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.
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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.
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)!
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.
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.
NATURAL MASCARAS TESTED AND SCORED
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 part..it’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.
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.
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.
Pacifica Dream Big Mascara
- Cost: $13.99
- EWG Score: Not rated yet
- My take: Because of my wimpy lashes, I really need a mascara that delivers volume, length, and a rich, black color, and this one did not deliver, even after 2 coats. I also experienced undereye smear after exercise. I was very disappointed, and will not buy this product again.
- From the Pacifica website: A magic wand lets you fake it till you make it! Amplify your lashes instantly with Pacifica Dream Big Mascara, containing natural plant fibers that build and build and build. Natural ingredients help condition lashes, and a magic wand lets you fake it till you make it. 7 in 1: Lash Serum, Instant Length, Lash Lifting, Volumizing, Conditioning, Rich Color, 2 in 1 Brush.
Mineral Fusion Waterproof Mascara
- Cost: $17.98
- EWG score: individual ingredients ranked, averages to a score of 1.26
- My take: This mascara gave me the worst racoon eyes, even before I exercised! I was surprised, especially since it’s waterproof. This is the only mascara that I tested that I had a hard time removing at night, and I woke up with huge raccoon eyes in the morning. I will not buy this mascara again.
- From the Mineral Fusion website: Waterproof Definition: Rich mineral color formulated with high natural wax content repels water giving lashes long-wearing, waterproof definition. Softer Lashes: Naturally nourishes lashes with Argan Oil, Aloe, and Panthenol. Easy on the Eyes: Gentle, non-irritating formula applies easily and won’t run or smear when wet. Formula Purity: Gluten Free :: Cruelty Free :: Paraben Free :: Artificial Color Free :: Fragrance Free :: Talc Free :: Hypo-allergenic :: Phthalate Free.