In Search of the Safest, Affordable, and Most Easily Obtained Mascara

by Janice Caceres

For several years now, I have been desperately trying to find a truly safe mascara that I can just go BUY without having to order online. My current criteria are as follows:

  • Easy to obtain.
  • While I do not mind ordering online sometimes, when I run out, I run out. Or, more likely, when I throw it out, I throw it out. Plus, I really like to look at products before I buy—reading the entire package, mulling it over, and so forth. I also like being able to take a product back if it has an adverse effect—most drugstores allow for this, although most natural food stores do not. And, if it is an online order, it is doubly difficult, even if the company does offer refunds.

  • Cost.
  • Due to multiple sensitivities, I change my mascara once a month and do not wear it every day. As we are very tightly budgeted, I prefer to not spend over $10.00 for a tube I may only use 5 or 6 times.

  • Absolutely no parabens.
  • While methylparaben is considered to be a relatively safe preservative, I (and others) are allergic to it, as well as other parabens. Parabens are also suspected of contributing to breast cancer. I am also sensitive to related ingredients used as preservatives, such as phenoxyethanol.

  • Company policy.
  • I prefer, of course, a company that does not test on animals and that has signed the Compact for Safe Cosmetics ( Sometimes, it is difficult to get up-to-date information on this.

    Here are some mascaras that I have looked into:

    Longcils. Cake mascara has a longer life after opening than tubed mascara, due to its formulation and packaging. However, while the information on EWG (Environmental Working Group, is good, on some items, such as Longcils, ingredients have been left out of their review. Longcils actual ingredient list is as follows:

    Cera Alba, TEA Stearate, Acacia Senegal, Agua, Gylceryl Abietate, Imidazolidinyl Urea, Methylparaben, Propylparaben, Parfum, Methylchloroisothiazolinone, Methylisothiazolinone, Hydroxycitronellal, 2, 4 Tert Butylbenzyl Propionaldehyde, Linalool, Hexyl Cinnamic Aldehyde, 3 Methyl 4 3 Butene 2 One (2,6,6-Trimethyl-2-Cyclohexane-1-Yl), May Contain (+/-): CI 77499, CI 77007, CI 77288, CI 77491, CI 77492

    With this information, EWG rates it at a 5. Not too bad, but it is also not easy to find and, if you do not like ordering online, it is extremely difficult. It also contains parabens.

    Honeybee Gardens. Again, a bit difficult to find unless you order or it is carried by your local health food store—sometimes it is, sometimes it is not. The ingredients are as follows:

    Purified water, vegetable glycerin, beeswax, copernicia cerifera (carnauba) wax, vegetable glyceryl stearate, lecithin, vegetable stearic acid, safflower oil, glycine soja (soybean) oil (and) aloe barbadensis leaf extract, simmondsia chinensis (jojoba) seed oil, silica, cellulose gum, tocopherol, xanthan gum, chamomilla recutita (matricaria) flower extract, rosmarinus officinalis (rosemary) leaf extract, cucumis sativus (cucumber) fruit extract, phenoxyethanol. May contain: mica, titanium dioxide (CI 77891), iron oxides (CI 77491, 77492, 77480).

    EWG rates it at a three. However, phenoxyethanol, while not overly hazardous, is very close to a paraben. I have a problem with it, as it irritates my eyes. Honeybee Gardens does not test on animals.

    L’Oreal has a new mascara out that advertises “no parabens”. The product is in their Bare Naturale line and, indeed, there are no parabens. However, again, phenoxythanol is an ingredient and it contains triethanolamine, which allows mascara to be washed off easily, and which the EWG rates at a 7.

