Makeup Magic: What Clear Mascara Does & 4 Brands to Try

It's clear as day that dark mascaras are a thing of the past. Step into the future with these light-weight clear mascaras.

Published May 29, 2024
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Woman applying mascara on eyelashes with makeup brush.

While I always have time for filling in my eyebrows, some days I can’t be bothered to do a thing with my stick-straight eyelashes — at least, until I discovered clear mascara. Clear mascara is one of those beauty products that feels a bit like magic. But what does clear mascara do? And does it even work? 

Clear mascara might not be makeup alchemy, but watching it work can feel like magic. Let us bust the myths and break down the truths about clear mascara. 

What Does Clear Mascara Do? 

Not to be confused with brow gel or eyelash primer, clear mascara is a pigment-free mascara that works to separate and define your lashes without altering their original color. These mascaras can be used entirely on their own or in conjunction with colored mascara formulas.

How to Harness Clear Mascara’s Magic

Clear mascara can feel like magic because it looks like you’re not putting anything on your eyelashes. And yet, they come away looking decidedly shinier and more defined than before. Here’s a little secret — you don’t have to be a magician to harness the power behind clear mascara!

Enhance Your Natural Lash Shape & Color

Me? I love laying mascara on thick to get that spidery 60s lash vibe. But when you’re combating summertime heat waves, the last thing you want to do is put your black mascara through a sweat test.

Instead, I turn to clear mascara. It’s designed to help add definition and shine to your natural lashes. You can also give them a curl and lock it in with clear mascara. All you need is to comb a few coats through your lashes and they’ll be giving off their best photo-ready finish.

Need to Know

Clear mascara can help lengthen and define your lashes but can't give you the same volumizing illusion that colorful mascaras can. 

Create a Base for Colorful Mascara

While clear mascara isn’t considered a primer because of the difference in the two product's ingredients, you can use it like a primer.

Swipe on a coat before your favorite mascara, and it can help lock that formula onto your lashes. This can be a godsend for people who deal with flaking and smudging under their eyes.

Need to Know

Eyelash primers usually have added ingredients like vitamin E and proteins to strengthen and nourish lashes that clear mascaras don't. 

Give Your Colorful Mascara a Glossy Tint

You can also use clear mascara on top of your favorite mascara! Want your lashes to glisten and glimmer in the light? Apply a few coats of clear mascara on top of your dry, colored mascara. Like putting lip gloss over your lipstick, clear mascara will turn your dark and defined lashes up to an 11.

Related: 7 Best Mascaras for Older Women That We Live, Lash, Love

Sculpt Your Brows On-the-Go

Another not-so-secret clear mascara hack is to use it on your brows. If you’re blessed with full, defined brows that only need to be tamed back into place after a night of tossing and turning, clear mascara is here to help. Though it’s not strictly a brow product, it works well in a pinch.

4 Must-Have Clear Mascaras for Every Makeup Bag

Not every clear mascara is made equal, and these are some of our favorite options.

Top 2-in-1 Clear Mascara: e.l.f.’s Clear Brow & Lash Mascara Set  

e.l.f. Clear Lash & Brow Mascara

Downsize your makeup kit with e.l.f.’s Clear Brow & Lash Mascara set. It’s a 2-in-1 product that has clear mascara on one end and brow gel on the other. Not only can you lift your lashes and tame your brows, but you can rest easy knowing you’re buying from a vegan and cruelty-free brand.

Top Dirt-Cheap Clear Mascara: Wet n Wild Mega Clear

wet n wild Mega Clear Brow & Lash Mascara

If you grew up in the early 2000s like me, then you’re intimately familiar with the brand Wet n Wild. Known for its dirt-cheap prices and good quality products, Wet n Wild is a convenience store staple. And their Mega Clear Brow & Lash Mascara isn’t something to snuff at. For under $3, you can get yourself a long-lasting tube.

Top Vintage Clear Mascara: Maybelline Great Lash

Maybelline Great Lash Clear Mascara

Maybelline’s Great Lash mascara has been around since 1971. With a revolutionary water-based formula, this mascara changed the game in the 1970s, and it’s still going strong today. Get a taste of that au natural vintage look with a tube of Maybelline’s Great Lash Clear Mascara.

Top Nourishing Clear Mascara: Honest Beauty’s Honestly Healthy Lash Tint

Honest Beauty Honestly Healthy Serum-Infused Lash Tint

Honest Beauty might not have the pop culture branding that cosmetic companies like Maybelline or Covergirl do, but they’re worth splurging on. Honest Beauty’s Honestly Healthy Lash Tint is jam-packed with nourishing ingredients like jojoba and castor oil. They also don’t use parabens, paraffin, or silicones in this formula, making it safe for sensitive eyes.

If your lashes could do with a pick-me-up, you’ve got to give Honest’s cruelty-free clear mascara a try.

Clearly, These Lashes Are Fierce

Clear mascara is an incredibly versatile cosmetic product that can work its magic on baby hairs, errant eyebrows, and stick-straight eyelashes. Whether you’re giving your face a break from makeup or you’re a no-makeup person who just wants a little lift, these clear mascaras are perfect for you.

Makeup Magic: What Clear Mascara Does & 4 Brands to Try