Make The Switch To Natural Mascara

Want a clean mascara that gives you long, full, gorgeous lashes without the dreaded raccoon eyes? I tested 11 natural mascara brands and found 2 that I Love.

11 natural mascara brands- which is best?

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Mascara is the one beauty product I CANNOT live without. I know, it sounds a bit dramatic, but I have wimpy, short lashes and look washed out and tired without applying at least one coat of mascara every morning.

You might be thinking that lashes don’t take up much surface area, so why rush to swap to a natural formula? According to the American Optometric Association (1), makeup debris and particles can get into the tear duct and other parts of the eye and cause dermatitis, dry eye, blocked ducts and other reactions. So that means all the harmful chemicals in traditional makeup are making their way into your eyes.

Over the years I’ve tried a ton of drugstore mascara brands, and even the waterproof versions left me with raccoon eyes. So I decided to give some natural mascara brands a try. And guess what? I found two brands that check all my boxes and give me long lashes without smearing under my eyes. I’ll fill you in on my two new favorites, but first, let’s look at why you should make the switch to a natural mascara.

Hands holding 11 natural mascara wands

Basic Mascara Formulation

Mascara typically contains a solvent as the base, a pigment to darken lashes, a polymer to form a film that coats the lashes, a preservative to limit microbial growth, and wax to thicken the formula and moisturize the lashes. Most mascara formulas also contain a fragrance to mask any unpleasant smells from the formulation.

Popular drugstore mascara brands may contain harmful ingredients that are dangerous for your eyes. The Australian Academy of Science calculated that up to 31 different chemicals can be found in one tube of mascara (2)!

Avoid These Ingredients In Mascara

  • Aluminum Powder- Aluminum powder is a metallic compound used as a cosmetic colorant in eye makeup. It’s a byproduct of aluminum manufacturing and is considered a neurotoxin (3). It is listed on makeup labels as aluminum, LB Pigment 5 or pigment metal.
  • BAK- Benzalkonium chloride (BAK) is a preservative found in eyeliner, mascara and makeup remover. A 2009 study found BAK to be toxic to the epithelial cells of the eyes (4). BAK may be listed as benzalkonium chloride, quaternium-15 or guar hydroxypropyltrimonium chloride.
  • BHA and BHT- Butylated hydroxytoluene (BHA) (5) and butylated hydroxyanisole (BHT) (6) are preservatives derived from petroleum and found in some mascara formulas. BHA is an endocrine disruptor and a possible carcinogen. BHT is a respiratory irritant and is considered toxic or harmful to human organ systems.
  • Carbon black- Carbon black delivers color to traditional mascara and other eye makeup. It’s been linked to cancer and organ system toxicity (7). Avoid labels with carbon black, D & C Black No. 2, pigment black 6 or 7, acetylene black, channel black, furnace black, lamp black and thermal black.
  • Coal Tar Dyes- Coal tar is recognized as a human carcinogen and may be contaminated with low levels of heavy metals (8). These dyes are used as a colorant in mascara. You may find them listed as CI followed by a five digit number (includes FD&C Blue No. 1 or Blue 1, Green 3, Yellow 5, Yellow 6, Red 33, etc.). They may also be labeled as Aminphenol, Diaminodenzene or Phenylenediamine.
  • Ethanolamine compounds (labelled as DEA, TEA and MEA)- Ethanolamines may be contaminated with nitrosamines (9), which are cancer-causing chemicals.
  • Formaldehyde- Diazolidinyl urea, Imidazolidinyl Urea, DMDM hydantoin, methenamine and quarternium-15 are formaldehyde-releasing preservatives found in cosmetics. Formaldehyde is a known carcinogen as well as a skin irritant (10).
  • Parabens- Parabens are a type of preservative used to prevent the growth of bacteria and prolong the shelf life of mascara, deodorant, lotion, and other beauty products. The most commonly used are methylparaben, ethylparaben, propylparaben, isobutylparaben and butylparaben. Parabens disrupt hormone function and are linked to increased risk of breast cancer and reproductive toxicity. A 2004 study found high concentrations of parabens in breast tumor samples (11). The European Union banned the use parabens in cosmetics in 2012.
  • Retinyl Acetate (Vitamin A Acetate)- Retinyl acetate is used as a moisturizing agent in some mascaras. Use of retinyl acetate is linked to developmental and reproductive toxicity, and organ system toxicity (12). Acetate has been prohibited and restricted in Canadian cosmetics.
  • Thimerosal- Thimerosal is a mercury-based compound that inhibits the growth of bacteria and fungi. This neurotoxin has been banned from many products globally. For some reason mascara is exempt from the mercury ban. There are still beauty brands that use thimerosal in mascara and other cosmetics.
  • Synthetic fragrance- Beauty products can list fragrance as one ingredient and don’t have to disclose the fact that these formulations may contain hundreds of ingredients. Synthetic Fragrance may contain carcinogens, endocrine disruptors, allergens, respiratory irritants and neurotoxic chemicals (13). Synthetic musks like galaxolide and tonalide, are linked to hormone disruption (14). Fragrance formulations also contain phthalates, which are hormone disruptors.

