Mascara is a staple product in many women’s makeup bag. But what is the best natural mascara on the market and why should you switch from your favorite drugstore brand? In this article we will provide more background on the history of mascara, the problem with conventional mascara and why you should make the switch to natural mascara, harmful ingredients to look out for, what to look for in non-toxic mascara, and how to apply and remove mascara. All of this information will provide you with the background to help you pick the best natural mascara when we discuss the top organic, natural, and non-toxic mascaras on the market today.
What is Mascara?
Mascara is a type of beauty product that’s used as makeup on eyelashes. It darkens, lengthens, curls, thickens, and gives the lashes a fuller appearance. Mascara is an essential in any makeup bag as it caters to a central part of the face— the eyes. It’s so popular with women that even on days when one decides to go with a bare face, it’s still not unusual to see those ladies wearing mascara. That’s mostly because the look mascara creates is quite noticeable, and capable of transforming your entire appearance.
Commonly found in tubes, mascara is made up of oils, waxes, pigments, polymers, and preservatives. The pigments give mascara its color and they usually come from iron oxide or carbon black. On the other hand, waxes and oils are used to thicken the formulation. Popular ingredients used for thickening mascaras include beeswax, carnauba wax, castor oil, eucalyptus oil, linseed oil, and lanolin. Polymers are useful for forming a film that creates a coating over the lashes. In addition, various preservatives are used to lengthen the shelf life of the product by inhibiting the growth of fungi and bacteria. The preservatives also keep the formulation from smudging, clumping, or separating.
Mascara tubes usually come with a wand that has bristles at one end for application. Each tube has a unique brush to achieve different results. For instance, a short-bristled brush can be great if you want to give your eyelashes more volume. But, for length, longer bristles are your best bet.
History of Mascara
Eyelash-darkening makeup has been around for a long time, as evidenced by its use in ancient Egypt. The Egyptians made mascara out of dust from different precious stones. They applied it to the eyes for a dark, dramatic effect. However, mascara only became popular in the 19th century. In the early years, it was usually a messy affair, but thankfully that has changed as brands continue to manufacture easy-to-use products. Besides, there were a lot of harmful ingredients used in formulations back then, which in rare cases, even caused temporary or permanent blindness in some women.
Today, regulations by the Food and Drug Administration has seen some of the most toxic ingredients banned from being used in cosmetics. Unfortunately, many other toxic substances are still present in mascara. This is especially the case as brands seek to outdo each other in producing the most mess-free, long-lasting, and waterproof mascara. What this means is that as long as mascara is an essential item when it comes to your beauty routine, it’s advisable to be wary of harmful ingredients.
Top Benefits of Using Mascara
As a cosmetic staple, here are the top benefits of using mascara:
- Makes the Eyes Look Bigger – By making the lashes more defined and outlined, mascara creates the illusion of bigger eyes.
- Gives Lashes More Volume – Common ingredients used such as carnauba and beeswax are thickening, an effect that makes lashes fuller. This gives your lashes more volume and makes them look less sparse.
- Lengthens Lashes – Mascara forms a coating over the lashes, pulling them to their maximum length and keeping them that way once it dries.
- Finishing Touch to Eye Makeup – A coat of mascara after applying eyeshadow and eyeliner makes your eyes stand out. Mascara is the perfect finishing touch, not just for your eye makeup but also for the rest of the face.
The Problem with Conventional Mascara
Most traditional mascaras, including those from top brands, contain toxic chemicals. The impact of these artificial ingredients may not be apparent with each use, but over time they can cause harm in the body. Some of the harmful substances common in conventional mascaras include:
Ingredients in this group include methyl parabens, butyl parabens, and ethyl parabens. Parabens are preservatives used in a majority of non-organic beauty and skin products, including mascara. They give products a long shelf life by preventing the growth of microbes. Parabens have, however, been identified as carcinogenic compounds that can be easily absorbed into the body through the pores found near the eyes. Once in the body, they encourage the growth of cancerous cells, especially those of breast cancer. In addition, they mimic the hormone estrogen, thereby disrupting normal endocrine function. Other effects include immunotoxicity and neurotoxicity. On the surface, parabens may cause irritation to the eye area.
