Virtually no beauty trends of the Nineties have been left unresurrected by TikTok, but the latest to get a second airing? Brown mascara. Yes, with the #brownmascara hashtag now having hit more than 26 million views, it’s safe to say that chocolate-hued lashes are making a comeback, with a flurry of newly-launched products serving to further fuel the trend.
When Charlotte Tilbury launched a new berry-toned brown shade of her Pillow Talk Push Up Lashes Mascara late last year, named Dream Pop, it immediately went viral. A clip of TikTok user @minazibayi trying it on for size – going for an ultra-thick application, and pairing it with a matching gloss lip – has been viewed more than 3.7 million times, generating over 2,000 comments. Meanwhile user @daralevitan, who used it to finish off a brown smoky eye in a clip that now boasts over 51,000 likes, enthuses: “Without being dramatic, is this the best thing I’ve ever done in my life? Ok now actively choosing to be dramatic, should I throw out all my black mascara?”
And it’s not just Charlotte Tilbury who has helped us make the move away from black. TooFaced has launched a chocolate version of its bestselling Better Than Sex mascara, alongside a matching liquid eyeliner, while Byredo’s limited-edition Mixed Emotions mascara gives lashes a deep, burgundy-brown coating. When Glossier launched a brown version of its much-loved Lash Slick mascara in December, it was in response to constant customer demand – in fact the launch reel on Instagram was a compilation of screen grabs of beseeching messages, accompanied by the caption “you asked, so we made it”.
The news is particularly good for those with blonde, red or grey hair, with softer brown shades offering a much closer match to the original lash colour of fairer individuals, on whom black can look unnatural and overly bold.
“I use brown mascara most often on the palest complexions, when I want to define lashes without the stark contrast that black will give, or when I’ve done an extremely soft and subtle eye make-up, whose delicacy would be overpowered with black mascara,” says Alex Babsky, the go-to make-up artist for celebrities such as Florence Pugh, Lashana Lynch, Jodie Comer and Olivia Cooke (pictured below).
For those with naturally dark lashes, brown mascara might be fun to experiment with, or to finish off a brown-toned smoky eye, but is unlikely to create the same natural, “no make-up make-up” look it was touted for in the Nineties. “I wouldn’t consider using a brown mascara on someone whose lashes are black,” adds Babsky.
As a general rule of thumb, if you tend to choose a softer shade for your brows, then a brown mascara might be worth a try. Byredo’s and Charlotte Tilbury’s formulas are better suited to warm complexions thanks to their berry-like tones, while Glossier’s and TooFaced’s offer a truer earthy hue. You can also try Babsky’s clever trick for elongating your eyes with brown mascara, something Kylie Jenner has also spoken about doing in the past.
“I find that often, adding mascara to top and bottom lashes can ‘round’ out an eye that I’m trying to elongate into a more feline shape. In this instance, I sometimes balance things by only applying black mascara to the top lashes, and keeping the bottom ones softer by using brown – or leaving the bottom lashes bare of mascara altogether,” he says.
And if you just really love brown, whatever your complexion, look no further than Suqqu’s spring/summer 2023 make-up collection, which features not one but two new brown shades of its Eyelash Mascara Waterproof: Nuance Brown and Nuance Bordeaux. Designed “to enhance the natural colour of your lashes by tinting them in a soft, light colour, like spring sunlight,” the hues have been created to tonally match the limited-edition Signature Color Eyes palettes from the same collection, which in turn are a symphony of browns, with russet, taupe, gold, bronze and almond shades alongside shell pinks and pastel greens.
One thing is for sure – brown is back, and it doesn’t look like it’s going anywhere fast.
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