How To Choose A Natural Mascara

There are a few ways to look for a product that’s safe and non-toxic.  Put your mascara brand in the search box of EWG’s Skin Deep Database. I try to look for anything that has a score of less than 4, but 1-2 is of course ideal.

There are a few new brands that I’ve tried recently that are not yet in the database. If this is the case, you can search the ingredients individually. I’ve listed ingredients for all the mascara brands I tested at the end of this post.


  • Natural preservatives like mixed tocopherols (vitamin E), rosemary extract and sodium benzoate and potassium sorbate (food grade) are all better ingredient choices to look for in natural mascara.
  • Beeswax or candelilla wax thicken and volumize.
  • Cocoa butter, shea butter, jojoba oil, or sunflower oil, all natural or organic butters and oils are used to moisturize and repair.
  • Iron oxides are used as pigments.

How I Tested

I wore each mascara brand for at least a week, and rated each on the following categories:

  • My lash profile: short, brownish lashes that lack volume. In other words, I need all the help I can get.
  • Volume/length- Did the product actually provide length or noticeable volume to my lashes?
  • Color/vividness- Could I actually see the product on my lashes? I wear black mascara, and I like a deep, dark, black color.
  • Wear- Did the product stay on my lashes all day?
  • Smudge-factor- Did I get raccoon eyes (after desk work, after exercise, by the end of the day)?
  • Overall Score- Would I buy this mascara again?
  • I did not get any compensation or free samples from any of the mascara brands reviewed. All mascara sampled was purchased by me.
15 clean mascara brands

Natural Mascara

Ilia Limitless Lash Mascara, After Midnight

  • Cost: $28.00
  • EWG score: 2
  • My take: This mascara is one of my top picks. One coat is enough to lengthen, give a little curl, and add a nice black color to my lashes. Two coats adds lots of volume and even more length. I love the wand and the mascara goes on easily and smoothly. Most days when I wore this product I didn’t notice any smear or transfer to my undereye area. However, by the end of the day on a few of the days, I had a small amount of smear under my eyes. This was not at all a big deal when compared with most of the other brands I tried. Overall, I’m really impressed with the lengthening, wear and color this mascara provides. I would definitely buy this mascara again.
  • From the Ilia website: Introducing a clean mascara that goes above and beyond the expectations of any natural mascara. Buildable and flake-free, ILIA Limitless Lash Mascara lifts, curls, lengthens and adds just the right amount of volume for fuller, healthy-looking lashes. This lightweight and nourishing formula is made with a blend of organic bee and carnauba waxes to weightlessly condition each lash, while still keeping them lifted throughout the day. After testing over 100 brushes, we landed on a dual-sided brush that easily builds in volume and separates with precision. Gentle enough for sensitive eyes, ILIA Limitless Lash Mascara is complete with organic shea butter and fortifying arginine (keratin) to help boost and enhance lash condition in a classic black finish. Best’s easy to remove with warm water at the end of the day.

