Mascara can be a HARD swap to make when it comes to buying better beauty. What should you consider when it comes to ingredients and how can you tell if a mascara is gonna work before you throw down your credit card to scoop one up? This best natural mascara buying guide is here to help, including my TOP picks and a detailed lookbook to give you up close and personal pics of what each one looks like applied. Get ready to shop!
By: Lisa Fennessy
Reviewed by: Kate Noonan
IN THIS POST:
- Why choose natural mascara
- What is natural mascara made of?
- My favorite natural mascaras
- Every natural mascara we’ve tried: a lookbook
- Natural mascara pro tips
- Coupon codes
- After reading this, most people bought…
- Natural mascara FAQs
Mascara. It’s most people’s “desert island” makeup pick and for good reason. Even without doing anything else, throw on a couple coats and it’s drab to fab. Right?!
Per ush, I’ve tried a crap ton of better-for-you mascaras but I wanted to highlight my top three picks with in-depth reviews, which is NOT EASY! As the ethical beauty realm continues to boom, formulas improve and competition gets tighter and tighter. There are SO MANY great formulas out there now that deliver across all categories making this list a true challenge to curate.
I love this “top 3” format, which you will continue to see more of here on the blog because giving you a list of “24 natural mascaras that work” just leaves people feeling confused. On the other hand, highlighting three (very different, yet all high-performing mascaras) while also providing short reviews + real pictures of the most popular better beauty mascaras helps you narrow down your choice while feeling confident and satisfied. PLUS, we’ve compiled best picks for vegan mascara, budget friendly mascara, volumizing mascara, waterproof mascara, lengthening mascara and more.
In other words, consider this post a “natural mascara easy button,” if you will.
But before we continue, let’s make sure we are on the same page. Here’s what’s important to me in a mascara:
- Performance. I want my mascara to actually work the way I want it to work.
- Ingredients. I want a formula free from concerning ingredients or better yet, I want a mascara that actually works to support and nourish lashes too.
If that sounds good to you, lessssgo. But first, let’s talk a little more about why ingredients matter.
RELATED: These are the ingredients we always say NO THANKS to.
Why choose natural mascara?
I’m a proponent of choosing a better-for-you mascara and the only way to help you do the same is to highlight some concerning ingredients you may see in conventional mascaras. LFG.
- Aluminum Powder (CI 77000): Aluminum is a human biological toxicant that enters the body through contact with skin and eyes, and is stored in nearly every organ, mostly the kidneys and brain (1–5). Dr. Kawahara, of Kyushu University and the Japanese National Institute of Health, states, “Aluminum inhibits more than 200 biologically important functions and causes various adverse effects…Considering its long half-life in the body, unnecessary exposure to aluminum should be avoided for human health” (6).
- Diazolidinyl urea: A formaldehyde-releasing cosmetic preservative that is a confirmed mutagenic compound (7,8). Formaldehyde is one of the most documented human carcinogens and it is unsafe at any exposure level (9).
- Parabens: Parabens are a category of cosmetic preservatives that are genotoxic xenoestrogens (10, 11). More here.
- Irritants like chloroxylenol, chlorphenesin, tropolone, propylene glycol, phenoxyethanol, calcium aluminum borosilicate (12–21).
- Carbon black (listed as Ci 77266), contains unacceptable levels of mutagenic impurities called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). PAHs cause this nano-pigment to test positive in mutagenicity assays (22, 23, 24).
RELATED: My favorite makeup brushes.
What is a natural mascara made out of?
So what can brands formulate with instead? Check out this skeleton formula from Molecular Biologist and Cosmetic Chemist Kate Noonan. This would be what a basic natural mascara would look like.
I find this super interesting and helpful to peep because you can appreciate how natural formulas deviate, i.e. adding conditioning and growth promoting agents to their formulas. And at the same time, we can appreciate that a mascara can still function without the addition of concerning ingredients👆.
Kate explains, a typical natural mascara is roughly formulated around:
- 20-30% plant wax or beeswax
- 8-15% fatty acids or plant butters
- 30-40% water
- 0.4-4% of an Ecocert emulsifier like polyglyceryl-6 distearate
- 4-6% Ecocert thickener like xanthan, guar gum, cornstarch, cellulose
- 2% organic glycerin or propanediol
- 0.4-1% Ecocert preservatives like glyceryl caprylate and phenethyl alcohol
- 8-12% iron oxide black Ci 77499 (Ecocert approved for purity)
My favorite natural mascaras
And, here they are! My current favorite natural mascaras. These are listed in order with my top pick listed first. (We update this post regularly so be sure to bookmark it and check back!)
