Which Do You Prefer: Brown or Black Mascara for Blondes?

Published in: Makeup, Makeup Tips/How To

Earlier this week MBB reader Emma emailed to ask for mascara recommendations. She’s a blonde beauty, and I’m hoping we can help her out.


“Hey Karen!

So I am in high school and a blonde and very pale. Should I wear brown mascara or black mascara? Will black be too harsh?”

Hi, Emma. Hmm… I have blonde friends that like both, and I think both colors look great — it really depends on the look you’re going for. In general, though, for a natural look, I’d suggest brown, and for a more amped-up, dramatic look, try black.

This, of course, coming from a brunette. 🙂


You might want to try a few drugstore mascaras first to figure out which color you like better. Rimmel makes a few affordable drugstore mascaras that work pretty well. Two to consider: Rimmel Glam Eyes Mascara in Black Brown ($7) and Rimmel Glam Eyes Lash Flirt in Black ($7 each).

Oh! I also asked the girls on Twitter for some recs, and here’s what they had to say:

Ultimately, I like to follow the “there are no rules” philosophy when it comes to makeup, and I think it’s safe to go with whichever route you like best.

Do you have any specific mascara recommendations for blondes like Emma? Maybe some brands or colors you really like? 🙂 Please share in the comments.

Your friendly neighborhood beauty addict,



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  1. Melissa W. says:

    I have blond hair that I dye red… but I like the blackest of black mascara paired with black eyeliner (top lashes only) for any color hair. With blond hair it can be dramatic and cute. <3
    Melissa W. recently posted … Taupe Crazy with Alima Pure

  2. Rica says:

    When it comes to mascara, I always prefer the ones from drugstore. I’m not paying more than $10 unless there are some magic in them that I can’t get from drugstore mascara.

    Cover Girl Last Blast all the way! The best thing is that it has brown, black, and very black LOL, so I guess no matter which one you prefer, you’ll find one that suits you! Just do one coat of it, you’ll get a neutral look. Add another coat for more drama. I feel like I’m advertising for them LOL.

    Maybelline Lash Stiletto was great too, but it’s not everyone’s cup of tea. I do really like the brush though =).

    Rica recently posted … First Hundred- First Half-Year- First Giveaway MAC Warehouse Sale Ticket

  3. Elaine says:

    In highschool my favorite was Loreal Voluminous Mascara in Brown or Black/Brown, I found that it was dark enough, especially since I never wore eyeshadow or liner. And it looks great with blue eyes too!

    Now I wear black mascara though, because it looks better with the eyeshadow I do!

    I’d pick whatever you feel most comfortable with!

  4. Ana says:

    i’m in high school as well, and many of my blonde friends wear black mascara and it dosent look harsh. but if you want something a little less dramatic maybe try a brown/black shade, since its right in the middle. good luck!

  5. Marian says:

    I’m a very pale blonde and I’ve always worn black mascara. I like a natural look though, so my favorite is Maybelline Full n Soft.

  6. Kris Cameron says:

    I think it also depends on how thick or long your eyelashes are. If you have a lot of thick long eyelashes that are blonde maybe throwing brown mascara on will be enough. If you have thin or sparse short lashes I really recommend black mascara.

    Another thing to consider when choosing a drug store or any brand of mascara is if they test on animals. I just found out that my beloved maybelline tests on animals! That sound you hear is me throwing out my mascara and buying new!

  7. Carolina says:

    Max Factors Masterpiece Max (was it?!) has a great color – it’s a quite dark brown almost black. It gives a more “softer” framing of the eyes than black, but definition is still dark enough. Some mascaras have an even lighter brown like Collistar.

  8. Lily says:

    well , since she is very pale and blonde and in HS. I suggest Brown for day time , because black might be way too dramatic. and brown is def. more natural!
    Lily recently posted … Tonight- We Dine In

  9. Janine says:

    It depends on what color your eyebrows are. If you have very blonde eyebrows, go for the brown mascara for daytime. If you have darker, more brown eyebrows, then black/brown would be fine. Work with your coloring, not against it! Jet black lashes with blonde eyebrows look unnatural. Unless you are going for drama! There are even brown false eyelashes for dances and special events! I have a friend with blonde lashes and brows, and they look great on her!

  10. Madeline says:

    I have dirty blonde hair with light blonde streaks and chocolatey brown streaks (my natural color) and dark brown eyebrows. I like to use Maybelliene’s Great Lash in Brownish Black with my favorite liner, Jordana Incolor Fabuliner in 01 black. It looks really natural on me, because I’m a darker blonde, and it brings out the grey in my blue grey eyes! Love it.

