Best brown mascaras: 7 formulas worth ditching your trusty black formula for

Posted by for Beauty

Brown mascara is one of the most overlooked beauty items. Tell me, when was the last time you bought a brown mascara with intention, and not because you thought it was black? Switch it up and pay some attention with our top picks of the best brown mascara formulas and shades.

I bought my first brown mascara when I was in secondary school, purely because it was about £3 cheaper than the black one. From then onwards, I noticed that my friends (who wore their lashes thick, black and spidery) would constantly get told off by teachers and were forced to take their make-up off, whereas I would often slip by unnoticed. Ever since then, brown mascara has been a staple in my make-up bag for defined lashes that still make an impact, but are subtle enough to look like you’re wearing nothing.

We’ve always been told that brown formulas are reserved for those with blonde or red hair, as the colour is softer and less harsh on paler hair and skin. Despite having black eyelashes and a medium-brown complexion, I still opt for brown to coat my lashes for the sake of a soft, harmonious look. 

Brown pairs beautifully with a haze of neutral eyeshadow around the eyes, and especially well on the finer lower lashes (which can often look clumpy and harsh with black). For the best of both worlds, I sometimes do black on the top and brown on the bottom for just the right balance of impact and subtlety. It seems like an unnecessary extra step, but trust me – once you try it, you’ll see what I mean.

However, not all browns are created equal; some are basically black, some are too wet or too dry, and some are a strange warm red tone that doesn’t flatter everyone. Here are the best colour and formula combinations that’ll convert anyone to the brown side.

Best brown mascaras 2020, picked by the Stylist team

  • Lancôme Hypnôse Mascara

    Lancôme’s cult formula has a brown version, and it has exactly the same lengthening and densifying powers - plus it’s safe for sensitive eyes and contact lens-wearers.

    Lancôme Hypnôse Mascara, £27

  • Benefit They're Real! Mascara in Brown

    Again, another hero mascara in brown – this shade is slightly lighter than other browns, so it’s best for an ultra-subtle look.

    Benefit They’re Real! Mascara in Brown, £22.50

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