Safe Mascara Guide

Written by:

Maia James

Looking for a different guide? Browse them all HERE.

Mascara is kind of magical, especially if you’re like me and are hashtag-blessed with stubby, pale, stick-straight eyelashes. I don’t often wear makeup, but with just a couple of swoops of a mascara wand, I look and feel refreshed and more put together. I guess I’m not alone, because many readers and clients have asked me to recommend the best non-toxic mascara. We are finally done with our research for this new Safe Product Guide, and thank you all so much for your suggestions–you guys put a bunch of brands on my radar that turned out to be Good Stuff. 🙂

I finally am able to recommend several mascaras that I consider to be Good Stuff or Okay Stuff. Because we’re talking mascara—and not some product that you smear all over your skin or put in your mouth—I think that using Okay Stuff truly is okay in this case. You’ll even find one Good Stuff pick that you can buy at the drugstore!

And, as always, I have lists of Sneaky Stuff and Bad Stuff, including some of your beloved favorites (sorry!).

Note: Products like mascara are constantly being re-formulated. The information in this post is based on the most current ingredient lists we could find as of October 2016.

My Top Pick for Best Non-Toxic Mascara

Beautycounter Lengthening Mascara

Beautycounter Lengthening Mascara is the only mascara I use, not only because of how it performs, but also because I love that Beautycounter tests it for purity after production to ensure it’s not contaminated with anything sketchy.

What is Mascara Made of?

Mascara ingredients range from familiar and harmless things, like water, to head-scratching ones like fragrance/parfum, which I was surprised to find in most mascara formulas.

Honestly, cosmetics are my least favorite things to research. They often have super long lists of ingredients, many of which are synthetic, impossible to pronounce, and problematic. Cosmetics can contain ingredients– including natural ones– that have little or no safety data to back them up. And some ingredients that are known to be toxic are permitted for use under certain “restrictions.”

I’m no cosmetic chemist, but my basic understanding of mascara formulas is that they usually include the following:

  • Solvents or diluents are the unifying base for the formula (water, isododecane, alcohols, glycerin, propylene glycol, etc.).
  • Pigments provide color (iron oxides, ultramarines, titanium dioxide, mica, etc.).
  • Waxes, gums, polymers, fibers and starches stabilize and thicken the formula; some form a film on the lashes and provide “volumizing” benefits; fibers “lengthen” lashes.
  • Fats like oils and butters provide moisturizing benefits; other ingredients with humectant/emollient/“skin-conditioning” properties include glycerin, silicone and some plant extracts.
  • Some waxes, fatty acids, and surfactants act as emulsifiers to mix water and water-soluble ingredients with non-water soluble ingredients.
  • Preservatives and pH adjusters prevent (or at least limit) the growth of microbes.
  • Fragrance ingredients mask the unsavory smell that many mascara formulas would otherwise have, and in some cases, give mascara a signature scent.

Why You Shouldn’t Freak Out About Mascara

Relatively speaking, mascara is a lower-concern product– you use small amounts of it, it’s not applied directly to your skin, and it tends to stay in place. (And if you’re like me, you don’t even use it every day any more!).

Unless you eat your mascara, have a habit of rubbing it into your eyes, and/or sleep with it on, don’t worry if you’ve been using the Bad Stuff for more years than you wish to count.

If you want to upgrade to a safer mascara, there is plenty of Good Stuff and Okay Stuff you that will give your lashes a boost without exposing you to a bunch of toxic ingredients.


Mascara Ingredients to Avoid

Although mascara is of relatively low concern, I don’t consider it to be zero-concern. Some of us do use mascara daily, and it can flake off and migrate into your eyes and onto the skin under your eyes, where ingredients can potentially be absorbed into the body. And a lot of conventional mascara has concerning ingredients, such as:

  • Retinyl acetate (aka vitamin A acetate) is a synthetic form of vitamin A that is used as a moisturizing ingredient (or “skin conditioner”) in some mascaras. EWG gives it a whopping 9 on their hazard scale. The FDA classifies retinyl acetate as a “known reproductive toxicant”; it’s also a possible carcinogen.
  • Parabens are a family of preservatives that are found everywhere, although many companies are now making paraben-free products. Parabens mimic estrogen and are implicated in breast cancer. No causal relationship has been proven, but because we’re exposed to parabens from many products, I recommend avoiding them wherever you can—including in mascara.
  • Diazolidinyl urea is a formaldehyde-releasing preservative with an EWG score of 6. In addition to the fact that formaldehyde is a known carcinogen, exposure to formadehyde-releasers can cause people to develop allergies to those ingredients and formaldehyde in general. Another formaldehyde releaser to watch out for in mascara is imidazolidinyl urea.
  • Propylene glycol is a skin conditioner known to be allergenic and potentially toxic to non-reproductive organs. As a penetration-enhancer, it can make the skin vulnerable to other harmful ingredients.
  • Triethanolamine is used in some mascaras as a pH adjuster and emulsifier. It’s considered a skin toxicant or allergen, may be harmful to non-reproductive organs, and can be contaminated with nitrosamines.
  • Be suspicious when you see fragrance or “parfum” listed on a any label, including mascara. Many nasty chemicals can hide under that umbrella, including phthalates, which are hormone disrupters and possible carcinogens.
  • Geraniol, limonene, linalool, citrol and citronellol are potentially irritating and allergenic components that have synthetic as well as natural versions (the latter being a naturally-occurring component of some essential oils). Honest companies disclose them on their ingredient labels. In mascara, they are scent ingredients, and some, like d-limonene, also have preservative qualities. If you’re particularly sensitive, try to avoid mascaras that contain them, and note that carcinogenic properties seem to happen only when these compounds go rancid, so adhere to the expiration dates on your mascara.
  • Pigments (colorants) can be contaminated with toxic substances, including heavy metals. Look for companies that disclose the specific “color index number” (CI number) of the colorants they use (such as “CI 77499,” an iron oxide), and skip aluminum powder, a neurotoxin.

