This under P280 drugstore mascara delivers the drama

Despite the many jokes made about them throughout my life, I am far from insecure about my “tiny” eyes. I’ve embraced their slightly mataray look and almond shape, which make rocking the trendy K-Beauty “puppy eye” a relative piece of cake.

My one struggle with them, however, has to be my eyelashes. They are very fine, stick straight, and too short to curl. They also tend to get swallowed up by the slight fold in my eyelid, creating a “curtain” effect that makes my eyes look constantly half-closed.

Can you see my lashes?

Can you see my lashes?

Like many beauty girls, my first mascara was Maybelline (not their Great Lash, though, which I’ve yet to get my hands on), and while the brand’s various formulas have helped to make my lashes slightly more obvious, none could deliver the dramatic, doll-like look I desired. The only mascaras that have managed to pass muster are Benefit’s They’re Real and Majolica Majorca’s Lash King, which, while both well worth it, are far from cheap. I was resigned to having to spend big bucks to give my eyelashes the oomph they needed, when I stumbled upon a click-baity headline on “This $5 Drugstore Mascara Is Better Than Way More Expensive Options.”

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I was shocked to discover that the formula responsible for these falsies-worthy lashes was made by a drugstore brand PV girls are familiar with: Essence Cosmetics. Thanks to our editor’s recommendations, I was already a big fan of their eyelid primer, but could their mascara be worth giving a try? I dropped by the nearest Essence counter to have a look!

The specific mascara mentioned in the Allure article, Essence’s Lash Princess, was not in-stock at the counter so I sprung for what seemed to be the next best thing: the Rock n’ Doll Volume and Eye-Opening Mascara (P279). When I first opened the tube, I was surprised by two things. The first was the smell, which reminded me of a Chinese drugstore - vaguely herbal. The second was just how fat the wand was! The Essence Cosmetics website describes it as “slightly curved” but in reality it looks more like a camel’s hump with how wide and fat it is, looking to be 1.5x larger than the average mascara wand.

Because of how wide the wand was, it was difficult to coat my lashes completely without getting a bit of the mascara on my eyelids. Thankfully, any stray dots cleaned up quite quickly with a wet Q-tip but this is definitely not a mascara you apply after you’re done with your eyeshadow! The size also makes it a little awkward to maneuver the brush around the inner and outer corner lashes.


Bare on the left, loaded on the right

Once I’d gotten the hang of the wand, however, I definitely saw some dramatic results. My lashes looked fuller, darker, and even managed a little lift! The wand was also surprisingly easy to use on my lower lashes, allowing me to complete my doll-eyed look. My only issue was that the mascara dried slowly when built up, creating a slight fall-out when I blinked.

After fully building up my lashes, I had to admit that Essence Rock n’ Doll delivered on its promise of being “volumizing and eye-opening"! My lashes looked thick, dark, and dramatic, with only a teensy bit of clumping (nothing a few strokes of a clean spoolie can't fix). The formula isn’t waterproof, which may prove a problem if you have watery eyes, but to me it’s a plus as I like being able to quickly swipe off my mascara at the end of a long day.

While this probably won’t supplant the Lash King as my holy grail, I have to say Essence Rock n’ Doll blew me away, delivering dramatic doll-eyes at a dirt-cheap price. It can definitely use some improvements (a quicker-drying formula and a slimmer, more delicate wand) but overall it’s a great daily mascara, and at under 300 pesos, extremely hard to pass up!

Have you tried this Essence mascara? And if anyone knows where to get Lash Princess, please comment below and let me know!