A preservative and anti-septic, thimerosal is a mercury compound that should be avoided at all costs. Science has proven that these compounds are easily absorbed into the body once applied to the skin. In the body, thimerosal negatively affects the brain, especially in fetuses, infants, and children. It can also induce allergic reactions. Thimerosal is a substance banned by the FDA for use in all cosmetics, other than eye makeup where it’s allowed in very small amounts. This is a clear indication that thimerosal is harmful, and to be on the safe side, you should avoid any products containing the ingredient.
Also used for coloring purposes, coal-tar dyes usually contain contaminants such as heavy metals like lead. These dyes can be identified by terms such as diaminobenzene, phenylenediamine, and aminophenol. Coal-tar dyes are cancer-causing and can also cause headaches, fatigue, asthma attacks, and allergic reactions. Using coal-tar dyes frequently increases the risk of developing Hodgkin’s disease and multiple myeloma.
Aluminum powder is used as a coloring agent to give mascara its dark appearance. It’s a metallic substance that has been found to inhibit the body’s ability to get rid of harmful toxins such as mercury compounds. As a result, the presence of aluminum powder in the body encourages the toxicity in the neural system.
This is another preservative that’s known to cause cancer. It’s easy to miss its presence when looking at labels since it can be hidden under the name ‘fragrance.’ On top of that, there are other preservatives such as quaternium-15 that release formaldehyde during the shelf life of mascara. The best way to avoid this chemical, which has also been proven to cause toxicity in the liver, is going for fully natural products with no hidden ingredients.
Why You Should Switch to Natural Mascara
Long gone are the days when natural once implied that products that were good for both you and the environment might not work as well as their chemical-packed counterparts. Presently, there are natural mascaras that are as amazing or even better than the conventional formulas—and they are perfect for everyone. Even better, you’ll get to avoid all of the toxic substances found in traditional mascaras. The ingredients used in natural beauty products are derived from natural sources such as plants, the earth, and animal products.
One of the main concerns about organic mascara is that it may not be as effective as synthetic formulations. On the contrary, it delivers the desired effect with added benefits. For instance, many of the natural substances used, such as essential oils, nourish the lashes, and help with their growth. They also make lashes naturally thicker. This means that by using natural mascara, you get long-term benefits too.
Moreover, it’s easier to find cruelty-free products among natural mascaras. Some of these mascaras avoid animal products completely, while other brands are careful not to perform any testing on animals.
What to Look for in Organic Mascara
Ingredients are the main component that makes a distinction between organic and artificial mascaras. Natural ingredients include tea tree, jojoba, grape seed, and lavender oil. All of these bring added health benefits to the eyelashes and are also quite gentle on the sensitive eye area. For example, tea tree oil is full of anti-oxidants and anti-bacterial components that protect the lashes from drying out due to environmental aggressors and from infections, respectively. Also, jojoba oil has powerful regenerative qualities that restore weak lashes and allow them to grow thicker, stronger, and longer. On the other hand, lavender oil thickens hair and increases growth rate, which makes it useful for eyelashes too. Lavender also increases follicle depth, which helps keep lashes from falling off prematurely.
Animal products that also have a lasting effect include beeswax, collagen, and fish scales. Beeswax conditions and softens the lashes without clogging the pores along the lash line. Collagen thickens the strands, while fish scales give the products shine.
When using mascara, you’re either after volume, length, definition or curl. Many brands make products that cater to specific needs. Therefore, choose your product depending on what you want to achieve the most. You can also get different tubes and use them together for multiple effects. Even better, some brands are making formulations that deliver several results at once.
Most mascaras are not like other cosmetics that have the luxury of touch-ups as many times as you’d like during the day. Retouching might lead to clumping, which isn’t ideal. As such, you should choose a long-lasting and quality mascara. A good organic mascara should be able to stay in place without running or smudging, as doing so will ruin the rest of your eye and face makeup.
Mascara should be able to dry quickly once applied. This lowers the chances of smudging. Also, if mascara accidentally gets on the eyelids, it should be easy to remove without making a mess.