#1: ILIA Fullest Volumizing Mascara | $28
Violin shaped wand, cruelty-free, formulated without gluten, black only
This is my go-to mascara currently and what you will see me wearing most days on social media. Whenever I wear this mascara, I get asked, “What mascara are you wearing?” It happens without fail. And for good reason.
This mascara is a BEAST when it comes to volume. At first I thought it was too clumpy, but after using it for a few weeks, I got used to the fatty wand and then at some point, it started making all my other mascara options seem wimpy in comparison. Now I’m obsessed and it’s my daily go-to.
Love the addition of arginine and provitamin B5 to help deliver long lasting moisturization, thicken, add shine and improve the condition of damaged hair (25). Dries quickly and is mega layerable. Four layers of this and you are taking out city blocks with a shifty side eye, lol.
Smudge free, flake free, easy to remove. This mascara is so bold, it’s the closest thing I’ve found that can compare performance-wise to anything conventional.
The only drawback is it may be a little too much for some people; the brush is a little cumbersome at first and it can take some getting used to especially to avoid clumping.
For more, including application pics, check out my full review here.
#2: ILIA Limitless Lash Mascara | $28
Rectangle silicone dual-sided wand, cruelty-free, formulated without gluten, soft black only
Consider this mascara the Jackie O of natural mascaras. A refined stand-out where the perfection lies in the details.
Wand: Above all, the ILIA Long Lash Mascara wand has been engineered to perfection. This patented, dual-sided wand has a shorter side to deliver product while the longer comb side lengthens and separates like a 🏆.
Length: The first thing you will notice when you apply this mascara is length. But what I really admire about this wand/formula combo is it’s über buildable. One coat, two coats, three coats…I mean, you can just keep going for longer and longer lashes.
Separation: Again, this wand delivers the ultimate performance in separation. No clumping or spidery lash looks. Nothing compares.
So in the end you are left with long lashes that are perfectly separated. Doesn’t flake, smudge or fallout. I actually wore it one day when I ended up crying the entire day on and off and this mascara stood the test of tears. Still no smudging, flaking or fallout. Also, it’s practically weightless and lashes feel light and flexible.
Key ingredients here include arginine to fortify lashes, organic shea butter to condition and beeswax to nourish. Made with 25% organic ingredients.
The only drawback is it’s a little short on volume.
For more, check out my full ILIA Review.
#3: Honest Beauty Extreme Length Mascara + Lash Primer | $17
Skinny-cone plastic brush, cruelty free, comes in black only
Gaaaah. This is my top budget pick, and every time I break out a new tube of Honest Beauty’s Mascara, I’m like dang this is so good—why did I ever stop?! The cheapest place to grab this is on Amazon (where you can sometimes find it for as low as $10), but you can most likely find it at your local Target too.
The Honest Beauty Extreme Length Mascara comes with a primer on one end and mascara on the other. Use the primer first for more volume and more length—most of the time, I use just the mascara and it still delivers.
Here we see good separation, volume, length and definition. It’s also easy to layer. Honestly? How is this mascara $17?!
Every natural mascara we’ve tried: a lookbook
It can be SO HARD to choose a mascara without seeing what it actually looks like applied, so we created this lookbook to showcase what I measured my top 3 against and why some popular formulas didn’t make the cut for me. Keep in mind what doesn’t work for one person could be another’s holy grail. Hopefully this will help bring clarity to your process or inspire a new fave.
Also all testing pics are TWO COATS on the top lashes, one coat on the bottom lashline. Wanted to level the playing field so you could see each one in true comparison. I apologize in advance for the eye closeups, lol.
ILIA Fullest Volumizing Mascara | $28
Smudge free, flake free, easy to remove. This mascara is so bold, it’s the closest thing I’ve found that can compare performance-wise to anything conventional.
