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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’s Favorites

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

Editorial note: Updated on 9/5/18 to include my current favorite mascara. 

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475 responses to “How To Find The Best Natural Mascara That Actually Works

  1. 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?

      1. I think the concern with iron oxide is it ability to accumulate in our system…also, though I am not 100% sure…they may have concern with nano particles, usually found in zinc oxides and such.

  2. 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. 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?

    1. You can try Ava Anderson Non Toxic BB cream, blush, and there is also a powder foundation. None of the bad stuff and lots of good stuff. Check it out at:

      1. Check out

        They also have 100% safe ingredients in them. They do not use water in them so they last longer and they have a fantastic price point.

    2. Ava Anderson non toxic, one of the brands of mascara that Food Babe recommended (it’s in the picture), has a foundation powder and powder blush as well as a bb cream. Her products typically rate a 0-2 on ewg’s skin deep website.

    3. I recommend Jane Iredale powder foundation! By far one of the best high-end powder foundations available in the market and it only has like 6 ingredients! I have tried Dior, Lancome, Becca, and all those other Sephora mineral foundations and they pale in comparison to Jane Iredale in terms of ingredients, not oxidizing on my face, lasting power, and waterproof-ness!

      I’m also extremely sensitive to products with crap ingredients, like alcohol, silicones, and parabens, and this foundation is seriously the best. Plus it has SPF 20!


      I believe they only sell this product online and in spas! highest quality stuff 🙂

    4. Foundation- equal parts arrowroot and cocoa powder. Add more of one or the other to adjust color to suit you. It works! Found it and awesome deodorant DIY at
      Eyeliner that scored a 1 on the EWG site and works really well is black Ecco Bella Flower Color. Ordered online. I love it. Still looking for the safest eyeliner.

  4. 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.

    1. Hi Claire,

      You and I are on a similar mission. I checked out your website and picked just one product and looked up the ingredients. The price point seems a bit high and the first ingredient is water. I am looking at the tint skin and notice that they use titanium dioxide without giving reference to whether or not it is a non nano particle zinc oxide. In the EU it is required of them to list the particle size and not in the US. Do you know if this is non nano particle? From what I have researched, a product must indicate that it is a non nano particle zinc oxide or titanium dioxide . Nano particles can cross the cell barrier and drive into the organs , including the brain in humans and there is no way of knowing the particle size, unless stated on the label. Thank you in advance.

      1. Charissa, Beautycounter does not use nano particles! You can type in nano particles on our website and we discuss why we don’t use it. Our head of health and safety at Beautycounter is Mia Davis. She has been instrumental in getting toxic chemicals out of products through her endeavors and with the campaign for safe cosmetics. The product is not cheap but it is reasonable and comparable to department store prices without department store chemicals.

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

  6. 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.

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

      1. Actually, Arbonne’s mascara and an old formula for a one of the sea salt scrubs rates as a 2… and the 3 products that are listed with poorer ratings are out of date, and have been reformulated. Please check your facts before commenting.

  8. 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!

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

  10. 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.

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

  12. 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.

    1. Hi Liliana, 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”

      1. Liliana,
        This article about mascara and the list of harmful ingredients is what peaked my interest to the Food Babe site. I’m confused. One of the known damaging ingredients is the coal tar. CI followed by a five digi#. Yet items are being recommended that carry this.

        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) 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)

  13. Now that I have some great sounding mascara’s to try, can you help with eye shadow. I am also allergic to that. I cannot use anything with a shine and can use matte but not for long. I am using Laura Mercier, matte colors. It’s ok for a while but, it begins to irritate and burn my eyes about 2-3 hours after applying. Please help. I believe my Dr told me I am allergic to mica? Does that sound right?

      1. Hi Janet,

        The eyeliner in the guide appears to be discounted. Is there another safe alternative?


  14. Hi, what is a good skin care line as well as good cosmetic line free of these damaging chemicals? I’m looking to dump and start fresh . Currently using Control corrective for skin care (near end of products) and Aveda inner light Foundation. I found that control corrective has some ingriedients un known to me before hand, that are not so good after all. Guess my esthetician might not be so aware? Suggestions ?

    1. Ava Anderson non toxic (it’s one of brands For Babe recommended for mascara) carries a wonderful skin care line. Her products rate a 0 – 2 on the ewg’s website. I love them!

      1. Thanks for sending the info. My concern after reading the ingredients is a reaction because of all the fruit extracts. I have very sensitive skin done well those types of products.

    2. Sonia, that’s true they many of Ava’s products contain fruit oils and extracts. For cleansing, try the bar soap or the clay mask. You’re supposed to let the mask dry 10 minutes but I would just use it like a cleanser. It leaves your face soft. I do know that some people find that only a few products from her line work for them as well because of their sensitive skin.

