When I first started down this road of nontoxic, organic living, I had a hard time finding the right mascara that stayed on, didn’t smudge, and also was full of nourishing ingredients that I could recognize.
No longer. The clean beauty scene has flourished, and a whole crop of safe mascaras have popped up. I decided it was high time I tested them all out for you and reported back on their performance. Now, I’m not a makeup artist, nor a full-face beauty blogger. What follows is a layperson’s opinion of how these mascaras perform, from the perspective of normal, everyday wear.
One thing to note is that the difference between a vegan and non-vegan mascara lies in whether it uses beeswax. If you’re ok with beeswax, then don’t worry about your mascara. But if you don’t want to use beeswax, then keep an eye out for the vegan options below.
Jane Iredale PureLash Lengthening Mascara and Extender & Conditioner
Ingredients: It has seaweed lipids and wheat protein to thicken, curl and strengthen lashes, plus triple-length cellulose fibers for extra length and thickness. (What is a cellulosic fiber?) Formulated with panthenol (a nontoxic derivative of Vitamin B) to condition lashes. It’s free of lacquers, shellac, and petroleum-based ingredients.
Performance: I tried the Jane Iredale mascara with and without the Purelash Lash Extender & Conditioner underneath. Without it, it gave me delicate, starburst lashes with good separation. With it, my lashes were thicker and more traditional. After a night sleeping in it, only small flakes came off leaving some grey under my eyes –– nothing too embarrassing.
Ingredients: Free of lead, parabens, and preservatives, this mascara does have a longer list of ingredients, but when I looked them up none came up as potentially toxic.
Performance: At first, I thought this vegan mascara was a bit too thick and clumpy, but it smoothed into pretty lashes with a few swipes. After a night of sleep I woke up with some flaking under my eyes, but it wasn’t too bad.
Ingredients: Crop has a long list of ingredients, some of which are organic, including various waxes and oils, and some you wouldn’t understand the names of. But none came up as potentially toxic.
Performance: This mascara is super thick and sexy. Unfortunately, when I woke up the next day it was smeared all over underneath my eyes — and on my white sheets, too.
Ingredients: This mascara has several certified organic, ECOCERT and Kosher/Halal ingredients, and otherwise the ingredient list is short and easily understandable!
Performance: This mascara went on pretty, without clumping, with a girl-next-door vibe. The next morning just a few stray flakes decorated under my eyes.
Ingredients: It’s cruelty-, sulfate-, fragrance-, paraben-, and phthalate-free, but this mascara does have a long list of ingredients, including a few that have an ever so slightly elevated concern and nylon, which is a synthetic ingredient.
Performance: A good basic black mascara, thick but not that long. It didn’t smear hardly at all, just in a sexy smoky way that I could wipe off with my fingers the next morning.
Ingredients: Because it’s full of almost nothing but natural, plant-based oils, it’s hard to believe this mascara can live up to its promise of being waterproof and 24-hour wear.
Performance: It goes on with a medium volume and thickness. I wore this a lot and only noticed slight smudging when I woke up the day after. Definitely recommend.
Ingredients: The ingredient list is long, with plenty of organic ingredients, but checks out as completely nontoxic and cruelty-free.
Performance: I really liked this one. It gave me pretty, thick lashes, and I woke up the next morning, and several mornings, with no flakes or smears of it on my eyes. I actually kept forgetting to note that result down because I forgot I had put it on!
Ingredients: 100% cruelty-free, petroleum-free, paraben free, coal tar-free, aluminum-free, and fiber-free, this mascara’s ingredient list is pretty easy to understand, and includes cellulose and a couple of organic ingredients.
Performance: This is a good basic mascara that I’ve used for a while. I like that they have a travel size, too. The next morning I definitely had some dark circles under my eyes, but nothing crazy.
Ingredients: This mascara combines natural ingredients with synthetic ones, but none look potentially toxic. Except for “parfum.” You’ll have to trust that RMS isn’t hiding any toxic ingredients inside this one, as some companies do.
Performance: A lightweight, delicate mascara that is as subtle as the rest of RMS’s offerings. It’s good for that no-makeup look, and doesn’t smudge at all.
Low-Waste Bonus: Kjaer Wies Lengthening Mascara
I haven’t personally tried this mascara, but I’m putting it in here because an acquaintance was asking for a zero-waste solution to the mascara problem. Along with certified organic ingredients that look like they yield a no-clump, starburst lash, Kjaer Weis offers a mascara refill that goes in the aluminum packaging. It’s not a perfect solution, but so far, it’s the only low-waste mascara option I’ve seen.