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Mascara vs. Eyeliner: Which Should You Choose?

Mascara vs. Eyeliner: Which Should You Choose?

Even the most seasoned professionals can get it wrong when choosing eye makeup products. Use too much, and you can end up with heavy, dark eyes that look tired and a bit frightening. Use too little, and the other features on your face will overpower your eyes, drawing attention away from them. 

The old saying, “the eyes are the windows of the soul,” should give us a clue. Drawing attention to the eyes is important — it helps people see the real us and sets the tone for the rest of our makeup. 

Together, we’ll discuss two important eye makeup tools: mascara and eyeliner. We’ll discuss what they are, how to use them, and whether you should use them together or separately. 

What Should I Know About Mascara?

You’ve seen the memes. You know the look. Eyes without mascara can look a little too close to a naked mole rat, one of nature’s most *ahem* interesting looking mammals. Their small, barely visible eyes have been compared to eyes without the lengthening, thickening effects of mascara on the human eye. 

Of all eye makeup products, mascara is arguably the most important. It helps open the eye, adds darkness, length, and thickness to lashes, and can even make your eyes look larger than they are.

What Is Mascara?

Traditionally, mascara is usually made up of a few important parts: 

  • A pigment to color the lashes
  • A polymer to coat and form a seal on the lashes
  • A preservative to keep it shelf stable
  • A thickening agent or oil to make the lashes thick

These ingredients work together to coat, seal, lengthen, and thicken lashes on both the upper and lower lash lines. 

How Is Mascara Used?

Mascara is used to enhance eyelashes. The best mascaras will do this without clumping or causing lashes to stick together, resulting in “spider lashes” resembling tarantula legs. 

You can use mascara in numerous ways to “style” your lashes. Colored mascara, for instance, will create a noticeably dramatic effect, while classic black or brown mascara will give a natural lash look that enhances eyelashes and makes your entire eye area more noticeable. 

What Are the Different Types of Mascara?

Several different types of mascara focus on specific lash needs.

  • Volumizing Mascara. Created to add volume to lashes that are a little sparse, volumizing mascara adds thickness while maintaining individual lash definition. 

RMS Beauty’s Straight Up™ Volumizing Peptide Mascara lifts and strengthens lashes while delivering a healthy dose of nourishing pro-peptides that work to naturally thicken and enhance lashes and revitalize them for up to 12 hours of wear. 

  • Defining Mascara. Naturally thick lashes are amazing, but it can be hard to give them the definition they need, especially with mascara formulas that are notorious for clumping. 

Enter RMS Beauty’s The Original Defining Mascara. With a specialized spoolie and formula to ensure your lashes are lifted and defined, you’ll be able to create the definition you want for longer, more defined lashes. 

Any mascara should darken your lashes and make them more noticeable without adding weight or clumps.

Ingredients That Matter

Like many other cosmetics, mascara can be home to various unsafe and toxic ingredients. At RMS Beauty, we are committed to keeping our formulas cleaner than clean. Here’s how we do it.

  • Instead of carbon black, a byproduct of coal mining and known as a carcinogen, toxin, and eye irritant, we use safe, natural iron oxides that help keep lashes dark without harm. 
  • Instead of synthetic thickening agents, like petroleum or mineral oil, we use plant-based ingredients like candelilla wax and shea butter.
  • We never include preservatives, like parabens, in any product…ever. 

We also include hydrating, eyelash nourishing ingredients in our formula. Our ingredients are intentional, so you can be confident that everything inside benefits your lashes and look. 

What Should I Know About Eyeliner?

Unlike mascara, eyeliner isn’t applied to your eyelashes. Eyeliner is important to any eye look, but getting it right can be tricky. To learn how to apply eyeliner like professional makeup artists, you need to understand the product and how to use it.

What Is Eyeliner?

Eyeliner is a product used on the outer rim or edge of the eyes. It is made to draw attention to the eyes and make them look larger. You can use eyeliner on your upper and lower lids to define your lash line, create drama, and draw attention to your eyes. 

