My Ultimate Beauty Secret Is This $9 Colored Mascara That Makes My Eyes Pop

It’s the only mascara I’ve used since 2019.

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L'Oreal Paris Voluminous Mascara Burgundy tout
Photo:

Real Simple / Reese Herrington

I’d always thought my hazel eyes were boring. Although I could coax out some green flecks, I got a bit tired of the “Brown-Eyed Girl” routine, longing for some icy blues like my mother and sister. The rest of my siblings and I inherited my dad’s eyes, which I never fully learned to appreciate until I figured out how to doll them up for maximum effect.

In college, I was a studio art minor, appreciating the checks and balances of color theories. Use this shade to make the negative space more dramatic; use the other to soften the overall palette. It wasn’t until about my senior year in 2019 that I started applying those premises—my education!—to my beauty regimen. I’d used eye shadow, mascara, and more as checkboxes rather than tools. And then I discovered L’Oreal Paris Voluminous Mascara in Burgundy.

L'Oreal Paris Voluminous Mascara Deep Burgundy

Target

To buy: $9; target.com.

At $9 a pop, the stakes were low enough when I stumbled across L’Oreal’s line of colored mascaras in the Target aisle. Available in blue, green, burgundy, and violet (as well as more conventional shades), the mascaras were perfect for my desire for self-expression: subtle enough to avoid derailing my more natural makeup preferences, but bold enough to add a little spice.

The burgundy shade rapidly became my favorite. While the others were fun, the burgundy shade pulled out the green flecks and sections of my eyes, making them look brighter and more colorful than I was used to. Dare I say I smoldered?

The mascara appeared almost brown on top of the lashes, making it a relatively safe and everyday choice for those who normally balk at the thought of unusual color combinations. It’s only when you get closer that you notice the red tint. And while red around the eyes is normally considered a bad thing, the shade doesn’t make my eyes look watery or bloodshot. 

Formula-wise, the liquid itself never clumps. It plumps my eyelashes, making them appear thicker, longer, and more lush. It sounds like a not like other girls cliché to share, but I’d never gotten compliments on my eye color before switching to this mascara. It frames my eyes in an alluring way, making my irises a more vivid, complex color. Friends with blue, green, and gray eyes have each borrowed it, and it seems to flatter us all.

Needless to say, I now use it exclusively. I’m more inclined towards “makeup wipe and pray” than a ten-step skincare routine, so I also appreciate that it’s easy to remove. I also touch my eyes a lot, so I appreciate that my lashes feel soft rather than brittle when I accidentally wipe them on the go.

I now own several tubes, stashed in my car, purse, and makeup bag. I’m always afraid of misplacing mine and having to use black mascara again. The horror! Now that I’ve been exposed to how colorful and intense my eyes look with this formulation, I’m never going back. And a secret: As an identical twin, I regret teaching my sister the hack. I’d had a secret weapon, and now our eyes are equally vibrant.

If you’re looking to boost your eye color, and love the idea of an under-$10 drugstore pick becoming your go-to mascara, I highly recommend the L’Oreal Paris Voluminous Mascara in Burgundy. I would probably pay triple for this, so the makeup feels like a steal. A warning, however: After trying this version, all your other mascaras will feel like they don’t do anything for you.

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