13 Brown Mascaras of 2024 to Fluff Your Lashes When Black Feels Too Much, Tested & Reviewed

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A subtle yet oh-so-pretty take on framing your eyes.

Best Brown Mascaras a collage of Allure editors wearing brown mascaras

Collage: Laneen Wells; Source images: Allure editors

The best brown mascara is the perfect alternative for many of us who find black mascaras too dramatic and harsh on our eyes—and perhaps aren’t quite ready to venture into more vibrant hues. Whether you prefer lengthening, volumizing, or waterproof formulas, brown mascara blesses our lashes with a subtler “oomph” that will complement any eye color.

Our Top Picks

Frequently Asked Questions

If you’re ready to ditch your jet-black mascara or simply build out your mascara wardrobe, we’ve rounded up the best brown mascaras.

Best Brown Mascara Overall: Tower 28 Beauty MakeWaves Mascara

Tower 28

Tower 28 Beauty MakeWaves Mascara in Drift

Sarah Han applying Tower 28 Beauty MakeWaves Mascara in Drift.

Why it’s worth it: Similar to the rest of the brand’s offerings, Tower 28 Beauty’s MakeWaves Mascara is nonirritating and made with sensitive eyes in mind. This Best of Beauty Award winner features a curved “Triple-Wave Wand” comprised of three flexible suspended bands to lift and coat every single lash. The formula employs Aquaflex Technology (typically used in hair-care products) to hold the curl of the eyelash without sacrificing softness. It also helps boost humidity and water resistance. Our best tip? Use the shorter bristles on the inner side of the curve to amp up the volume, and then go in with the longer bristles to lengthen and define. Multiple coats look great with this mascara, too.

Tester feedback: “I absolutely prefer brown mascaras over black, which I find often makes my eyes—which are very dark to begin with—look heavy. I feel the same way about black eyeliner, for the record,” says commerce editor Sarah Han. When Tower 28 launched MakeWaves in Drift, an espresso brown, she instantly knew it’d become a regular in her rotation. “The formula is super buildable without reaching clumpy territory—that’s key because my lashes need multiple layers to even appear visible on-camera,” says Han, who adds that the innovative, curved brush maximizes length and curl—rather than one over the other.

Benefits: lengthening, curling, conditioning | Waterproof: no | Who it’s for: all lash types

Han before applying Tower 28 Beauty MakeWaves Mascara in Drift.

Han after applying Tower 28 Beauty MakeWaves Mascara in Drift.

Best Volumizing Brown Mascara: YSL Lash Clash Extreme Volume Mascara in Brown

YSL

YSL Lash Clash Extreme Volume Mascara in Brown

Bianca Richards applying YSL Lash Clash Extreme Volume Mascara in Brown.

Why it’s worth it: Boasting a non-irritating formula and serious staying power, it’s no wonder that the YSL Lash Clash Extreme Volume Mascara earned a 2023 Best of Beauty Award. The oversized, conical brush evenly coats each lash, lifting and thickening them for a bold, volumized look. (After all, it’s in the name.) For those who like to layer and build up their mascara for maximum effect, Lash Clash is a keeper.

Tester feedback: “No matter what it comes down to, I will forever splurge on the YSL Lash Clash mascara since it gives me that voluminous, wispy finish for my almond-shaped eyes,” social media manager Bianca Richards says. “Not only does the brown shade add that playful and effortless look for no makeup makeup days, but the rich chocolate hue helps to accentuate my dark brown eyes.”

Benefits: volumizing, thickening | Waterproof: no | Who it’s for: sensitive eyes, thin lashes

Richards before mascara.

Richards applying YSL Lash Clash Extreme Volume Mascara in Brown.

Best Brown Mascara for Sensitive Eyes: Glossier Lash Slick in Brown

Glossier

Glossier Lash Slick in Brown

Nicola Dall’Asen applying on Glossier Lash Slick in Brown.

Why it’s worth it: Glossier’s Lash Slick is one of its first—and best-selling—products, intended to give a natural, no-makeup-makeup look that enhances what you’ve already got going on. Its nourishing formula (hello, vegan biotin and vitamin B5) wraps around, lengthens, and lifts each lash, for an extension-like effect. Ophthalmologists tested this formula to ensure it won’t irritate sensitive eyes or anyone who wears contact lenses.

