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Colored Mascara Is the Viral Makeup Artist Secret That Enhances Eye Color, Lashes and More

Find out the benefits of using a non-black or brown formula and the shade that will best complement your eye color

Mascara used to come in just two shades really — black and brown. But with the rise of Instagram and TikTok, makeup has become more artistic and expressive, leading to a wider variety of shades available in all kinds of cosmetics. Now, you’re just as likely to see colored mascara like cobalt blue and burgundy hanging next to the classic neutrals at the drugstore. And if you haven’t explored these more vibrant shades yet, well, you might be missing out. “Colored mascara can enhance your eyes in ways that traditional black or brown shades can’t,” says celebrity makeup artist Jenepher Reynolds. “They are perfect for whenever you want to add a playful element to your makeup routine.”

If you want to try one of these bold, trendy hues for your lashes, just go for it! But before you do, here, you’ll learn about the benefits of colored mascara, how to find your best color match and a few expert application tips for making your eyes pop more than ever before.

The benefits of colored mascara

There’s no doubt mascara makes a big difference on lashes — the right formula and brush can dramatically darken, lengthen and thicken your natural set when you’re wearing it. Adding bold color to the mix, though, can up the ante even more, leading to a few extra beauty benefits.

colored mascara swatches

Colored mascara can help turn back the clock

Bold colored lashes are not only playful, but they’re also visually striking enough to help you downplay fine lines and wrinkles. “Colored mascara can also help distract attention away from laugh lines and signs of aging by drawing focus to the eyes,” says Reynolds.

Colored mascara can enhance eye color

“Black and brown define, but don’t complement eye color the way a colored mascara can,” says Reynolds. Taking advantage of this feature involves finding your best shade match, but more on that to come.

Colored mascara is flattering for everyone

“Black can be harsh for some eye shapes and colors,” says Maria I. Rincon Djuro, makeup artist for KIKO Milano. Because there’s a rainbow of shades available now, you can find something a bit more subtle and soft like navy blue or go wild with a funky yellow or pink.

How to pick the right color of mascara for you

Colored mascara is all about having fun, so there’s no rule that says you can’t wear a Barbie pink or tropical teal hue on your lashes if that’s what’s speaking to you. Maybe you’d like to match your mascara to a particular outfit, or you just want to try something new. But if you’re looking to tap into colored mascaras’ eye color-enhancing capabilities, that involves choosing a strategic shade for your peepers. These makeup-artist approved pairings are a good place to start.

  • Brown eyes: “Rich jewel tone shades in blue, green and purple can enhance brown eyes, adding depth and contrast,” says Reynolds.
  • Blue eyes: Think complementary colors on the color wheel here by seeking out orangey or reddish shades. “Copper, gold, and warm brown can make blue eyes stand out,” says Reynolds.
  • Hazel eyes: “Green, purple and burgundy shades can bring out the different tones in hazel eyes,” says Reynolds.
  • Green eyes: “Purple, plum and burgundy mascara can complement green eyes, making them pop,” says Reynolds.

These recommendations aren’t the only way to hone in on a shade. You can also use your hair color or your favorite shades of eye makeup as guidelines. “I find that cool tones like dark blue or gray beautifully complement silver or pearl eyeshadows, enhancing cool-toned hair,” says makeup artist Kelly Zhang, who has her own eponymous makeup line, Kelly Zhang. “On the other hand, warm shades, like wine red or dark purple, pair wonderfully with warm red eyeshadow and warm-toned hair.” You can also go for a chic monochromatic look, matching your eyes with a mascara in the same color.

The best colored mascaras

Since colored mascaras have become trendy, there’s no shortage of options out there. But, like anything else, quality can really run the gamut. “Colored mascara can be tricky,” says Rincon Djuro. “Some formulas simply don’t hold up or have color pay off.” These five all pack plenty of punch and staying power, though, so start your search here.

L'Oréal Paris Voluminous Original Mascara
L'Oréal Paris/Ulta

L’Oréal Paris Voluminous Original Mascara

Reynolds says this classic pick offers intense pigment and great volume, and it comes in a variety of colors beyond basic black and brown. “The cobalt blue or burgundy shade enhances brown and hazel eyes beautifully,” says Reynolds. “The cobalt blue shade can also be a fun monochromatic look for blue eyes.”

KIKO Milano Smart Colour Mascara
KIKO Milano

KIKO Milano Smart Colour Mascara

KIKO’s Smart Colour Mascara offers a handful of punchy hues, including Metallic Purple, Navy Blue and Jungle Green. Sometimes, you have to start with a base layer of black mascara for certain brands’ colored pigments to show up, but Rincon Djuro notes that KIKO’s formula is rich enough to be applied solo.

e.l.f. Big Mood Mascara

e.l.f. Big Mood Mascara

“It’s buildable and provides lengthening effects while being budget-friendly,” says Reynolds of this pick that’s the cheapest of the bunch. And at this price, you can try a few of the shades.

Lush Naked Mascara, a colored mascara product

Lush Naked Mascara

If you want an eco-friendly option, you can’t go wrong with Lush’s Naked Mascara, which comes in Reef, a pinkish coral, and Ocean, a blue hue, alongside classic black and brown. The formula boasts nourishing butters and waxes to define lashes, as well as three different brushes so you can choose your own application adventure, from lengthening to thickening effects. You do have to lightly wet the desired brush in water to activate the product, though.

Colourpop BFF Mascara

Colourpop BFF Mascara

“BFF comes in a number of fun shades,” says Reynolds, and truly, the range is impressive; currently, eight different shades are available. “It lengthens, volumizes and doesn’t flake,” she notes. She likes Left on Red and Wine O’Clock for blue eyes, while Swell Season could work well for brown.

For more tips to enhancing eyes and lashes, click through these stories:

Lash Lift Before and Afters: See How It Makes Eyelashes Look Thicker and Fuller — No Mascara Needed

Tubing Mascara: The Older You Are, The More You’ll Benefit From This New Approach To Lash Building

8 Best Lash Growth Serums That Volumize Thin, Sparse Lashes

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