Ingredients: Aqua/Water/Eau, Cera Alba/Beeswax/Cire d’abeille, Synthetic Beeswax, Glyceryl Stearate, Glycerin, Cera Carnauba/Copernicia Cerifera (Carnauba) Wax/Cire de Carnauba, Dimer Dilinoleyl Dimer Dilinoleate, Stearic Acid, Palmitic Acid, Ethylhexyl Polyhydroxystearate, Polyglyceryl-6 Polyricinoleate, Jojoba Esters, Acacia Senegal Gum, Panthenol, Benzyl Alcohol, Caprylyl Glycol, Sodium Hydroxide, Xanthan Gum, Caprylhydroxamic Acid, Arginine, Lauric Acid, Myristic Acid, Arachidic Acid, Oleic Acid, Tocopherol. May Contain/Peut Contenir (±): CI 77499 (Iron Oxide).
ILIA Limitless Mascara | $28
The first thing you will notice when you apply this mascara is length. Also it’s practically weightless and lashes feel light and flexible. The only drawback is it’s a little short on volume.
Ingredients: Aqua/Water/Eau, Cera Alba/Beeswax/Cire D’Abeille*, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea) Butter*, Polyglyceryl-6 Distearate, Dimer Dilinoleyl Dimer Dilinoleate, Glycerin, Cera Carnauba/Copernicia Cerifera (Carnauba) Wax/Cire De Carnauba*, Polyglyceryl-10 Myristate, Cetyl Alcohol, Glyceryl Caprylate, Leuconostoc/Radish Root Ferment Filtrate, Zea Mays (Corn) Starch*, Xanthan Gum, Arginine, Phenethyl Alcohol, Biotin, Urtica Dioica (Nettle) Extract, 1,2-Hexanediol, Caprylyl Glycol, Sodium Benzoate, Citric Acid, Potassium Sorbate, Benzoic Acid, Myristoyl Pentapeptide-17, Ci 77499 (Iron Oxide). *Organic Ingredients. Ingrédients Organiques
Honest Mascara | $17
Honest Beauty Extreme Length Mascara comes with a primer on one end and mascara on the other. Here we see good separation, volume, length and definition. It’s also easy to layer.
Mascara Ingredients: Water (Aqua), Beeswax (Cera Alba), Potassium Cetyl Phosphate, Glycerin, Glyceryl Stearate SE, Copernicia Cerifera (Carnauba) Wax, Castor Isostearate Beeswax Succinate, Acacia Senegal Gum, Cellulose, Glyceryl Behenate, Jojoba Esters, Tocopherol, Ethylhexylglycerin, Caprylyl Glycol, Cetyl Palmitate, Sorbitan Olivate, Sorbitan Palmitate, Xanthan Gum, Caprylic/Capric Glycerides, Sodium Benzoate, Cellulose Gum, Potassium Sorbate, Sodium Phytate, Phosphoric Acid, Iron Oxides (CI 77499).
Lash Primer Ingredients: Water (Aqua), Beeswax (Cera Alba), Potassium Cetyl Phosphate, Glycerin, Jojoba Esters, Glyceryl Stearate, Zea Mays (Corn) Starch, Copernicia Cerifera (Carnauba) Wax, Acacia Senegal Gum, Cetyl Palmitate, Sorbitan Olivate, Sorbitan Palmitate, Cetearyl Alcohol, Cellulose, Castor Isostearate Beeswax Succinate, Ethylhexylglycerin, Caprylyl Glycol, Caprylic/Capric Glycerides, Sodium Benzoate, Xanthan Gum, Cellulose Gum, Potassium Sorbate, Sodium Phytate, Tocopherol, Phosphoric Acid.
100% Pure Black Tea Fruit Pigmented Mascara | $28
I appreciate the ingredient innovation here. I find the brush to be too densely packed to get good separation.
Ingredients: Camellia Sinensis Leaf Extract (Organic Green Tea), Tocopherol (Vitamin E), Cera Alba (Honey Beeswax), Rubus Fruticosus Fruit Extract (Blackberry Extract), Ribes Nigrum Fruit Extract (Blackcurrant Extract), Rubus Idaeus Fruit Extract (Raspberry Extract), Hydrolyzed Oat Protein (Oat Protein), Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein (Wheat Protein), Pantothenic Acid (Pro-vitamin B5), Fucus Vesiculosus Extract (Seaweed Powder), Coconut Stearic Acid (Coconut Acid), Mica, Theobroma Cacao Seed Butter (Cocoa Butter), Pearl Powder, Oryza Sativa Germ Powder (Rice Powder), Theobroma Cacao Extract (Cocoa Powder), Coffea Arabica Seed Extract (Powdered Coffee Beans), Mel (Lavender Honey), Origanum Vulgare Leaf Extract (Oregano Extract), Thymus Vulgaris Flower/Leaf Extract (Thyme Extract), Rosmarinus Officinalis Leaf Extract (Rosemary Extract), Lavandula Angustifolia Flower/Leaf/Stem Extract (Lavender Extract), Hydrastis Canadensis Extract (Goldenseal Extract).