    Overall, the product rates at a 5. Another “however”: L’Oreal has NOT signed the Compact for Safe Cosmetics. In 2007, they received validation from The European Centre for the Validation of Alternative Methods (ECVAM) for a new irritancy test that has been deemed a safe alternative to animal testing, engineered on human epidermis. According to European Union rules, animal testing in cosmetics must stop once alternative options have been introduced. However, according to PETA sources, even though L’Oreal signed PETA’s Statement of Assurance in 1993, PETA removed them from the “Does Not” list to the “Does” list later.

    In 2007, L’Oreal announced an end to all animal testing, although they claimed not to do so since 1989. Actually, they do not test the end products on animals, but they use ingredients which HAVE been tested on animals. So, since L’Oreal is iffy, L’Oreal would be out.

    Bare Escentuals mascara contains parabens and phenoxyethanol.

    EccoBella has parabens.

    Palladio is supposed to be “all natural”, but its ingredient list is as follows:

    Aqua, Oryza Sativa (Rice) Bran Wax, Sucrose Stearate, Beeswax (Cera Alba, Copernicia Cerifera (Carnauba) Wax, Stearyl Alcohol, Diglycol/CHDM/Isophthalates/SIP Copolymer, PEG-120 Methyl Glucose Dioleate, Cyclopentasiloxane, Methylparaben, Dimethicone, Disodium EDTA, Simethicone Propylparaben, Panax Ginseng Root Extract, Camellia Sinensis Leaf Extract, Ginkgo Biloba Leaf Extract, Anthemis Nobilis Flower Extract. may contain: CI 77891 Titanium Dioxide, CI 77491 / 77492 / 77499 Iron Oxides, CI 77019 Mica, CI 77007 Ultramarines.

    Natural mascaras such as Larenim (around $14.99, in some stores and online) Miessence (around $22-$23.00, in some stores and online), Dr. Hauschka (very pricey, usually around $25.00, online), Gabriel Cosmetics ($14.00 online), RealPurity (wax based, $13.99 online), Earth’s Beauty, (3 gram travel size $7.95 ea., 9.4 gram full size, $12.95 ea, online—this one is my choice because of the availability of the small size), and Suncoat (sugar based, $14.99 online, no nano particles) are wonderful products and, as I have found in my thus-far fruitless search for an easily obtainable and affordable mascara, if you are a die-hard mascara fan and wear it every day, these would be worth ordering online.

    And, so, my search continues…in the meanwhile, I am going to try Earth’s Beauty. The low price and trial size eliminates some of the guilt during these difficult economic times.

    Comments for In Search of the Safest, Affordable, and Most Easily Obtained Mascara

    Click here to add your own comments

    I am really enjoying NEW
    by: Rashid Degtyarev

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    an alternative NEW
    by: Janice

    I finally gave up; however, I happened upon Pacifica's gel eyeliner--I've been using it as both eyeliner and mascara and it works pretty well. Doesn't thicken, but it does add color to the ends and doesn't seem to run on me. Pacifica is a Portland, OR based brand, gluten free and, IMO, pure.

    exciting NEW
    by: Anonymous

    I searched this website for many days your site is giving us much information about all topics. thanks for this nice post keep it up where to buy cardboard boxes for moving

    Mascara NEW
    by: Anonymous

    I trust mascara will be mascara. perhaps I'm wrong, however I cannot force myself to pay such a great amount for a mascara. assignment help .all mascaras coat your genuine lashes and make them emerge more. I don't think a mascara could make my lashes look longer in the event that they are short. they essentially simply brush out your lash and coat it. you could utilize a temples brush to do that and some shoddy mascara to coat the lashes. yet, perhaps that is just me. I utilize any of maybellines on the grounds that they are modest. I attempted Clinique mascaras I didn't see a distinction.

    Most Ea NEW
    by: Anonymous

    nice post..

