The 9 Best Clear Mascaras, According to Makeup Artists

Here's why the experts keep this understated product in their kits.

model backstage at Philipp Plein F24 show
(Image credit: launchmetrics)

As far as exciting makeup products go, clear mascara is...not at the top of the list. But what it lacks in intrigue, it makes up in innovation; there's a reason many people's first makeup purchase (did you also have a "you can't wear makeup besides clear or brown mascara" phase?) has become their later-in-life favorite.

"Most people underestimate clear mascaras, but they're such a multiuse product," shares celebrity makeup artist Chynara Kojoeva. The best clear mascaras can be used as a primer or on their own, tackling your lashes, brows, and even flyaways with zero smudging or drama. Void of pigment yet full of other nourishing ingredients, clear mascaras exist to separate and lengthen your lashes, adding a layer of gloss that makes them look fuller and darker. They're also virtually foolproof to use, so you can tackle the no-makeup makeup trend like a pro.

"I love a clear mascara for brows over traditional brow gels too, as brow gels can sometimes feel sticky or get flaky over time," adds celebrity makeup artist Judi Gabbay Braha. "A clear mascara typically isn’t as strong, making it a good choice for a wear that doesn't feel shellacked onto skin."

Ahead, I've talked to some of the makeup industry's brightest about the best clear mascaras. Keep scrolling to discover what to look for in a clear mascara, as well as the experts' application tips.

Bella Hadid at the 2022 Met Gala.

Makeup artist Raisa Flowers utilized clear mascara for Bella Hadid's 2022 Met Gala glam look.

(Image credit: Getty Images)

What to Look For in a Clear Mascara

  • Texture: Like any makeup product, your ease of use and happiness will come down to a clear mascara's formulation. "I’m partial to a formula that’s not heavy and doesn’t leave flakes," shares celebrity makeup artist Renée Loiz. "I want the formula to allow the lashes or brows to have some movement."
  • Finish: Some clear mascaras are shinier than others, so make sure to test how yours dries before heading out on the town. "Clear mascaras give a 'wet' appearance to the lashes, along with a gloss-like finish," says celebrity makeup artist Elaina Badro.
  • Ingredients: Some clear mascaras are formulated with hair-loving ingredients to help your lashes grow long and luscious over time. If that's something you're looking for, keep an eye out for additions like castor oil and peptides.
  • Purpose: What are you looking for in a clear mascara? Glossy lashes, brow taming, a solid base for another product, a conditioner, or all of the above? "Clear mascara is great as a primer for colored mascaras to help boost volume and length," adds Badro. But while every clear mascara can be a primer, not every primer can be a clear mascara—make sure the product you pick up dries transparent, not white.

The Best Clear Mascaras

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Ere Perez Clear Mascara

A model applies Ere Perez's clear mascara.

(Image credit: Ere Perez)

How to Use Clear Mascara

While you'll usually apply your clear mascara just like regular black or brown mascara, there are a few things to take note of before grabbing the wand. One: the formula might be a little different than what you're used to. Don't throw on too much product at once and make sure you leave ample drying time.

"To apply, remove any large beads of product from the tip of the wand and jiggle from the base of the lash upwards, separating and lifting the lash," says Braha. She and Badro both add that using an eyelash curler before your clear mascara can help hold the curl.

You can also use your clear mascara as a primer before applying a colored version. "It will help to give length, thickness, and hold curls," shares Kojoeva. "It's also handy as a flyaway hair controller when you want that snatched ponytail."

And of course, there's always the brow option. Many prefer the lighter formulations of clear mascaras to the thick brow gels on the market.

"I don’t necessarily use clear mascaras on the lashes but instead use them to groom eyebrows," says Loiz. "I like the hold they give brows and the glossy finish."

Who Should Use Clear Mascara

A clear mascara is best for someone who wants a simple, pristine lash look. "Someone might prefer a clear mascara over a black or brown for a super clean lash or brow aesthetic (that as a bonus won’t transfer or leak!)" notes Braha. "Letting your mascara dry between applications can give a thicker, shinier finish that enhances your natural tone of lash. Traditional black and brown mascaras are great for length, added drama and thickness, but *can* flake off during the day, leaving mascara crumbs or panda eye. Clear mascaras can be more user friendly."

Meet the Experts

Judi Braha
Judi Gabbay Braha

Judi Gabbay Braha started her journey as a makeup artist at the young age of 13 years old. Working summers at a beauty store, she swept floors and did simple inventory all to be a part of the magic of makeup. Finding her passion at a young age enabled her to hone her talents through dedication and the desire to learn. Not so shortly after, Judi was being flown around the world for her talents. She has shot for brands such as BEBE, Catherine Malandrino, Buxom Cosmetics, and English Laundry. She's worked with networks such as Bravo, TLC, ABC, and more. Judi continues to create polished and flawless looks for all of her clientele. 

Renee Loiz Headshot
Renée Loiz

Renée Loiz is a top celebrity makeup artist and beauty expert with over 20 years in the industry. Renée is best known for her work with celebrities including Quinta Brunson, Cynthia Erivo, Kirby Howell-Baptiste, Sherry Cola, Adele, Chelsea Peretti, Uzo Aduba, Danai Gurira, Thuso Mbedu, and Jaylon Barron.

When she’s not creating press-worthy red carpet and editorial looks for famous faces, Renee can be found working with renowned international brands such as NARS, Beauty Blender, Charlotte Tilbury, Chanel, Sephora, J.Crew, Disney, Target, BuzzFeed, Adidas, and Warner Brothers.

Her industry expertise and artistry are regularly tapped by the top fashion publications including InStyle, Cosmopolitan, Essence, EBONY, People, L’Officiel, Who What Wear, Vanity Fair, The Zoe Report, Allure, and featured on Saturday Night Live.

She is also known as the founder of Color May Vary—the ultimate guide to the best black-owned brands for beauty enthusiasts. After launching, Color May Vary was recognized by Ulta Beauty in an initiative to celebrate inspirational Black voices, and won a Refinery29 Beauty Innovator Award. She continues to spread positive change in the beauty industry by representing the underrepresented.

Elaina Badro Headshot
Elaina Badro

With more than 15 years of working as a professional makeup artist with M-A-C and Gucci, Elaina Badro has extensive experience working with all skin tones and skin types. She has gained international recognition through her work as a celebrity/high fashion makeup artist who has worked with hundreds of A-list talent including Carrie Underwood, Olivia Wilde, and Kris Jenner. Elaina is also the creative force behind the prestigious Elaina Badro Luxury Brush Line, which is available on and at The Wynn Las Vegas.

Chynara Kojoeva
Chynara Kojoeva

Chynara Kojoeva is a celebrity makeup artist based in Paris and London. Her work has been seen on Ashley Graham, Nicole Scherzinger, and Nicole Richie—among many others.

Freelance Writer

Sophia Vilensky is a freelance beauty writer at Marie Claire, where she writes about the latest and greatest skincare launches, hair colors, and Cardi B manicures. Her work can also be found at Byrdie, Bravo, and Us Weekly. You can find her on Instagram @sophiavilensky.