list. Having these ingredients in the formula helps your lashes grow, condition and thicken. It isn’t a dramatic mascara, but with two layers it makes your eyes pop just enough. All these beneficial ingredients make it worth the purchase.



7. Mac Opulash ($16.99)ft_505d7197d5b0f47d9559be42d3d1e337

Everyone will ask if you’re wearing fake eyelashes with this mascara. I understand those of you who use two different mascaras to get the effect you want, because I do it too. However, I would recommend MAC Opulash because it really does the trick on its own. It is a very dry mascara, but the formula helps thicken and add length to the lashes exceptionally well. The large brush can be intimidating at first, but once you get used to working it into your lashes you will love it! Q-tips are also your best friend if your brush decides to hit your eyelid—it happens to the best of us.



8. Tarte Lights, Camera, Lashes! ($10/$19) s862417-main-Lhero

This is your resident lengthening, curling, volumizing, and conditioning mascara. This 4-in-1 product also has beneficial ingredients to give your lashes a boost to be stronger, longer, thicker and more conditioned. The tube does dry out quicker than other mascaras, so I would recommend the mini version (only $10!). This mascara is also Paraben, Phthalate and Petroleum free! Tarte specializes in “good-for-you glamour,” so everything is eco-friendly and cruelty-free.


9. Clinique High Impact ($16)122068_fpx.tif

The perfect match for those with sensitive eyes or allergies. This mascara was Ophthalmologist tested and is gentle on the eyes. Anytime my eyes are acting up, this is my go-to mascara. It gives a full look to your lashes, but keeps it natural. I wouldn’t say it’s a “high impact mascara,” but I do love the separating and volumizing result it gives.



10. Benefit Cosmetics They’re Real ($12/$24)Theyre_Real_box-and-vial

So maybe I cheated a little. I squeezed this one on the list, but only because it’s that good! The full size is $24 ($4 dollars over budget, oops), but they have a mini for $12. I use this mascara almost every day. The bristles are further apart which is designed for you to get right to the root of your lashes. The tip of this brush also has bristles so you can maneuver each lash to separate, lift, define and lengthen each lash. “They’re Real” is a perfect name for this mascara because your lashes go through a complete transformation when you wear this mascara…as if they’re fake lashes!


Image Sources: WalmartDrugstore.comPolyvoreUltaAllureRimmel LondonBeautylishSephoraBloomingdalesBenefit Cosmetics