Fluttery lashes anyone? These are the budget but brilliant mascaras – from volumising to lengthening – that give the best results

At Boots, we’re adamant that fabulous beauty products needn’t cost a fortune. And if like us, mascara is the desert island make-up product you swear by, rest assured that you don’t need to spend big to get big results. In fact, you can get your hands on a wand that works wonders from just £2.

Today’s range of affordable mascaras are eye-opening in every sense and so, with that in mind, we’re shining a light on nine of the best budget finds around. Whether you’re after something that serves up dramatic volume or one that offers luscious length, our low-cost edit has you covered.

But first? We speak to Folu Olufemi, NYX Professional Makeup artist, to find out the mascara application tips and tricks she swears by to take your lash and eye make-up game to the next level.

What’s the best technique for applying mascara?

Applying mascara. Easy, right? Turns out you might not be utilising the right techniques for your chosen look. And, if you’ve not yet invested in a lash primer as a starting point, then get on it – pronto.

“If it’s false lash effect-level volume you’re after, I recommend wiggling the mascara wand at the root of the lashes, moving back and forth for a few seconds before running the brush through their full length,” suggests Folu. “You can then repeat this motion one or two times for extra fullness.”

And if you’re all about the length, then choosing the correct formula is a good starting point. “It needs to be buildable and not flakey. I’d use a lash curler to give extra lift from the root, then evenly coat the lashes from root to tip,” says Folu. “As you run out of product on one side of the brush, use that same side at an angle to make sure lashes are fanned out and separated.”

Mastering natural-looking lashes is also a breeze – if you know how.

“A subtle lash can be a great way to boost a no-makeup make-up look,” says Folu. “Simply curl your lashes and top with a softer coloured mascara for an extremely natural finish. Brown tones work well.”

Which type of brush is best for length & which is best for volume?

It turns out, all mascaras aren’t equal as different brushes achieve different results.

“For length, opt for brushes that have a fine-tooth comb,” says Folu. “These are great for separating and fanning out lashes. Excellent volumising mascara brushes tend to be larger, fuller and have softer bristles.”

Who might suit brown mascara & who might suit black?

It’s definitely a ‘you do you’ situation, but Folu has some helpful advice for those wondering which shade might suit them best.

“Black mascara is often the go-to and certainly suits most people,” she says. “However, those with very fair skin and light eyes can look beautiful with a softer, more natural brown. Experiment and see what works for you.”

What should you do if you’ve applied too much mascara?

First of all, don’t panic.

“If you feel like you’ve applied too much mascara, you can always use a clean spoolie brush or lash comb to remove any clumps and excess product,” says Folu. “Just go gently to ensure there’s no breakage.”

Lush lashes? We’re coming for you.

9 of the best budget mascaras at Boots

Now that you’ve mastered how to apply, scroll on for our edit of some of the best affordable mascaras. From skincare-infused formulas to sweat-proof heroes, here are nine of our team's favourite top budget mascara picks, starting from just £2.

Shop more great mascaras in our full range.

Best for a smudge-proof finish

Makeup Revolution Whip Lift Mascara

• Twisted vortex brush

• Cruelty-free

• Vegan

Designed to lift, lengthen and volumise, this smudge-proof mascara is enriched with castor and argan oils for stronger-looking, more nourished lashes. And if it’s a dramatic finish you like, then the ultra-black shade ensures just that. We’re sold.

Best budget mascara for curly lashes

e.l.f. Lash ‘N Roll Curling Mascara

• Double-sided, curved brush

• Cruelty-free

• Vegan

Not only is this mega-curling mascara vegan and cruelty-free, but it produces some seriously impressive results thanks to the unique double-sided and curved silicone brush. Think maximum curl and lift with minimal effort.

Best affordable lash-lifting mascara

 L’Oréal Paris Telescopic Lift Mascara

• Double hooked brush

A cult favourite in the making, this mascara is already taking TikTok by storm. Infused with ceramides, the luxurious formula promises to nourish and coat every last strand thanks to the double hooked brush. Lashes for days, anyone?

Best affordable brown mascara

 Collection Elevate-A-Lash Lift Mascara Brown

• Hourglass brush

• Vegan

Pair this bargain brown mascara with an eyelash curler for stunning results that mimic a salon lash lift. Our top tip? Brush from root to tip, combing through each lash for wide awake doe eyes. Run, don’t walk.

Best affordable volumising mascara

 Soap & Glory Thick & Fast Lift & Curl Mascara

• Curved brush

After gloriously gorgeous lashes? Us too, which is why we’re reaching for this mascara, which delivers curl, volume and length. The formula is weightless and glides on effortlessly, leaving you with lifted, beautifully shaped lashes. Better yet, it’s clump-free meaning you can layer up for added va-va-voom.

Best mascara under £5

 17. Another Level Volume Mascara

• Cone-shaped brush

• Vegan

• Cruelty-free

For unrivalled, flake-free volume, the Another Level mascara from 17. just can’t be beaten. Simply take the brush and wiggle at the base of your lashes before fanning out at the tips. Bonus points for its affordable price tag.

Best budget mascara for volume & length

 Max Factor Masterpiece 2 in 1 Lash Wow Volume & Length Mascara

• 2-in-1 brush

• Vegan

If you’re after a boujee mascara then look no further than this one. Ideal for the indecisive, the unique twistable brush allows you to choose between separating and lengthening or lifting and volumising. We’re hooked.

Best affordable lengthening mascara

 Maybelline Lash Sensational Sky High Mascara

• Flexible brush

• Boots Beauty Awards 2022 winner

A viral online sensation (and a 2022 Boots Beauty Awards winner), if you’ve not yet tried Maybelline’s Lash Sensational Sky High Mascara then get on it! A beauty editor favourite, the brush bends to extend every hair from root to tip for defined lashes with zero clumps. Plus, it removes easily – it’s the full package.

Best budget waterproof mascara

 e.l.f. Big Mood Waterproof Mascara Black

• Hourglass-shaped brush

• Waterproof formula

• Vegan

• Cruelty-free

One of our fave wand shapes, we’re obsessing over e.l.f.’s intertwined bristle brush. Just one sweep expertly coats each lash with the nourishing jojoba wax-infused formula. The reviews don’t lie – this waterproof number just won’t budge.

Shop our full range of mascaras for more top finds.

All prices correct at the date of publication