Tinted Lash Primers Are the Anti-Mascara, and We’re Totally Into It

Rachel Krause


Ask any woman what her “desert island” beauty product is, and there’s a very good chance she’ll say mascara. She might even say that she feels naked without it, or that she won’t even leave the house without a few coats.

And yet bare lashes have taken the stage at countless runway shows over the past few years, and some makeup artists have even made a case against it.

Facts: Skipping mascara saves time. It spares you the trouble of smudges and clumps and waking up in the morning with unseemly dark dredges under your eyes, which are all the worst things about wearing mascara. The super thick, dark lashes you think you want could actually be closing up your eye area and making your eyes look smaller and darker rather than big and wide-awake. Is mascara really doing us all that many favors, or are we just used to seeing our faces with it on?

For some, a bit of lift and defining color is still a security blanket, especially if you have blonde lashes—and that’s why tinted lash primers are such a thing right now. It’s pretty genius: They darken the lashes to give just the right amount of definition, so your eyes stand out without the look-at-me effect of most mascaras. The results are soft and natural, not makeup-y, so not only are the primers perfect for a low-key look, but they’ll let your red lipstick do all the talking too, without leaving your eyes looking “naked.”

We’ve been using Estée Lauder Little Black Primer ($24) to get our fix. It’s the “my lips but better” lipstick of the mascara world, making lashes look longer, darker, and ever so slightly fuller without the drama. Benefit They’re Real! Tinted Primer is launching next month, similarly promising the “no mascara” look without going completely bare.

Of course, you can also use the primers underneath your mascara to add volume and lift … but once you open your eyes to a world without mascara, you probably won’t want to.

MORE: 6 Mistakes You’re Making with Mascara