Antonym Lola Lash Too Mascara | $26
I actually really like this mascara. Volume is a strength here, so when I have it on hand I will apply one of my faves and then top it off with this and BAM. So much volume.
Ingredients: Aqua/ Water, Cera Alba/ Beeswax*, CI77499/ Iron Oxides, Glycerin, Copernicia Cerifera (Carnauba) Wax*, Stearic Acid, Triticum Vulgare (Wheat) Starch*, Glyceryl Stearate, Benzyl Alcohol, Prunus Amygdalus Dulcis (Sweet Almond) Oil*, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea) Butter*, Potassium Hydroxide, Xanthan Gum, Tocopherol, Dehydroacetic Acid, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil, Geraniol, Limonene, Parfum/Fragrance. *Ingredients from Organic Farming.
ATHR Big Bang Mascara | $28
Did someone say Black Diamond Powder??!! ATHR did. Plus they also said “strength, shine, vitality and smudge-free” and we saw all of that. Pigment was also rich and striking here. Wish there was a bit more separation and volume, and Nicolle just opened a new tube and said it was quite flaky on her skin all day long.
Ingredients: Aqua (Water/eau), Hydrogenated Olive Oil Stearyl Esters, Copernicia Cerifera Cera, Sucrose Stearate, Pentylene Glycol, Acacia Senegal Gum, Oryza Sativa (Rice) Bran Wax, Myrica Cerifera Fruit Extract, Euphorbia Cerifera Cera, Ricinus Communis, (Castor) Seed Oil, Myrica Pubescens Fruit Wax, Galactoarabinan, Xanthan Gum, Jasminum Grandiflorum Flower Cera, Leuconostoc/radish Root Ferment Filtrate, Lactobacillus, Cocos Nucifera (Coconut) Fruit Extract, Diamond Powder, May Contain (+/-) Ci 77499.
Clover Maxed Out Mascara | $18
Nicolle’s top budget pick. She loves it because it’s super liquidy and the wide bristles deliver a ton of product. I like Honest better because it’s not as goopy and I get more separation. Nicolle: “I’m allergic to beeswax, and it’s HARD to find a killer mascara that uses plant waxes instead of beeswax AND has a brown shade for those of us with lighter coloring. Clover’s has become my fave for daily use. Well, I don’t use any mascara daily, but I take this one when I travel, and that says A LOT.”
Ingredients: Water, Glycerin, Glyceryl Stearate, PVP, Stearic Acid, Candelilla Wax, Carnauba Wax, Coconut Oil, Cellulose, Hydroxacetophenone, Xanthan Gum, 1, 2-Hexanediol, Caprylyl Glycol, Sodium Hydroxide; May Contain Iron Oxides.
Ere Perez Avocado Waterproof Mascara | $28
This actually wears more water-resistant than waterproof, but it’s the only one in clean beauty marketed at “waterproof ” and most likely the closest you will find right now. Also just doesn’t compare volume, length, definition-wise to my top picks.
Ingredients: copernicia cerifera (carnauba) wax, elaeis guineensis (palm kernel) wax, glycine soja (soybean) seed oil, diheptyl succinate, capryloyl glycerin/sebacic acid copolymer, calcium stearate, licania arborea seem (cacahuananche) oil, pouteria sapota (mamey) oil, prunus amygdalus dulcis (sweet almond) oil, isopropyl palmitate, persea gratissima (avocado) oil, palmitic acid, tocopheryl acetate (vitamin e), citrus aurantium dulcis (orange) oil, citrus medica limonum (lemon) oil, citrus bergamia (bergamot) oil, iron oxides.