Tester feedback: “I feel totally naked without mascara, but I don’t always want the full-throttle look of your standard black shade,” senior news editor Nicola Dall’Asen says. “Glossier’s Lash Slick in Brown provides lengthening yet whisper-light coats in a warm brown tone—probably similar to your natural lashes if you’re brunette—for that ‘wait, are those real?’ kind of look.”

Benefits: lengthening, volumizing, long-wearing, and conditioning | Waterproof: water-resistant | Who it’s for: sensitive eyes, fuller lashes

Dall’Asen before applying mascara.

Dall’Asen after applying Glossier Lash Slick in Brown.

Best Mascara for Dramatic Lashes: Tarte Tartelette Tubing Mascara in Brown

Tarte

Tarte Tartelette Tubing Mascara

Sarah Hoffmann applying Tarte Tartelette Tubing Mascara in Brown.

Why it’s worth it: The original black Tarte Maneater Mascara scored an Allure Best of Beauty Award back in 2020, and its Brown shade is just as praise-worthy. This mascara has the same long-lasting, drama-inducing formula that we’ve known and loved, but in a defining true-brown hue that makes your lashes look, well, like your lashes. It’s also worth mentioning that the 500-bristle mascara wand pushes your lashes up, creating an intense curl that could rival your eyelash curlers.

Tester feedback:

Benefits: curling, long-wearing, lengthening | Waterproof: no | Who it’s for: all lash types

Hoffmann before applying mascara.

Hoffmann after applying Tarte Tartelette Tubing Mascara in Brown.

Best Budget Brown Mascara: Essence Lash Princess False Lash Effect Mascara in Brown

Essence

Essence Lash Princess False Lash Effect Mascara in Brown

Talia Gutierrez after applying Essence Lash Princess Mascara in Brown.

Why it’s worth it: Here’s a $5 choice that feels—and looks—a lot more expensive. Essence’s Lash Princess False Lash Effect mascara has a fluffy, large wand to lift and separate each one of your eyelashes. The formula is meant to lengthen, making this a great option for anyone with short lashes.

Tester feedback: “When applying mascara, my main priority is natural-looking lashes that look as if they’re my real lashes,” Talia Gutierrez, associate manager of special projects, says. “The conically-shaped fiber bristles from Essence Lash Princess make coating my inner corners mess-free, brushing through any clumps of product that are often a dead giveaway I’m wearing mascara. I specifically gravitate towards the brown-black mascara shade, which gives my lashes extra volume and length with a touch of definition with just two coats.”

Benefits: lengthening, separating | Waterproof: no | Who it’s for: short, straight lashes

Gutierrez before applying mascara.

Gutierrez after applying Essence Lash Princess Mascara in Brown.

Best Waterproof Brown Mascara: Dior Diorshow Waterproof Mascara in Chestnut

Dior

Dior Diorshow Waterproof Mascara in Chestnut

Why it’s worth it: Dior’s Diorshow Waterproof Mascara is a 2023 Allure Best of Beauty Award winner that the pros constantly gush about. New York City- and Stockholm-based makeup artist Linda Gradin and New York City-based makeup artist Deanna Melluso adore the dark brown hue, Chestnut, and its long-wearing formula. “It lasts all day with no smudges,” says Melluso. “It’s a deep brown color that is fabulous for hazel eyes to emphasize the green or purple tones.”

Editor’s tip: If you don’t need a waterproof formula or simply prefer non-waterproof formulas, Dior’s Diorshow 24H Buildable Volume Mascara in Brown is equally stunning.

Benefits: long-wearing, lengthening | Waterproof: yes | Who it’s for: people who sweat a lot

More brown mascaras we love:

Best Berry-Brown Mascara: Charlotte Tilbury Pillow Talk Push Up Lashes

Charlotte Tilbury

Charlotte Tilbury Pillow Talk Push Up Lashes in Dream Pop

Why it’s worth it: You know a trend is here to stay if Charlotte Tilbury is hopping on it. As a follow-up to the brand’s original black-hued Pillow Talk Push Up Lashes, Charlotte Tilbury released a berry-brown shade of its lengthening mascara named Dream Pop. Consider this 2023 Best of Beauty winner as your secret weapon to achieving Twiggy’s iconic finger-length lashes with an unconventional color that’ll make your eyes stand out from the crowd, no matter what color your irises may be.

