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This $11 drugstore mascara gives me impossibly voluminous lashes

No flakes, smudges or clumps — just thicker, fuller lashes.
Two images of Writer Cailey Rizzo wearing L'Or?al Mega Mascara and holding the mascara brush
TODAY Illustration / Courtesy Cailey Rizzo

I crave long and lush lashes. I'm talking about the ones that add drama to the face, voluminous and lifted enough to give off a doe-eyed appearance. Ones that offer just a hint of mystery — as in, make everyone I meet wonder, "Are those her real lashes?" If the eyes are the windows to the soul, I want lashes thick enough to block out anyone trying to sneak a peek.

Plus, there's nothing like batting an eye at someone you fancy with a flirty lash. Wouldn't you agree?

My personal journey with acquiring accentuated lashes has had its ups and downs. I've tried strip lashes, which almost completely ruined my natural set. I've forked out hundreds of dollars for extensions, which only gave me a thinner wallet. I've even coated my hairs with serums, hoping they would finally grant me the lashes of my dreams. They didn't.

So, it was with great hope and high expectations that I tried the L’Oréal Paris Air Volume Mega Mascara. Online reviewers rave about the formula for its "lash multiplying effect," light-as-air coverage and ability to amp up the volume. Could this be my secret to the perfect lash?

L'Oréal Paris Air Volume Mega Mascara

Less is (way!) more

Had someone asked me that question the first time I tried this mascara, I would have said no.

My initial impression of the Air Volume Mega Mascara wasn't a positive one. I opted for the washable shade in Blackest Black, but after applying the formula, it didn't seem to do anything noticeably spectacular. In fact, my lashes appeared chunky and a little messy. I just couldn’t understand what all the hype was about. Maybe the reviewers who had praised this mascara already had naturally silky, long eyelashes that only needed the tiniest of boosts?

But I wasn't going to give up that easily. On my second try, I decided to investigate further. I gave the wand a closer inspection and noticed that when you first pull it from the tube, the brush is generously coated with globs of mascara. This could be because the formula is whipped, which gives it the lightweight consistency that users love.

The solution: Instead of applying the mascara directly from the tube — which will leave your lashes looking gloopy — scrape most of the product off the brush first and then apply a minimal amount.

The result: Your lashes will bloom.

Unlike practically every other mascara I’ve tried, the less you use of the Air Volume Mega Mascara, the better it looks. It really is capable of giving each lash noticeable volume with the tiniest amount of product.

Image of Writer Cailey Rizzo holding L'Or?al Mega Mascara
The "light-as-air" formula feels great on my lashes.Courtesy Cailey Rizzo

A light-as-air formula

The formula comes close to its claim of “light as air.” It is genuinely easy to forget you’re wearing anything at all. But don't let its weightless feel convince you that the formula is "weak." Not once have I noticed this mascara flake off or gather beneath my eyes like unwelcome shadows. No matter how long my day lasts, this product stays put.

If you’re looking for noticeable, dramatic lashes, apply a lighter coat and allow that to dry for a few seconds. I started at the root and used the short and long bristles to separate each hair. Then, follow up with a second coat. You can apply as many coats as you want, but your lashes won’t get longer, only visibly wider.

This leads to my one and only qualm with this product. Having two differently shaped eyelids, I’m hyper aware of how mascara appears on each eye. While one set of lashes has a nice curl to them, the other, I swear, might actually tilt downwards. For me, the Air Volume Mega Mascara isn’t capable of lifting my lashes. So, if you're looking for spider-leg length, this mascara might not be your first choice.

Before and after of Writer Cailey Rizzo wearing L'Or?al Mega MascaraTwo images of Writer Cailey Rizzo wearing L'Or?al Mega Mascara and holding the mascara brush
It may be hard to believe but less is truly more when it comes to the Air Volume Mega Mascara.Courtesy Cailey Rizzo

But for the price tag (only about $11 on Amazon), this product sure does pack a punch. It might be the best drugstore mascara I’ve ever tried. It keeps up with other mascaras I’ve tried, most of which cost nearly three times the price. And although it doesn’t solve all my eyelash needs, it does exactly what it promises.

Since adding this mascara to my beauty routine, I’ve finally found the perfect method to getting my dream lashes. First, I use a curling tool. Then, I apply a coat or two of the Air Volume Mega Mascara. Lastly, I finish my eyes off with a few swipes of a lengthening formula — and I'm good to go! Now, I might be able to ditch the falsies for good.

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