I am bringing you all the best natural mascaras! Having been in natural beauty for over 10 years now, I’ve tried my fair share of mascaras. I’m pretty picky when it comes to a stellar formula too. It has to meet some strict requirements. I mean a girl doesn’t want just volume, but length, separation, and maybe even a bit of drama. Who’s with me?! I am refreshing my natural mascara guide to bring you all the best in clean beauty. And, if I can find a clean mascara I love, so can you!
Why do you even need natural mascara anyways?
Have you ever wondered what was in that long tube of black goo we call mascara?
“According to Women’s Health, 65% of women wear mascara every day, making it the most popular eye makeup used.”
Yet, I would venture to say most women don’t know a thing about what’s in their favorite black tube. Well, I was like most women just enjoying the creative powers of my mascara as it made my eyelashes go from spindly average to va va voom, until one day I did a little research of my own. This research left me flabbergasted…yes I said it, flabbergasted! I mean how much could a little tube really have in it …right? WRONG!
These toxic ingredients are not only harmful to our health, but some can even accumulate in the body and lead to an array of health issues. This can include things like cancer, liver problems, hormonal disruptions, miscarriages, and birth defects…just to name a few.
*Your eyes actually have tiny pores around them and can absorb the chemicals you're applying to them.
And to add to our toxic load each day for our eyelashes?! That's a choice we each need to make, but some might be thinking, great I’m going to have to give up my magic tube of goo…But alas, have no fear we live in the 21st century, where choices are abundant and there are many natural options.
What toxic ingredients are lurking in your tube of mascara?
I had some standards as I tested out mascara. There have been some mascaras I’ve noticed some people pegging as “clean” but still had questionable ingredients. My top recommendations are completely clean. However, there are a few ingredients here and there in some of the other mascaras that rate a higher score on EWG. In comparison to conventional mascaras, I think they’re pretty good. But that’s a decision you have to make for yourself.
Here are some top offenders to look out for in your mascara:
- PARABENS- from Butylparaben, Ethylparaben, Propylparaben. These are known endocrine disruptors (hormone disruptors) and can cause allergic reactions as well as contact dermatitis.
- PROPYLENE GLYCOL- This includes -4, -6, -8…etc. Has been found to be contaminated with 1, 4 dioxane, which is cancer causing. Can cause acne, skin irritant.
- POLYBUTENE– Derived from petroleum and is a plasticizer, used to make adhesives and in this case mascara too- yikes!
- PEG'S– Similar to propylene glycol, has been found to be contaminated with 1, 4 dioxane, which is cancer causing. Can cause acne, skin irritant.
- SODIUM LAURETH SULFATE- Drying of the skin, skin irritant and has been linked to eczema. Endocrine disruptor and has been found to have 1, 4 dioxane, again cancer causing.
- PARAFFIN- Also known as petroleum. The manufacturing process of petroleum causes it to be contaminated with 1,4 dioxane. This ingredient has been shown to be a known carcinogen and cancer causing. Not to mention, petroleum is a skin irritant, causing rashes and allergic reactions.
- ETHANOLAMINE- These can come in other forms such as triethanolamine, or be listed as DEA, TEA, MEA. Immune and respiratory toxin. Also, known to cause allergic reactions. Cancer causing as well because they contain nitrosamines.
- BHT- Derived from petroleum and used as a preservative. Not only can it affect your hormones but it also is carcinogenic.
- TALC- Most talc is contaminated with asbestos unless they are third party testing it. The only company doing that is Beautycounter. It's associated with respiratory problems, lung cancer, asthma, and even cancer.
- FRAGRANCE- Can cause photo-toxic reactions and can be photo-allergic. Skin irritants, and has been known as a neurotoxin.
- RETINYL ACETATE- Can cause liver damage, brittle nails, & hair loss just to name a few. It's also been shown in high doses to cause problems with skeletal birth defects in developing fetuses.
- DIAZOLIDINYL UREA- Releases formaldehyde in products. Can be found in facial moisturizers, facial cleansers, eye creams, foundations, shampoos, acne treatments, after shave, lip balms, mascara, sunless tanning products, antiperspirants/deodorants, cuticle treatments, and nail polishes.