Some low quality mascaras dry up then flake, leaving an unattractive look behind. Besides, that makes it easy for the product to fall off the lashes and into the eyes, which can cause eye irritation and even allergic reactions. Hence, it’s important to look for products that will not flake, both for aesthetic and health purposes.
A few years ago, purely natural or organic cosmetics were considered luxury items. But today, more manufacturers are leaning towards clean beauty, making many non-toxic mascaras available in the market at prices that rival their chemical counterparts. It’s now possible to find organic cosmetics at all price ranges, so it’s easy to get something you can comfortably afford. However, make sure that you’re getting value for your money, whether it’s a budget cosmetic or a high-end one. You can do that by checking the label to ensure the ingredients are truly naturally-derived.
How to Apply Mascara Like A Pro
The secret to getting the exact kind of look you want when using mascara is to apply it the right way. If all you do is simply swipe the wand over your eyelashes, you’re likely to miss the fabulous appearance you’re after. Here are some of the most basic steps to follow to ensure your eyes pop just right on application:
1. Curl Your Lashes
This should always be the first step, especially if you want your lashes to curl nicely once you’re done putting on mascara. Use an eyelash curler, placing it right at the base of the upper lashes, as close to the lash line as you can get. Hold it in place for about half a minute, then let go.
2. Apply Eyelash Primer
Just like your skin primer creates a better surface for your foundation, an eyelash primer enables mascara to last longer. It will also help to separate the lashes and make them thicker.
3. Coat the Wand Bristles
Your next step is to get the product on the wand. Do this by swirling the brush inside the tube so that the bristles are covered completely. Avoid pumping the wand in and out of the tube, as this allows air to get inside, and that will cause the mascara to dry up. It also increases the risk of contamination because some bacteria are air-borne.
4. Coat the Lashes
Using a wiggling motion and starting at the roots, move the coated bristles over the lashes. By beginning at the base, you leave more product at the bottom, which keeps the tips from being weighed down. This is important in maintaining the curl.
Also, don’t forget the lower lashes, as doing so may dull the overall effect. Since the lower lashes are usually sparse and much shorter than the top ones, they only need a little product. To get the best results, you can use the tip of your brush, applying the product in a vertical motion.
5. Remove the Clumps
Brush out the clumps that may have been left behind using a clean eyelash brush. This keeps the lashes from sticking together., Also, without clumps, there will be a better lengthening effect.
6. Add Another Coat
Once the mascara has dried, you can apply a second coat if you wish. That will give you better results if you’re going for a fuller, thicker, and darker look.
7. Use the Curler Again
Curl lashes again for extra volume if you desire. But only do that after the mascara has dried completely to prevent smudging.
8. Throw Away Old Products
You should always dispose of your mascara after three months of use. This is despite the fact that most cosmetics have years worth of shelf life. The reason you should replace your mascara after three months is that once you open the tube and use the wand, germs are introduced into the formulation. There are usually bacteria on the lashes, and this can be the main source of microbes that accelerate the rate of deterioration of your mascara.
Useful Tips When Applying Mascara
Even with the knowledge of the best steps to follow when applying mascara, it can still be challenging. To save yourself time during application, here are some hacks that will help you make the most of any wand that’s in your makeup bag.
- Hold a business card behind your lashes during application to avoid smudges on your eyelids. Smudging is one of the most troubling things about mascara, and this is an easy way to prevent it.
- To avoid clumping, wipe away any excess product from the wand once you have pulled it out of the tube. You can do that by wiping it against the inner edge of the tube or using a tissue
- Alternatively, you can de-clump your lashes with a toothbrush. If your mascara went clumpier than you planned, comb through your lashes with a toothbrush. It will help you avoid spider eyes without having to start over completely.
- Coat both sides of the lashes during application. Doing so leaves them looking darker, thicker, and able to hold their curl for longer.
- Another useful tip to achieve thicker lashes is to dab them with translucent makeup powder first before applying the mascara.
- Look upwards while working on the bottom lashes, downward while applying mascara on the upper lashes, and sideways when doing the outer and inner areas. This makes application easier and also prevents getting the mascara on your eyelids or the skin below the eyes.