Preservatives in Mascara

You’ll notice that many of the ingredients I’m concerned about in mascara are preservatives. Preservatives are necessary to keep mascara from becoming a host for bacteria and other microbes, but they’re also problematic.

Both natural and synthetic preservatives can be irritating to various degrees. Given that we use mascara around our eyes, which are sensitive organs, I worry about preservatives in mascaras. Even natural preservative ingredients that are considered to be safe can be contaminated with toxic parabens.

Non-Toxic Mascara Ingredients

There are a lot of companies using safe (or safer) ingredients to make mascaras, including many that get high marks for performance, like their more toxic counterparts.

Mascaras didn’t have to be “natural” in order to make our list of Good Stuff or Okay Stuff. In fact, many of those products contain lots of synthetic ingredients. You may have heard that not all natural ingredients are safe. It’s also true that synthetic ingredients aren’t necessarily unsafe (although in general, I am biased against too many synthetics, especially in products for babies and kids).

Here are some of the ingredients you’ll find in the Good Stuff:

  • When it comes to mascara, I think that “food-grade preservatives” like sodium benzoate and potassium sorbate are an okay choice. They’re definitely lesser evils than parabens and might be better than some naturally derived preservatives that are newer and haven’t been extensively studied for safety. Note: You’ll also see phenoxyethanol in some of the Good and Okay Stuff. I’m not nuts about it—it’s potentially irritating preservative, with an EWG score of 4—but it’s better than spoiled or contaminated mascara. Skip phenoxyethanol-containing mascaras if you’re sensitive.
  • Good mascaras include natural and organic waxes, such as beeswax, candelilla wax, and carnauba wax.
  • Good mascaras also contain natural and organic oils and butters, such as jojoba oil, sunflower oil, cocoa butter, and shea butter.
  • I like to see starch, oil, wax and gum derived from organic rice, which doesn’t carry the same pesticide-contamination concerns as conventionally farmed rice.

What About Eyelash Extensions?

I’m working on a separate post about eyelash extensions, since I looooove them. (I mean, look at these stunners on the left!) Anyway, I always assumed that skipping mascara was one of the benefits of wearing eyelash extensions, but I’ve since learned that some people with extensions use mascara, too.

Based on my research, if you’re wearing extensions, you should choose mascara that washes off easily–not a waterproof formula—so you can remove it without damaging your extensions or natural lashes. There are lots of non-waterproof mascaras on the Good Stuff and Okay Stuff lists.

You should also protect your extensions and natural lashes by only applying mascara to the outer part of your lashes.

Be Kind to Your Lashes

One of the best things you can do to enhance your lashes is to be gentle with them.

Farmaesthetics Eyebright Eye Makeup Remover & Treatment Oil

Here’s how:

  • Choose water-based, non-toxic mascara for everyday use; they are gentler on your lashes because they’re easier to wash off than waterproof formulas.
  • Don’t sleep in your mascara! Remove mascara gently at the end of the day—minimize rubbing, and don’t tug. My favorite way to do this is with this incredible makeup remover that doubles as a treatment oil.
  • Condition your lashes overnight with a tiny bit of oil (like olive or coconut) brushed gently onto the outer part of your lashes. Wash off in the morning to avoid build-up and irritation. (I’m too tired at the end of the day to implement this, but it’s a goal for the future!).

Don’t see your favorite brand in any of the Good, Bad, or Sneaky tabs? Comment below with your favorite brands!

Good Stuff

100% Pure Maracuja Non-Toxic Mascara

This Black Tea-based mascara has mostly plant-based ingredients. The only ingredients of potential concern are the rice bran wax and rice germ powder, because they aren’t organic, and ingredients derived from conventionally farmed rice can be contaminated with pesticides. Note: As of this writing, the EWG listing for 100% Pure’s mascara, with a score of 2, does not match their current formulation.

Crunchi Shattered Mascara

This vegan mascara is Leaping Bunny certified, packaged in a glass tube, and third-party tested for heavy metals and PFAS.

Beautycounter Lengthening Mascara

is my pick when it comes to performance, and the only mascara I use. Beautycounter includes organic plant oils in its mascara formula, and the only ingredient I’m not a fan of here is sodium benzoate, a preservative, but because mascara isn’t ingested or applied directly to the skin, I’m not worried about it. EWG gives this mascara a score of 2. I like that Beautycounter took three years to develop this mascara and tests it for purity AFTER production to ensure zero contamination. It’s also non-clumpy, which is hard to find among natural mascara brands and super important to me. Note: This isn’t officially a waterproof mascara, but it comes off easiest with an oil-based cream or cleanser.

Ecco Bella FlowerColor Natural Non-Toxic Mascara

At just six ingredients, this mascara has the simplest formula of those we reviewed. (Real Purity is a close second). EWG gives it a 1; while I’m not nuts about their choice of preservative—phenoxyethanol– I get that preservatives are tricky and mascara needs them.

Honeybee Gardens Truly Natural Non-Toxic Mascara

is made with a lot of organic ingredients, all of which are of little or no concern. EWG gives it a 1, but there are several discrepancies between the EWG listing and Honeybee Garden’s current formula.

ILIA Fullest Volumizing Mascara

Fullest Volumizing Mascara thickens and defines lashes from root to tip with fullness you can’t miss. Clean, nourishing ingredients condition with every coat for lashes that look fuller, thicker, and healthier.

Jane Iredale

These mascaras are made from ingredients of little or no concern. Skin Deep gives the PureLash Lengthening formula a 2 (lowest concern). The regular PureLash formula does contain bisabolol, a terpene used for scent and anti-microbial properties. Bisabolol can cause enhanced skin penetration of other ingredients, but given the nature of mascara (you’re not smearing it all over your body), and the relative safety of the other ingredients in the formula, I’m not too worried about it. Bisabolol appears to be less problematic than the other terpenes, like limonene.

