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

  1. Bella

    You said the Lavera is the top offender from scent part.
    Are you sure about that? Lavera is a very famous organic makeup brand in Germany.

  2. Tam

    The Tarte mascara does have toxic ingredients triethanolamine is one, cylopentasiloxane is another. I qon’t use this

    • Angela Batson (to Tam)

      UGH why does Vani say this is her favorite?? I so want to trust food babe but why do i keep reading comments that contradict what she says???

  3. Kristu

    I use Younique 3D Fiberlash mascara and love it! My eyes are sensitive but I have had no problem wearing it. I love it so much I decided to sell it. It’s honestly the best mascara I have ever used. Good luck ladies

  4. Kim Atkinson

    Thank you sooo much for this info! I’ve always wondered what all of that gobbledygook on my make up containers was. I’ve always suspected that it was toxic goop that someone made in a lab.

    I’ve only ever used all natural make up ever since I read an Australian study which proved that all natural cosmetics are far superior to chemical-based ones. Check out the study in the International Journal of Chemistry vol 1, no. 2.

    I’ll definitely give the Tarte mascara a try. Lucky I got an Amazon gift card for Christmas!

  5. Liz

    Hello! I am a new subscriber to the & I can honestly say that your efforts are helping me to look at health & food differently. I recently became very sick & afterwards really had to look at all possible angles as to how to maintain my health. I realized that sugar was one of the main culprits. But it wasn’t enough for me to hear it from a parent for example. You have spelled it out loud and clear for me & I realize that not only do I need to change, but I WANT TO! I Thank God that I stumbled upon your blog somehow, for your persistence & transparency. I needed to hear these messages.

  6. Jan

    What is magnesium aluminum silicate? I’ve always believed that anything with aluminum in it is harmful to us and I would think, especially having it close to our eyes in mascara. The Physicians Formula Organic Wear has it and so several of the other “natural” mascaras. I’ve been using the Maybelline Great Lash forever and want something without the toxins such as parabens. Can you please explain? Thanks!

  7. Samantha

    I have tried the physicians formula mascara and it works great. I get the same results as I would from name brand harsh chemical mascaras. Physicians Formula has some great organic and environmentally friendly products. My new favorites! Thanks Food Babe for opening my eyes to what’s in our make up!

  8. Candace Draper

    Have you ever tried NYR Organic mascara? It’s made in the UK so much higher standards than the US

  9. Dawn

    I’ve tried the Physician’s Formula, and it is terrible, and does not work well at all. I ended up throwing it away. It doesn’t do much for the lashes.

  10. Vanessa

    Hey Vani!
    This is so great! Thank you! do you have any thoughts about the homemade mascara with activated charcoal? I haven’t tried it yet, but wondering if you had.

    Thanks for your beauty tips!! (I might just go pick up the Josie Maran mascara tomorrow! =) )

  11. April

    A friend of mine raved about a mascara called Mega Lash from a company called Rejuva Minerals. I looked it up on and the ratings were really good. That’s important to me b/c I have a lot of sensitivities, especially around the eyes. I’d like to try it but I’m afraid it will be like many of the other natural/organic products I’ve tried. They either run, aren’t really thickening or cause my eyes to itch and swell a little. Has anyone else tried this?

  12. Holly (to Olivia)

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

  13. 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.

  14. 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”

  15. Holly (to Olivia)

    For example the mascara contains propylene gylcol and coal tar dyes.

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

    Yes I sqw tarte got a bad rating too

  17. Millie (to Angie)

    Sephora allows you to return opened and used products.


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