Say hello to my current favorite natural mascaras! These are my top five taking formulation, sustainability, budget and packaging into consideration while prioritizing performance.
Mascara. It used to be one of the hardest products to swap conventional for clean because well…the performance gap was too stark. But now!? No excuses ladies. There are so many natural mascaras that bring it. Today I’m highlighting my faves. There is a little something for everyone here including best picks for vegan, budget friendly, volumizing, waterproof, lengthening and more.
Why choose natural mascara?
But first, why natural mascara? Unfortunately conventional mascaras are anything but. Major offenders include;
- Aluminum Powder (CI 77000) which is toxic to cells, causes protein-DNA cross-linking, increases oxidative injury, disrupts basic cell processes, and contains carcinogenic impurities introduced during manufacturing.
- Diazolidinyl urea which has formaldehyde (a known carcinogen and listed by the IARC of the WHO).
- Parabens which mimic estrogen and the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics reports have also been linked to reproductive, immunological, neurological and skin irritation problems.
- Irritants like propylene glycerol, chloroxylenol, chlorphenesin, tropolone, phenoxyethanol, calcium aluminum borosilicate.
- Carbon black (listed as Ci 77266 on mascaras like from MAC) which is produced by burning wood (mutagenic impurities found and Ames test was positive for mutagenicity).
What is mascara made out of?
Conventional mascaras are a bit different but let’s breakdown how clean beauty mascaras are formulated. It’s fun to see what goes into a natural mascara so then we can truly appreciate some of the unique and different ingredients we find in some of my faves below.
Kate Noonan explains, a typical natural mascara is roughly formulated around:
- 15-30% plant wax or beeswax
- 20-35% water
- 10% of an Ecocert emulsifier like Polyglyceryl-6 Distearate
- 10-15% Ecocert thickener like xanthan or guar gum or cornstarch
- 3% glycerin
- 8-15% fatty acids or plant butters
- 1-3% preservatives like glyceryl caprylate and phenethyl alcohol
- 1% amino acids
- 8-15% iron oxide black Ci 77499 Ecocert approved for purity
Iron oxide black comes from iron in the ground and many times with natural brands, it’s Ecocert certified like the ones from Kobo. Mica is sometimes in mascara too. If you are looking to ask brands where they source their mica, one of the most responsibly mined mica currently is from the Hartwell, GA mica mine.
The best natural mascaras for….
And if you are looking for something specific, here are my top recommendations for:
- best natural waterproof mascara (this actually wears more water-resistant than water proof but it’s the only one in clean beauty marketed at “waterproof ” and most likely the closest you will find right now).
- best natural oil free mascara
- best mascara for volume AND length
- best natural vegan mascara
- best natural budget mascara
My favorite natural mascaras
Here they are! My favorite natural mascaras listed in no particular order.
1. Erin’s Faces Matcha Mascara
Traditional hourglass brush, cruelty free, made in the USA, come in black only
New to the clean beauty scene in 2020, Erin’s Faces Matcha Mascara is breaking all the molds. There are several things that caught my eye about this mascara at first glance. First, I love that this mascara is packaged in recyclable glass. Crunchi is the only other mascara I’ve seen do this and it’s a next-level responsible packaging decision. Glazed glass is not usually recyclable but the powder glaze Erin’s Faces uses melts down at 700 degrees F while glass recycles at 1200 F. So this one is.
Second, Erin’s Faces Matcha Mascara formulates with not only ingredients to enhance lashes but ingredients to treat lashes. It’s a 2-in-1 friends! We also see this with Fitglow Beauty’s GOOD LASH + SERUM and it’s what sets these two pick apart from the rest.
Specifically in this formula we are seeing organic matcha which is loaded with antioxidants and polyphenols but it’s also been shown by several studies to strengthen hair. And we are also seeing beta carotene which encourages lash growth. So you are not just getting bigger, fuller lashes here, you are also fortifying them too!
As far as user experience goes, Erin’s Faces Matcha Mascara delivers it all; good separation, definition, volume and length. It’s also buildable so you can apply a coat and then go in and apply a second or even third coat without clumping, spidering out, getting crunchy or paralyzing lashes.