Juice Beauty

Not all ingredients in Juice Beauty PHYTO-PIGMENTS Ultra-Natural Non-Toxic Mascara are natural, but many of them are organic, and they are of little or no concern. I like that Juice Beauty is transparent about the source of their ingredients (plant-based versus synthetic).

Pacifica’s Dream Big and Stellar Gaze Mascara

Pacifica’s Dream Big and Stellar Gaze mascaras are Good Stuff. The only mildly concerning ingredient is non-organic rice protein, which can be contaminated with pesticides. Note: Pacifica’s Aquarian Gaze Mascaras (water resistant) are Okay Stuff (see below).

Physicians Formula Organic Mascara

Physicians Formula Organic wear 100% Natural Origin Non-Toxic Mascara and Jumbo Lash Mascara have the same basic formula, with an EWG score of 1. This is the best (and only!) Good Stuff you can get at the drug store. Physicians Formula uses 70% organic ingredients in these products, and all ingredients are of little or no concern. Other mascaras in their “Organic Wear” line are Good or Okay, but beware that the rest of their mascaras have bad ingredients like propylene glycol, triethanolamine, parabens, and diazolidinyl urea.

Poofy Organics Non-Toxic Mascara

This mascara is made with mostly organic ingredients. If anyone has tried this one and can speak to its performance, comment below!

Use code: MAIAJAMES for 10% off

Pure Haven Essentials Mascara

Pure Haven Essentials Mascara, formerly Ava Anderson Non-Toxic, makes a mascara with just 11 ingredients, all of little or no concern. Earlier this year, Ava Anderson shut down because of a scandal involving the non-disclosure of ingredients, including concerning ingredients that they claimed to not use. Assuming the original company learned from these errors and had made the necessary changes to their supply chain and manufacturing practices, I call this Good Stuff.

Real Purity Non-Toxic Mascara

Real Purity Non-Toxic Mascara (Black) has just 9 ingredients and an EWG score of 1. They use extracts of ivy and sage in place of potentially problematic preservatives.

Rejuva Minerals Pur’ Lash Volumizing Paraben Free Mascara

Rejuva Minerals Pur’ Lash Volumizing Paraben Free Mascara is an EWG Verified product. Their Rejuva Minerals Resistant Mega Lash Mascara gets an EWG score of 1, but the EWG listing (and therefore their calculation) leaves out a few ingredients. The way the ingredient lists are written on the Rejuva Minerals website doesn’t instill a lot of confidence—some ingredient names are not complete—but I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt.

Zuzu Luxe Non-Toxic Mascara

This mascara is made from a relatively short list of straightforward ingredients. The only semi-concerning ingredients are the preservatives– tocopherylacetate and potassium sorbate (both have an EWG score of 3)—but they’re less worrisome than many other preservatives.

Okay Stuff

Alima Pure Natural Definition Mascara

Alima has an EWG score of 2 and only a couple of moderately concerning ingredients (propanediol and sodium hydroxide, both potentially irritating).

Arbonne It’s a Long Story Mascara

gets an EWG score of 2, but due to the combination of several ingredients I’m wary of (butylene glycol, PEG-40 hydrogenated castor oil, ethylhexylglycerin, tocopheryl acetate, and aminomethyl propanol), I think this mascara is just Okay Stuff, and am not a huge fan of Arbonne in general.

bareMinerals Flawless Definition Waterproof Mascara

This mascara has a handful of ingredients that aren’t great, including phenoxyethanol and aminomethyl propanediol, but there are no major offenders. Note: other bareMinerals mascaras are Sneaky or Bad, as are most of their other products.

Dr. Hauschka’s mascaras

contain “fragrance” (EWG give it an 8, but Hauschka specifies that it’s 100% natural, so I’m fine with it). Like all Hauschka products, this mascara contains naturally-occurring citronellol, geraniol, and linalool. Other ingredients that make this Okay rather than Good Stuff are castor seed oil and the fact that alcohol, which is known to be irritating, is high on their ingredient lists.

Josie Maran Argan Black Oil Mascara

is made with a some good ingredients, but it’s borderline sneaky thanks to the combination of several moderately concerning ingredients—phenoxyethanol, propanediol, ethylhexylglycerin, conventional rice bran wax, and laureth-21. Note: As of this writing, the EWG entry for Josie Maran mascara is not for this formula.

Kjaer Weis Mascara

contains a lot of organic ingredients and has an EWG score of 2. I’d call it Good Stuff, except that it contains citronellol and geraniol from the essential oils used in the formula.

Lily Lolo New Black Vegan Mascara

is made with ingredients that are of little or no concern, at least based on current safety data. I’m calling this Okay Stuff rather than Good Stuff because they use several surfactants with limited safety data, and some of the company’s claims make me a bit wary. For instance, on their website, Lily Lolo says they use no preservatives, but they list potassium sorbate—a preservative– among their mascara ingredients. They also claim to use organic ingredients, but, unlike other companies, they don’t specify any organic ingredients on their ingredients list.

Origins Fringe Benefits Mascara

qualifies as Okay Stuff, thanks to many good ingredients and a few of moderate concern (aminomethyl propanediol, laureth-20—a PEG-derived surfactant, phenoxyethanol, and chloroxylenol—another potentially problematic preservative). Note: Origins GinZing Brightening Mascara is Sneaky Stuff!

Pacifica’s Aquarian Gaze Mascaras

(water resistant) are Okay Stuff, due to a handful of mildly concerning ingredients (butylene glycol, ethylhexylglycerin, phenoxyethanol, and hexylene glycol). I did consider classifying these mascaras as Sneaky Stuff because of steareth-21, a PEG-related surfactant that can be contaminated with ethylene oxide and 1,4-dioxane, so this is the worst of the Okay Stuff in my opinion. Note: Pacifica’s Dream Big and Stellar Gaze mascaras are Good Stuff (see above).

