The Clean Mascara Quest


Mascara is my desert island cosmetic of choice.  It just makes you look prettier, more feminine.  Thus, it is a huge bummer that conventional mascaras are chock full of really frightening ingredients.  I’m not talking one or two bad ingredients, I’m talking formaldehyde releasers, mercury, Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, coal tar, petroleum distillates, vinyl, parabens, phthalates, and triethanolamine – all of which are being absorbed by the mucus membranes in your eyes.  We only get one pair of eyes and we need to take good care of them.  Switching this cosmetic out for a Clean version should be a high priority for all women.

Searching for a Clean mascara that measures up to one’s dirty old stand-by is not for the faint-of-heart.  However, just as there are a million dirty options out there, there is a Clean mascara for everyone.  Here are four that I have found to pass the test.



This mascara has a super Clean ingredient list: fructose, wild-crafted candelilla wax, organic aloe, and other botanicals.  Instead of triclosan or triethanolamine or paraben, Afterglow uses rosemary extract, a potent antioxidant, as a preservative.  The small wand allows me to reach every last tiny lash and it deposits serious pigment, creating dramatic lashes.  Cost: about $24.  Purchase it here.

Ingredients: aqua (purified water), fructose (organic, made from corn)*, euphorbia cerifera (wildcrafted candelilla) wax, caprylic/capric triglyceride, cera alba (organic beeswax)*, glycerin (vegetable), glyceryl stearate, stearic acid, mica, aloe barbadensis (organic aloe vera) gel*, citrus grandis (organic grapefruit) extract*, rosmarinus officinalis (organic rosemary) extract*, usnea barbata (wildcrafted lichen), arnica montana (organic arnica) extract*; May Contain [+/-]: titanium dioxide (77891), iron oxide (77492, 77891,77499), ultramarine blue (77007)  *certified organic




This mascara goes on smoothly and elegantly, much like many conventional mascaras.  However, it employs ingredients like silk powder, beeswax, and candelilia and rose waxes to seal and lengthen lashes and black tea and citronellol (a natural anti-fungal) as preservatives.  As my friend Katie says, this mascara is “legit”.  Cost: about $30.  Purchase it here.

Ingredients: Water (Aqua), Pyrus Cydonia Seed Extract, Alcohol, Saccharum Officinarum (Sugar Cane) Extract, Sorbitol, Ricinus Communis (Castor) Seed Oil, Acacia Senegal Gum, Cetearyl Alcohol, Beeswax (Cera Alba), Camellia Sinensis Leaf Extract, Melia Azadirachta Leaf Extract, Euphorbia Cerifera (Candelilla) Wax, Lysolecithin, Euphrasia Officinalis Extract, Silk (Serica) Powder, Hydrogenated Jojoba Oil, Rosa Damascena Flower Wax, Rosa Damascena Flower Oil, Fragrance (Parfum), Citronellol*, Geraniol*, Linalool*, Mica, Hectorite, Maltodextrin, Ferric Ferrocyanide (CI 77510), Carmine (CI 75470), Iron Oxides (CI 77491, CI 77492, CI 77499), Silica, Titanium Dioxide (CI 77891), Ultramarines (CI 77007) *Component of natural essential oils 



The double-brush wand on this mascara is great.  One side lengthens, the other side volumizes.  The formula is gentle and vegan and glides right on.  Argan and jojoba oils condition.  Cost: about $26.  Purchase it here.

Ingredients: Water, Grain Alcohol*, Stearic Acid, Beeswax*, Hydrolyzed Jojoba Esters, Algin, Argan Oil*, Licorice Root Extract*, Silk, Shellac, Jojoba Esters, Seabuckthorn Extract*, Shea Butter*, Vitamin E, Cocoa Seed Butter*, Coconut Oil*, Sunflower Seed Oil, Olive Fruit Oil*, Camelina Sativa Seed Oil, Vegetable Oil, Hydrogenated Lecithin, Tilia Cordata Flower Extract*, Rosa Centifolia Flower Extract*, Mallow Flower Extract*, Vitamin C, Fragrance (Natural Essential Oils), May contain: Iron Oxides, Ultramarines * indicates Certified Organic Ingredients ** for natural essential oils



Josie Maran Natural Volume Mascara
This one is my personal favorite of the bunch.  It lengthens and volumizes, and you can apply coat after coat without clumps.  The day I first tried this mascara, my skin felt dry and I applied an oil all over my face, including my eyes.  I also took a Pure Barre Class (during which sweat dripped down my face a few times. Hey, no judging).  And, guess what?  Josie’s mascara stayed put.  No flaking.  No smearing.  No running.  No dark shadow under my eyes.  And it washes right off.  AMAZING.    And while this is not the absolute cleanest mascara, it is pretty darn close, and my eyes are not irritated they way they become when I wear dirty mascara.  Furthermore, for each tube purchased, one dollar is donated to City of Hope, a cancer charity.  Cost: about $22.  Purchase it here.
Ingredients: Aqua (Water)**, Styrene/Acrylates/Ammonium Methacrylate Copolymer, Copernicia Cerifera (Carnauba) Wax**, Dilinoleic Acid/Propanediol Copolymer, Glyceryl Stearate, Stearic Acid, Oleic Acid, Polyvinyl Alcohol, Tromethamine, Kaolin**, PVP, Argania Spinosa (Argan) Kernel Oil**, Beeswax (Cera Alba)**, Hydroxyethyl Cellulose, Stearyl Palmitate, Aloe Barbadensis (Leaf) Extract**, Lecithin, Phenoxyethanol, Caprylyl Glycol, Potassium Sorbate, Hexylene Glycol, Laureth-4, Panthenol, Simethicone, Sodium Carboxymethylcellulose. MAY CONTAIN: Mica (CI 77019), Iron Oxide (CI 77499), Black 2**.


Please note: Clean waterproof mascara does not exist yet (sad face).

If you are a nut like me, you can purchase hundreds of disposable mascara wands for pennies on Amazon so you don’t deposit bacteria into your tube of mascara every time you apply it.  It protects your eyes from infection and extends the life of the product as well.

Other brands I have heard good things about are Korres and Organic Pharmacy.  If you are a fan of a Clean mascara not mentioned here, please share!