I never leave the house without putting on mascara. Even when I'm going camping, or moving apartments, or just buying the newspaper, I am doing all these things at all times with long, black lashes. No surprise then that of all the makeup in my cosmetic bag, mascara is the one I've had the most trouble detoxing. It's not just about looks either: Between my allergies (watery eye!) and wearing contact lenses (dry eye!), I'm equally concerned about flaking, smearing, and irritation. Luckily, there are many, many options out there now for the gal who wants gorgeous, long lasting results without exposing herself or the planet to known pollutants and carcinogens like parabens, phthalates, diazolidinyl urea, ethyl acetate, sodium laureth/laurel sulfate, formaldehyde (pentaerythrityl hydrogenated rosinate, quaternium-15, and imidazolidinyl urea), petroleum (petroleum distillates, isoparaffins), mercury, and coal tar (D&C Black No. 2). Yes, you read that right: COAL TAR. No one wants an eye full of coal tar.
Terri and I tested more than 25 different brands to see which of the natural, organic, and non-toxic mascaras out there were the best in terms of appearance, endurance, and non-toxicity (as quantified by the Environmental Working Group's amazing Skin Deep Cosmetics Database). Here are ten mascaras that we can heartily recommend.
- My top five...
- 100% Pure Fruit-Pigmented Mascara: No artifical dyes here! The fruit pigments give this mascara a faintly sweet smell when you apply it, and it made my lashes longer, thicker, and clump-free all day long. ($18, EWG Score of 2 out of 10 - low hazard)
- Tarte Lights, Camera, Lashes! Mascara: Gave me volume and length, lasted all day, no clumps, no smudges - what more do you want? ($19, EWG Score of 4 out of 10 - moderate hazard)
- Youngblood Mineral Mascara: Tied with Tarte for me in terms of all-around great performance. ($26, No EWG Score available)
- Josie Maran GOGO Instant Natural Volume Argan Mascara: I had long lashes with lots of volume, and it was easy to use. Argan oil is supposed to nourish lashes over time. ($22, EWG Score of 3 out of 10 - moderate hazard)
- Jane Iredale Longest Lash Thickening & Lengthening Mascara: Good length with no clumps, perhaps due to the cool brush, but not quite as much volume as the other four. ($32, EWG Score of 2 out of 10 - low hazard)
- Terri’s top five...
- Organic Wear: Terri got the most pop from this mascara, thickening and lengthening just like a conventional brand (perhaps because it still has many conventional ingredients). She hates the packaging though! ($9.95, EWG Score of 7 out of 10 - high hazard)
- Youngblood Mineral Mascara: Terri adds that this mascara goes on very deep black, slick, glossy and easy to apply.
- 100% Pure Fruit-Pigmented Mascara: Terri agreed with me on this one, but felt it lengthens more than thickens.
- Rejuva Mineral Mascara: Terri found this mascara gave good length, but she could have used more volume. ($16, EWG Score of 0 out of 10 - low hazard)
- Tarte Lights, Camera, Lashes! Mascara: Terri liked this one as well, but found it much wetter than the others, so more prone to errors and smudges.
- Rounding out the top 10...
- Honeybee Gardens Truly Natural Mascara: This is a good one for daytime wear, just lengthens well with no clumps. ($10.99, No EWG Score available)
- Faerie Organic Bambi Eyes Natural Mascara: This very natural brand gives darkness and length but not too much volume, so it's ideal for lower lashes. ($12.50, EWG Score of 2 out of 10 - low hazard)
- Lavera Intense Volumizing Mascara: This mascara gave me thick, thick lashes, more volume than length but no clumps or smudging either. ($20, No EWG Score available)
There are still so many more natural mascaras our there to try, too. If you know a brand we should check out, drop us a comment. And of course, if you really want to be 100% sure you know your ingredients, you can always make your own...