Splurge or Save? The Smartest Beauty Buys
"There is very little difference in mascara formulas from luxury to drugstore brands," says Tom Winarick. "It is really the brush that maximizes the performance of the product." It's no surprise that the drugstore brands Maybelline, Max Factor, and L'Oréal have long been the leaders in sales of mascara. "The richness of drugstore brands is the same as expensive ones," says Turnbow. With any mascara, pumping air into the tube before you apply it allows bacteria to grow, so you should buy a new tube every three to four months―all the more reason to spend less. Recommended product: Max Factor Lash Perfection Mascara ($7.50, amazon.com) coats each lash using flexible plastic bristles.
If you want a color outside the normal brown-black range―for example, a midnight blue―you may want to look for a pricier brand with a wider variety of shades.