How Is Eyeliner Used?

Eyeliner should be applied along the outer edge of your lash line. If you apply it inside your waterline (the skin between your eye and lashes), you could develop eye irritation and end up with eyes that look smaller. 

What Different Types of Eyeliner Are There?

Eyeliner is available in several different formulas:

  • Liquid eyeliner. Like it sounds, liquid liner is water-based, thin, and requires a specialized brush for application. Liquid liner can give you a precise, black line of color and is often used for perfecting a sensuous cat eye. 
  • Gel eyeliner. Consider gel eyeliner a bit thicker than liquid but still soft enough to not be considered a solid. Gel eyeliner is also applied with a brush and can give you a liquid liner look with a little more ease of application. 
  • Eye pencil. A liner that comes in pencil form is the easiest to apply. You can easily smudge pencil liner for a smokey eye look or use it for a less dramatic, more subtle application. 

Whether you prefer liquid form or an easy-to-use kohl pencil, look for formulas that contain cleaner, greener ingredients that are safe for use near your eyes.

Ingredients That Matter

Something applied so close to your eyes needs to be non-toxic, free from known eye irritants, and safe for your body and the environment. At RMS Beauty, we make it easy to find an eyeliner that works without any harsh ingredients. 

  • Instead of carbon black, we use iron oxides which create a beautiful, dark color that’s safe and non-irritating to the eye.
  • Instead of formaldehyde (yes, really), we use clean, plant-based ingredients like jojoba oil and candelilla wax to allow our eyeliner to glide easily along your lash line and enhance your look. 

Eyeliner is the clear winner for eye cosmetics that help define your eye and make it appear larger. So should you only use eyeliner, mascara, or both?

Should I Choose Mascara or Eyeliner?

Not sure whether you need mascara, eyeliner, or both to complete your look? Here are a few easy tips to help you decide.

When Should I Use Mascara Only?

Using mascara on your eyes is a great solution for keeping your look simple, bare-faced, and easy. You can easily use mascara and lip balm for a fresh-faced look that focuses on clean, clarified skin. The way to get skin that radiates on its own? Better skincare. (Hint: we’ve got it).

When Should I Use Eyeliner Only?

Eyeliner alone can look heavy and make lashes look short and sparse. If you wear lash extensions, wearing eyeliner alone is an option. Avoid wearing eyeliner on your lower eyelids only; this can make your eyes look tired and even create the look of dark circles under your eyes.

When Should I Use Both Mascara and Eyeliner?

Using both mascara and eyeliner together creates a classic look that compliments your eyeshadow and helps make your eye makeup look complete. If you can’t quite perfect a cat eye or aren’t super skilled with your smudge, don’t worry. A medium-thin eyeliner application on both the upper and bottom lashes can help add definition and create depth. 

Mascara should be applied after your liner and can help make any liner that was applied a little too heavily look less severe. 

Can You Use Mascara and Eyeliner Interchangeably?

No. The formulas of both make them virtually impossible to attempt to use interchangeably. Imagine trying to apply mascara to your lash line with a spoolie. 

In an absolute emergency, you can use liquid mascara as eyeliner, provided you have a thin, precision-style brush, but make sure you aren’t using a waterproof mascara formula that can contain irritating ingredients that could harm your delicate lids. 

Perfect Eye Style

Both mascara and eyeliner have a place in your beauty bag. Using them both together creates a dramatic, open, and noticeable eye. The perfectly crafted eye makes use of both.

Because mascara and eyeliner can contain scary, toxic ingredients, it’s important to make sure you’re shopping for the cleanest, greenest products available. You’ll find them all at RMS Beauty, along with helpful tools to find the perfect shades of makeup to complete the look you want.

So go ahead, go for lashes with a fuller look and eyes that are incredibly wide. RMS Beauty has the products to help you create the looks you love. 



EWG Skin Deep® | What is Carbon black (Uncertified D&C Black No. 2) | EWG

Are there toxins in your mascara? | News | Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health

Carbon Black | Safe Cosmetics

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