Here comes a confession: I’ve never understood the purpose of clear mascara. I’m happy with my natural set of brown-black lashes. They’re fairly long and somewhat full, so I either swipe on a couple of coats of volumizing mascara to deposit pigment and fill in any gaps or I go completely bare-lashed. I go from one extreme to the other, depending on the look I’m going for. Fresh, nude face? I’ll swipe on the aforementioned volumizing formula. Bold berry lipstick? I’ll forgo eye makeup to put the focus on my lips (except for concealer of course—dark circles are too real). What, exactly, is the point of mascara with no pigment?
All this time, I had no idea what I was missing. Makeup artists Neil Scibelli, Daniel Martin, and Brittany Spyksma schooled me on the myriad uses for clear mascara—some of which don’t even involve lashes. Leave it to these celebrity makeup artists to blow my mind with genius beauty hacks.
Meet the Expert
- Neil Scibelli is an NYC-based makeup artist.
- Daniel Martin is a celebrity makeup artist. His clients include Mindy Kaling, Michelle Yeoh, and Laura Carmichael, among others.
- Brittany Spyksma is a makeup artist who has worked with Olivia Culpo, Jesse Metcalfe, and Jeff Goldblum, to name a few. She is based in LA.
Keep scrolling for some of the best and most unexpected uses for clear mascara, plus our favorite products.
“I definitely use clear mascara as a brow gel in a pinch. It works wonders," says Scibelli. Simply comb the spoolie through the brows in an upward motion. It will help brow powder or pomade set, and it will define and shape the individual eyebrow hairs. Scibelli’s go-to product for this is straight from the drugstore. “CoverGirl Professional Natural Lash is in my kit as we speak,” he says.
DIY Your Own Colored Mascara
This hack is brilliant. Color-contoured lashes are trending, and if you don’t want to spend your entire paycheck buying every color of the rainbow, then pick up a tube of clear mascara (Clarins Double Fix' Mascara, $25, will do the trick). Next, take a loose pigment (like MAC Naval Blue Ultra Pigment, $23, which is a very wearable bright blue), and either press it onto the wand, or mix it right in the tube. The mascara will bind the color to your lashes while separating and defining them. Just be sure to go over with another coat of clear once the first one dries so you don’t have any flaking throughout the day.
Style Baby Hairs and Flyaways
Before you cringe thinking about combing clear mascara throughout your hair, hear us out. Martin says “clear mascara is a great way to lay down fine baby hairs around the head.” Take the applicator (make sure there’s an adequate amount of product on it), and comb through the short, stubborn strands along your hairline. It will work like a gel to keep them in place without any telltale pigment that would result from using a normal mascara.
Use clear mascara to groom unruly facial hair, such as a mustache or beard.
Create Drama-Free Lashes
Spyksma swears by clear mascara for when you want curled and defined lashes, without the inky black drama. “Clear mascara helps your lashes hold a curl and gives them definition. It looks clean and fresh,” she says. “Sometimes when I’m working with young girls, clear mascara is perfect because it looks nice and polished without the drama.” Martin agrees. “I’ll use clear mascara if I’m putting my client in a statement lip. Like a bright, bold matte red lipstick or even a deep oxblood. The clear mascara still defines the lash without overwhelming depth because I want the lip to be the focus.”
In other words, if you want to rock a no-makeup makeup look, whether you’re at a sporting event or at the beach, try clear mascara, such as the aptly-named, Perricone MD No Makeup Mascara ($24). You won't have to worry about any smudging or flaking. That's also why Scibelli uses clear mascara on his male clients. It makes for “a more glossy, natural lash,” as opposed to the “carbon-black look.”
Just as clear mascara can be used to minimize focus, it can also be used to up the drama of lashes. In fact, Spyksma specifically calls out this transparent mascara as an ideal choice for priming your lashes. Try swiping on a coat before your regular mascara to prime, volumize, and extend even more. Doing this will create bigger, bolder lashes without unnatural clumps of pigment that result from layering some black mascara formulas.
Set False Lashes
You know the routine. Apply false lashes, and then comb through with mascara to blend the false and natural fibers together. “Clear mascara is also great for combing/blending your natural lashes into false lashes. The clear formula just makes things a little cleaner and less clumpy when you’re already wearing falsies but want to blend things together,” says Scibelli. Sometimes if you use black or brown mascara to blend falsies in with your natural set, it can start to look a little over the top. Our pick? The Body Shop Brow & Lash Gel ($15).