Colored mascara might be one of the most notable makeup-centric beauty trends on TikTok right now, but utilizing complementary hues like blue, green, brown, purple, burgundy (the list goes on and on) is hardly a new development within the makeup artist circuit. Over the years, countless artists have told me a quick coat of colored mascara applied to the top or bottom lashes is game-changing when it comes to enhancing the color and whites of the eyes, and while the effect is more subtle than you'd think, it's still a trade secret for creating those eye-catching red carpet moments. (Yep, the effect makes a difference even with photos snapped from far away!)
Of course, like all surreptitious makeup tricks, there is some strategy involved. Feel free to go ham and choose any color and application technique you'd like (there are no rules when it comes to makeup or beauty—you do you), but there are certain tips makeup artists personally utilize and recommend for executing the trend with professional-caliber skill. Your eye color and skin tone can influence how much the look will pop, and how you approach the rest of your makeup is also worth taking into account. (For instance, if you load up on tons of eye shadow, it might be more difficult to pick up on the colored shade decorating your lashes.)
Since colored mascara is having a bigger moment than ever before, we reached out to top makeup artist William Scott to get all of their most helpful tips, intel, and product recommendations. From the most flattering color choices to complement your natural features to clutch application tips, we have everything you ever wanted to know about colored mascara (and all of the best formulas to shop the trend!) just below. Keep scrolling!
What's the magic theory behind colored mascara anyway?
"Colored mascaras play up the eyes with a similar effect as black or brown mascara in that they all create a fluttery, eye-opening effect," Scott tells us. However, they say to think of a colored wand of mascara as a 2.0 version of your go-to black or brown pick. The best colored mascaras effortlessly level up your eye look by adding a colorful veil to your gaze that can range from practically imperceptible to gem-like vibrancy depending on the shade you select.
"Colored mascara can make a person's eye color appear brighter and richer because, in applying it, you're applying a complementary tone as close to the iris as you possibly can with makeup," Scott continues. "On a bare or neutral lid, the eye color–changing effect is even stronger."
The most complementary mascara colors for your eye color:
The beauty of makeup is the freedom it allows us to experiment with and try any and every look under the sun. We're big proponents of breaking worn-out "rules" and wearing whatever strikes our fancy, but when it comes to choosing the colored mascaras that will best enhance our eye color, there is some strategy.
As a rule of thumb, Scott says cool tones like blue, green, or violet contrast with brown eyes for a natural brightening effect. They'll bring out the depth of hazel eyes, and they can also make blue or green eyes appear deeper and/or vibrant.
If you're keen to try a colored mascara that's on the warmer side, Scott explains shades like burgundy or plum will add depth to brown eyes, contrast with hazel eyes to make them morph to green, and bring a subtle vibrance to eyes that are green or blue. Last but not least, lighter and brighter shades of mascara (think pink, aquamarine, orange, etc.) all wield different yet equally spell-binding kinds of magic. "They contrast with different eyes and skin tones in different ways, but ultimately, they still provide an unexpected pop of color for contrast," Scott concludes.
How to apply colored mascara like a pro:
"I personally love a thick, slightly chunky application of mascara, especially if I'm using a colored mascara because I want to ensure every single lash is completely covered with whichever hue I'm using," says Scott. "Black or brown mascara gives us the space to use less product because it matches the color of the eyelash, so actual coverage is less of an issue. With black or brown mascara, a couple of haphazard swipes can be enough on most days."
To really get the most from your colored mascara, however, Scott has a few key tricks up their sleeve. "I always make sure the lashes are curled well, and I'll let each coat dry completely between applications. I keep a clean lash comb handy to spread the mascara all the way from root to tip without overloading on the first application and to control clumps."
3 helpful tips if you're intimidated:
Tip #1: When in doubt, choose blue. "Don't be afraid!" says Scott when I ask how people not acquainted with colored mascara can comfortably approach the trend. "Remember, it washes right off! Blue mascara is the easiest non-neutral shade to find from many brands (some have subtle navy shades, and others have bright cobalt hues and more), and it typically looks great on everyone."
Tip #2: If you love a smoky-eye vibe, choose burgundy or plum. "Burgundy or plum mascara is subtle and sultry when paired with a black kohl–rimmed inner waterline and a taupe or gilded lid," notes Scott.
Tip #3: Apply a white lash primer before you go in with colored mascara. "If you are having a hard time getting the color to show up against your lashes, apply a white lash primer on curled lashes first, allow them to dry, and apply the colored mascara," directs Scott. "I wouldn't recommend putting a colored mascara over a black or brown mascara. It never comes out the way you intend it to."
How to enhance colored mascara with the rest of your makeup:
"I tend to suggest a colored mascara to anyone who wants a clean-faced, minimalist makeup look with a subtle yet complementary pop of color," Scott says right off the bat.
"I love pairing a bright colored mascara with a matching winged liner, like with cobalt blue lashes and a blue line in cobalt or navy, or a tonally similar eye shadow to add depth to a monochrome eye," they continue. "I approach using a colored mascara in the same way I approach bright-colored eye shadow. In regard to the rest of the makeup look, I like to keep the cheek neutral or subtle, and I'll most likely choose a natural lip shade. That said, sometimes, we just need some bright mascara and a bright orange lip to convey how bright we are feeling!"
Scott's go-to formulas:
"Unfortunately, colored mascaras are often seasonal items that get discontinued after a few months," Scott warns. "At the moment, Dior has a variety of formulas in blue, purple, and brown; L'Oreal's star mascara, the Voluminous Original formula, now comes in cobalt blue, deep green, burgundy, and deep violet, all in the same dependable formula; Lancôme makes a vibrant lash topcoat in four shades: gold, green, blue, and pink; and one of my all-time favorite shades of green mascara is by Shiseido—the Controlled Chaos MascaraInk in a shade called Emerald Energy. Although, they have colored shades like sapphire blue and violet as well."
Keep scrolling to shop the entire makeup artist–approved lineup!