Bad Stuff

Almay One Coat Mascaras get EWG scores of 7-9, thanks to ingredients like parabens and retinyl palmitate.

Cover Girl uses yucky stuff like parabens, aluminum powder, and triethanolamine.

Dior doesn’t disclose or show ingredients on their website, but from what I can tell, they re-formulated to eliminate some of the worst ingredients, like parabens, diazolidinyl urea, and triethanolamine. That’s the good news. Unfortunately, Diorshow mascaras still include a lot of concerning ingredients, such as parfum/fragrance, surfactants like sodium laureth 12-sulfate and glyceryl hydrogenated rosinate, and geraniol, citronellol, linalool, cinnamyl alcohol, ammonium hydroxide, and BHT!

Elizabeth Arden doesn’t disclose its mascara ingredients on their website, and there are no current listings on EWG/Skin Deep. Elsewhere I found ingredient lists that include bad stuff like triethanolamine and parabens.

I haven’t reviewed all of L’Oreal’s mascaras, but one of their most popular–L’Oreal Voluminous Original Mascara, has triethanolamine, imidazolidinyl urea (a formaldehyde releaser), parabens, BHT, and several concerning colorants, including D&C Black No. 2/CI 77266.

Max Factor mascaras include a lot of common bad ingredients, such as propylene glycol, triethanolamine, polyethylene, benzyl alcohol, denatured alcohol, parabens, SLS, and phenoxyethanol.

Maybelline Great Lash mascara, the beloved classic in the green and pink tube, contains yucky stuff like triethanolamine, propylene glycol, and parabens.

Physicians Formula’s non-organic mascaras have yucky ingredients like propylene glycol, triethanolamine, phenoxyethanol, parabens, and diazolidinyl urea. However, I give the company props for making the only drug-store formulas that I recommend (see Good Stuff).

Rimmel makes a million different mascaras; just looking at one of them—Lash Accelerator in Extreme Black—I see worrisome ingredients like propylene glycol, butylene glycol, triethanolamine, phenoxyethanol, retinyl palmitate, parabens, PEG- 40 hydrogenated castor oil, BHA (a toxic preservative), and D&C Black No. 2/CI 77266 (a toxic colorant).

Wet-n-Wild mascaras appear to be paraben free, but contain other worrisome preservatives that I don’t want near my eyes, like methylisothiazolinone. They also contain yucky ingredients like triethanolamine, polyethylene, butylene glycol, and PEG-26- PPG-30 phosphate, which can be contaminated with toxic ethylene oxide and 1,4-dioxane.

Sneaky Stuff

bareMinerals uses a lot of concerning ingredients in their mascaras, including triethanolamine, propylene glycol, butylene glycol, tocopheryl acetate (can be contaminated with hydroquinone), ethylhexylglycerin, phenoxyethanol, SLS, and disodium laureth sulfosuccinate. Their Flawless Definition Waterproof formula isn’t bad—I might even call it Okay Stuff. Note: The Skin Deep entry for the Lash Domination formula gives it a 2, but the listing is not current, leaving out several ingredients.

Beauty Without Cruelty formulates their products in favor of the wellbeing of animals, but their mascaras have a number of ingredients that are concerning for humans and their eyes: triethanolamine, benzyl alcohol, non-organic rice bran wax and rice bran oil, dimethicone, phenoxyethanol, denatured alcohol, polyethylene, talc, and ethylhexylglycerin.

Benecos Natural mascaras are made with some organic plant oils and waxes, but this German company loses points for citral, limonene, and linalool, which come with the essential oils they use; having a relatively high concentration of potentially irritating alcohol; using sodium hydroxide (also potentially irritating); and “fragrance” (though they claim it’s not synthetic). Their Vegan Natural Volume Mascara is borderline okay except for glyceryl rosinate (EWG score of 6, and a potential irritant/allergen) and silver (a likely problematic colorant, especially around the eyes).

Neutrogena “Healthy” Mascaras have and EWG score of 6 and are anything but healthy, containing bad ingredients such as parabens and sketchy “fragrance.”

Origins GinZing Brightening Mascara is Sneaky Stuff thanks to a few ingredients of moderate concern (aminomethyl propanediol, ethylhexylglycerin, laureth-20, urea, and phenoxyethanol) and a whopping 16 pigments. None of the many other mascaras I reviewed had anywhere near this number of colorants. No single pigment in this formula is a huge red flag, but many of them are potentially problematic, so the sum of them gives me pause.

PUR’s mascaras are not so “pure.” In addition to using concerning ingredients like triethanolamine, ethyhexyglyerin, phenoxyethanol, polybutene, propylene glycol, butylene glycol, and hexylene glycol, they rely on several ingredients with contamination concerns—steareth-20 and steareth-2 (derived from polyethylene glycol, aka PEG); styrene/acrylates copolymer; polyvinyl acetate; and PEG-8 dimethicone. They proudly state that several of their mascaras are paraben-free, but they do use methylparaben in their Impact+ formula. This is the sneakiest of the Sneaky Stuff!

RMS Beauty mascaras are really popular among my readers, so I hate to say that they are Sneaky. Unfortunately, these mascaras contain many ingredients of concern, including benzyl alcohol, sodium hydroxide, and potassium hydroxide (plus geraniol and linalool.)

Tarte’s motto, “High-performance naturals,” is a stretch. Their formulas include propylene glycol, triethanolamine, and ingredients that are potentially irritating to the eyes (aminomethyl propanol, butylene glycol, castor seed oil, and polybutene). If you’re a huge Tarte fan, the product with the least concerning ingredients is their “Lights, Camera, Splashes” waterproof mascara.