- Don’t shy away from using more than one mascara formula. You’ll find a variety on the market; all made to give different results. For instance, using a volumizing mascara will provide you with volume, but it may not perform as well in terms of length and defining. Or, a lengthening mascara may not produce the full lashes you want. So, to get the best of everything, try layering the lengthening, curling, defining, and volumizing mascaras depending on the effect you desire the most. Remember to wait for each coat to dry before applying the next.
- Most importantly, ensure that you only apply your mascara on clean eyelashes. Failing to do that can encourage clumping due to pre-existing oil and grease. Furthermore, applying makeup on dirty lashes traps bacteria, encouraging them to breed and cause eye infections.
Removing Your Mascara
At the end of the day, it’s vital that you get rid of all the mascara from your eyes, alongside any other eye makeup you use. This keeps your lashes from drying up, becoming brittle, and eventually falling off. Sleeping without removing eye cosmetics also makes the eyes more susceptible to infections and irritation.
That said, ensure your makeup remover is gentle on the lashes and the eye area. The remover should be able to strip away all the mascara without forcing you to tug your lashes. Warm water can adequately remove most mascaras, while cleansing oils are ideal for the waterproof ones.
12 Best Organic, Natural, and Non-Toxic Mascaras
As promised, here are some of the best organic, natural, and non-toxic mascaras available today:
1. Best Overall Mascara
Inika Long Lash Vegan Mascara
This all-natural mascara, which is enriched with vitamin E, delivers several effects, including volumizing and lengthening. The Inika Long Lash Vegan mascara has been specially formulated with magnolia bark extracts and pure mineral pigments for a clump-free application. These ingredients are also conditioning, which helps boost the vitality of each eyelash.
2. Best Budget Mascara
Honest Beauty Extreme Length Mascara and Primer
The Honest Beauty Extreme Length mascara and primer brings you the benefits of two products for the low price of one. It has a double-sided tubing, one containing the mascara and application wand, while the other contains the primer with a brush. When used together, these two achieve longer, thicker, and more defined lashes. In addition, the bristles on the wand are designed to pick each and every strand for the perfect dramatic look.
3. Best Mascara Wand
Tetyana Naturals 4D Silk Fiber Lash Mascara
The 4D Silk Fiber Lash mascara by Tetyana naturals is good for long lashes and provides more volume and length quite easily. The large, fluffy bristles wrap around the lashes, efficiently coating them with enough product. That makes lashes appear thicker.
4. Best Waterproof Mascara
Ere Perez Natural Avocado Waterproof Mascara
Made with plant extracts blended with anti-oxidants, this mascara contains no water in its formulation, making it an ideal waterproof choice. The Ere Perez Natural Avocado Waterproof mascara has a high concentration of organic avocado oil, which strengthens lashes. Other important oils used include sweet almond and lemon oil.
5. Best Mascara for Sensitive Eyes
Tarte Gifted Amazonian Clay Smart Mascara
Synthetic ingredients are especially hard on sensitive eyes, and this mascara takes care of that by excluding all irritating substances such as mineral oil, Triclosan, sodium lauryl sulfate, and gluten. In their place, the Tarte Gifted Amazonian Clay Smart mascara has provitamin B5, olive esters, rice wax, among other organic and naturally-occurring components. This formulation is infused with Amazonian clay that repairs dry and damaged lashes, restoring their health and making them more voluminous.
6. Best Vegan Mascara
Juice Beauty Phyto-Pigments Ultra-Natural Mascara
This mascara from Juice Beauty is suitable for vegans, first because it contains no animal products, and secondly, because it’s not tested on animals. Besides being cruelty-free, the Phyto-Pigments Ultra-Natural mascara also doesn’t contain toxic ingredients such as parabens and artificial dyes. Some of the ingredients used include aloe leaf juice, which moisturizes the eyelashes, and candelilla wax that adds shine.