Benefits: lengthening, volumizing. | Waterproof: no | Who it’s for: straight, short lashes

Best Brown-Black Mascara: Clinique High Impact Mascara

Clinique

Clinique High Impact Mascara in Black/Brown

Why it’s worth it: Canavan loves Clinique’s High Impact Mascara—which comes in a brownish-black hue simply named Brown—for defining lashes and enhancing the intensity of any eye color. The original black mascara is a classic known for its dramatic results, but you can expect the same thickening and volumizing finish on a slightly more modest scale. Its buildable, no-budge formula also means that you can layer this shade without finding any flakes or smudges around your eyes by the end of the day.

Benefits: volumizing, thickening | Waterproof: no | Who it’s for: thin, light lashes

Best Brown Mascara for Short Lashes: Chanel Inimitable Mascara in Noir Brun

Chanel

Chanel Inimitable Mascara in Noir Brun

Why it’s worth it: Melluso is also a big fan of Chanel’s Inimitable Mascara in the shade Noir Brun, which she describes as “such a beautiful shade of brown.” This lengthening mascara’s cocoa-brown pigment effortlessly creates skyscraper-long lashes that’ll tie any no-makeup-makeup look together. This pick also acts as a curling mascara, thanks to its unique, ultra-thin nylon bristle wand applicator.

Benefits: lengthening, curling | Waterproof: no | Who it’s for: straight, shorter lashes

Best Lengthening Brown Mascara: Lancôme Définicils High Definition Lengthening Mascara in Deep Brown

Lancôme

Lancôme Définicils High Definition Lengthening Mascara in Deep Brown

Why it’s worth it: Clumping…the bane of every mascara-wearer’s existence. But if you swipe on Lancôme’s Definicils High Definition Lengthening Mascara, you might never deal with it again. The slick mascara relies on special polymers that act as extensions for your lashes. And if you always find that your lashes stick together when you wear mascara, the wand on this one is evenly coated, which helps separate and lift each lash.

Benefits: lengthening, separating | Waterproof: no | Who it’s for: full, short lashes

Best Barely-There Brown Mascara: Saie Mascara 101 in Brown

Saie

Saie Mascara 101 in Brown

Why it’s worth it: We always appreciate makeup fortified with hardworking skin-care ingredients. Take Saie’s Mascara 101, formulated with shea butter, amino acids, beeswax, and minerals to strengthen and soften your lashes over time. It thickens and lengthens all lash types without looking too dramatic, making it excellent for no-makeup-makeup days. But if you want a more dramatic look, swipe on an extra coat or two.

Benefits: strengthening, lengthening, thickening | Waterproof: no | Who it’s for: all lash types

Most Viral Brown Mascara: Maybelline New York Lash Sensational Sky High Mascara in True Brown

Maybelline New York

Maybelline New York Sky High in True Brown

Why it’s worth it: The perpetually viral Maybelline New York Lash Sensational Sky High Mascara also comes in a softer brown tone for the days you still want some va-va-voom without the drama of a jet-black hue. For under $15, this mascara delivers intense volume and lengthening, giving off the illusion of falsies—no magnets or glue required. It’s infused with bamboo extract and fibers that attach to your lashes, making them look thicker and fuller without weighing them down.

Benefits: volumizing, lengthening | Waterproof: no | Who it’s for: all lash types

Best Conditioning Brown Mascara: Eyeko Black Magic Cocoa Edit Mascara

Eyeko

Eyeko Black Magic: Cocoa Edit Mascara

Why it’s worth it: Looking to pump up the volume? Eyeko’s Black Magic Cocoa Edit Mascara will do just the trick. This warm brown shade is vibrantly pigmented to make lashes look thicker and fuller, plus its formula is enriched with keratin and shea butter to condition each eyelash. The curved wand applicator pushes your lashes to their highest limits, so you’ll look wide-eyed and awake even if your REM cycle is cut short.