- ALUMINUM POWDER- This is a neurotoxin and nothing you want close to your eye.
*I can't tell you how many people, after switching to a natural mascara, stopped getting styes in their eyes! I don't think it's a coincidence. These harmful ingredients make their way into the eye and can cause a variety of infections.
What makes waterproof mascara toxic?
To make a mascara waterproof often companies use an ingredient called dimethicone copolyol.
But, there are actually many different ingredient combinations that can work to make a mascara formula “waterproof”, and it is much more complex than simply adding “dimethicone copolyol” to create a waterproof mascara.
Bottom line: waterproof mascara can be filled with many unknown chemicals and it's not always clear what exactly is lurking in the tube.
The more I looked into dimethicone copolyol I learned that it's a derivative of silica and it repels water. Silicones are really important when it comes to making a waterproof mascara work. Since we know oil and water don't mix, and silicones are made of fat (oil), this helps the mascara stay on the lashes instead of running down your face.
You will notice in many waterproof formulas there's not water or very little and more oil. That's because oil repels the water. That's also why it's so hard to remove waterproof mascara because it's made from oils and just water isn't going to remove it but you'll need an oil based eye makeup remover. The problem I learned is that since waterproof mascaras are harder to remove, many people just don't. Unfortunately, this causes bacteria to build up on the eye and can cause styes and infection.
According to a study by Havard Chan T.H. Scholl of Public Health, “of 231 products tested by the researchers, high fluorine concentrations were found in three-quarters of waterproof mascara samples…suggesting the likely presence of toxic chemicals known as per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs).”
That’s right, those same toxins found in some non-stick cookware could potentially be in your tube of waterproof mascara! And if you aren't washing it off on the regular, those chemicals are there constantly…No thanks!
There aren't waterproof formulations in natural mascara formulas. There are some “water resistant” formulations- but not a true waterproof formula. Using a waterproof mascara over and over again not only causes eyelid dermatitis but can lead to drying out your eye. Since waterproof mascara takes a while to get off, often people have to use harsher eye makeup removers to remove the mascara. Another reason to ditch waterproof mascara on a daily basis.
*Below I'll highlight a natural water resistant mascara option if waterproof mascara is your thing.
Tips for Applying Mascara
- Mascara Wand Removal- It might seem silly, but how you remove your mascara wand can make a big difference with application. When you remove it, twist the wand out of the tube and wipe off excess product on the end of the tube. This will help prevent clumps from forming. Also, don’t ever pump your mascara. This can actually dry out the formula.
- Wiggle your wand- As you apply your mascara look up and place the wand at the base of your lashes and wiggle up. This helps to add separation and avoid clumpiness. Plus, it helps to really get the product on lashes.
- Length- For added length take the wand and just wiggle it on the ends. If you want even more length and product on your lashes, I’ve found letting the formula dry a bit and then going back over it will help. I recommend doing on both eyes and then coming back to the first eye and adding more product once it’s dried for even more length and pigment.
- High Impact Lashes- If you want big drama lashes, coat both sides of your lashes, top and bottom. This will give even more impact overall.
- Translucent Powder- For thicker and longer lashes, apply some translucent powder between coats of mascara. This will help bulk them up even more. I like this translucent powder. Use a brow brush and apply the powder directly to eyelashes.
- Q-tips and Makeup Remover- Always have some q-tips on hand to wipe away any smudges easily and makeup remover. This is my favorite clean eye makeup remover.
*Oh and side note- if you're looking for a natural eye makeup remover, check out Beautycounter's! It's the best. Any former Mary Kay eye makeup remover lovers out there? Yeah, I was one of them. I loved that stuff. Beautycounter's Instant Eye Makeup Remover reminds me of Mary Kays- so good! Get it here.
Best Natural Mascaras
Best Overall Natural Mascara: Honest Beauty & Thrive Causmetics
Honest Beauty Mascara
This is hands down my favorite natural mascara in clean beauty currently. I know, that says a lot but it’s true. The formula checks all the boxes. It offers thickness, length, separation- it’s just awesome! The formula isn’t too dry or too wet and I love that I don’t have to apply 5 coats of mascara to see product on my lashes. In just two coats my lashes are instantly lengthened, thicker and have overall more volume. I’m sold! On one end of the mascara wand is a primer and the other the mascara color. I apply the primer first and then the mascara. It doesn’t smudge or flake on me and I love how the brush is slightly curved. It really makes it so easy to apply the product, even on the inner corners of my eyes. Plus, it’s the most budget friendly option out there! You can get it for $16.99! Check it out here.