7. Best Volumizing Mascara
W3ll People Expressionist Volumizing Mascara
This gluten-free mascara has a plant-based formulation made to produce maximum lash volume. It contains carnauba wax and beeswax that provide a thickening effect, while botanicals in the product nourish the lashes for long term health and fullness. What makes this product one of the best volumizing mascaras on the market is its brush, which has an hour-glass figure that’s perfect for volumizing.
8. Best Lengthening Mascara
Kjaer Weis Lengthening Mascara
This is the mascara for you if you want your eyelashes to look as long as possible. Free of phthalates, gluten, and parabens, the Kjaer Weis Lengthening mascara contains jojoba seed oil that naturally conditions the lashes. It also contains fatty acids, which have a lasting effect, that leave the lashes looking and feeling softer. Another ingredient found in this lengthening mascara is castor oil, which has anti-bacterial properties that protect the eye area from infections. Additionally, the wand is designed to smoothly glide on each lash for the maximum lengthening effect.
9. Best Conditioning Mascara
Ere Perez Natural Almond Mascara
The organic almond oil in this product has fats and vitamin E, which give it moisturizing properties. As a result, the Ere Perez Natural Almond mascara conditions lashes, leaving them looking softer and more lustrous. Since long-term results are seen with consistent use, you can choose to always use this formulation if you want your lashes to grow healthier naturally.
10. Best Drugstore Mascara
Physicians Formula Organic Wear
This 100 percent natural organic mascara is hypoallergenic, fragrance-free, and approved by ophthalmologists as being safe to use on the eye area. Olive fruit extract, orange fruit water, soybean oil, and olive leaf extract are some of the top organic ingredients in this formula. The accompanying wand has soft plastic bristles for thicker coverage, which produces a fuller illusion. These bristles are gentle on the lashes and don’t tug on them unnecessarily.
11. Best Natural Looking Mascara
Lily Lolo Natural Vegan Mascara
Lily Lolo Natural Vegan mascara has a smooth, creamy formula that allows it to settle lightly on the lashes without causing unnecessary weight. The result is a natural look. Besides, the mascara is extremely gentle on the lashes and eye area.
12. Best Defining Mascara
RMS Beauty Defining Mascara
This product defines lashes adequately, leaving them separated for the perfect alluring look. The RMS Beauty Defining mascara comes loaded with organic butter, waxes, and oils in addition to mineral pigments. This combination does not flake or clump, which is important for a defining mascara. Even better, it contains natural fragrance with no harmful artificial ingredients.
Make the Right Choice
Health-conscious consumers and environmental groups have been pushing for non-toxic cosmetics for years now, and many manufacturers have responded to that demand. If you’re thinking of switching to cleaner products when it comes to your makeup, there’s no better time to do it than now, when such products are more affordable and easily available in stores than ever. There’s a myriad of brands to choose from, so you have as many options as there are with conventional mascaras.
Remember, getting the right mascara can be as simple as looking at the ingredient list. By now, you probably know that those long scientific names that you cannot decipher on labels are not as sophisticated as they look. Most of them are harmful chemicals hiding behind fancy names so that consumers are unable to identify them immediately. With organic and mineral makeup, you’ll find everyday words such as olive oil and beeswax. And when manufacturers use scientific terms, they will often include the common names next to them.
Beware of mascaras that claim to be natural but contain ingredients such as parfum. If the fragrance is natural, the brand will most likely indicate that. When the ingredients aren’t clearly indicated, it may mean that the products contain artificial chemicals that have been concealed as parfum.
The Bottom Line
There’s nothing more reassuring than knowing that the products you put on your body are harmless. This can give you even more confidence in your appearance. With diseases such as cancer on the rise, it has become crucial to protect yourself in any way that you can. If that means getting rid of all your favorite mascara brands containing synthetic dyes, formaldehyde, carcinogenic parabens, and the like, then that’s okay. So, switch over to the natural side where you don’t just get daily beauty, but you’re also assured that you are not causing harm to your body.
You’ll sleep better knowing that no toxins are wreaking slow havoc inside your body. Lastly, lashes are extremely delicate, while the eyes are very sensitive. So, the best thing you can do for your lashes and eyes is to keep them away from artificial products and instead use gentle and nourishing natural mascaras.