I Put a $5 Mascara and a $29 Mascara to The Test and Here are the Results

Elizabeth Denton
I Put a $5 Mascara and a $29 Mascara to The Test and Here are the Results
Photo: ImaxTree.

When it comes to mascara, there are some who swear by the top drugstore mascara and there are others that will only use more luxe versions. I fall somewhere in the middle but more towards prestige brands because I find they often last longer on my eyes. But since fans promise the best cheap mascara is just as good as the Sephora’s newest drop, I thought I would put two recent launches to the test.

I chose two buzzy new mascaras: the Hourglass Unlocked Instant Extensions Mascara ($29 at Hourglass) and Essence Bye Bye Panda Eyes! Mascara ($4.99 at Ulta). Both brands have serious fans. To be fair and balanced (this is scientific here, people), I applied the same amount of coats to each eye and didn’t clean up excess product. I snapped a few photos and posted them to my Instagram to see if people would be able to identify which eye had the more pricey mascara.

My first impressions were that I liked them both for different reasons. I actually found the affordable Essence mascara gave me more of that voluminous “doll eye” look. There were some clumps but I actually don’t mind them. Hourglass I had to really work it to get as much volume but the finished product is cleaner and more natural-looking sans clumps. I wore them both for a few hours in the Los Angeles summer heat to see how they would hold up. The Essence mascara did smear a little bit under my eyes but just a small amount. The Hourglass mascara didn’t budge.

When it came to removing the mascara, I found Essence came off easier with just water and Hourglass’ I needed to rub my eyes a bit with makeup remover. My final thoughts? As expected, they’re both great. Some friends thought the Hourglass “eye” was wearing the cheaper mascara but most got it right thanks to the clumps, probably. It all depends on what’s more important to you. Want long, natural-looking lashes? Hourglass is worth the splurge. If you prefer thick, doll-like lashes and don’t mind some clumps, stock up on Essence mascara. Or grab one of both. We love options.

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