Southern Living

A legacy that can be traced back to middle school.

When I was in middle school, I wasn’t really allowed to wear makeup. My mom has just started letting me shave my legs, so asking to go out and buy makeup was probably out of the question.

But, here's the thing. The other girls in my class had started wearing makeup. And, as sixth-grade girls haven't quite figured out how to master the subtle natural look – everyone knew who was wearing makeup, and who wasn't. It's not that I felt the dying need to fit in, no; it was the sudden interest I'd now started taking in my face. You mean, I could buy something that would make me look cuter, or cover pimples, or give me lashes that look like Penelope Cruz's? The world was my oyster!

I started off very slowly in the makeup realm, with product recommendations from my friends and their older sisters (because, yes, those beauty recommendations start all the way back in your 11s and 12s). My biggest hurdles were my eyebrows. With my Armenian heritage, they've always been naturally thicker (PS – thanks for bringing that trend back now that my brows have been plucked to death, ladies!). I needed a product to tame them. So, I turned to the flashiest product on the market at the time: Great Lash Mascara. But, as I mentioned, I wasn't really allowed to wear makeup. So, I went to the next-best thing: clear mascara. It's the makeup that isn't really makeup, but at least people will notice I have extra-defined lashes and brows that aren't doing their own thing, right?

I got a tube of Great Lash Clear Mascara, and work wonders it did. I think I got a few extra lollipops from boys on Valentine's Day that year. This product is fantastic. I still use it to this day (although just to be clear, I've purchased new tubes). Clear mascara is such an underrated tool in your beauty arsenal. You can use the spoolie-like brush to shape your eyebrows, and you can make your lashes look a little bolder on days you plan on crying your eyes out at a Nicholas Sparks movie. Clear mascara leaves no flecks, or tear lines, or clumps. Although an application doesn't look like you're wearing full-blown mascara, the product separates your lashes enough to give you volume and definition.

Maybelline makes this clear mascara in a tube that will cost you less than five dollars. So, when you’re running late or you don’t have time to put on 7 coats of L'Oréal Voluminous Original mascara, you can turn to this simple product and not make a mess of things. It's also great when you're trying to do your makeup in the back of a cab and the driver gets a little swerve-happy with the wheel. A smudge of clear mascara is invisible on your nose or cheek.

You may also be interested in these mascara tricks:

You can also use this stellar product to layer. Start with a swipe of clear mascara to separate and define your eyelashes, and then add a swipe of your favorite black mascara. Your lashes will have a little more lift, but you won't be stuck with clumps, flakes, or spider lashes, like you'd get with multiple coats of black.

And, versatility is key. Just as I did back in middle school, you can tame unruly eyebrows with clear mascara. Swipe in the direction you want your brow hairs to go and shape your brow at the top, and, similarly to hairspray, your eyebrows will stay in (semi-stiff) place for the whole day.