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This $5 mascara gives my lashes massive volume and curl with just one swipe

My lashes look flawless!
Two images of Katie Jackson using the new Essence Mascara
TODAY Illustration / Courtesy Katie Jackson
/ Source: TODAY

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I collect mascaras like some people collect lip balms. I have one for the car, one for my purse, one for my bathroom, and at least three floating around my makeup bag. Since I manage to purchase so many, you can say that I'm a big fan of the $5 variety.

When it comes to affordable mascaras, no company owns that space better than Essence: the brand behind the No. 1 bestselling mascara on Amazon. It has over 27,000 global reviews, and nearly 160,000 verified purchasers have given it a five-star rating!

So, when I learned that Essence was releasing a new formula specifically designed for curl and volume, I knew I had to drop all my other mascaras and make room for one more.

Essence Lash Princess Curl & Volume Mascara

Like its sister mascaras in the Essence line, the new Lash Princess Curl & Volume Mascara is only $5. It's hard to believe the price point because the packaging is so cute — and I normally expect to pay a lot more for a makeup product this impressive.

The vegan and cruelty-free formula appears to be made with quality ingredients. For conditioning (which I didn't even know my eyelashes needed) there is sunflower, almond and jojoba oils. It's also gluten-free, so people with sensitivities can wear it.

Shop TODAY contributor Katie Jackson looking in the mirror and applying the new Essence Mascara
My lashes have never seen this much volume.Courtesy Katie Jackson

One coat does the trick

I've used (and even loved) a few multi-step mascaras in the past, but I didn't like having to apply layer after layer to achieve the look I desired. What I love most about this Essence mascara is that I only need one coat to start seeing results.

The formula is thicker, but not clumpy. With just one swipe, my lashes get the volume and thickness I usually see after three or more swipes using other mascaras. I don't see a big difference in the length of my lashes — but volume-wise, this works wonders.

Speaking of volume: Essence might be the one I reach for, but there are a ton of other affordable options out there to choose from — and a few of them are even on sale for National Lash Day.

L'Oréal Paris Voluminous Lash Paradise Mascara

Maybelline Sky High Volumizing Mascara

CoverGirl LashBlast Volume Mascara

I don't need to use my eyelash curler

Don't get me wrong. I love how my favorite eyelash curler delivers dramatic results. But it's just another step in my beauty routine that I sometimes want to skip, especially when I'm in a rush. Plus, I like to give my lashes a break from getting squeezed every now and then. With this formula, I get a great curl that looks noticeable, yet natural. Sure, I don't get the exact same lift I usually see after using the curler, but I do get more curl than I would with a regular mascara.

I think the secret is the "peanut-shaped" fiber brush, which is slightly curved at the ends like an hourglass. This design works well to lift my lashes, from root to tip. The bristles are denser than other brushes, which helps with creating more volume.

Before and After Photo of Shop TODAY contributor Katie Jackson using the new Essence Mascara
The dense bristles help me reach every lash from root to tip.Courtesy Katie Jackson

It's easy to remove

The formula is reliable, so I don't need to look in the mirror every hour or so to make sure mascara flakes haven't fallen off and onto my face. I trust that once I put it on, it stays on. That said, this mascara definitely isn't waterproof. Once I turn in for the night, all I need is some bar soap and water to easily wash the product off. No more special eye makeup removers that pull on my skin — and no more ruined pillowcases for when those makeup removers miss a spot!

My collection is complete

I never thought I could have too many mascaras. But after just a few days with the new Lash Princess Curl & Volume, I can safely say my collection is now complete. Until Essence releases a new mascara, that is.

For more beauty must-haves we're loving, check out:

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This article was originally published on June 15, 2021.