In theory, colored mascara is a great way to experiment with your makeup. But when you realistically start to think about showing up at the office wearing bright purple mascara, it kind of makes you rethink whether or not you’d look cool and trendy or just like a misguided tween.
“Colored mascaras work on everyone,” says Elizabeth Arden makeup artist Rebecca Restrepo. “It’s about balance and how vibrant they are.” And (just as we suspected!) certain colors can actually flatter specific eye colors.
YouBeauty Contributing Makeup Expert Emily Kate Warren suggests using art principles to find a color that’ll be best at bringing out your eyes. It’s all about complementary colors. “Green and red (adjust to pink or plum or bronze), blue and orange (copper!), and brown can go any route—but I like bright blue best,” Warren says.
Brown-eyed girls can also really rock jewel tones like purple and blue, hazel eyes look great in green, and any eye color will appear brighter in blue or moss green.
Restrepo actually recommends blue lashes for anyone to make the eyes look whiter: “The blue brightens the whites of the eyes and makes any color eye more vibrant,” she notes. (Try Elizabeth Arden Beautiful Color Mascara in Ocean Blue.) And after experimenting with these bold hues ourselves, we’d have to agree: A bright cobalt not only flatters the eyes, but it’s completely legit for everyday wear.
Colored mascaras will show up much better on lashes that aren’t jet black, so Warren suggests using a white primer first if yours are too dark to help amplify the color.
When venturing into the world of bright mascaras, keep the rest of your eye makeup simple. “If you’re using a dark blue or purple, I think it’s OK to still play up your eye makeup but I would let the colored mascara be the central point if you’re using a brighter shade and keep the rest of your eye look nude,” says butter LONDON Global Colour Ambassador Katie Hughes. A hint of smudged liner between the lash roots can also help add definition, Warren says.
Restrepo suggests using a sheer version of the mascara color as an eyeshadow. To avoid looking too 80s retro, don’t make it an exact match—just keep it in the same color family (just like a monochromatic look). “The rest of the face should be subtle—you don’t want to compete. Just a hint of blush or bronzer with a soft to natural lip color.”
A fun and subtle way to wear color is by creating an ombré look. “Apply black all over like you usually would, then add the colored mascara to the base of the lash for that pop of subtle color,” Restrepo instructs.
Still a little hesitant to try? Hughes suggests a baby step to start: Try wearing it on the bottom of your lashes only. You’ll still get the eye-brightening effects without feeling like you’re overloaded with color.