Friday, March 19, 2010

30 Days to 10 years younger--10 minute tips. Tip 17: Be a brownie

You might be wondering why on earth Pamela Anderson is doing in a blog post aimed at beauty and style for women of a certain age. Well, duh, I'm using her as an example of what not to do. And I'm not going after her super-thin eyebrows and super-obvious implants. I'm going after her eyelashes.

Mascara has become like a Model T Ford--you can have any color you want, as long as it's black. Which is OK, as long as you think everyone looks best in black mascara. Unfortunately, I don't.

Black mascara is lovely at night, but for broad daylight, I find it a bit stark and artificial looking. If you're blonde, redhead, or like me, an aging brunette, you'll probably look better in a softer shade of brown/black or brown. In fact, if you're a redhead, you'll probably look best in auburn--if you can find it anywhere.

Unfortunately, most drugstore mascaras only come in black, super-plus-blackest-black, and black/brown. I checked L'Oreal, CoverGirl, Maybelline, and Revlon, and the story was almost always the same.

There are drugstore brands that offer brown mascara, but you have to dig pretty deep. Almay has at least one mascara available in brown.

For years, Max Factor was the only line with a mascara for redheads; unfortunately they're leaving the States. The mascara is still available at, though. And Revlon's DoubleTwist line includes a shade called Blackened Ruby that looks auburn.

Fortunately, the latest fad in drugstore mascaras appears to be ones that emphasize the color of your eyes. Physician's Formula sells a brown mascara, and in addition, their intensive i-color mascara and intense i-color mascara with light interplay both claim to intensify eye-color. They're available in four shades. CoverGirl sells a similar line.

Department store lines offer a wider variety of mascara shades: Estee Lauder has several formulas that come in brown and and even navy blue; MAC has some browns, and so does Lancôme. (Lancôme also sells specialty mascaras, like gold and silver. But that's not the point of this post.)

Boutique brands like Jane Iredale, BeneFit, and Sephora offer mascaras in a variety of interesting shades. In fact, if you go to the Sephora website and do a search for "brown mascara," you'll discover that there are plenty of options.

The trick is to not go crazy. Colored mascara can be fun, but it's not something to wear if you want to be taken seriously. For proof, remember Princess Diana and her blue eyeliner and matching eyelashes. I'll confess to having developed a certain degree of fascination with colored mascaras, and I'm trying like crazy not to succumb to Yves St. Laurent Fascinating Violet or the Benefit BadGAL in Plum.

I remember the 80s and I don't think the world has yet recovered from my experiments with Princess Di-style cobalt blue.

Or my Two-Faced glitter lashes in the 90s when seriously? I was old enough to know better.

But while I busy myself locking up my credit cards and backing away from the Sephora website, I urge you to think about whether the black mascara you've been wearing for years and years is actually doing you any favors. Or could you, like the women pictured here, benefit from a softer look around the eyes?


The Beauty Blog has a great post on mascaras for redheads here.

Did you know that there is a beauty blog devoted to mascara? There is. It's called Clumps of Mascara. Currently on hiatus, but still packed with useful reviews. Click here.


  1. The Evil Mary Kay empire also sells brown mascara. That's how I get it...

  2. I've always worn Maybelline black/brown. I didn't know there was a plain brown!

  3. I wear the black/brown, too. And because I wear almost no other make up, I could probably do with a little MORE around the eyes! Oh well. Glad to know I'm doing this right!

  4. In these photos and in daily life, I'm more put off by the heavy black eyeliner than the black mascara.

  5. The other thing Pam and Madonna are doing wrong is dying their hair blonde. They would probably look better with their natural brunette. I stopped highlighting my dingy blonde hair a few years ago and just ramped up the brown in it and I look a million times better. I can even wear white now.

  6. Derm told me black mascaras have fewer additives than colored ones...

  7. I'm a redhead and I get my mascara at Just For Redheads. I use a lighter shade on the weekends around the house to give my very light eyelashes a little color and it's called Ginger Auburn. Every other time @ work and stuff I use the color called Henna. I actually get compliments on it. Black looks so harsh on me with my fair skin. The company is hopelessly outdated and their marketing/website/logo/branding is cheesy and bad but the products that I use are good.


Gentle Readers:

For the time being, I've turned off comment moderation. Please don't spam; it's not nice.

xxx, Poppy.