W3ll People mascaras are another favorite among you guys, but after looking closely at their ingredients, I have to call them Sneaky. Their Expressionist Mascara is EWG certified, but the formula listed on Skin Deep misses a few key ingredients. Both the Expressionist and Expressionist Pro formulas include benzyl alcohol as the second ingredient. They also contain geraniol, limonene, and sodium hydroxide. And yes, this calls into question the EWG certification!

Maia, Founder & CEO

Note: This article contains affiliate links or sponsored content, which means that if you make a purchase, we may earn a commission. We only recommend products that meet our strict standards for non-toxicity and that we use (or want to use!) ourselves. Thank you so much for supporting the brands that make Good Stuff! 

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Leave a Reply

93 responses to “Safe Mascara Guide”

  1. williamgordon927 Avatar

    Great thought I agree With you

  2. robin Avatar

    fat tire bike don’t take up much space

  3. Lena Avatar

    Beauty care products can contain fixings including regular ones-that have practically zero security information to back them up!

  4. Heather Avatar

    Hi there, love your review! Wa wondering what you use now that Beautycounter has discontinued this mascara and is selling a different one now? Thanks! 🙂

  5. Arabella Smith Avatar

    I struggle to get really to tip, on the parks that my Boy Friend constantly work out, but the bigger role of the circumstances I go to recall, and in bright of the reality that I give along with my PayPal card the huge benefit of the times, I don’t need cash in my shoulder bag to tip with.

  6. Shannon Avatar

    Hi, What about Thrive Causemetics? – The mascara is so thick and rich, great as I’ve aged and lashes are less thick on their own.
    They seem to compete in the same space as BeautyCounter. The ingredients seem good, but I am no Maia/Gimme The Good Stuff people 🙂
    Thanks! Shannon

    1. Maia James Avatar
      Maia James

      I have tried this and been impressed with how it performs–it is on out list for the updated guide!

  7. Custom Box Avatar

    Thanks for sharing.. Kindly Visit our website.

  8. ilyse betancourt Avatar
    ilyse betancourt

    I was wondering about the Dime Beauty brand? I hear good things about it but i’m not sure if its just marketing techniques or the truth.

  9. Firha Kaline Avatar

    really an amazing article but can I know that how can I remove mascara while playing tennis I have found how to wash and clean tennis shoes but didn’t get the mascara off from the tennis shoes.

  10. Alina Charlotte Avatar
    Alina Charlotte

    really a pretty article but can I know that how can I remove mascara from the outdoor basketball I have found how to clean a basketball but didn’t get the mascara off from the outdoor ball

  11. Meg Avatar

    Real Purity has changed their formula to include many concerning ingredients! When updating this guide definitely look into it. I’ll never understand why companies that already have non-toxic products start adding toxic ingredients to avoid.

  12. Alina Curtin Avatar
    Alina Curtin

    Mascara is always good. But the main is when mascara spills out on the carpet, it becomes very difficult to remove. However, I have found a great guide of removing this. Check out here

  13. Ivy Avatar

    I found this company dab herb makeup & skincare while looking for a food grade/edible lip balm which I ended up buying from them:

    Here is their mascara which is also food grade/edible, I would say..but curious about what you think, Maia

  14. Caroline Kaufmann Avatar
    Caroline Kaufmann

    Hi! Could you review Thrive Causemetics mascara? Thank you!

  15. Tinky Avatar

    This is a great list, thank you!

  16. Heather Avatar

    Thank you for this information. I didn’t think much of the ingredients until yesterday I tried the bareMinerals lash domination mascara. Towards the end of the day my eyes started burning and this morning I woke up (yes I removed it when it started irritating my eyes) and my eye has a red dot on the eyeball and my eyes feel like I had an allergic reaction. Scary. Will definitely try one of the better ingredient ones on your list.

  17. Alana Avatar

    Did you test the Mary Kay mascara? I love their “Lash Love” and Waterproof “Lash Love” mascara. I would love to know how safe it is…Many thanks!

  18. Patricia Haney Avatar

    I have been searching for a product that DOES NOT CONTAIN Benzyl Alcohol or its derivatives. Being EXTREMELY allergic to this preservative as it is in majority of cosmetics, toiletries and many injectable meds. I have had the injectable meds and went into sever anaphylaxis hospitalized for several days. Coming across this site and list of mascara is an answer to prayer. Thank You!!

    1. Kay Rodgers Avatar

      I love Omiana’s mascara it is totally clean, free of any and all bad stuff and it actually works!. they’re the best.

  19. Regan Avatar

    Real Purity changed their formulation. I used them for years. They have added many ingredients to their mascara. I no longer use them.

  20. Chelsea Avatar

    Hello there,
    I love that you’ve featured Pure Haven Essentials on your good list. However, the company is now known just as Pure Haven and has made huge strides since the Ava Anderson days. The company is completely transparent with their ingredients and they do not compromise. Each and every ingredient goes through a strict sourcing process. All products are made in small batches, in a USDA certified organic facility in Rhode Island. I have been anticipating a new makeup line for over 2 years but because of their strict sourcing practices, they are doing their due diligence. Please consider updating your description to only reflect the good Pure Haven is doing! They are educating and empowering hundreds of families everything to choose the healthiest products.

    PH mascara:

  21. Jessica Avatar

    Beautycounter mascara contains phenoxyethanol. I’m so bummed bc I thought this brand was the cleanest. I hope you do an updated list, it’s so hard to find a good and clean mascara.

  22. Shell Avatar

    How about the Crunchi brand of mascara?

  23. Stacy Avatar

    I would love to know your thoughts on the Honest Company’s mascara and makeup. I have been using their products for a while now and enjoy them.

    1. Jenna Avatar

      I’d love to know about this one too!

  24. Kara Avatar

    Hi Maia!