    Karen, I’d LOVE it if you’d review Jordana Fabuliner (if you haven’t yet!) For 1.99, you get an amazing eyeliner marker, and I’ve had it for a while with no drying out… I’m 15, so it’s quick and simple for me, and really pigmented… just not waterproof, sigh! Great for a cat eye though, which I’m sure Tabs would appreciate! Gosh, I sound like an advertisement, but these are my no fail, holy grail makeup products, and I want more people to know about the eyeliner… (just not my friends, they can struggle with their kohl pencils, teehee!)


  11. Rachael says:

    I like Loreal Voluminous in soft black, its a gray color and its dark enough to show, but not dark enough to look dramatic and Lady Gaga-ish. I wear this one with my bright red hair since the black doesn’t look right on me. Hope you find something.
    Rachael recently posted … Bonjour YAll!

  12. lo says:

    I’ve always done black or brown-black. I’ve tried brown, but I always feel like it’s weirdly unnatural, like a brown crayon. And since mine are super blonde at the tips, I prefer black to emphasize as much length as I can.

  13. Megan says:

    well it really depends on the color of your eyelashes! im medium blonde but my eyelashes are naturally a reallyyyy dark black! if u have blonde lashes…. brown looks better!

  14. Faith says:

    I’m a redhead with blonde lashes. I’d say if you’re looking just to freshen up with a bit of mascara, go with brown. I think black alone is too harsh, and looks much better with other makeup (especially eyeliner).

  15. Deathica says:

    Has anyone tried that new falsies mascara? I’m tempted to get it, but I just got a tube of Smashbox’s Bionic in a gift set so I don’t really need to buy a new mascara at the moment. I also have a billion samples and stuff and I’m really trying to cut back on buying unnecessary beauty items. Every time I go into a cvs I leave with some beauty item that I didn’t really need and now I have a drawer filled with way too much stuff.

    Getting back to mascara though I really love black lashes on everyone! Even if all you’re going to wear is mascara I think it should be black. It just really defines the lash and I hate when people try really hard to do that I’m not wearing any makeup at all look when they’re wearing tons of makeup. I mean if you’re going to go through the trouble of putting on mascara you want it to be noticed.
    Deathica recently posted … Ive made 40 back this year just from stuff I normally order online – and from good stores too like Sephora- Target- Old Navy and etc It really adds up if you shop a lot online!

  16. Ana says:

    If you mean the maybelline falsies then yes I have tried it. It’s good but quite dramatic, at least on me. I havent expierienced any clumping, and it lengthens, curls, and volumizes great. It’s just too dramatic for me to wear to school. Also, I got the waterproof version, and unlike my Holy Grail mascara, Covergirl Lashblast Length (the waterproof version as well) , I have to use quite a bit of makeup remover to get it off. But you can just get the normal verson if you want. Another problem for me is that it is not very seperating. But if you want dramatic lashes that are very voluminous, I would suggest cheking it out.

  17. Deathica says:

    Sounds good – I have a metal lash comb I got from Sonia Kashuk at Target. For voluminous mascaras that don’t actually separate the lashed too well use that. Just swipe it through one time to get all the lashes separated. Don’t swipe too much because you don’t want to take off too much mascara. Here is the link for it.


    wow that might be the longest link ever
    Deathica recently posted … Ive made 40 back this year just from stuff I normally order online – and from good stores too like Sephora- Target- Old Navy and etc It really adds up if you shop a lot online!

  18. Caity says:

    My mom is a fair skinned blonde lady, and she always rocks brown mascara. This being said, she’s not one to wear lots of makeup, so it would look weird for her to wear a shocking black. So I agree with what you said, brown for every day/natural looks, black to amp it up.
    Caity recently posted … Review- TokiDoki

  19. Joseph says:

    I have blonde lashes slowly marching to the white and I have two recommendations:

    Highly recommended: Clinique naturally glossy mascara in jet brown — it’s pretty much perfect

    Slightly recommended: Borghese Superiore State-of-the-Art Mascara in Bronzo — I love the color but it’s a little thick and spidery
    Joseph recently posted … Wednesday- August 18- 2010

  20. Rachel says:

    Hands down Black. As a blonde myself (granted, I’m a blonde with brown eyes and light/medium skin) I can’t pull off brown mascara. I kind of feel like “what’s the point?” but again, that’s coming from someone with darker eyes and a propensity to be heavy handed with makeup. Me and the “natural” look don’t really get along. 🙂 When I try to pull it off, I get the “are you feeling OK?” questions at work, which sucks because that translates into “dang girl, you look beat without a ton of makeup on!” Such is life! 🙂 At least my hubby loves me…..

  21. Rachel says:

    i think that black mascara is totally fine. the thing that blondes should be careful about is the eyeliner and eyeshadow color. if you have too much dark eye makeup you might look like a raccoon.