    Younique Independent Presenter NEW
    by: Sandy Eickhoff

    You need to try Younique's 3D FiberLash Mascara...comes with one tube of transplating gel that contains Collagen and other natural a second tube with 100% Natural Green Tea Fibers to lengthen and thicken your natural lashes. 100% hypoallergenic, safe for contact lens wearers, water resistant and washes off with regular cleanser. Tubes last for 8-12 weeks and this product is amazing! Check it out here at

    A nickel free mascara
    by: Anonymous

    I just found a vegetable dye mascara with no nickel, iron oxides, parabens, etc. you can find it on the website. Good luck!

    Nickel allergy
    by: Anonymous

    I found that my only alternative has been to just not use it at all, since all of it has SOMETHING in there that can cause problems, and with your nickel allergy, well, that is a tough one to have--there are some ways of making your own online with charcoal supplements and aloe vera gel, but it only makes one use at a time--due to contamination issues, they say it is best to throw it out after the one use. If I find something, I'll post it, though!

    by: Anonymous

    I am desperately trying to find a mascara without ci77491 ci77492ci77489 ci77491 ci77499. I have a nickel allergy and it is sole destroying. Please help.

    removing waterproof mascara
    by: Inger

    Thank you for all your comments. I've just started looking for a waterproof mascara after Innoxa stopped making aqua lash. I was quite pleased to be leaving Innoxa as they are not the company they used to be and had increased their packaging (in this age where the earth is groaning under all our waste!) I has started using their products as they didn't test on animals but they obviously don't give a stuff about the planet. Anyway for years I have taken my waterproof mascara off with cold pressed vegetable oil. Works really well and cheap.

    100% Pure
    by: Janice

    Yes, the 100% Pure line is excellent--the mascara is a bit steep at 18.00 at this point (hopefully when finances iron out a bit), but the ingredients are great and I love the idea of a "shimmery" choice. RMS Beauty (Rose Marie Swift) is also in the process of trying to come up with one, as well (that is the make-up line I have used since Dec. 2011 and that I LOVE). Thanks for the suggestion!

    110% pure
    by: Anonymous

    have you tried the 100% Pure line's mascaras? I have heard a lot of glowing reviews...

    DIY mascara
    by: Janice

    Thanks for the feedback. I'm kicking around making my own (I recently converted to an avid DIYer) but in the interim, I'm using Physician's Formula Organic Wear. Not a first choice, as I'm not really too fond of the company, but works in a pinch and is very affordable and available (especially with BOGO or coupon sales). I'll post when I get a formula down pat.

    by: Anonymous

    This is extremely helpful. Especially now that I found out Maybelline, L'oreal, Rimmel London and even Neutrogena! test on animals. I can no longer even consider buying from them again. And I'm also worried about damaging my eyes and worried about the skin around my eyes. So thanks!

    Thinking about mascara
    by: Anonymous

    Just read your most recent post about the natural mascara dilemma. I do carry a natural mascara at my shop at the request of a couple of clients - but it retails for $22. No way around it, the ingredients and manufacturing just make it more costly.
    I was picturing in my mind how mascara works, and thought it might be possible to let people experiment with their own mascara with a bit of beeswax, plant oil (like Jojoba) and some natural black oxide minerals.
    Personally I only use a waterproof type to avoid irritation (I find non-waterproof horribly annoying) but for those looking for a 100% natural alternative it might be worth the experimentation.

    Thank you!!!
    by: Anonymous

    I was nervous about spending long hours doing all this research myself... afraid I'd not be able to find anything good and might just give up. I haven't felt comfortable wearing mascara for years now but I've been dying to show off my eyes sometimes. thank you so much for posting your findings! :) good luck.

    thank you very much
    by: Anonymous

    I spent a lot of time looking for a safe mascara. your site was VERY helpful.

    Update on Mascara Search
    by: Janice

    Star Rating is really N/A for this, but I do want to post this update to my ongoing mascara search:

    I recently started using Suncoat mascara, which is available at the online health store at which I shop. I love it. The company is Canadian. EWG rates it a 1, although I feel it would probably be safer to say it is a 2. These are the specs:


    Aqua (water), kaolin clay, vegetable glycerin, hydrolyzed Zee mays (corn) starch (natural sugar-based biopolymer), lecithin, Citrus grandis (grapefruit) seed extract, tocopherol (vitamin E), citric acid, iron oxide (CI 77499).