However, all of that aside, what really stands out to me here is the staying power. I can wear this mascara all day and it doesn’t flake or smudge or emit any fallout by the end of the day. I’m so impressed with this detail, it’s my favorite thing about this mascara.
Try Erin’s Faces Matcha Mascara here! (Code THISORGANICGIRL will save you 10%!)
2. Fitglow Beauty GOOD LASH + SERUM
Christmas tree brush, vegan, cruelty-free, gluten-free, recyclable, black only
Figtlow’s GOOD LASH + MASCARA has been around since late 2017 and it’s STILL making waves in clean beauty. Here’s why. First, it’s one of the few mascaras that not only enhances lashes but fortifies them as well. Fitglow classifies this formula as a 3 in 1; mascara, serum and conditioner.
As far as active ingredients, we are seeing vegetable collagen to moisturize and promote growth, organic horsetail plant to strengthen, organic rice bran wax for flexibility/softness and amino acid-rich organic lupine protein to improve thickness and prevent breakage.
GOOD LASH + MASCARA goes on dry so I find it really hard to layer. I typically go in with several strokes as a one-time application and it gets me some really good volume, length, definition and separation (mostly volume). I’ve tried to do two coats in the past but it tends to clump out and spider on me. This formula also tends to start flaking off a bit by the end of the day.
Even so, this is one of my all-time favorite formulas. I love knowing it is treating my lashes too. I have it on here in one coat.
Grab Fitglow Beauty GOOD LASH + SERUM here (Code THISORGANICGIRL will save you 20%!)
3. Inika Long Lash Mascara
Tapered rectangular brush, vegan, cruelty free, comes in brown and black
Inika Organic Long Lash Mascara is a long-time fave and it’s a boss at adding length. The brush is straight, thin and bristles are compact but not over packed – perfect for delivering product and creating separation. I’ve tried ALL of the Inika mascara formulas and this one still reigns supreme IMO.
This is a wet formula that is easy to build up and create drama. The first pass will give you a ton of length and the second coat will add some serious volume. I like to say; one coat you are ready for the day, two coats and it’s drinks or dinner with the boo, three coats and we are talking Aria’s JEWEL nightclub VIP section.
It was love at first swipe with this formula. No “wait time” to let it mature after opening. And also it will last you a full three months without drying out.
This lasts on me all day, no flaking, stinging or fallout. However as I talk about all of these mascaras, it’s important to remember that what works on one person may not work on another. Eye shape, oiliness of skin, application and more factor into efficiency. Check out this length.
Shop Inika Organic Long Lash Mascara at The Choosy Chick. (Code THISORGANICGIRL will save you 10%! )
4. Honest Beauty Extreme Length Mascara + Lash Primer
Skinny-cone plastic brush, cruelty free, comes in black only
Gaaaah. This is my top budget pick but every time I break out a new tube of Honest Beauty’s Mascara, I’m like dang this is so good – why did I ever stop?! Best place to grab this is on Amazon but you can most likely find it at your local Target too.
Honestly? How is this mascara $15?! Sometimes I can even find it for $10 on Amazon which is such a steal. It comes with a primer on one end and the mascara on the other. Use the primer first for more volume and more length however sometimes I use just the mascara and it still delivers.
Honest Mascara gives good separation, volume, length and definition but I think the standout here is volume. It’s also easy to layer and with two coats it’s like BAM! Mama’s in the house!
5. ILIA Beauty Limitless Lash Mascara
Rectangle silicone dual-sided brush, curelty-free, gluten-free, soft black only
Woah! Just tried ILIA’s Limitless Lash Mascara for the first time in 2020 and it’s goooood. What stands out to me here is this formula is uber buildable. One coat, two coats, three coats…I mean, you can just keep going and going!
Doesn’t flake, smudge or fall out. Great separation, length and volume. I actually wore it one day when I ended up crying the entire day on and off and this mascara stood the test of tears. Still no smudging, flaking or fallout. Could this mascara be waterproof too?!