  22. Melissa says:

    as a fair-skinned platinun blonde, i only use brown–specifically black-brown. you’re right–black is way too dark, and honestly, it makes me look skanky. keep it for night time, and special occasions. that being said, drugstore brands: maybelline volum express, and dept. store: lancome hypnose. i also LOVE to use dark navy blue sometimes, it looks great esp with my blue eyes. i like Cover Girl eye lights mascara in blue for blue eyes, and brown for brown eyes. they have a little shimmer, which i love! good luck!

  23. Liz! says:

    I’m a natural dirty blonde w/ highlights and I love love love black mascara. I also have light/medium skin (I tan real easy!) and brown eyebrows and dark blue eyes. Despite this, even though my eyelashes are a decent length, they are practically colorless, so I need some kind of mascara to make my eyes more defined. So, being on the darker side of blondeness, i feel like black really makes my eyes pop, brown mascara I think actually makes me look sickly lol. I love CoverGirl Lash Blast in very black, it’s cheap and it volumizes really well and lengthens ok too. I also like Clinique High Impact mascara and of cooooourse Dior Show!

  24. amy says:

    Though I am a brunette and like black black black, I prefer black on blondes because I like the strong contrast and it makes their lashes more dramatic and visible.
    amy recently posted … Have a Roman Holiday Honey Moon with My Favourite Nudy Pink Combo LOTD MAC Honey Moon Lipstick MAC Roman HolidayDazzleglass

  25. Amy says:

    I’m a blonde and love Maybelline Full ‘n’ Soft in Black. It’s a natural look, plus waterproof. It doesn’t look crazy scary or spidery on me. I wouldn’t get brown unless your eyelashes are also really pale, and black would look too dramatic for school.

  26. quimerula says:

    For a natural look that’s both elegant and flattering, I have Diorshow Iconic Extreme in Chesnut.

  27. Joy says:

    My sister is blonde with light brown eyebrows and does brown-black (second the lashblast rec) during the day and black at night for more dramatic looks. I’m medium brown with natural red tones and, during the summer, blonde around my face. I switch it up depending on the eye make-up I’m wearing. But both of us use the brown-black; it’s not too harsh when doing a more natural look but still dark enough to add the *pop*.

  28. Sarah says:

    I used to have platinum blonde bleached hair and the palest or pale skin. (I dyed it last thursday) And I had pretty thick hair and intese hazel eyes so to go with the intesity i liked mac fluidline in blacktrack on upper lashline and waterline and and black mascara. I don’t really like brown mascara unless you’re a natural redhead, my friend came to school one day with black mascara on and it looked so.. weird.

    I find blondes can wear black mascara and eyeliner no problem, people just kind of made up that blondes and paler skin tones can’t. I’m in it for the intesity!

    • Sarah says:

      Eyebrows! Eyebrows play a huge role. If you have blonde eyebrows black may look odd. If they’re brown or dark brown (if your a natural blonde I’m not sure why they would be) Black should look okay.

      For lighter eyebrows go for the lighter mascara.
      For darker eyebrows go for the darker mascara.
      It makes sense because why would you eyelashes “naturally” be so much darker than you eyebrows?

      Anyways my eyebrows were a medium brown and i wore black and it looked fine.

  29. Kristin says:

    I have blonde hair, very fair skin and blue eyes. My absolute favorite mascara right now is Naturally Glossy Mascara by Clinque in Jet Brown. It gives a nice natural finish and the dark brown really helps to make my eyes pop without the added drama. Some nights I like a more rich, black mascara to set off a more sultry, smokey look – in this case I reach for Supernova Mascara from Fresh in Black.

  30. C.Diff says:

    I am pasty and blondish and I love that charcoal grey YSL mascara, or the plum DiorShow to go with my green eyes. If it’s going to be a long day I’ll use Blinc in black because it won’t smear when I inevitably forget and smoosh it up…I’ve never really noticed a huge difference between black and brown on me, probably because I don’t really wear more than two coats.

  31. Ellen says:

    I’m blond and I use black, even for everyday wear. I like L’Oreal Voluminous Blackest Black for more volume. But for a softer, everyday look, try Maybelline Full n Soft!

  32. Rachel says:

    I really like BeneFit Plum mascara for my eye lashes. Sometimes black can be too harsh and brown can be a little boring, but Plum is a nice alterantive. If you have blue eyes it really makes them pop as well.

  33. Lora says:

    I’d recommend using a black-brown mascara, if you can find one.

    You could use Laura Mercier’s cake-eyeliner that goes into the lash bed and curl your lashed and use a clear mascara? That way you can amp it up without having too much dark color around your eyes.
    Lora recently posted … Product of the Week- Mascara GIVE AWAY!

  34. Lorasordona says:

    I have pale skin, light blonde hair, blonde eyebrows and lashes and grey blue eyes. I use Max vivid impact 606, it’s a rusty brown and makes my eye color pop, black mascara looks a bit dark but if I have my own lashes dyed black it doesn’t look strange. I guess this is because they aren’t thickened or stiff.

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