    Free of PVP (polyvinyl pyrrolidone polymer), acrylic copolymer, VA (vinyl acetate) polymer. Free of fragrance, paraben, alcohol and glycol.


    I replace my mascara every 3 months. At $10.76 (, it is not horribly budget breaking. $14.99 is the MSRP, but there are several sites that offer it at a discounted price. The company is progressing towards supplying all the necessary information for complete compliance with the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, which it has signed. Anyway, I am impressed with the product, which doesn't tend to run (at least for me), and is, so far, non-irritating.

    We have not come so far...
    by: Janice

    Yes, both of those sites are very useful, as is the Environmental Working Group site. Even the most "natural" products have ingredients that are "iffy"--sometimes I wonder just how far women have come in their search for beauty products since the days when they would ingest arsenic for that "healthy glow"...
    Angela: yes, that is probably the reason the Safe Shopper's Bible considers waterproof mascara the safest. For some reason, it broke my lashes even with the most gentle removal. But, the problem of it getting in the eyes is lessened with waterproof. Thank all of you for your suggestions and comments!

    Try waterproof, you might like it !
    by: Angela

    I to am irritated by many mascaras, that is why I switched to waterproof. Yes, I know that sounds contrary, but it actually is a solution.
    If you avoid touching the mascara to your eyelids and just apply it to the lashes you should avoid most problems.
    The very nature of waterproof mascara prevents excessive skin contact because it never runs.
    I used to get watery eyes from some eye shadows and then the mascara would run and it was an unholy mess !
    Since I have gone to waterproof exclusively (and more recently pure mineral shadow )I rarely have any irritation.
    Now I know what the next question will be - removing it can be a bear.
    You already have the solution to that - pure shea butter. It works like a charm.
    I use my own line of Shea butter face cream - not straight shea but it still works great.
    Here is my routine - it may work for you too.
    At night I wash thoroughly (with shea butter soap of course)but I don't really rub my eyelashes to prevent too much wear and tear (waterproof mascaras can be damaging if you try too hard to get them off ).

    I then massage in my shea cream and make sure to rub a bit of it into my lashes (mind you, they still have a fair amount of mascara still intact).
    And I don't really have a problem with it rubbing off on the pillowcase, as you might expect.

    First thing in the morning I just splash with some warm water and do another application of cream on face and lashes. When I am ready to shower I wash with shea soap again and by now the mascara is off. I use more shea cream under my mineral makeup (it clings better on well moisturized skin)but do NOT apply any to lashes at this point as it would interfere with the adhesion of mascara.

    There is sometimes a tiny amount of mascara still left at the base of the lashes but I actually consider this a bonus because I never have that totally washed out look you get if you have lighter lashes and pale skin. It never affects my application of makeup the next day either.
    I suggest you try some and see what happens.

    Most companies make a waterproof type and many are quite reasonable. Mabelline's basic version is perfectly adequate and doesn't contain those annoying fibers that are so prevalent in other brands.

    I am quite disappointed that some companies that make the cool colors like bronze and slate blue never offer it in a waterproof version. Sob ...


    Are you sure they are safe?
    by: Scribneoir

    Have you checked out and Have a look at your fave cosmetics and see how they do, after all the cosmetic company are not going to tell you about the mercury by themselves.
    namaste -

    Pure Ingredients Hard To Find
    by: Anonymous


    Unfortunately, I'm yet to find a mascara or make-up in general, that doesn't contain any nasties.

    The 'natural' ones often contain pure plant products, then mentioned somewhere else, are some very toxic ingredients.

    Also glycerin, other sugar derivatives and alcohol are ingredients often included, and that we should avoid.

    I'm still looking!


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