    Thank you so much for this list! What a great read to come across while I was researching a new mascara. I have used some of the Good Stuff mascaras before but recently purchased W3ll People’s mascara. I was surprised to see it listed under Sneaky but then when I compared the list of ingredients on my product box to the questionable ingredients you mentioned – benzyl alcohol, geraniol and limonene – I don’t seem them listed there. Could these be known under a different name?

    Here are the ingredients on my bottle:

    Aqua (Water), Cera Alba (Beeswax)*, C10-18 Tryglycerides, Stearic Acid, Copernica Cerifera Cera / Copernicia Cerifera Cera (Canuba) Wax*, Castor Isostearate Beeswax Succinate, Glyceryl Stearate, Glyceryl Caprylate, Glycerin, Potassium Sorbate, Sodium Hydroxide, Sodium Benzoate, Xanthum Gum, Cellulose, Tocopherol, Helianthus Annuus Seed Oil / Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil [+/-Cl 77891 Titanium Dioxide, Cl 77491 and Cl 77499 Iron Oxides, Cl 77007 Ultramarines, Cl 74570 Carmine]

    Thank you so much!! And, of course I understand if you don’t have time to look this over – I appreciate your website so much. I just thought I would add this comment in case.



  25. Joann Avatar

    You failed to say that the beauty counter mascara has phenoxyethanol as a preservative ingredient

    can you recommend a mascara without preservatives?
    I am allergic to preservatives all of a sudden. My mascara had phenoxyethenol it and my eyes blew up terribly. I am also allergic to fragrance

    1. Maia James Avatar
      Maia James

      Unfortunately, I don’t know any mascara that forgoes all preservatives. Without something to preserve the mascara, you’d run the risk of mold or other spoilage.

      1. Chelsea Avatar

        Try Pure Haven. They use “leuconostoc/radish root ferment filtrate” as the preservative system.

  26. Stephanie Avatar

    Any opinions on Honest Beauty’s mascara? I have used it the last two years and like the performance… would like to know what you think of the ingredients list.

  27. Ma Bear Avatar
    Ma Bear

    Any opinions on Younique?
    Did I spell that right?
    I use honeybee gardens Normally but my dear friend gave me free fancy mascara
    Looked good… Thwn I got the worst style EVER!
    They say it’s natural
    I do not think so… but what was in it?

    1. Pam Jadwick Avatar
      Pam Jadwick

      Younique ingredients
      INGREDIENTS: Water/Aqua/Eau, Cyclopentasiloxane, Beeswax/Cera Alba/Cire d’abeille, Copernicia Cerifera (Carnauba) Wax/Cire de Carnauba, Alcohol Denat., Palmitic Acid, Nylon-12, VP/EicoseneCopolymer, Stearic Acid, Triethanolamine, Acacia Senegal Gum, Polybutene, Phenoxyethanol, Polyvinyl Alcohol, VP/VA Copolymer, Aminomethyl Propanediol, Polyquaternium-10, Ascorbyl Palmitate, Ethylhexylglycerin, Argania Spinosa Kernel Oil, Biotin, Prunus Amygdalus Dulcis Oil, Ricinus Communis Seed Oil, Sodium Hyaluronate, Glycerin, Panthenol, Propylene Glycol, Hydrolyzed Keratin,Potassium Sorbate,Biotinoyl Tripeptide-1.
      MAY CONTAIN (+/-): Iron Oxides (CI 77499).
      INGREDIENTS: Water/Aqua/Eau, Beeswax/Cera Alba/Cire d’abeille, Copernicia Cerifera (Carnauba) Wax/Copernicia Cerifera Cera/Cire de Carnauba, Isododecane, Alcohol Denat., Palmitic Acid, Nylon-12, Hydrogenated Tetradecenyl/ Methylpentadecene, VP/Eicosene Copolymer, Stearic Acid, Triethanolamine, Acacia Senegal Gum, Polybutene, Phenoxyethanol, Polyvinyl Alcohol, VP/VA Copolymer, Aminomethyl Propanediol, Polyquaternium-10, Ascorbyl Palmitate, Ethylhexylglycerin, Argania Spinosa Kernel Oil, Biotin, Prunus Amygdalus Dulcis (Sweet Almond) Oil, Ricinus Communis (Castor) Seed Oil, Sodium Hyaluronate, Glycerin, Panthenol, Propylene Glycol, Hydrolyzed Keratin, Potassium Sorbate, Biotinoyl Tripeptide-1.
      MAY CONTAIN (+/-): Iron Oxides (CI 77491, CI 77492, CI 77499).
      Black Waterproof
      INGREDIENTS: Isododecane, Water/Aqua/Eau, Beeswax/Cera Alba/Cire d’abeille, Dimethicone, Paraffin, Disteardimonium Hectorite, VP/Eicosene Copolymer, Propylene Glycol, Trimethylsiloxysilicate, Copernicia Cerifera (Carnauba) Wax/
      Cera Carnauba/Cire de carnauba, Alcohol Denat., PEG-30 Dipolyhydroxystearate, Pentaerythrityl Hydrogenated Rosinate,Polyvinyl Alcohol, Hydrogenated Polyisobutene, Synthetic Beeswax, Sorbitan Stearate, Phenoxyethanol,
      Caprylyl Glycol, Silica, Acrylates Copolymer, Hydrogenated Polycyclopentadiene, Aminomethyl Propanediol, Sodium Dehydroacetate, Ethylhexylglycerin, Ascorbyl Palmitate, Laureth-21.
      MAY CONTAIN (+/-): Iron Oxides (CI 77499).

  28. Cathy Avatar

    When you update your guide can you please include Blinc or other “tube Mascaras”. My eyes are so sensitive and these are the only ones I can tolerate. I’ve tried Beautycounter and Juice Beauty but those were a no-go for me. Thank you!!

