Dry eye disease, red and scaly eyelids, blood shot eyes, nerve damage, reproductive toxicity, endocrine disruption and cancer. Can you believe these are all side effects of the average drugstore mascara?!
Now consider that most women in America don’t leave the house without it. It’s obvious that we need an alternative. We want to keep the lash lengthening, dark beautifying, and impressively volumizing formulas we have, but without any of the side effects.
What is it exactly that we need to avoid? First, an obviously applicable ingredient: carbon black. It’s often used in eye darkening products, such as eyeliner and mascara, but it has been linked to cancer and organ system toxicity.
Benzalkonium chloride is a common mascara preservative that damages the eyelid cells that are responsible for distributing oxygen and nutrients to the cornea.
Synthetic wax is often used in waterproof mascaras, but the concentration is so high that the oil glands in your eyes become permanently blocked and this turns into dry eye disease. This is also demonstrated in the fact that dry eye disease is most common in women over the age of 50 and over 3.2 million women are affected.
Formaldehyde, ethanolamines, and titanium dioxide are all linked to various forms of cancer, and most mascaras are loaded with preservatives called parabens that are endocrine disruptors and are linked to reproductive toxicity and early onset of puberty.
As if this weren’t enough, most mascaras are also filled with heavy metals such as nickel and chrome, which are neurotoxins linked to brain damage. Up to seventeen percent of women are allergic to nickel, and the presence of nickel in mascara leads to dry, itchy eyelids, a red skin rash and blisters when applied to your skin. Yikes. So we definitely need to find products that are free from all of these harmful ingredients.
A matter of fact, it’s shocking to learn that in the UK there are over 1,300 substances that are banned from cosmetics, but in the US there are only 11. That is a lot of dangerous substances that can legally be included in our every day personal care— applied right to our bodies and absorbed into our skin.
Most of these substances can be identified under a variety of confusing names in the ingredients list, but many more are hidden behind trade-secret laws that allow thousands of substances to fall under the non-descript term ‘fragrance’. This makes it really hard to know what’s actually in a product unless the company is incredibly forthright about telling you. If all of that wasn’t bad enough, a lot of these companies test on animals as well.
Luckily, the growing demand for ethical and natural products means that there is a variety of new alternatives that make great mascara without the toxins, and they are exceedingly clear about what ingredients they are using. Here are the brands that we recommend:
1. Ecco Bella
Ecco Bella’s mascara is simply beautiful. It comes in two different shades, brown and black, and both are absolutely flawless. The best part? There are only six ingredients! They got rid of the mascara staples: lacquer, shellac, and alcohol, and replaced them with clay and palm oil. Ecco Bella FlowerColor Mascara is vegan and gluten, fragrance, and paraben-free.
Even people with the most sensitive eyes don’t have any issues with this product. It doesn’t cause any burning, itching or redness. It is also water resistant, although not waterproof, and is easily removed by a quality makeup remover or a little coconut oil.
2. RMS Beauty
RMS really has some impressive products. They are simple, they are healthy, and they work. The RMS Beauty Volumizing Mascara only comes in black in a 4.82 gram tube, but it is very effective for most people.
The formula is made primarily of water, beeswax, and iron oxides, with various oils added to nourish your lashes. They specify that any ‘parfum’ added is exclusively from essential oils to add moisture and radiance. This blend also holds shape well, so your sculpting and brushing will last the whole day.
3. Chic Republic
Chic Republic is 100% natural, 75% organic, and 100% cruelty-free. They also have an impressively high rating from users. The formula is free from synthetic preservatives, parabens, phthalates, propylene glycol, paraffin, lead, and nanoparticles. There are no artificial dyes or fragrances.
This blend is made with water, chamomile, and beeswax and fortified with Vitamin E, cinnamon extract, rosemary extract, lavender flower, and lemon peel. It is incredibly popular among people with sensitive eyes because it is completely non-irritating and it doesn’t run. It stays flexible, so you don’t end up with dry flakes later on in the day and all the extracts nourish the lash follicles for a fuller look.
Chic Republic’s Pro Beauty Mascara appears to be the exact same formula as Naturally Rooted’s Premium Organic Mascara, so if you like the mascara, but not the tube or brush, try the other one and see if that’s a better match for you. Naturally Rooted’s mascara comes in a .3 ounce bottle and has a more rounded brush. The tube seems to be more popular with consumers. Chic Republic’s is a straighter brush and the bottle needs an inner brush wipe added. Both are cruelty-free and made exclusively in the USA.
4. Endlessly Beautiful
Last but not least, Endlessly Beautiful’s Natural Organic Mascara is a real treat. It is also made with a water, chamomile, and beeswax base, but this time, Endlessly Beautiful adds mica, coffee powder and rice powder! A variety of natural plant extracts help this product to encourage lash growth and keep your eyes looking beautiful whether the mascara is on or off.
Mascara is an amazing invention. One we certainly have no desire to give up. But as you can see, it is important to go natural. There are great natural mascara options whether you’re eco-conscious, have sensitive eyes, or just don’t want any health complications.