Though clear mascara is all-too-often overlooked, it's one of the most useful products you can have in your makeup arsenal. Unlike black or brown mascara, a clear version can be used on both your lashes and brows. Not to mention, the clear formula makes things a little cleaner and less clumpy.
Below, we've rounded up the best clear mascaras on the makeup market made with clean ingredients and cruelty-free formulas. Then, we'll teach you a few easy ways to use clear mascara in your everyday eye makeup routine.
Before we dive into our favorite products, let's take a quick look at some key ingredients you'll want to avoid.
Makeup Ingredients To Avoid In Clear Mascara
According to a recent study, over half of the makeup products contain high levels of toxic substances known as PFAS. Even more alarmingly, over three-fourths of waterproof mascaras contained these elevated levels of PFAS. Not only are these chemicals potentially harmful to your health, but they can also cause eye and skin irritation. So if you're sticking to clean mascaras and makeup products, you'll want to steer clear of the following ingredients:
- Artificial preservatives— To extend the shelf life of mascaras, conventional beauty brands often add preservatives like benzalkonium chloride and BHA.
- Phthalates— Despite being banned by the EU, this toxic solvent is still prevalent in beauty products here in the US.
- Parabens— There's a whole host of reasons why parabens (a common beauty product preservative) should be avoided, including skin irritation, hormone disruption, and an increased risk of cancer.
- Synthetic fragrances and perfumes— Many beauty brands add synthetic scents to their mascara to mask the scent of chemical ingredients.
- Silicones— Silicones are known to trap oil, dirt, dead skin cells, and other comedogenic substances that can lead to skin irritation and acne flare-ups.
- Ethanolamines— These emulsifiers are used to improve the texture of a product for smooth, easy application. Unfortunately, some studies have found them to be potentially cancer-causing.
The Best Clear Mascaras Made With Clean Ingredients
This Honest Beauty Honestly Healthy Serum-Infused Lash Tint is hard to beat when it comes to clean clear mascaras. It's formulated with conditioning ingredients like castor oil, red clover, mung bean, and plant-derived proteins clinically proven to nourish and strengthen for fuller-looking lashes in twelve weeks. Plus, the ophthalmologist-tested clear mascara is made without parabens, paraffin, silicones, or animal testing. The smooth gel formula glides on evenly for full coverage from root to tip.
You don't need to spend a lot to get a great clear mascara, and this Cosmetics Clear Brow and Lash Mascara from e.l.f. is proof. The dual-ended design boasts one brush for elongating and separating lashes and another for taming unruly eyebrows. Its long-wear formula is free from phthalates, sulfates, parabens, and other potentially harmful ingredients. Keep one in your makeup bag, toss one in your purse, and slip one on your desk to keep your brows and lashes looking their best at all times. At just $3, it's hard to beat!
Kosas' Air Brow Clear + Clean Lifting Treatment Brow Gel can tame even the wildest and unruliest of eyebrows with ease. The lightweight, long-wear formula and specially-designed brush fluff, lift and set brows in place with a laminating effect. Key ingredients like Vitamin B5, hyaluronic acid, and biotin supports healthy hair growth with every use. It's vegan, gluten-free, and cruelty-free too!
Ere Perez's Aloe Gel Lash and Brow Mascara is the perfect all-in-one product for your makeup bag. This versatile clear gel can be used as both a lash-lengthening mascara or a lightweight brow gel. The clear gel formula is formulated with Vitamin B5 and conditioning aloe vera— and without parabens, phthalates, paraffin, or GMOs. It's sweat-proof, water-resistant, and suitable for sensitive eyes, lash extensions, and contact lens wearers. Not to mention, it's packaged in a sleek white marble tube that's cute enough to leave out on the counter.
This long-wear Clear Mascara from Zulu Luxe adds length and accentuates your natural eyelashes without the clumps, flakes, or smudges. Its luxurious nylon brush is carefully designed to separate and curl lashes for natural-looking lashes. In a pinch, it can be used to groom brows too. Consider it the perfect addition to your last-minute Zoom makeup routine!
If you plan to use your clear mascara primarily as an eyebrow gel, try the Jane Iredale PureBrow Brow Gel. The clean clear brow gel shapes unruly brows and holds them firmly in place during all-day wear. The lightweight formula contains a proprietary blend of algae extract and high-tech sea minerals for smooth, healthy brows and lashes. While it's great at grooming brows, it also works perfectly as a clear lash mascara.
Clear Brow and Lash Gel from the Body Shop is one of the best clear mascaras for vegans. Its conditioning formula is made without animal-derived ingredients, parabens, sulfates, and other toxic chemicals. Instead, it's made with elderflower water to soothe skin and evenly coat lashes and brow hairs. Plus, it's dermatologist- and ophthalmologist-tested and approved for contact lens wearers.
For your best natural brows ever, try this Kush Clear Brow Gel from Milk Makeup. The clean, vegan formula is made with hemp-derived cannabis seed oil to hydrate and condition brow hairs. It only takes a few swipes of the clear, flexible gel to lock unruly brow hairs firmly in place.
How to use clear mascara
The best part about clear mascara is its versatility. While most other beauty products can only be used one way, clear gel can be used on your lashes and brows in a variety of ways:
"No Makeup" Makeup
Clear mascara gives a more natural appearance than regular mascara. It's ideal for creating a "no-makeup" makeup look. For everyday use, swipe on a coat or two of a clear mascara with a conditioning formula that strengthens as it curls and separates eyelashes.
Pro tip: applying the clear mascara as a base, and once the base is dry, using a lash curler on your lashes.
Clear mascara can also be used as a brow gel to help tame your brows without adding pigment. It's the perfect product for people with dark, thick brows and those aiming for a more natural look. Use it solo for a subtle finish, or layer it over a brow pencil or pomade to lock hairs in place.
If you plan on using your clear mascara on both your brows and lashes, opt for a dual-end design that won't spread germs. Use one side strictly for your lashes and the other for your brows to prevent contamination and eye irritation.
Many clear mascaras can be layered under black, brown, or other colored mascara to help boost volume, add length, and separate your lashes. Stick with one quick coat to keep your lashes from looking clumpy. For maximum impact, finish with another clear coat on top of your typical black mascara.
Waterproof Mascara Top Coat
Additionally, clear mascara can be used on top of black or colored lash mascara to make it more waterproof. While it can't work magic, it's still great for nights out, workouts, and humid conditions that can easily lead to under-eye smudges. For best results, use a waterproof clear mascara that's designed to stay put.