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).
All this time, I had no idea what I was missing. I was unaware of the myriad uses for clear mascara—some of which don’t even involve lashes. What can I say? Leave it to makeup artists to blow my mind with genius beauty hacks.
NYC celebrity makeup artist Neil Scibelli says, “I definitely use clear mascara as a brow gel in a pinch. It works wonders.” 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 Color 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 couple of clear mascara tubes at the drugstore. Then take a loose pigment (like MAC Marine Ultra Pigment, $22, which is a totally 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.
Before you cringe thinking about combing clear mascara throughout your hair, hear us out. Daniel Martin, an NYC-based celebrity makeup artist, 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.
In the same vein, Martin uses clear mascara on his male clients, too, since it’s great for grooming a guy’s mustache and beard. He uses a $2 pick from E.l.f. cosmetics to get the job done.
Drama-Free Yet Defined Lashes
Celebrity makeup artist Brittany 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 gives definition to 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. 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. 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. Spyksma specifically calls out Maybelline's Great Lash classic as an ideal choice.
False Lash Setting
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.