Let’s cut right to the chase, this mascara really does it all. I love the dual-sided brush too. Use the shorter side to curl and create volume, then the longer bristles to lift, lengthen and separate. Lashes feel light and flexible. Read my full review on the Limitless Lash Mascara here and my pros and cons of ILIA’s new fullest volume mascara.
Key ingredients here include arginine to fortify lashes, organic shea butter to condition and beeswax to nourish. Made with 25% organic ingredients.
The B List
I was going to leave this part out because what doesn’t work for one person can totally be another’s saving grace. BUT in the end I thought it was important to see what I measured my top 5 against and why these didn’t make the cut for me – and hopefully this will help bring clarity to your process as well.
W3LL PEOPLE’s Expressionist Volumizing Mascara – This formula stung my eyes. I’m still trying to figure out what ingredient is causing this reaction for me.
Clove + Hallow’s FlexLash Mascara – This is a barley-there formula. I personally prefer more va-va-voom.
Vapour Mezmorize Mascara – Not enough volume or length for my preference. This tube also feels very light in my hands.
Lily Lolo Black Natural Mascara – This formula dries up on me so quick. I feel like I never get my money’s worth.
Avocado Waterproof Mascara – Not waterproof. Resistant at best. Also just doesn’t compare volume, length, defintion-wise to my top picks.
Antonym Lola Lash Too Mascara – I actually really like this mascara. Volume is a strength here so when I have it on hand I will apply one of my faves and then top it off with this and BAM. So much volume.
RMS Beauty Defining Mascara – Smudgy and doesn’t do much for lashes in terms of volume or length.
RMS Beauty Mascara Volumizing – Tends to clump in the tube and on lashes.
Hynt Beauty Mascara – This was a favorite for a long time. Super feathery and pretty application. I still love this formula it’s just not as bold as my top picks.
Hush + Dotti Organic Mascara – Part of me loves the size of this 7.6 ml tiny tube because you can use it all before it goes bad and part of me feels like, where’s the rest of it?! However I do enjoy wearing this formula. Water-resistant. Good length, separation, definition…just not as bold as my top picks.
Zuzu Luxe – A good budget pick. Honest Beauty is just way better. (Love that it comes in Navy).
100% Pure Black Tea Fruit Pigmented Mascara – I appreciate the ingredient innovation here. I find the brush to be too densely packed to get good separation.
Mascara Pro Tips
To get the most out of your mascara and make it last longer, here are some pro mascara tips.
1.Swirl, don’t pump the wand into the tube. Pumping puts more air into the tube and will dry out your mascaras faster.
2. Don’t add water to your mascara when it gets crusty or dry. If it starts to clump, it’s time to replace. Adding water can introduce bacteria you don’t want growing in your mascara.
3. Try layering your mascaras. Where one mascara falls short, another one picks up so try layering your faves to see if they work well in tandem.
4. Toss mascaras after three months. Bacteria gets transferred from your eyes to the wand and back again. (Streptococcus, staphlyococcus and fungi anyone? No thanks!)
5. Consider donating used wands to Wands for Wildlife.
RELATED: My Favorite Makeup Brushes
Best natural eye makeup removers
My favorite way to remove mascara (and makeup) is using a balm or an oil. Rub oil or balm into skin and massage all areas of the eye or face to loosen up makeup, grime, sunscreen and environmental pollutants. Then take a warm wash cloth and remove oil, wiping face clean.
THEN go in again and wash with your favorite cleanser to endure your skin is clean after removing your makeup. This is called double cleansing. More on how to double cleanse here.
Here are my recommendations for oils and balms to remove mascara:
True Botanicals Pre Cleanse Oil – This is a thinner oil with a ton of slip. Works great as an all over makeup remover and is fantastic at getting every last bit of mascara off too. Just 4 ingredients. 100% organic.
One Love Organics Botanical B Cleansing Oil Solid – Smells divine. This solid is a creamy balm that gently removes eye makeup and face makeup.
Coconut oil for a great budget option.
What’s your favorite natural mascara?