Thrive Causmetics Liquid Lash Extensions Mascara
I was hesitant to try this mascara because of the phenoxyethanol in it. However, I’ve had so many people recommend it- SO many that I finally caved! I contacted the company to see if they were using a pure version of phenoxyethanol. Phenoxyethanol goes through a process where it’s ethoxylated and therefore can contain 1,4 dioxane which is carcinogenic. Thrive Causmetics did say that their phenoxyethanol does not contain 1,4 dioxane. The mascara also rates a 3 on EWG. Why is it so great? Well, it not only separates lashes well, but also adds lift, volume and loads of pigment. It doesn’t budge the whole day! No flaking. It also comes off so easy just with water. It’s a tube mascara, so the mascara literally comes off in tubes in the shower or at the sink with just water. It’s also not crazy expensive at $24. Get it here.
Best Volumizing Natural Mascara: Ilia's Fullest Volumizing Mascara & RMS Straight Up Peptide Volumizing Mascara
Ilia's Fullest Volumizing Mascara
Ilia’s Fullest Volumizing Mascara is definitely the best volumizing mascara! They just came out with it last year and it really hits all the marks when it comes to a great volumizing mascara. It coats every lash with some serious volume! But the best part is, you don’t get flaking and smudging. Just big bold lashes. It’s also great for even the most sensitive eyes. Get it here.
RMS Straight Up Peptide Volumizing Mascara
It was too hard for me to choose between the Ilia Fullest Volumizing Mascara and the RMS Beauty Volumizing Mascara! They’re both new products from the brands this year and both standouts. The RMS Beauty Volumizing mascara is a different formula overall but still does the job of volumizing. The formula overall isn’t as wet as the Ilia formula. Also the brush is smaller and a little easier to navigate getting all the lashes, especially the ones in the corner. It goes on really easy and you get tons of pigment. I love that it separates my lashes and gives them volume. I can easily go back and get even more length on the ends of my lashes just by adding a little more product. I don’t have flaking or smudging either! Get it here.
Best Lengthening Natural Mascara: 100% Pure
100% Pure Fruit Pigmented Ultra Lengthening Mascara is especially great for lengthening. It also does an amazing job of separation. It builds up quite well too after you let it dry for 30 seconds and go back and add some more product. It’s a wetter formula overall. It doesn’t claim to be waterproof but water resistant, which is pretty awesome for a mascara in natural beauty. It can smear a bit if you don’t let it dry first. Once you let it dry though it doesn’t flake. Get it here.
Best Waterproof (Water Resistant) Natural Mascara: Ere Perez
Ere Perez Avocado Waterproof Mascara is the closest thing you’re going to get to a true waterproof mascara in clean beauty. I didn’t love the mascara but it really does act like a waterproof mascara if you’re needing one. It hardly gives much pigment on the lashes. I really had to coat them several times to get anything on them. I like to look like I'm wearing something so it didn't work for me. If you like something that looks really natural, somewhat waterproof/water resistant and is for sensitive eyes you may like it. Just not my cup of tea. Get it here.
Best Natural Mascara For Sensitive Eyes: Ilia Limitless Lash Mascara
Ilia Limitless Lash Mascara came out last year and it hits all the marks, especially for sensitive eyes. They created a patented brush. One side is for curling and the other side is for lengthening. It really does give my lashes a curl boost and makes adding length to them even easier. The formula is a little on the wet side, but not too wet that it smudges all over. I'm really able to build length with this mascara too. I don't have flaking with this mascara or smudging, it really stays in place. I really like the brush for it's unique patented sides. It's not so fat either, so it makes it easy to get in the smaller corners. Get it here.
And that’s it! My top picks for natural mascaras. I truly believe you can find natural mascara that perform so well you won’t look back at your conventional mascara.
What’s your favorite natural mascara?
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