How To Find The Best Natural Mascara That Actually Works


They are so important. We must protect them. Letting makeup filled with coal tar and petroleum that’s contaminated with carcinogens, parabens that promote aging and sagging skin, and acne causing ingredients found in airplane deicing liquid drip into your eyeballs is not the answer!

I have to be honest though, I LOVE the way my eyes look when I have makeup on, but I hate the act of putting on makeup, so I do it, grudgingly… And once I found out all the crazy toxic ingredients the makeup industry uses in many conventional products my entire perspective changed. I go days without a lot of makeup on my face unless I’m on camera or have an event. Don’t get me wrong, being on camera has its perks and its disadvantages. It allows me to spread the message of organic, real and non-GMO food living to so many more people, but it also requires heavier makeup at times – those camera lights can be harsh let me tell ya!

When I’m behind the scenes blogging or living my day to day life I wear the least amount of makeup possible – maybe a little blush and lipstain and that’s it. But when I go on camera – it’s eyeliner, eyeshadow and mascara. Mascara was the first makeup product I changed out of my makeup bag, but it took me a long time to figure it out which brands actually work.

Here’s how to find the best natural mascara that actually works.


First, let’s talk about the ingredients in mascara you want to avoid:

  • PARABENS - Used as a preservative and is an endocrine disrupter that messes with your hormones. (Top Offenders: L’Oreal, Cover Girl, Avon, Bobbi Brown, Clinique, Maybelline, Neutrogena, Revlon, Chanel, Lancome)

  • PARFUM (a.k.a. fragrance) - Why do you need parfum on your eyes – that’s crazy. Oh it’s to cover up the smell of coal tar! This is even in some products marketed as “unscented.” Some fragrance ingredients can trigger allergies, asthma and acne, linked to cancer and neurotoxicity, and are harmful to fish and other wildlife.  (Top Offenders: Neutrogena, Lavera, Milani)

  • ALUMINUM POWDER - Considered a neurotoxin and linked to Alzheimer’s disease and other cancers. (Top Offenders: Cover Girl, Estee Lauder)

  • BHA and BHT: Used as a preservatives and is an endocrine disruptor and may cause cancer (BHA). Harmful to fish and other wildlife. (Top Offenders: Maybelline, Rimmel)

  • PROPYLENE GLYCOL:  Linked to acne, eczema, and other skin allergies. (Top Offenders: L’Oreal, Mineral Fusion, Rimmel, Avon, Maybelline)

  • COAL TAR DYES: p-phenylenediamine and colours listed as “CI” followed by a five digit number. The U.S. colour name may also be listed (e.g. “FD&C Blue No. 1″ or “Blue 1″). Potential to cause cancer and may be contaminated with heavy metals toxic to the brain. (Top Offender: Maybelline)

  • FORMALDEHYDE RELEASING PRESERVATIVES -  Look for DMDM hydantoin, diazolidinyl urea, imidazolidinyl urea, methenamine and quarternium-15. Used in a variety of cosmetics. Slowly release small amounts of formaldehyde, which causes cancer. (Top Offender: Almay)

  • RETINYL ACETATE (VITAMIN A ACETATE) - Biochemical or cellular level changes, Cancer, Developmental/reproductive toxicity, Organ system toxicity (non-reproductive) (Top Offenders: Elizabeth Arden, Almay, Revlon)

    *Ingredient research provided by The Environmental Working Group and David Suzuki Foundation*

I am a firm believer that if I eat the way I do, I can avoid the impact of most of the chemicals in my surroundings, but I also want to vote with my dollars and I refuse to buy products from companies that continue to pollute the environment and our bodies with loads of toxic substances. I also don’t like the idea that something I put on my eyes can potentially cause cancer over time, cause acne, aging or disrupt my hormonal balance. That’s why I went on a search to find a clean mascara – here are the ones that make the cut that I’ve personally tried… I know there may be some other ones available, but these actually work based on my experience.