Benefits: conditioning, curling, thickening | Waterproof: no | Who it’s for: brittle, thin lashes


Frequently Asked Questions

Why should I choose brown mascara?

Brown mascaras are ideal for accentuating lashes without looking like makeup was applied. According to New York City-based makeup artist Steven Canavan, “Brown mascara is best if you’re looking to achieve a more natural look, and black [is best] if you want more drama.” Sure, you could spare some change for a lash lift or extensions to create a similar finish, but if you don’t want to spend your coins on monthly treatments, brown mascaras are a much more accessible option.

On top of affordability, New York City- and Stockholm-based makeup artist Linda Gradin notes that these mascaras can add more dimension and enhance the color of your eyes, depending on the shade you use. “For a darker eye, a nearly-black or dark brown mascara adds definition, but a classic brown gives a softer impression,” she says. “For lighter-colored eyes, true-to-light brown mascaras are most flattering, as they can bring out gold, green, or grey highlights in your eyes that black can’t.”

How to best apply brown mascara

However you prefer to wear makeup is your business, but there are some general best practices. If you have straight or downward-pointing lashes, prep your lashes with a curler. Ensure you pick up an even amount of product on the mascara wand—swipe off excess product against the perimeter of the tube opening as needed—so you don’t end up with clumps or stuck-together lashes. Then, starting at the base of your lash, lightly swipe up, coating each lash. To separate your lashes while you apply, wiggle the wand as you sweep the formula toward the tips of your lashes. Repeat as needed for your desired results, and keep in mind that some mascaras dry faster than others.

If you really want to make your eye color and shape stand out, Gradin recommends pairing your brown mascara with a dark brown, charcoal, or black eyeliner pencil.

Meet the experts

How we test and review products

Before reviewing any makeup, we ask questions about a number of factors: What ingredients are in it? Does the brand offer a wide shade range inclusive of consumers with all skin tones and undertones? Is it safe for readers who have sensitive skin or wear contact lenses? Is it on the affordable side or more of a splurge? Is its packaging consciously designed or needlessly wasteful?

For our review of the best brown mascaras, we enlisted the help of multiple editors, writers, contributors, and makeup artists to review the products. This ensures our testing base spans different skin tones, genders, and dermatological conditions. We considered each product’s performance across four primary categories: ingredients, wear and longevity, packaging, and inclusivity. For more on what’s involved in our reporting, check out our complete reviews process and methodology page.

Our staff and testers

A beauty product is a personal purchase. You might be searching for a face cream to address persistent dryness or a new nail product to add to your Sunday self-care routine; you may simply be browsing around for the latest launches to hit the hair market. No matter what you seek or your individual needs and concerns, Allure wants to ensure that you love anything we recommend in our stories. We believe that having a diverse team of writers and editors—in addition to the wide range of outside testers and industry experts we regularly call upon—is essential to reaching that goal.

After all, can we really say a skin-care product is the “best” for people over 50 if the only testers we’ve solicited opinions from folks who have yet to hit 30? Can we honestly deem a high-end diffuser worthy of your hard-earned cash if it’s never been tested on curls? We’re proud that our staff spans a wide range of ages, skin tones, hair textures, genders, and backgrounds, which means that we are able to fairly assess any beauty product that comes into the beauty closet.


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All products are independently selected by our editors. If you buy something, we may earn an affiliate commission.

    Jennifer Hussein is a commerce writer at Allure. Previously, she served as beauty editor of BestProducts.com and COOLS, as well as junior beauty editor for L’Oréal’s Skincare.com. Her work has been published in Teen Vogue, Paper Magazine, Byrdie, Coveteur, The Zoe Report, and StyleCaster. Jen is also a… Read more

    Sarah Madaus is a graduate student at Pratt Institute in New York City, seeking a Masters degree in Library and Information Science. Aside from her studies, she is a freelance writer, brand consultant, and copywriter. You can find her work in Sports Illustrated, Architectural Digest, Town & Country, Oprah Daily,… Read more

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