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Best cheap mascaras for a false lash effect

Updated: Jan 11

false lash mascara

Mascaras are getting expensive. Some of the newest and best-selling products will set you back between £12 and £30. That is not an insignificant sum in these tough times. Because you can't try a mascara before you buy, it can be a hit and miss - not to mention frustrating - process to find one that actually does what it says on the tube. So, potentially, a lot of money is wasted in the quest to find the perfect mascara.

Let's be honest, results vary. That is not just down to the product or application method but the condition of the user's lashes. For example, someone in their 20s is far more likely to get a false lash effect than a user in their 50s whose lashes may be more sparse to start with.

4D, 5D, silk fibre... It means nothing - zilch - if the product doesn't lengthen and seriously bulk out the eyelashes.

There are simple ways to ensure good, cheap mascaras deliver a high-impact result every time, regardless of your age and regardless of the condition of your lashes.

Beyond the hype of lengthening mascaras

cheap mascara

All but the poorest mascaras will lengthen your lashes to some extent. That is because the wand applies pigmented fibres from root to tip and stretches hairs along the way. Consider the brush a straightener for your lashes. So, part of the effect is down to the performance of the wand.

Currently, Maybelline's Lash Sensational Sky High Mascara is practically everywhere you look - on TV, online, in magazines and at beauty counters. This product will set you back between £9.99 and £14, but note: reviews for this product, while mostly great, are mixed. I went to buy it online but was put off by the number of reviewers who didn't say things like 'Best false lash effect mascara I've ever used' or 'Wow! My lashes look HUGE'. Instead, I found plenty of people who said the product is too wet and the wand too flexible. Now, as someone who doesn't have the steadiest hands, that was a real concern. Such comments conjured up images of blobs everywhere. I had visions of more false starts than a false lash effect and did not relish the idea of having to stock up on Q-tips and concealer.

Instead, I went for a L'Oreal mascara that I had never heard of before. It had great reviews, was cheaper and (in case my age affected its performance), I had spare change to buy the KIKO Milano mascara primer which was on offer. I'm old enough to remember when primers first came out - mascara at one end of the tube and primer at the other. Up until now, I've never purchased a mascara primer on its own. Worth a try? Keep reading!

Recommended cheap mascaras

A few coats of mascara can open up the eyes and define the face. Best of all, it complements any look - from a bare face to a full-on creative load. So, even if you prefer to look natural, this is the one beauty product everyone should own.

The trend for a full flutter false lash effect is still red hot. And, while you can now buy false eyelashes at bargain basement prices, most makeup lovers still prefer to enhance their lashes with mascara. It's less hassle and nine times out of ten longer-lasting.

Here are the cheap mascaras I recommend, based on the performance of both the formula and wand:

L'Oreal Paris Bambi Oversized Eye False Lash Mascara - £8.99

L'Oreal Paris Bambi Oversized Eye False Lash Mascara
Image: Regime Skin Care

This product lifts the eyelashes without curling. The wand is slim and suitable for both upper and lower lashes.

Product performance (without a primer): Thickens and lengthens lashes from the first coat. Easily buildable. Great result after the second coat. Brilliant results with further coats. Lasts all day and can withstand rain and splashes. Easy to remove with micellar water. Budge-proof until you want to take it off.

Issues: Minor clumping on the lower lashes but nothing that can't be quickly sorted with the wand.

This product is also available with a curved wand.

Makeup Revolution 5D Lash Pow Mascara - £8.99

Makeup Revolution 5D Lash Pow Mascara
Image: Regime Skin Care

I love this colossal mascara but have issues with the tube and wand.

Product performance (without primer): Full false lash effect with two to three coats. Not as budge-proof as L'Oreal's Bambi but long-lasting. This mascara can be compared to much more expensive brands such as Clinique. It is also vegan and cruelty-free.

Issues: Very minor clumping. The tube has a 'pop-up' wand - an initial novelty that turns into a nightmare. I have bought this product more than once and every time the pop-up mechanism fails very quickly, leaving the wand halfway out of the tube for the remainder of its shelf life. I also find the brush is too big to easily coat the lower lashes.

Can a mascara primer save you money?

Yes! The best primers are white and leave the lashes conditioned as well as pre-coated with fibres. With a combination of good formula and high-performance wand, you can kiss goodbye to expensive mascaras forever. You could lower your mascara budget to below £6 and go for something like the e.l.f. Waterproof Lengthening & Volumising Mascara or Rimmel's Extra 3D Lash Volumising Mascara. If the base is there, you are going to get a fuller look come what may.

Most lash primers cost between £3.99 and £8, depending on current offers. So, theoretically, you can bag a primer and mascara for under £15 and get the same, if not better, result as a premium mascara priced between £20 and £30. In addition, if you already have mascara, you can start to get better results with just the purchase of a primer - cheaper than a new best-selling mascara.

Mini review: KIKO Milano Building Base Coat Mascara False Lashes Concentrate - currently under £8.

mascara primer

I was expecting this primer to instantly turn my lashes a stiff white. That didn't happen. I gradually built the coating up over two applications. Just like mascara, a primer can blob and this product is no exception. I left two minutes' drying time between applications but a minute would probably have sufficed.

Performance: The primer stiffened my lashes without leaving them brittle. The whiteness was more apparent after the second coat. I found this base made it easier to apply mascara, especially on the lower lashes. I was even able to go under and over without smudging because of the rigidity. Did the fibres make a difference? Yes! My lower lashes are so wispy you can't see them without mascara. Not only are they now visible, they do have the volume for a false lash effect. For a full octane look, I'd go for three coats of primer and three or four coats of mascara.

Final word... Because mascara is an essential cosmetic, getting the most out of a purchase is important. As well as achieving the look you desire, you can save money with savvy product choices.

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1 Comment

Jul 31, 2022

As someone who is obsessed with mascara, I really appreciate this post! It's the only make-up I wear now so I'm always on the hunt for the best and at affordable prices. Thank you for sharing, definitely going to invest in Bambi oversized one from L'Oreal Paris and the KIKO Milano base coat.

Jordanne // Thelifeofaglasgowgirl

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