Food Babe Approved Mascaras

  • Tarte “Lights Camera Lashes” Natural Mascara (Available for $14.99 at Amazon) - This is my absolute favorite mascara, it doesn’t clump or flake over time and it’s easy to wash off with any kind of facial cleanser – especially coconut oil. They also make a waterproof version called “Lights Camera Splashes” (Available for $19.00 at Amazon).

  • Josie Maran (Available for $22.00 at Sephora) - This one feels very luxurious with big volume, especially if you add another coat. 


  • Physicians Formula Organic Wear (Available for $11.60 on Amazon) - I like this one because it is available at most drug stores. One time I forgot my makeup bag while I was traveling and found this one at Walgreens – it totally did the trick considering all the other toxic alternatives that were available.

In the end – If you want to know if your makeup is safe and not toxic – check out the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep Database, they have thousands of your favorite brands listed with their safety ratings for you to investigate yourself…

Please share this post with all your lady friends – I’m sure they will be very appreciative.

Curl Those Lashes!

Food Babe

P.S. This is my FAVORITE eyelash curler in the whole wide world (I’ve tried them all and this is the best BY FAR!)… and remember to add carrot juice to your green juice, it’s amazing for those eyelashes. When I started doing this, my eyes got brighter and lashes got longer – it’s no joke!

NY Times Photoshoot: Travis Dove Photography
NY Times Photoshoot: Travis Dove Photography


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379 Responses to “How To Find The Best Natural Mascara That Actually Works”

  1. Lity

    Quick question FoodBabe,
    Tarte mascara lists it’s last ingredient as , “Iron Oxides (CI 77499)” which you said in your article above is “COAL TAR DYES: p-phenylenediamine and colours listed as “CI” followed by a five digit number. The U.S. colour name may also be listed (e.g. “FD&C Blue No. 1″ or “Blue 1″). Potential to cause cancer and may be contaminated with heavy metals toxic to the brain. (Top Offender: Maybelline)”.

    Is that specific version of it considered not harmful or are you just accepting, as I sometimes do with beauty products, that you can only get so natural without completely losing on quality and have to give in sometimes with some products?

  2. CarolAnn

    Love, love, love 100percent Pure fruit pigmented mascara! The ingredient list is beautiful and it works great. I’m a cryer and it isn’t waterproof, but it holds up very well most of the time.

  3. Elisabeth Revak

    Food babe, I have changed a lot of what I put on the surface of my skin, since our skin is semi permeable and absorbs more than half of what we put on it. I have recently been using coconut oil for face moisturizer and body lotion, but need help on which makeup products to use. I want a good-quality foundation and blush. What do you use and what do you recommend?

  4. Leah

    Would love to see a similar post on foundations. :)

  5. Claire

    Ok! So glad to read this and all the reviews. I actually work for a company called Beautycounter whose mission is to get safe beauty products into the hands of everyone! I have used Younique mascara before and it has awesome qualities but I was turned off by being marketed as having no harmful chemicals BUT really containing propelyne glycol! Beautycounter has some of the most stringent standards in our country! The US only bans 11 harmful ingredients (vs over 1300 in the EU) and companies are not required to disclose all of their ingredients. Beautycounter is different. We are working on a mascara which will hopefully come out in the spring. The standards are extremely high for safely and quality so that is why Beautycounter doesn’t have mascara yet. We just released tint skin complexion coverage and it’s fantastic! Safe & high quality. Feel free to check out my we page for more information! And you can email me with any other questions through there as well.

  6. Laura

    Parabens are not really bad. Toxicity depends on concentration. You should read the reviews on parabens stuff from SCSS.

  7. Crystal

    I looked up the Tarte “Lights Camera Lashes” Natural Mascara and the Josie Maran mascaras at and they also had not good ingredients in them. The best one was the Physicians Formula Organic Wear one. I used ewg Skin Deep Cosmetics database to look them up. They also have an app where you can scan barcodes of the products you already have or when you are at the store to help you make better decisions. I just started and had to throw out a lot of lotions and even Johnson and Johnson baby wash had formaldehyde in it which is proven to cause cancer! So scary! is the website and is the for the app or if you want to just type in the name of the beauty products you use to find out.

  8. Stef

    Arbonne “It’s A Long Story” Mascara is amazing as are all of their products..all are Pure, Safe and Beneficial!

