It Turns Out That Colorful Mascara Is Extremely Wearable

2023’s most unexpected makeup trend.

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Colored mascara isn’t a new concept. In addition to inky black and chocolate brown, legendary brands like Maybelline have offered their iconic formulas in royal blue for years. But for some inexplicable reason, bold lashes have often taken a backseat to neon cat eyes and pastel smoky eyes. With the hit HBO series Euphoria singlehandedly influencing both makeup minimalists and maximalists to get more artistic with their looks since Season 1 premiered in 2019, it’s truly perplexing that vibrant lashes haven’t returned to relevancy. However, 2023 is the year that colorful mascara is finally getting its main character moment.

In February, bright lashes popped up on the Fall/Winter 2023 runways in multiple cities during fashion month. In New York, Dame Pat McGrath paired color-blocked royal blue and rich aquamarine lashes with highlighter pink and bright green eyeshadow for Anna Sui using limited-edition mascaras from her Star Wars makeup collaboration. The contrasting shades created an effect that really made the lashes pop. According to a press release from McGrath, she was inspired by the ‘60s, specifically a former NYC disco called The Peppermint Lounge, along with the decade’s overall glamour and vibrant fashion sense. After the whirlwind success of the collab, McGrath has reintroduced the colored mascaras in her holiday 2023 collection.

McGrath brought colorful lashes to Milan, too. For Prada’s F/W ‘23 RTW collection, she gave models faux feather lashes in various pastel and jewel-toned shades, paired with fresh-faced no-makeup makeup. According to a look breakdown from McGrath, the lashes were constructed and hand-placed to complement each model’s skin tone.

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Most recently, AZ Factory featured technicolor lashes on its S/S ‘24 runway during Paris Fashion week in September, a signal that bold lashes will continue to trend well into the next year. The models’ faces were bare, save for swipes of blue, yellow, orange, purple, or pink mascara.

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Outside of fashion week, luxury makeup brands like Chanel and indie clean beauty brands such as TooD are embracing color on lashes, too. In the fall of 2022, Dior launched a brick red shade of its Overcurl Mascara ahead of its Mitzah collection, a set of makeup products consisting of wine-toned reds and rich neutrals inspired by the fashion house’s muse, Mitzah Bricard, a milliner with a penchant for leopard print.

“The great thing about this color is that it looks good whether you have brown eyes, blue eyes, or green eyes, and it just pops without being flashy,” Dior makeup creative and image director, Peter Philips, said of the mascara during a press event for the collection. “This one stands out in a very subtle way because if it doesn’t catch the light, it’s looks like a dark brown mascara, but when when the light does catch it, you see it’s a very beautiful brick red.” The makeup artist suggests wearing it with a warm blush and brick red lipstick for an easy monochromatic look. He went on to say he was inspired to create the shade after seeing the brand’s brick-toned blushes and lipsticks being worn as eye makeup in Korea.

BeautyTok has also embraced wearing color on your lashes. The hashtag #coloredmascara has over 145 million views and dozens of tutorials and reviews of technicolor mascaras. And according to Spate’s Fall 2023 TikTok makeup trends report, blue mascara specifically, is having a moment. Views on videos featuring the hashtag #bluemascara are up 542.5%.

For those influenced to pick up a vibrant blue, rich red, or decadent purple mascara, New York City-based celebrity makeup artist and face sculptor Joseph Carrillo has a few helpful tips for mapping out your full makeup look. “My favorite way to keep it elevated is to let the mascara do the talking,” he tells TZR. “It's all about the lashes, so keep it clean, chic, and simple on the rest of the face. If you want to go big, he suggests adding a complementary eyeshadow color just rimming the eye. “Think monochromatic colors or colors that are [in the same color family]. If you’re feeling even more daring, use an opposite contrasting color to make the mascara pop more.”

To really get the full effect of the mascara color, the makeup artist suggests prepping the lashes with a primer. “Use a white primer to really make the color pop,” Carrillo says. I like L’Oréal Paris’ Voluminous Lash Primer and the MAC Cosmetics False Lashes Maximizer.” He recommends applying two coats: The first coat will prime and fill lashes while the second one will make them a little more white. “Make sure to define and comb the lash so they don't get clumpy,” Carrillo adds.

With these pro tips in mind, peruse some of the best colored mascaras to lean into 2023’s boldest makeup trend.

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