Erin’s Faces Matcha Mascara | $27.50
Great volume and length. Love the addition of green tea to help promote lash growth. Also love the recyclable glass tube. One of my top picks outside of my top 3 faves.
Ingredients: Aqua (Water), Cera Alba/White Beeswax, Castor Isostearate Succinate, Stearic Acid, Glycerin, Glyceryl Stearate, C10-18 Triglycerides, Cetearyl Alcohol, Coco-Glycerides, Pullulan, Trehalose, Acacia Senegal Gum, Xanthan Gum, Lauryl Glucoside, Myristyl Glucoside, Polyglyceryl-6 Laurate, Jojoba Esters, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Wax, Acacia Decurrens Flower Wax, Polyglycerin-3, Camellia Sinensis (Green Tea) Leaf Powder*, Cellulose, Caprylyl Glycol, Glyceryl Laurate, Glyceryl Undecylenate, Beta-Carotene, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil, Tocopherol.
Exa ten18 Lash Amplifying Mascara | $24
Good lash separation and length, but I wish I could get more volume out of it.
Ingredients: aqua (water), stearic acid, propanediol, glyceryl behenate, copernicia cerifera cera (copernicia cerifera (carnauba) wax), acacia senegal gum, polyglyceryl-6 distearate, c18-36 acid triglyceride, polyglyceryl-2 isostearate/dimer dilinoleate copolymer, pullulan, oryza sativa bran cera (oryza sativa (rice) bran wax), rhus succedanea fruit cera (rhus succedanea fruit wax), charcoal powder (bamboo), helianthus annuus seed cera (helianthus annuus (sunflower) seed wax), hydrogenated rice bran wax, sodium hydroxide, hydroxyacetophenone, xanthan gum, cellulose, 1,2-hexanediol, caprylyl glycol, citrus aurantium dulcis peel extract (citrus aurantium dulcis (orange) peel extract), ascorbyl palmitate, tocopherol.
Fitglow Beauty Vegan Good+ Lash Mascara in Rich Navy | $38
Fitglow Beauty can do no wrong when it comes to mascara (hello 3-in-1 conditioning, growth promoter and aesthetic GOAT) and they really outdid themselves with their latest color collection release including shades of navy and brown. Shades look subtle on camera, but trust me, when the light hits, it’s go time. The only downside is with this custom wand, it’s hard to get the inner corners of lashes. But if you are looking to channel your inner Tiffany via a grownup blue mascara, this one’s for you.
Ingredients: Aqua, Iron Oxide (CI 77499), *Euphorbia Cerifera (Candellila) Wax, *Copernicia Cerifera (Carnauba Wax), *Oryza Sativa (Rice) Bran Wax, Vegetable Collagen, *Myrica Pubescens Fruit Wax, Stearic Acid (Cocoa Source), *Equisetum Arvense (Horsetail Plant) Extract, *Olea Europaea (Olive) Oil, Sorbitan Sesquioleate, Propanediol / Pentylene Glycol / Phenethyl Alcohol (Non GMO Sugar Source), Hydrolyzed (Lupine) Plant Protein. *CERTIFIED ORGANIC INGREDIENTS
Honest Beauty Extreme Volume Mascara + Bold Lash Primer | $19.99
This new release comes with a primer and a mascara (same as the original). But this primer is a bright, neon blue, which Honest says creates a bolder, blacker lash. This wasn’t the standout for me as, let’s be honest, black is black when it comes to mascara. But what did stand out was the volume. The combo of the primer and the chunky wand deliver big volume and I love it.
The only downside is with that chunky volume, it’s hard to layer. Once the first coat dries, you are not going to get a smooth second coat. It’s like raking dried ground. And it did flake a little on me. But overall worth a try if you want dramatic lashes for less.
