In many conventional mascaras, there are human carcinogens such as carbon black: a dark powder used as bold pigment that is made from coal tar (which contains heavy metals) and 1,4-dioxane, a toxin used in the manufacturing process of PEGs. It makes your lashes look thick and glossy and therefore runs rampant in many formulas. Most conventional eye products also contain small amounts of mercury as well as other harmful chemicals — formaldehyde and the like — that act as preservatives to keep it from drying out and becoming a hotbed for bacteria. And there’s more, including chemicals that mess with your reproductive system and the environment, and chemicals that scientists are still uncovering since “clean” mascara is such a new category in green chemistry.
But now for the good news. There are plenty of clean mascaras that don’t contain these questionable ingredients. They’re a combo of natural and naturally derived ingredients. And some eco brands do use select synthetics—for health purposes. That said, you can find whichever one takes your lashes to their fullest potential—and, thankfully, you can now choose from more than just one. Here are the seven best natural mascaras.
The brand tested over 100 different brushes before they landed on the final design of this innovative wand. Look closely and you’ll see that one side has curled, shorter bristles that pack on more product for lots of volume, and the other touts longer, straight bristles that pull through each lash for mega-length. Couple that with a formula that doesn’t smudge or flake and is easily buildable, and this is one of our favorite mascaras, ever.
It’s been a fan favorite for over a decade—this is a staple for those with easily irritated eyes. It’s both ophthalmologist and dermatologist-tested, hypoallergenic, and safe for contact lens wearers, too. Mineral oil, paraben-, and phthalate-free, it’s also just a great all-around formula that lengthens, curls, volumizes, and conditions.
One coat of this plant-based formula leaves lashes soft and fluttery; swipe on a second for va-va-voom volume and a bolder look. A dense, hourglass-shaped brush packs the product onto every lash, without clumping. Plus, not only are the ingredients clean, but it’s also made using sustainable energy. You’ve gotta love that.
The dual-sided tube houses a primer on one end, the perfect prep step to ensure the mascara on the other side goes on smoothly and stays put. Brush through lashes with the primer first, wait 30 seconds, then apply the mascara. It’s free of parabens, synthetic fragrance, silicones, and mineral oil, but does have jojoba esters, which help condition the hairs.
Finding a formula that’s both natural and waterproof is no easy feat, but this one checks both boxes. The stay-put color—it touts a 24-hour wear time— is infused with avocado oil, considered to promote lash strength, and which also gives it a nice glossy finish. And the minimal list of only seven ingredients is squeaky clean.
Using 100%, natural, plant-derived ingredients, this is certified both vegan and cruelty-free (many natural formulas utilize beeswax, making them not vegan). Mineral pigments deposit plenty of color, though it is a bit of a wetter formula, so be sure to let it set for a few minutes in between coats.
Made with certified organic butter, waxes, and oils, this not only imparts a glossy sheen but also moisturizes and conditions lashes, too. A very good thing given that these itty-bitty hairs can quickly become brittle and prone to breakage.
Using totally natural pigments that come from black tea, berries, and cocoa, this lengthening mascara has the added benefit of coming in four different shades. Yes, you’ve got your classic black, but there’s also a denim blue, deep plum, and chocolatey brown, all of which are surprisingly wearable and flattering on a wide array of eye colors. It’s also water-resistant and free of toxic petrochemicals.