Honest Beauty Extreme Length Mascara and Lash Primer

  • Cost: $13.39
  • EWG score: 3
  • My Take: I was pleasantly surprised by this budget-buy natural mascara. It is one of my top picks, and provided the length and volume I was looking for in a good mascara. It comes with a primer, which I used before applying the mascara. The wand situation is a little awkward (the primer and brush are on opposite sides of the tube), but it didn’t stop me from choosing this mascara brands as one of my favorites. My eyelashes were stiffer after application, probably due to the primer, but this mascara added an impressive amount of length and volume. I experienced very little to no smear under my eyes by the end of the day. On a few days I noticed a small amount of product under my eyes and some flakes, but it really wasn’t enough to notice unless my face was close to a well-lit mirror. I would definitely buy this mascara again. In fact, due to the price point, it will probably be my new go-to mascara.
  • From the Honest website: Two wands are better than one we say… especially when it comes to the lash lengthening and definition seen from our 2-in-1 Honest Beauty Extreme Length Mascara and Lash Primer.

Tok Mascara

  • Cost: $30.00
  • EWG Score: Not rated yet
  • My Take: This mascara gave my lashes really nice length and volume. Although it didn’t smudge at all, there were quite a few flakes (or fibers) deposited under my eyes every few hours. Any time I wiped them away with a q-tip, more flakes would appear. I used the mascara for a few weeks and the flakes continued to deposit under my eyes the whole time.
  • From the Tok website: A natural formula that gives your lashes volume and length while conditioning and strengthening to promote growth.  Using ingredients like horsetail plant to strengthen your lashes, and pea protein to prevent breakage, our natural mascara will leave your lashes looking long and full.

Inika Long Lash Mascara

  • Cost: $35.00
  • EWG Score: 2
  • My take: This mascara has a nice, deep, rich black color that I love. It looks great with just one coat, giving lots of volume and a decent amount of length. The biggest issue I had was with the smudge factor. I had some product transfer to the undereye area when doing desk work, and it got a lot worse after exercise. There was also some flaking by the evening. There is still a lot of product left on the lashes at the end of the day, but the amount of smear and flaking under the eyes was enough to not make me want to buy it again.
  • From the Inika Organic website: The Inika Long Lash Mascara is a luxurious vegan formula that uses 100% plant-derived and natural ingredients to boost lash length, volume and span. Achieve a spectacular panoramic effect thanks to the silky smooth, clump free texture. The new voluminous brush head allows the perfect amount of mascara to be applied every time. Carnauba Wax boosts volume and length, creating show-stopping lashes. Blending the astringent and anti-inflammatory properties of Magnolia Bark Extract with the nourishing benefits of Vitamin E, it softens and protects lashes while delivering long-lasting, intensely lush colour in a single stroke. Pure mineral pigments deliver intense, long-lasting colour. Clump-free, long-wearing formula for luscious lashes. Gentle, conditioning ingredients support lash vitality and health. 100% natural, making it perfect for sensitive eyes. TIP: Due to the 100% natural formula that is free of chemicals and synthetic preservatives, we recommend replacing your Long Lash Vegan Mascara every 3-6 months.

Erin’s Faces Matcha Mascara

  • Cost: $27.50
  • EWG Score: Not rated yet
  • My Take: I love that this mascara contains matcha tea to treat lashes and it comes in a glass tube that can be recylced. It made my lashes look long and full. However, I did have smudges under my eyes by mid-day every time I wore it.
  • From the Erin’s Faces website: Nine years in the making our Matcha Mascara formula checks all the boxes! It lengthens, volumizes, treats lashes, resists smudging/flaking. It has a squeaky clean ingredient deck and an hourglass shaped brush to grab every lash.  Our mascara also comes housed in a glass vial for easy recycling. Treatment ingredients include: organic matcha, beta carotene, plant-based fibers. No added gluten, soy, parabens, synthetic dyes or fragrance.

