close-up shot of a brown female eye
Photo: Maria Camila CastaƱo

For as long as I can remember, mascara has been my nemesis. My lashes? Short, thin, and about as stubborn as a mule when it comes to holding a curl. Every mascara commercial promised voluminous, dramatic lashes, but on me, they translated to clumpy spikes or barely-there whispers of lashes. I'd resigned myself to the eyelash curler torture chamber and the daily struggle of applying mascara only to have it disappear in a few hours.

Here's the good news: celebrity makeup artist Gong Li states that drugstore mascaras can be just as good, as their high-end colleagues. Therefore, you don't need to spend a fortune on fancy mascaras to achieve gorgeous lashes.  This guide is packed with the best drugstore mascaras specifically formulated for short, thin lashes like mine. Get ready to transform your lashes from barely-there to beautifully bold – all without breaking the bank!

Choosing the Right Mascara for Short Lashes

When it comes to short, thin lashes, the key is finding a mascara that enhances without overwhelming. Look for wands with short, tightly packed bristles. These tiny grabbers can snag even the most delicate lashes, coating them from root to tip for maximum definition.  A curved wand is your best friend here, as it helps to hug your lash line and create a natural-looking lift. 

Next, consider the formula. Heavy, waxy mascaras are the enemy of short lashes.  Instead, seek out lightweight, lengthening formulas. These will add definition and length without weighing down your lashes or causing them to clump together. Formulas with lengthening fibers are a bonus, as they can dramatically increase lash length for a more glamorous makeup look.

vollage with the best drugstore mascaras for thin lashes

10 Best Mascaras for Short, Thin Lashes You Can Buy at a Drugstore

  • Maybelline Sky High Mascara: 

This sky-high favorite boasts a unique brush with long and short bristles that separate, define, and lengthen lashes without clumping. The lightweight formula builds beautifully for dramatic results.

  • e.l.f. Cosmetics Big Mood Mascara: 

This volumizing mascara lives up to its name. The oversized, fluffy brush deposits a generous amount of formula to create a full, dramatic lash look. The formula is buildable and surprisingly lightweight for short lashes.

  • Flower Beauty Warrior Princess Mascara: 

Don't be fooled by the playful name – this mascara packs a punch. The feathery brush with ultra-fine bristles reaches every lash, coating them with a lengthening and volumizing formula for a defined, fluttery look.

  • L'Oreal Paris Telescopic Original Mascara: 

This cult-favorite mascara features a long, thin brush with comb-like bristles that separate and define even the shortest lashes. The lengthening formula delivers incredible length without clumps, making it a go-to for natural-looking definition.

  • Essence Lash Princess False Lash Effect Mascara: 

A true drugstore legend, this mascara delivers dramatic results at a budget-friendly price. The conical brush grabs onto lashes, coating them with a lengthening and volumizing formula that creates a false-lash effect without the hassle.

  • CoverGirl Lash Blast Volume Mascara: 

This classic mascara remains a popular choice for a reason. The volumizing formula plumps up even the thinnest lashes, while the curved brush lifts and defines. For extra oomph, consider layering this mascara with a lengthening formula.

  • Max Factor Clump Defy Mascara

Max Factor's Clump Defy may be an oldie, but it is still worth your attention! The curved, mascara hugs each separate lash, gifting them, a lengthened, and fanned-out effect. Plus it doesn't have any fallouts!

  • Rimmel Wonder'Lash Mascara with Keratin: 

This mascara nourishes lashes while enhancing them. The unique lash-doubling brush features both long and short bristles to volumize and lengthen, while the keratin-infused formula strengthens and conditions lashes.

  • NYX Professional Makeup On The Rise Liftscara: 

 This mascara lives up to its name, featuring a lifting and separating formula. The molded plastic brush grips lashes at the root, lifting them for an open-eyed look. The lightweight formula lengthens and defines without clumping.

  • Milani Most Wanted Lash Lift Mascara: 

This mascara delivers a dramatic lash transformation. The innovative lifting brush features two sets of bristles – short bristles to coat and define, and long bristles to lift and separate. The lightweight formula provides volume and length without weighing down lashes.

woman applies mascara on her lashes

Tips for Applying Mascara to Short, Thin Lashes for Voluminous Results

First things first, a good eyelash curl is essential. Use (but very carefully and gently) an eyelash curler tool on naked lashes, squeezing it for 10-15 seconds at the base of the lashes, middle, and tips. If your lashes are like mine with absolutely no curl to them, you can try warming your lash curler by dipping it in warm water (not boiling hot, just warm!) or under a stream of hot air from a blow drier. This little eyelash curler hack will gift them a lifted curl that actually lasts. 

Now, for the mascara magic!  Ditch the zig-zag motion – it can lead to spider lashes, the bane of short lashes. Instead, adopt a "wiggle and lift" technique. Wiggle the mascara wand slightly at the base of your lashes as you apply, ensuring every lash gets coated. Then use a soft  "lifting motion" and pull the mascara's wand upwards, dragging it through the hair's length. This little hack will define your lashes and make your eyes bigger. 

For extra volume, layer a second coat, focusing on the tips of your lashes for a dramatic, fluttery look. Remember, less is more when it comes to thin lashes – multiple thin coats will create more volume than one thick, clumpy application.


Flaunt those fabulous lashes, girl! With these top drugstore picks and application tips, you're well on your way to achieving the dramatic, fluttery lashes you deserve. So go forth, conquer the day (or night!), and remember, with a little mascara magic, anything is possible. Don't forget to share your favorite drugstore mascara finds in the comments below! We'd love to hear what works wonders for your lashes.