A beauty cult classic–and a bargain buy

A beauty cult classic–and a bargain buy

31 days of cult classics | Modern Mrs Darcy

What item is sold once every two seconds in America?


It’s Maybelline Great Lash mascara, in the iconic pink and green tube, and it’s been flying off (drug)store shelves for 40 years and counting.

This perennial favorite is beloved for its smooth formula, clump-free application, and great brush–and How to Look Expensive says the brush makes the mascara.

Great Lash is the “starter” mascara of many a teen (or tween–yikes!) girl, thanks to its $6 price tag and widespread availability. It goes on to become many women’s forever mascara, and its earned more than its fare share of raving fans from the ranks of beauty editors and professional makeup artists, from the high end to the low.

With mascara, you don’t get what you pay for, according to the beauty handbook Don’t Go to the Cosmetics Counter Without Me. Great Lash mascara is a bargain beauty buy, especially when compared with other longstanding beauty cult classics like Elizabeth Arden eight hour cream (1930, $19) and the Mason Pearson hairbrush (1885, $150).

Have you ever bought a tube of Great Lash mascara? Do you use it now? 

*****     *****     *****

This is the eighth post in a series, 31 Days of Cult Classics. You can click here to see a list of all the posts, updated everyday in the month of October.


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39 comments | Comment


  1. Mary B. says:

    I know it has a cult following, but I’ve had terrible experiences with Great Lash by Maybelline. When I’ve applied it, it has left my lashes clumpy and spiky instead of lush and full. That said, I am a HUGE fan of Maybelline’s “Soft and Full” mascara which I’ve used exclusively for the past 12 years.

    • Anne says:

      It was my starter mascara, but I don’t usually use it anymore. After reading so many reviews recently I am tempted to give it another try, though. 🙂

      • Sherri says:

        I tried Great Lash several times but it never lived up to its billing (and this is the consensus on my favorite beauty board as well.) Full n Soft by Maybelline is the real thing, however!

  2. Anne,
    It’s my grandma’s mascara, my mom’s mascara, and yes, it’s mine too.
    I experimented with an expensive brand one time when I was a teenager. I was making my own money and I thought I could improve on mom & grandma.
    As soon as I saw the error of my ways they welcomed me back to the pink tube as if receiving a prodigal daughter.

    P.S. I have to use the waterproof because I’m a sappy person who cries easily.

    • Anne says:

      My grandma always said she neverwore waterproof mascara–that way her pride would keep her from crying. (I clearly don’t have as much pride as my grandma, because I need the waterproof, too! I’m a sappy sapster. 🙂 )

  3. Nancy says:

    Yes, it is my go-to mascara. Has been since I was a teenager (and that was a long time ago!). And my daughters have been known to use it as well.

    • amber says:

      Katie this exact thing happened to me. I tried it after hearing all the hype, and it was the worst mascara I’ve tried in memorable history.

      And this summer I noticed they were carrying Boots! We have the stores over here (I’m in the Middle East), but I’d never seen their products in the states before.

      Thanks for the Boots No. 7 mascara recommendation, I’m always looking for mascara here and the $7 brands from the states are $15 bucks! And they have none of my favorites. I’ll be trying Boots No. 7 for sure.

  4. Carrie says:

    I love it too…. but only after it’s been open for a month or two. I ALWAYS curl my lashes before I put mascara on (eyelash curlers have got to be another cult classic, how does anyone live without one? a desert island must-have, hands down)… but if I put mascara on after, the wetness of it un-curls my lashes. Boo!

    It’s perfect after it gets a little dried out.

  5. melyssa says:

    I know it’s supposed to be the best, but I find it terrible stuff. Maybe the tube I had was LITERALLY 40 years old, because it left my lashes brittle, spiky, and at the end of the day I looked like a raccoon.

    I like Covergirl’s … can’t recall the name: bright orange tube, Drew Barrymore does the commercials for it? And Ulta brand in the red tube is great too.

  6. Stacey says:

    This was my go-to mascara for YEARS! I actually changed to a different water proof mascara because it seemed like the Great Lash was bothering my contacts.

  7. Anne says:

    Wearing it now! Though, I am now curious about the Full and Soft. I have a hard time paying big bucks for makeup, and I am not very experimental. So, I just keep buying Great Lash. The waterproof is so dang hard to get off, LOL! Watch out if it gets on the bag of your eye. (And Boots is at Target now?! Neat.)

  8. Donna says:

    A classic! Definitely my favorite mascara. Been wearing it for the better part of 30 years, with an experiment or two over the years with other brands. I use it because it goes on smoothly, never clumps, and, at the end of the day, washes off easily. It’s very affordable and you can find it everywhere. Also, I like that it has a brown shade which suits my very light coloring better than black mascara, which looks scary on me.

  9. Rebecca says:

    I’m a latecomer to Great Lash, but if Max Factor 2000 calorie in Deep Auburn is ever brought back, I’ll be saying goodbye again. Really enjoying your Cult Classics series 🙂

  10. Jessica says:

    I have a heck of a time not getting raccoon eyes with mascara. I think it’s my super oily skin, makes the mascara bleed? I find any sort of mascara that makes ‘tubes’ around each lash works best for me. It doesn’t smudge and washes off easily.

  11. Valarie says:

    I just recently tried it again, but this time I got the big brush… I didnt like it… The formula wasant enough for me… I was hoping I would love it… I think I am just spoiled with “They’re Real” from Benefit…

  12. Kathleen says:

    I have been using it since 1976, the year I was finally allowed to start wearing makeup at 16! I’ve tried other mascaras but always come back to this one.

  13. Em Miller says:

    I’ve always used Maybelline because it was the first I tried, and I’ve tried others, but it’s the one I’ve gotten the most compliments on, so I’ve always come back. But I use the Volume Express or something like that. I may have to try Great Lash now!

  14. I, too, have tried it, tried to love it, and retried it again. To no avail. It also makes my lashes clumpy and (living in the humid American South) doesn’t hold up until lunchtime without getting smudgy. My teenage mascara was my mother’s L’Oreal Voluminous (which I still love, but smudges too easily for where I live now). My bargain go-to is Cover Girl Lash Blast. If money were no object, I’d bathe (not quite really) in Dior Show.

  15. Nancy says:

    Just bought a new tube yesterday. They’ve changed the shape of the wand!! And, I’m not sure that I like it. How dare they!

  16. Liza Lee Grace says:

    I don’t like great lash. I tried it and couldn’t handle the smell. It smells like beer to me! Seriously, it does. (Revlon mascaras do, too.) I use Lancôme or LOreal. I prefer the LOreal for texture and price, but I need brown mascara and I don’t always find it in the LOreal brand.

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