  9. Louise Camilleri

    If it has water in it then it has to contain a preservative to avoid bacteria. Water is the first ingredient in this mascara. Triethanolamine is an irritant to those with allergic sensitivities as it is not recommended to be in contact with the skin for prolonged periods. It should also only be used in ‘rinse-off’ products. Chlorphenesin is an alcohol used as a germicide. The danger with any store bought mascara is the method of preservation (and every mascara has it’s chemical preservatives and anti-bacterials). There is a natural bacteria on the root of our eyelashes to keep them clean. Any germ or infectious bacteria from a mascara tube could cause serious damage to the eye if these bacterias mix and become infectious.
    For the most natural mascara you have to make your own in small quantities. I recommend getting black (or brown) mineral oxide powder and mix with Jojoba oil until smooth. Just enough to fill a tea spoon. Use a mascara brush tester stick and apply. One time use, no putting a brush back in the tube and your ingredients are simple with no shelf-life preservatives necessary. Cheers!

  10. Heather

    What is your opinion on Younique products? Are they safe to use or is it something I should stay away from??

  11. Sharrise

    I found Physicians Formula Organic Wear at Wal-Mart and was thrilled! Less than $7.00. I really like how it doesn’t irritate my eyes.


    Wonderful post. I appreciate your attention to this subject and I learned a good deal.

  13. SARA

    What about Lavera products? They claim to be all natural without any harmful ingredients also so I’m curious about them.

  14. Debi W.

    You misquoted the price for Tarte Lights, Camera, Lashes! Mascara, it’s $24.94 not $14.99. I’m confused now with all the comments. Is it safe? However, due to the price I’ll try and find Physician’s Formula.

  15. Patty Strowbridge

    Hi food babe, please try Younique’s 3D fiber lash mascara. The fibers are made of 100% green tea leaves extract. It’s truly the most amazing natural based mascara I’ve found. The best part about it….it adds length and volume to your lashes AND it washes easily with water! If you’d like to check it out you can order through my website Money back guarantee if you are not completely satisfied. My fb page is Youniquely You by Patty

  16. Doe Carrasco

    I work with a company called Youngevity that is all about toxin free makeup and skin care at reasonable prices. Please check out our mascara and other products so we can make the grade on your site! Love your blog! Thank you for all the great information! You can contact me through my website:


    I bookmarked this web. I will come back to continue learning about your web design.I’m glad Yahoo pointed me to it. I was able to get the know-how I was searching so badly for days now.Thank You very much for your really good web page. Have a good day.It’s very useful for everyone for sure.

  18. Holly (to Olivia)

    Did you look at the ingredients to avoid? Younique uses quite a few of them.

  19. Olivia (to Holly)

    Hi Holly, so I’m a little confused because The EWG lists Younique’s 3D fiber lash as a 2. Food Babe recommends Tarte and the EWG lists it as a 5. I had my organic Esthetician look at the ingredients and she was happy that she finally had one she could endorse. Thank you for your comment.

  20. Assistant to Food Babe (Pam) (to Olivia)

    Hi there! Just letting you know that the EWG website is not up to date on the Tarte mascara. The ingredients are listed on the Tarte website, and it is formulated without any parabens:

    “Water/aqua/eau, oryza sativa (rice) bran wax, cyclopentasiloxane, hydrogenated stearyl olive esters, stearic acid, cera carnauba/copernicia cerifera (carnauba) wax/cire de carnauba, triethanolamine, alcohol denat., candelilla cera/euphorbia cerifera (candelilla) wax/cire de candelilla, acacia senegal gum, panthenol, VP/VA copolymer, polyvinyl alcohol, aminomethylpropanediol, chlorphenesin, iron oxides (CI 77499).
    - formulated without parabens, formulated without mineral oil, formulated without phthalates, formulated without sodium lauryl sulfates, formulated without gluten”

  21. jennifer (to Assistant to Food Babe (Pam))

    Yes I sqw tarte got a bad rating too

  22. Millie (to Angie)

    Sephora allows you to return opened and used products.


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