  29. Christian Avatar

    I just did a search of the ingredients you listed above “to avoid” for mascaras. Only one was in the above mascara was: iron oxides (CI77499),
    this ingredients EWG 1 rating= low hazard.
    Do you refer to other EWG lists for reference? Is the EWG accurate? As sometimes I see you list the score but sometimes you write it isn’t accurate. So I am not sure why you state this.
    Thanks in advance! I appreciate all you teach us!
    “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” 🙂

  30. Christian Avatar

    Hi Maia,
    What do you think about Honest TRULY LUSH MASCARA + LASH PRIMER?
    Thank you!

  31. Lauren Avatar

    Curious to know your thoughts on Burt’s Bees mascara and or any other of their make up line

  32. Alejandra Avatar

    Please, I am trying to decide the best face powder, primer, foundation ……and I need if someone can help me with any advice!!

    1. Maia James Avatar
      Maia James

      My favorite brand across the board is Beautycounter.

  33. Kathy Brooks Avatar
    Kathy Brooks

    Thank you for your research into the mascara products, Maia. Having had an eye infection A few months ago, which caused my eyelashes to fall out on both eyes, I have been trying to find a mascara that doesn’t burn or irritate them. I recently tried Tropic mascara, which was recommended to me, but unfortunately this product caused my eyes to water and burn from day one of using it. I had been using Dr Hauschka’s Volume Mascara in the past, but stopped using it as EWG’s rating was poor for this product. Has anyone tried Dusty Girls Natural Mineral Mascara (Night Fall) Dusty Girls Make Up is part of the MooGoo company, based in Australia? Poofy Organics Mascara sounds a good mascara. Would this be worth a try? (I live in the U.K)

  34. Colleen Avatar

    What about Estee Lauder

  35. Nicole Avatar

    Thanks for the research and reviews you do! I am wanting to try W3LL PEOPLE because I like more dramitic lashes, and Rejuva Minerals just didn’t give me that. I think the W3LL PEOPLE mascara has been reformulated since you wrote this. Any thoughts on their new formula? Otherwise I may work my way through the other Good Stuff on your list. Thanks!

  36. Emily Avatar

    What’s your take on Kirkland’s (Costco) cosmetic products labeled Borghese? Especially the mascara that’s labeled paraben free.

  37. Susanna Avatar

    What do you think about Veda’s brand of make up? They tout it as being all-natural.

  38. Donna Voldness Avatar
    Donna Voldness

    What about Larenim mascara?

  39. Lorraine Avatar

    I bought Beauty Counter Mascara and it did not irritate my eyes, especially since I wear contacts. But I found it difficult to remove. What oil based mascara remover would you recommend that is a SAFE product to use?

    1. Maia James Avatar
      Maia James

      I agree with you, Lorraine, and my favorite remover is Eyebright because it doubles as a treatment for fine lines and puffiness.

  40. Bluebillie Avatar

    I second the curiosity about Ilia mascaras and Lily Lolo, and also the French line Couleur Caramel (nature of beauty website sells). Another one is Nu Evolution Cosmetics.
    Thanks for all your hard work helping to demystify this large field of choices! I’ve bought two mattresses and a futon based on your recs so far!

  41. Mandy Avatar

    What don’t you like about Arbonne products? Just making the conversion into natural products and my friends are trying to get me to try soem of the lotions.

    1. Maia James Avatar
      Maia James

      Mostly, I dislike that they aren’t very transparent about their ingredients.

      1. Carol Kaufman Rood Avatar

        This is definitely an old list because arbonne is very transparent about their ingredients and have removed PEG and retinyl palmitate from the RE9line as well as some makeups. Working on getting it out of all of them

        1. Maia James Avatar
          Maia James

          great to know! Thank you:).

          1. Sam Avatar

            What about a lot of the honest company beauty line. ?

  42. Janell McKenney Avatar
    Janell McKenney

    What about Younique?

  43. Larissa McCollum Avatar
    Larissa McCollum

    Would LOVE to hear about Blinc Mascara too. It’s life changing, amazing stuff! I hope it’s good stuff?

  44. Rachel Avatar

    Eyeko skinny brush mascara?

  45. Cat Avatar

    Can you comment on Blinc mascara?

  46. Sherry Avatar

    I’ve been using mineral fusion. How does this brand compare?

  47. Mollie Avatar

    Hi there! I use Pacifica’s Stardust color since I am redhead (it is brownish colored). Do you know anything about that one? Thanks!

    1. Mollie Avatar

      So sorry! Nevermind! Just realized my “Stardust” is Stellar Gaze. I love these mascaras!!

  48. Elle Avatar

    How about red apple lipstick mascara? Thx!

  49. Gabby Avatar

    Hi – how does RMS Volumizing mascara stack up? Thanks!!

  50. Jiwoon Avatar

    Could you also investigate the w3ll people mascaras (they have various colors), the red apple lipstick lash project mascara, and the hynt beauty mascara too? BTW thanks for this post and the hard work! It’s just so awesome to really find out the nitty gritty stuff about all the products and really find the “good” stuff!!

  51. Jeanie Avatar

    I just got some “Jolie Ultra Dramatic Volume X Hypoallergenic” mascara. I’d love to know what you think before I open it!

  52. Deborah Avatar

    What do you think about Ilia mascara?

  53. ashley Avatar

    what do you think about laura mercier products?

    1. Maia James Avatar
      Maia James

      Unfortunately, I don’t consider them Good Stuff.

  54. Tiffany Avatar

    Hi! How bad is Chanel mascara?

    1. Maia James Avatar
      Maia James

      I’ll add to our list for the updated Guide:).

  55. Beth Avatar

    Thank you so much for your time and commitment to this! I am changing my mascara and my eyes thank you!

  56. Ausrine Avatar

    Hi, I know it’s probably not 100% safe, but what do you think about Origins Fringe Benefits mascara and their Underwear for Lashes? Thank you!!

    1. Maia James Avatar
      Maia James

      We are adding a few lines to this guide, and Origins is one of them! It should be updated by Monday:).