  15. I have found a natural waterproof amazing mascara that gives you such a full and thick effect it’s amazing!!!
    It’s £23 plus postage but beleive me it’s worth it. Comes from America and has been a huge hit over there!

  16. I have been using Pacifica mascara as a natural alternative but it is not listed in EWG. Any thoughts on Pacifica?

    1. I use Pacifica as well and love it. It doesn’t irritate my eyes and eye lids like a lot of brands. Plus, it’s cruelty free and vegan.

  17. Please do this exact same thing for other makeup also! I’d love to use more natural foundation, eye liner, eye shadow, etc.

  18. Have you tried Younique??? Here is a link to check out the website! I am doing this to ask not sell you! Full disclosure I am a presenter! https://www.youniqueproducts.comIngredients

    Transplanting Gel Ingredients: Water, Beeswax (Natural Propolis), Carnauba (Brazilian palm glue), Iron Oxide Cl 77499 (Black), Collagen, Acrylates Copolymer, Nylon, Stearic Acid, Propylene Glycol. .23 FL OZ / 7 ml

    Natural Fibers Ingredients: 100% Natural Fibers taken from Green Tea. Net WT .02 OZ/ .5g.

    Collagen is a type of protein that works with elastin to give skin its texture, structure, and appearance. It contains antioxidants, and may help add volume and shine to the appearance of eyelashes.

    Water (Aqua) is the liquid of life! Hydrates and cleanses the skin, and works as a natural spreading component, helping to distribute other ingredients evenly over the skin.

    Beeswax (Natural Propolis) is a brownish, resinous material collected by bees and believed to have antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties.

    Carnauba (Brazilian Palm Glue) is extracted and refined through a pressing and crushing process that turns the palm glue into an oil, creating the sticky nature of the transplanting gel. It is also believed to act as a natural preservative.

    Iron Oxide Cl 77499 (Black) is a technical name for Black Iron Oxide. This naturally-occurring mineral acts a colorant, giving the gel its striking black color.

    Acrylates Copolymer is an adhesive and binder, as well as a suspending agent.

    Nylon is a powder substance that is used as an absorbent and thickening agent.

    Stearic Acid (also known as Palmitic Acid) is an organic nutrient derived from palm trees that is often used to soothe and soften the skin.

    Propylene Glycol is a humidifying and delivery ingredient.

    Thanks!!! Pls let me know what you think!

      1. It isn’t good…it is a synthetic petrochemical mix known to cause allergic and toxic reactions. It is linked to cancer, developmental/reproductive issues, neurotoxicity and endocrine disruption.

  19. I have sensitive skin. I have used MAC cosmetics since I was 16. Food babe do you have information on their mascara and lipsticks?

    Thank you.

    1. They greenwash! They don’t disclose all of their ingredients which makes me suspicious of what they are trying to hide.

  20. How about also including brands that don’t test on animals? That’s also important! Thank you for all that you do!

      1. Thanks for the info on cruelty free products. Many of us who care about what we put into and on our bodies also care about animals and purchasing only cruelty free. I hope Food Babe would start mentioning this and mentioning only products who are good for humans and animals alike. Thank you!

  21. The physician formula mascara has these ingredients, Cellulose Gum, Glycerin, Magnesium Aluminum Silicate, Water, Glyceryl Caprylate, Leuconostoc/Radish Root Ferment Filtrate May Contain: Titanium Dioxide
    The one in concerned about is magnesium aluminum silicate. Isn’t that bad. ??

  22. Just wondering, how do you use coconut oil to remove mascara? Do I make sure it is in liquid form or not? Add anything to it?

  23. Dear Vani, Your are awesome and I think you are making a big difference in the world. I do have a comment about Tarte –the waterproof version, Lights Camera splashes. I tried it and had a horrible reaction for a month of severe itching. On EWG it has toxic ingredients. I LOVE Physician formula—-great! I just had to share my experience it might help someone else. I also like Dr. Haushkas mascara.
    Thanks again for all you do and I have also been enjoying your recipes. with Love and Light Jeanne

  24. I read this article interested to see what you had to say after a friend posted it. I find it interesting that the only products listed are those sold in retail store locations. I can tell you from research I’ve done that most retail store products carry more harmful toxic products that you want to know. I double checked all the ingredients that she listed against Younique’s 3D Fiber Lash mascara just to see. I knew Younique products are paraben free as well as gluten free and all natural. The only product that you deem harmful is propylene glycol which is used as a humidifing and delivery agent. I’d love to share with you the other natural based products that Younique offers.

