Lower Lash Mascara: Too Retro Or Just Right?

You don't have to copy Twiggy's style to get dark lower lashes, and I'm gonna show you how.
Publish date:
July 16, 2014
eyelashes, mac, mascara, 1960s beauty, lower lashes, retro beauty, twiggy, waterproof mascaras

One of the reasons that I love this job is because I can help people with their beauty problems. Sometimes they’re big things, like feeling confident with a new look. Sometimes they’re little things, like what lip color they should wear with smoky eyes.

And sometimes, I get the chance to help out my editor.

A couple of weeks ago, Anne-Marie posted an open thread about beauty problems. The wonderful woman we call AMG had a problem with mascara, specifically: Should she wear it on her lower lashes? Why? Is it possible to wear mascara on your lower lashes without looking way too retro?

I basically screamed, “I KNOW THE ANSWER, LET ME HELP YOU!” So this week, for the benefit of everyone, here is your guide to lower lash mascara that won’t leave you looking overly '60s.

Let's begin with the most pertinent question:

WHY should I wear it?

A really good question! Mascara is generally used to darken, lengthen, and thicken eyelashes--but not many people want super-voluminous lower lashes, unless they’re Twiggy. Mascara on the bottom eyelashes can help open up your eyes and make them look bigger by providing definition that’s more subtle than hard eyeliner.

It can help balance looks that concentrate a lot of color or darkness on the upper lid of the eye.

Most importantly, it can also make your eyelashes look like they’re the same color as your hair. This is relevant to my interests as a blonde who prefers life as a brunette. (I don’t love the look of super-dark top lashes and silvery stubs underneath. I want to look unnaturally natural, dammit!)

Do I HAVE to wear it?

The mascara police won’t arrest you for incorrectly using their product if you don’t put it on your lower lashes, but it’s definitely not something to be afraid of. Try it out, and give yourself time to get used to how it looks.

HOW do I wear it?

Some people will say “Duh, just put your favorite mascara on your bottom eyelashes.” But it’s not as simple as that.

Most people want their top eyelashes to look super long, thick, and dark, so they buy mascaras that add extra length and volume. But very few people want their LOWER lashes to be extra volumized or have length added. Using the same mascara on your top and bottom eyelashes is, I think, what makes people believe that this is a bad or overly retro look for them.

Instead of something with microfibers and magical curling technology, you want a mascara that just tints your lower eyelashes darker. To prevent the darkness from smudging off under your eyes throughout the day, you also want it to be waterproof--and I mean REALLY waterproof.

If you haven’t guessed, yep, I’m telling you to use two different mascaras: one for your top lashes (to make them big) and one for the lower ones (to tint them darker). I realize that a two-mascara routine may seem super indulgent, but it’s way better than cursing the heavens because there isn’t a single product that both volumizes and lengthens and DOESN’T volumize or lengthen.

My favorite waterproof mascara of all time, MAC’s Splashproof Lash, has been discontinued. When I was done weeping, I went on a hunt for a replacement--and luckily I didn’t have to look far. MAC’s Zoom Waterfast Lash meets all of my high standards--it darkens my lashes without adding length, width, or curl, it lasts through a sweaty day, and it looks super natural. All you see are my eyelashes, but darker. It’s magical.

Another way to make this look natural is to apply a little bit of eyeliner under your lashes. I’ve written about the best way to do that before, but if you need a refresher: draw a dotted line with a blunt pencil liner in a color other than black (I like grey). This mimics the shadow you get from having naturally dark eyelashes, and provides a darker perimeter for your mascara-ed lower lashes to flow from. This is one of those crazy instances where using more products actually results in a more natural look.

And here's how it looks on my face. It doesn’t look weird or overly retro. Just like I have naturally black, full eyelashes!

The importance of finding a great product cannot be overstated!

Help, I’m still having problems!

You are in luck, because I am full of solutions!

“My waterproof mascara is a bit gluggy/dry/clumpy.” Put a couple drops of oil-free eye makeup remover in the tube and shake well. DON’T pump the brush in and out to “stir the product”--this just lets more air in.

“I have light hair and black mascara looks weird on me.” Try a charcoal, grey, or dark brown instead! Again, stay away from anything that promises to curl, lengthen, or volumize.

“Should I trim my lower lashes? They’re too long!” PLEASE DON’T. I have a couple very long lower lashes that I tried to trim when I was in high school, and I looked absolutely ridiculous. Instead of taking to the scissors, give yourself the look of shorter lashes by applying mascara, then gently pulling it off at the tips so that the lighter ends show through.

“I STILL think I look crazy!” You probably don’t. I talk a lot about brain vs. product problems--you are probably just adjusting to seeing yourself in a slightly different way. Give yourself some time!

Alright everyone, discussion time: Do you wear mascara on your lower lashes, or do you dislike the look? What are you best tricks to keep it looking natural? Any favorite waterproof mascaras that we should know about?