Lily Lolo Big Lash Mascara

  • Cost: $22.00
  • EWG Score: Not rated yet
  • My take: This mascara had a nice black color and had pretty good volume after one coat, and had even more volumizing power after two coats. I had a medium amount of product transfer (smear) under my eyes and flaking at the end of the day, so I personally would not buy this mascara again. Right now I am testing a few of the their other beauty products and really love them.
  • From the Lily Lolo website: Introducing Lily Lolo Big Lash Mascara, our latest natural innovation for your fullest, longest, and biggest lashes ever. This cutting-edge hourglass brush delivers ultimate volume and length. Not only is the effect better than faux, it’s vegan friendly, made with natural ingredients, and suitable for sensitive eyes. Suitable for all eye colours. Gluten Free. Vegan Friendly. This natural black mascara is an absolute makeup bag must have, suits all eye colours. Quick drying, Ophthalmologic Tested – Suitable for sensitive eyes, Fragrance, silicon free, Vegan Friendly, Free from harsh chemicals, lead, parabens., Soft, creamy and smudgy, Easy smooth application, Natural ingredients, Organic ingredients.

Ere Perez Avocado Mascara

  • Cost: $25.00
  • EWG Score: Not rated yet
  • My take: The wand is pretty short compared to the other brands, and I tend to like a longer wand. I definitely felt like I needed two coats of this mascara to see the results I was looking for. After two coats this mascara gave nice volume and lengthening to my lashes. The color was not the darkest black when compared to Inika (which was the blackest). I had a small amount of transfer of product to my undereye area after running errands and raccoon eyes after working out.  Because of the smear-factor, I would not buy this again.
  • From the Ere Perez website: Ere Perez Avocado Mascara is a volumising mascara made with mamey and avocado oils, considered to stimulate growth, regenerate and strengthen lashes. Waterproof, smudge-proof, full black coverage and amazing 24-hour wear. Perfect for day or night to suit your busy lifestyle. Made with the highest quality natural ingredients and friendly to sensitive eyes. For a natural look or high glamour. A unique waterproof mascara to rely on.

Crop Natural Mascara

  • Cost: $26.00
  • EWG Score: Not rated yet
  • My take: This mascara goes on really smoothly, and only one coat looks great. It has a nice black color, lengthens well and adds some volume too. I noticed a slight amount of undereye smear after exercise, and by the end of the day developed raccoon eyes and some mascara flakes under my eyes. Because of the smear-factor, I would not buy this mascara again.
  • From the Crop Naturals website: With Crop Natural Mascara, stay lifted all day with this natural, creamy mascara that wraps each individual lash for instant, visible dimension. This ultra-black formula defines and lengthens, delivering high impact-colour and volume for fan effect lashes. Like hair care for your lashes- a nourishing and conditioning product which ensures ultimate lash protection and repair.

Clove + Hallow FlexLash Mascara

  • Cost: $19.00
  • EWG Score: Not rated yet
  • My Take: I did not get the best length, even after 2 coats. I also didn’t love the short wand. I had very little undereye smudge after desk work, but after exercise I had raccoon eyes, and by the end of the day I had flakes as well as smudges under my eyes. Because of the undereye smear-factor, I will not buy this mascara again.
  • From the Clove + Hallow website: Your search for a clean mascara that checks all the boxes ends here. Clove + Hallow FlexLash Mascara is a flexible, lightweight, and nourishing formula that never flakes or feels crunchy—and its short, tapered wand makes getting soft definition a breeze. Ideal for daily daytime wear but buildable enough to transition to a bolder finish, FlexLash has you covered from day to night and every look between. Ophthalmologist-tested. 100% PETA-certified cruelty-free and vegan, as always. This product is shelf-stable for 12 months. Use within 3 months of opening for best results.