  57. Adianez Alfonso Avatar
    Adianez Alfonso

    Hi about Lancome?

    1. Maia James Avatar
      Maia James

      It’s actually not terrible (skips the parabens and some other really Bad Stuff), but I wouldn’t call it Good Stuff.

  58. Strphanie Avatar

    What about Lenongrass Spa or Pure Haven Essentials???

    1. Maia James Avatar
      Maia James

      I haven’t looked into Pure Haven since they rebranded, and I don’t know Lenongrass–will add to my list!

  59. Anitra Avatar

    Hi, also wondering about Lily Lolo mascara.. Thanks!

    1. Maia James Avatar
      Maia James

      Haven’t looked into it yet, but it’s on our list!

  60. Shelly Avatar

    Hi Ladies! Shelly with Rejuva Minerals here. Thank you for including EWG Verified Pur’ Lash mascara among the safe alternatives! Yes, both Pur’ lash and Mega Lash have received superior ratings from EWG and we are in the process of submitting Mega Lash for verification as well! As for the ingredients, we offer full disclosure on our website. To clarify, the information submitted to the EWG is the same as what is on the site, however some of the more easily recognizable names have been substituted in place of the botanical/scientific names. For example; ‘Simmondsia Chinensis’ was replaced with ‘Jojoba’. I hope I was able to clarify things! Thanks again 😀

  61. Zoe Avatar

    Would love to hear your opinion of Lily + Lolo Mascara. Before I found your site, I did a ton of research about healthy mascara and this was the one people raved about (and I love it now too). It’s a UK brand.

    1. Maia James Avatar
      Maia James

      Thanks for putting it on our radar. We will look into it.

  62. Cheryl Myers Avatar
    Cheryl Myers

    Almost afraid to ask but how bad is” it” cosmetics super hero mascara?

    1. Maia James Avatar
      Maia James

      Haven’t looked into this, but will add to our list!

  63. Patty Avatar

    What would you rate Sephora’s Better than sex waterproof mascara or any of MAC’s mascara?

    1. Maia James Avatar
      Maia James

      Will add to our list to investigate!

  64. Paula Avatar

    I never leave my house without mascara. Seriously, never! Not since middle school. I used to spend lots of money on mascara from makeup counters at department stores and then Sephora. I made the change to Non toxic products a few years ago. The hardest thing for me to change was mascara. I tried to convince myself it was ok to keep using my old favorites since it was just my eyelashes and how much could really be absorbed?? Anyway, eventually I figured I’d try Poofy mascara because why not? If it didn’t work, I’d just go back to my old mascaras. But after getting used to it for a few days, I found I actually love Poofy mascara! It is comparable to my expensive brands on performance but so, so much better than them in the safety category! I’ve now gone through a few tubes of Poofy and have no plans of changing any time soon. I love that I am supporting a small business while shopping through them too. I’m not just another number like I was at Sephora.

  65. Diane M Avatar
    Diane M

    I’m EXTREMELY picky about my makeup products, especially mascara. I was curious about the Poofy mascara but put off ordering it because 1) I didn’t think an all natural would ever work as well as my current brand and 2) it’s twice as expensive ($20) as my current. Compared to a lot of nicer brands this is not too expensive but I’ve always tried to stay around $8-12 on mascara. I bit the bullet and tried Poofy just so I could say I tried a makeup product.

    Very surprised at how much I love the mascara as I wasn’t expecting to. It went on smoothly and didn’t flake or clump. Lashes were lengthened and didn’t stick together. If I got mascara anywhere other than my eye it came off easily. The tube was actually bigger than I thought it would be too.
    Two other things that jumped out at me: It didn’t have that mascara smell. It didn’t make my eyes burn while applying. I had always considered the slightly burning eyes a result from not trying to blink while applying. I applied Poofy the same way and no burning. Hmmmm….
    And luckily and most importantly the wand is “my style”. 🙂
    Also smudge proof and water resistant. Stays on great and removes very easily at the end of the day.

  66. Autumn Avatar

    I have to tell everyone that Poofy Organics mascara is where the gold is! I was a mascara hoarder. I couldn’t get enough of the cheap tricks by covergirl, reckon, maybelline (spelling,) even the high-end department store names made it into my makeup stash. Every. Single. One. Of those mascaras would burn my eyes, I’d tear up from them, and I’d be itchy all day because of the plethora of chemicals laced in those mascara formulas. Then Poofy came along. My eyes have thanked me since. Nice for every day use and also can be layered to give some volume. Highly recommend!

  67. Tiffany Murphy Avatar
    Tiffany Murphy

    Poofy organics is by far the best mascara I have ever used. It coats, lengthens, and separates lashes so beautifully. It is not water proof, which I like because it’s easy to remove at night. It lasts all day with no smudging. It’s a bonus that this mascara is free of toxins & handmade & packaged here in the USA at a small family business in NJ. Love love love this stuff, can’t say enough good things about it!!!

  68. Allison Avatar

    I love, love, love Poofy Organics mascara. It’s my go-to! Great for both everyday and nights out (layers nicely).

  69. Jen brown Avatar
    Jen brown

    I have used Poofy mascara for about a year, it gives great volume & coverage and is the only mascara ever that has not caused tearing & redness following application (including many of the natural ones listed in this article) I used to have to use allergy eyedrops prior to using eye makeup, but not with poofy!! I’m a total poofy convert!!

  70. Allison Avatar

    I use Poofy Organics mascara (I am a consultant, yes, but I would use it anyway if I wasn’t). I’m not a makeup expert so I can’t compare it to other brands but it is one of my customers’ favorite products. It coats the lashes well and lasts all day (but it is not waterproof). Maybe people who find mascara burns their eyes find Poofy’s does not! Not only all that, but it is HANDMADE, as are all products from Poofy Organics. And it is a great price point at $20 and from a USDA certified-organic company. An overall great combination for a product!

    1. Kiss Avatar