What Is Clear Mascara? Plus, the Best Ones to ShopOctober 17, 2023
You probably already have your makeup bag stocked with basics like concealer, lip gloss and classic black mascara. But there’s another underrated beauty staple that you should add to your collection ASAP — clear mascara. It may seem superfluous, but clear mascara is actually one of the most versatile makeup products you can have in your arsenal. Especially if you find yourself frequently opting for the no-makeup-makeup look, you’d be surprised what a swipe or two of clear mascara can do for your lashes and brows. Ahead, we’ve rounded up the 12 best clear mascaras to shop right now, but first, we tapped makeup artist Shreni Patel to explain what exactly it is and how to use it.
What Is Clear Mascara?
Clear mascara is exactly what it sounds like. “It's just colorless mascara or a clear gel and a mascara wand that can be used in a variety of ways,” says Patel. It is even more dynamic than regular mascara because in addition to your lashes, it can be used on your eyebrows and more.
What Does Clear Mascara Do?
As mentioned above, clear mascara can be used in a variety of ways. “You can use it on the eyelashes, to tame brows or even to tame flyaways in your hair!” says Patel. “It can also condition and nourish your lashes if you’re using a formula that has lash conditioners in it.”
How to Use Clear Mascara
Like any makeup product, how to use clear mascara depends on what you are using it for, but essentially, there’s no right or wrong way. Here are some of Patel’s favorite ways to use this makeup secret weapon:
To Hold Your Eyelash Curl
“My favorite trick is to apply [clear mascara] at the base of the lashes,” she says. “Let it dry and then curl your lashes right where you applied the gel. Then, you can apply your regular mascara on top and this is one of the best ways I get a curl to be held in my lashes.” Of course, clear mascara can also be worn on its own in place of regular mascara when you’re going for a more low-key natural makeup look.
To DIY Colored Mascara
According to Patel, “you can also mix any eyeshadow or pigment with the clear gel to create a colored mascara.” She recommends burgundy eyeshadow to make green eyes pop or cobalt blue for brown eyes.
To Tame Your Brows
One of the most common uses for clear mascara is to tame or shape your brows. “You can also really fluff them up if that is the look you want,” says Patel. Clear mascara or brow gel is the perfect tool for achieving that trendy laminated brow effect.
To Smooth Flyaways
“If I have any stray hairs or frizziness, you can even run your brow gel through your hair and then smooth it down with your hand,” Patel explains. “You get a great, fast way to tame those flyaways.”
The Best Clear Mascaras for Lashes and Brows
It doesn’t get more timeless than the Maybelline New York Great Lash Clear Mascara, down to the classic pink and green packaging. Use it to get a stunning separated lash look or to set your eyebrow makeup.
Want to DIY laminated brows at home? Try the NYX Professional Makeup The Brow Glue Instant Brow Styler in Clear. With a flake-free, long-hold formula, this brow gel will lift and lock your brows into place for up to 16 hours.
Boost the volume of your lashes with this pink-tinted sheer mascara primer from L’Oréal Paris. The Lash Paradise Mascara Primer is the key to fuller, thicker lashes and it preps your eyelashes for regular mascara.
This vitamin-enriched mascara primer from Lancôme is not actually clear — it’s white in color. But you can use it in similar ways to prep your lashes for regular mascara, amp up the volume and length of your lashes and condition them.
When life gets busy, you don’t want to have to worry about making sure your brows are sculpted and in place. That’s where the Maybelline New York Express Brow Fast Sculpt Clear Brow Gel comes in. It makes grooming your brows easier than ever and keeps them looking flawless all day.
The dual-ended e.l.f. Cosmetics Clear Brow & Lash Mascara is a convenient multi-use tool with two different spoolie brushes. One end is ideal for grooming your brows and the other helps separate and define your lashes.
Formulated with aloe, this clear mascara from Ere Perez is conditioning and moisturizing to promote healthier-looking lashes and brows. The clear glossy sheen enhances the natural color of your eyelashes and eyebrows.
Glossier’s cult-favorite Boy Brow eyebrow gel is now available in a clear version. This creamy, conditioning formula thickens and shapes the brows without feeling flaky or stiff when it dries.
The Perricone MD No Makeup Mascara is an eyelash treatment that instantly creates the appearance of thicker, lifted lashes while conditioning to improve the look of your natural lashes with use over time.
We love Milk Makeup’s clean beauty products and the KUSH Brow Lamination Gel is no exception. This clear brow gel lifts and defines brows for a laminated effect while drying soft, never stiff.
We’re suckers for a multi-use makeup product, like the Physicians Formula Mineral Wear Diamond Mascara — a 5-in-1 clear mascara at an affordable drugstore price point. It primes, conditions, grooms, tames and holds your lashes and brow hairs.
The Rabanne Famous Primer Mascara is a translucent serum that nourishes, defines and adds shine to lashes. It’s also smudge-proof, sweat-proof and easy to remove — no tugging or harsh rubbing required.