Finding drugstore dupes of high end makeup gives me such a rush! I love discovering products that can give us the same look— like, exactly the same look— on a budget. In a recent video, I tested several products in a drugstore vs high end makeup face off, and this pair was particularly surprising to me.
I very rarely praise high end mascara. Especially with so many stellar drugstore mascaras out there, it’s hard for me to justify the buy. But I’ll admit… the NARS Climax Mascara ($24) does wonders for my short and straight lashes. It checks all the boxes for me, adding volume, length, and very noticeable lift to enhance my curl and keep it there all day. I also love how it defines and fans out my lashes with zero clumping.
Dupe in question: the Essence I Love Extreme Volume Waterproof Mascara ($4.99). I first noticed the very similar brush to NARS: thick, dense, with a lot of small bristles that can separate the lashes. Being as that they both have volume claims, I was excited to test them out side by side.
To my surprise, the Essence mascara looked almost identical to NARS upon first application. It not only helped lift my already-curled lashes, but locked them in place. With both mascaras, I was able to achieve full and long lashes with a fanned out, flared effect. The wand did feel slightly more awkward to maneuver than NARS. Since it has long and straight bristles at the bottom, I had a hard time avoiding my nose with the brush.
I want to take a second to point out that the I Love Extreme Volume mascara is also available in a non-waterproof version, though I haven’t tried it so I can’t say whether that one compares. The NARS Climax Mascara is not waterproof.
Even with my favorite mascaras, I usually experience my lashes drooping or flattening out as hours pass… but not with either of these. I was shocked to see both the high end mascara and drugstore dupe at the exact same level of lifted, six hours into wear.
Funny enough, these mascaras also shared the same downside: flaking. Throughout the day I noticed small specks of black on my cheeks, perhaps a few more on the Essence side than NARS. This can be avoided by sticking to thinner layers and not over-applying. I always wipe off both brushes to get rid of excess product to help with this.
As far as removal, the NARS Climax mascara comes off more easily. The waterproof Essence mascara needs a bit of coaxing, though it comes off well using my favorite cleansing balm.
Overall, from lash effect down to how it performs throughout the day, I’d definitely consider the essence mascara a NARS Climax mascara dupe. You can find the NARS Climax Mascara at Sephora for $24, and the Essence I Love Extreme Volume Waterproof Mascara for $4.99 at Ulta Beauty.