Primer ingredients: Water (Aqua/Eau), Polyhydroxystearic Acid, Copernicia Cerifera (Carnauba) Wax, Dioctyldodecyl Dimer Dilinoleate, Glyceryl Stearate SE, Polyglyceryl-6 Distearate, Polyglyceryl-10 Stearate, Stearic Acid, Propanediol, Hydrolyzed Corn Starch, Cellulose, Silica, Ricinus Comunis (Castor) Oil, Glycerin, Microcrystalline Cellulose, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice Powder, Algin, Xanthan Gum, Panthenol, Citric Acid, Trisodium Ethylenediamine Disuccinate, Hydroxyacetophenone, 1,2-Hexanediol, Caprylyl Glycol, Ultramarines (CI 77007)
Mascara ingredients: Water (Aqua/Eau), Polyhydroxystearic Acid, Copernicia Cerifera (Carnauba) Wax, Dioctyldodecyl Dimer Dilinoleate, Propanediol, Glyceryl Stearate SE, Polyglyceryl-6 Distearate, Polyglyceryl-10 Stearate, Pullulan, Stearic Acid, Cellulose, Sorbitol, Acacia Senegal Gum, Trehalose, Hydroxyacetophenone, 1,2-Hexanediol, Caprylyl Glycol, Xanthan Gum, Ricinus Communis (Castor) Seed Oil, Trisodium Ethylenediamine Disuccinate, Iron Oxides (CI 77499), Ultramarines (CI 77007).
Hynt Beauty Flyrt Mascara | $29
This was a favorite for a long time. Super feathery and pretty application. I still love this formula; it’s just not as bold as my top picks. Could be perfect for you.
Ingredients: Aqua (Water). Euphorbia Cerifera (Candelilla) Wax, C10-18 Triglycerides, Stearic Acid, Organic Copernicia Cerifera Cera/ Copernicia Cerifera (Carnauba) Wax*, Castor Isostearate Beeswax Succinate, Glyceryl Stearate, Glyceryl Caprylate, Glycerin, Glycerin (And) Aqua (And) Panthenol (And) Biotinoyl Tripeptide-1, Potassium Sorbate, Sodium Benzoate, Xanthan Gum, Cellulose, Tocopherol, Helianthus Annus (Sunflower) Seed Oil, , May Contain+/- Iron Oxide Black Cl 77499 *Certified Organic.
INIKA Organic Long Lash Mascara | $35
My fave for several years, this makes lashes pop in such a pretty way with length being a strong suit.
Ingredients: Aqua (Water), Copernicia Cerifera (Carnauba) Wax*, Stearic Acid, Ricinus Communis (Castor) Seed Oil*, Propanediol, Pentylene Glycol (Sugar Cane), Glyceryl Stearate SE, C10-18 Triglycerides, Tocopherol (Vitamin E), Honokiol (Magnolia Bark Extract), Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil, Xanthan Gum, Kaolin, Sodium Hydroxide, Galactoarabinan, May Contain (+/-) Iron Oxides (CI 77499, CI 77491, CI 77492), Titanium Dioxide (CI 77891). *From Organic Agriculture, 100% Natural Origin of Total
INIKA Organic Curvy Lash Mascara | $35
Marketed as a curling and lengthening mascara, it definitely does that, but lacks volume IMO, which (outside of good ingredients) is what I look for in a mascara the most.
Ingredients: Aqua (Water), Copernicia Cerifera (Carnauba) Wax*, Stearic Acid, Ricinus Communis (Castor) Seed Oil*, Propanediol, Pentylene Glycol (Sugar Cane), Glyceryl Stearate SE, C10-18 Triglycerides, Tocopherol (Vitamin E), Honokiol (Magnolia Bark Extract), Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil, Xanthan Gum, Sodium Hydroxide, Galactoarabinan, Iron Oxides (CI 77499). *From Organic Agriculture, 100% Natural Origin of Total
Izzy Zero Waste Mascara | $39
The Rent the Runway of mascaras. Once you use up your tube, you send it back in a zip bag, Izzy cleans, refills and reuses the stainless tube and you get a refill sent back to you. Flakes a little and I don’t love all the ingredients, but this is by far the most sustainable option on the block.
Ingredients: water (aqua), iron oxides (CI 77499), helianthus annuus (sunflower) seed wax, styrene/acrylates copolymer, glyceryl stearate, myrica pubescens fruit wax, stearic acid, glyceryl, glycerin, PROPANEDIOL, copernicia cerifera wax, acrylates copolymer, vp/eicosene copolymer, rhus succedanea fruit wax, olea europaea (olive) oil unsaponifiables, aminomethyl propanediol, xanthan gum, tocopherol, ethylhetyglycerin, caprylyl glycol.
Lily Lolo Natural Vegan Mascara | $19.50
This formula dries up on me so quickly. I feel like I can never use it long enough to get my money’s worth. Nicolle does love it as a vegan option though!