  25. Black

    Water, Paraffin, Stearic Acid, Triethanolamine, Cera Alba/Beeswax/Cire Dabeille, Acacia Senegal/Acacia Senegal Gum, Palmitic Acid, Cera, Carnauba/Carnauba Wax/Cire De Carnauba, Hydroxyethylcellulose, Panthenol, Imidazolidinyl Urea, Sodium Polymethacrylate, Methylparaben, Propylparaben, Simethicone, Bht, Silica, Polyquaternium-10, [+/- May Contain: Ci 77499, Ci 77492, Ci 77491 / Iron Oxides, Ci 77007 /Ultramarines, Mica, Ci 77891/Titanium Dioxide, Ci 75470/Carmine, Ci 77510/Ferric Ferrocyanide].
    These are the ingredients in Lancôme Definicils!! This disgusts me for what I pay for this mascara!

  26. Have you ever heard of Arbonne skin care products and cosmetics? I am a consultant and would love your feedback on our It’s A Long Story mascara. Thanks so much for your product reviews, I find them so helpful and they really get me thinking and stick in my mind when I am shopping.

  27. After researching the skincare and home products I was using I made many changes. is a great resource for quick checking. I now use Alima Pure, S W Basics and some products from 100% Pure.

  28. I love Arbonne’s Its a Long Story Mascara! All of their products-skincare and cosmetics- are paraben free, have no formaldehyde, dyes, etc.

    1. Arbonne is cleaner than many products out there but they still contain many ingredients to avoid. They also do not give full disclosure to all of their ingredients. When asked to disclose them, they say you have to be a rep fr the company. They recommend you speak with a rep and they should assist you from there. There are just too many red flags. They also won’t allow for third party testing…what do they have to hide?

      1. Arbonne has ingredient lists readily available to all reps. Third party testing is done on all products regularly.

      2. You’re correct about the third party. I apologize. I was confusing with another company. I know that the ingredients are available to all reps, but why are they not readily available to consumers? A potential customer asked for the list of ingredients and was told that they could not share that with her, but they promise they are safe. Usually people that are checking ingredient labels have allergies or already aware. How are we supposed to just trust them. Reps are not doctors and should not make a claim that a certain ingredient is safe. As a rep myself for Ava if there is an ingredient they are concerned with that may have nuts in them, I suggest they consult with a Doctor first before they make a purchase. If there is concern whether or not a ingredient is safe for that individual or not, than the ingredients need to be disclosed to everyone not just reps.

      3. That’s surprising since the ingredients are printed on the product box. Some companies don’t disclose ingredients so readily due to proprietary and confidentialty purposes. Who knows if the prospective client is actually working for the competitor? If our country had stricter regulations on what we consume (in any form), we wouldn’t have to waste time and energy figuring it out.

      4. You are so right. It is unfortunate all the steps we have to take to be healthy. It is not right that there is no regulation on any manufacturing procedures…except the ban of 11 toxins! That is great that they label them on the box, I just wish for people interested, like so many of us on here, could go right to the sight and see for ourselves before making a purchase. Even competitors leave their ingredients out in the open.

  29. I have been trying “clean makeup for years, there’s finally some choice out there. Red Apple Lipstick is gluten free and makes a mascara and eyeshadows. 100% Pure has some decent offerings; I’ve tried Dr Haushka and am using various recommendations from No More Dirty Looks blog, which is to makeup what Vani hass been to food. Glad you are raising awareness on this too, Vani. We need to stop the chemical bath!!

  30. Why don’t you include Couleur Caramel’s mascara ? It’s the most amazing, organic
    mascara EVER !!!!

  31. I think the Body Shop’s is excellent. They were the first ones to care about our planet and testing on animals.

  32. My current brand (Just For Redheads) is not listed. It’s almost impossible to get a light brown mascara. These companies assume everyone wants black. Well, some of us are fair skinned and black looks awful on us. And when you’re over a certain age it makes you look like a clown! Not everyone wants to look like a racoon! I’m still searching for that perfect light brown mascara, but JFR’s Ginger Cocoa is the best so far. Any suggestions?

  33. Hi, totally appreciated this article, as it has been very dry here in LA an my eyes are becoming so sensitive. I checked out whole foods today and they had 3 mascara’s: Pacifica $13.95 (also cruelty free), Mineral Fusion $14. (Least amount of ingredients) , can’t remember the other brand. They all seemed like very good choices. None of these are mentioned here, I am so reluctant to go to the mall to buy makeup (or anything else for that matter) anymore for many reasons. Thoughts?

  34. I love 100% Pure products. I’ve not scrolled through the comments but when I read the ingredient list I see nothing that sets my teeth on edge. I especially LOVE their mascara. I wear contacts and until 100% Pure I’ve never worn a mascara that didn’t irritate my eyes. I love that it stays on all day but I can easily remove it with warm water at night.

  35. One natural mascara I LOVE is Ere Perez waterproof mascara. It’s just SO GOOD. It’s definitely pricey and the shipping hurts but it’s SO worth it. My eyelashes do not hold a curl so this one is definitely a keeper. I’m gonna try the Tarte one, though, as I had no idea they’re natural.

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