W3LL People Expressionist Volumizing Mascara

  • Cost: $19.99
  • EWG Score: individual ingredients ranked, averages to a score of 1.15
  • My take: I was underwhelmed by this mascara. One coat definitely didn’t do the trick, and it smears easily. I was left with raccoon eyes every time I wore it. I will not buy this mascara again.
  • From the W3LL People website: This top-rated, plant-based formula instantly creates extreme lash volume. Our supersized, dense, hourglass bristle brush effortlessly coats lashes for a thicker, fuller eye-popping effect, without clumping or smudging. Organic botanicals condition lashes and nourish follicles for long term benefits. Sweep on lashes from root to tip for big, bold lashes. Add a second coat to rock it out!

RMS Beauty Volumizing Mascara

  • Cost: $28.00
  • EWG score: 4
  • My take: I was really surprised by the price considering this mascara did not deliver much ooomph and left me with major raccoon eyes by the end of the day. I love other products made by RMS Beauty, but I will not buy this mascara again.
  • From the RMS Beauty website: Intensify fullness and define lashes. RMS Beauty Volumizing Mascara adds life to your lashes. A combination of organic plant waxes and select raw minerals allow this emollient mascara to shape lashes and intensify fullness. Non-GMO, non-nano, cruelty-free, gluten free.

Crunchi Shattered Mascara

  • Cost: $28.00
  • EWG Score: 1
  • My Take: This mascara gave me big smudges under my eyes every time I wore it.
  • From the Crunchi website: Don’t just push lash boundaries—shatter them. Our Shattered™ Mascara delivers unstoppable length, lift, and volume. The end result: bold, next-level lashes.

Ilia and Honest Beauty Mascara

3 Steps to apply mascara

Shop Mascara + Lash Essentials

How to remove your makeup

Shop Makeup Remover

Natural Mascara Tips

  • Be gentle with your lashes. No tugging and hard rubbing, ever.
  • Place the mascara wand at the base of your lashes and comb from root to tip.
  • To get more product on your lashes and add to add volume, lightly wiggle the wand from side to side at the middle of your lashes.
  • Use a lash comb after mascara application to separate any lashes that have clumped together. I love the Tweezerman Folding iLashComb.
  • Apply a translucent powder, like RMS Beauty “Un” Powder, under your eyes to keep greasiness under control, which in turn helps control undereye smear.
  • Use a Q-Tip, like these Organic Cotton Swabs with Biodegradable Natural Bamboo Handle, to gently brush away any mascara flakes that may make their way under your eye.
  • Remove your mascara before sleeping. I wash my face with Burt’s Bees Face Cleanser for Sensitive Skin. This includes applying cleanser to my closed eyes and rinsing. To remove any excess mascara that didn’t get removed from washing, I moisten a cotton or reusable pad with Beauty by Earth Makeup Remover and gently swipe both eyes with the pad (again, resist the urge to tug at the skin around your eyes).
15 Clean & Natural Mascara Brands


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  8. Coal Tar. Campaign For Safe Cosmetics. A Project of Breast Cancer Prevention Partners.
  9. Ethanolamine compounds (labelled as DEA, TEA and MEA) contaminated with Nitrosamines. Campaign For Safe Cosmetics. A Project of Breast Cancer Prevention Partners.
  10. Congleton, J. Exposing The Cosmetics Cover-up: Is Cancer-Causing Formaldehyde In Your Cosmetics? Environmental Working Group (EWG).
  11. Darbre, P.D. et al. Concentrations of parabens in human breast tumours. J Appl Toxicol. 2004 Jan-Feb;24(1):5-13.
  12. Retinyl Acetate (Vitamin A Acetate). Environmental Working Group (EWG).
  13. Nudelman, J. and Engel, C. Right To Know. Exposing toxic fragrance chemicals in beauty, personal care and cleaning products. Breast Cancer Prevention Partners and Campaign For Safe Cosmetics. Sept. 2018.
  14. Synthetic Musks. Campaign For Safe Cosmetics. A Project of Breast Cancer Prevention Partners.