Ingredients: Aqua (Water), Myrica Pubescens Fruit Cera (Myrica Pubescens Fruit Wax), Propanediol, Copernicia Cerifera Cera (Copernicia Cerifera (Carnauba) Wax), Polyglyceryl-6 Distearate, Sucrose Stearate, Acacia Senegal Gum, Glyceryl Dibehenate, Helianthus Annuus Seed Cera (Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Wax), Lactobacillus Ferment, Polyglyceryl-10 Myristate, Oryza Sativa Bran Cera (Oryza Sativa (Rice) Bran Wax), Glyceryl Caprylate, Rosa Canina Fruit Oil, Argania Spinosa Kernel Oil, Xanthan Gum, Potassium Sorbate, Glyceryl Undecylenate, May Contain Iron Oxides.
RMS Straight Up™ Volumizing Peptide Mascara Mascara | $28
Love the wand, which brings all the drugstore fatty wand feels. Decent performance. Just doesn’t compare to my top picks when it comes to volume or length. Also it tends to clump in the tube and on lashes… (Nicolle jumping in: “This is my top pick for a beeswax-free black mascara. I find that I can get it to give me great volume, but I don’t need much length support—my lashes are LONG.”)
Ingredients: Water/Aqua/Eau, Euphorbia Cerifera (Candelilla) Wax/Candelilla Cera/Cire de candelilla, *Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea) Butter, Polyglyceryl-6 Distearate, Glycerin, Dimer Dilinoleyl Dimer Dilinoleate, Copernicia Cerifera (Carnauba) Wax/Cera Carnauba/Cire de carnauba, Polyglyceryl-10 Myristate, Cetyl Alcohol, Glyceryl Caprylate, Leuconostoc/Radish Root Ferment Filtrate, *Zea Mays (Corn) Starch (non-GMO), Butylene Glycol, Xanthan Gum, Arginine, Phenethyl Alcohol, Portulaca Grandiflora Extract, Camellia Sinensis (White Tea) Leaf Extract, Glycoproteins, Oligopeptide-2, Iron Oxides (CI 77499).
Saie Mascara 101 | $26
Saie Mascara 101 is marketed as a thick, buildable formula that’s conditioning, strengthening, moisturizing and lengthening. We are here for all of that, but during testing found that it can wear a bit thin and a bit clumpy. We wish the wand gave more separation and the formula wore more voluminous.
Ingredients: Beeswax (Cera Alba) Water (aqua) Iron Oxides (CI 77499) Shea Butter Polyglyceryl-6 Distearate Dimer Dilinoleyl and Dimer Dilinoleate Glycerin Copernicia Cerifera (Carnauba) Wax Polyglyceryl-10 Myristate Agropyron Repens Root Extract Arginine Leuconostoc (Radish Root) Ferment Filtrate Zea Mays (Corn) Starch Glyceryl Caprylate Xanthan Gum Cetyl Alcohol Phenethyl Alcohol Potassium Sorbate Sodium Benzoate.
Tower 28 Make Waves Lengthening + Volumizing Mascara | $20
Tower 28 markets this mascara as a sensitive eyes vegan mascara that volumizes, lengthens and defines. We can’t testify to the actual application on sensitive eyes (Nicolle, our resident sensitive-everything team member, hasn’t tried it). A lot of the hype here is around their “breakthrough Triple-Wave Wand” and I don’t think I got to try that with their sample size. Regardless, after trying, we can attest it wore virtually clump free, volumizing and delivered decent separation. For $20, this is a needle in the haystack find.
Ingredients: water/aqua/eau, copernicia cerifera (carnauba) wax/cera carnauba/cire de carnauba, glyceryl stearate, hydrogenated olive oil stearyl esters, synthetic wax, vp/va copolymer, stearic acid, helianthus annuus (sunflower) seed wax, palmitic acid, butylene glycol, olea europaea (olive) oil unsaponifiables, aminomethyl propanol, ricinus communis (castor) seed oil, 1,2-hexanediol, caprylyl glycol, polyimide-1, galactoarabinan, rhus succedanea fruit wax, shorea robusta resin, sodium dehydroacetate, lecithin, tocopherol, ascorbyl palmitate, citric acid, iron oxides (ci 77499), ultramarines (ci 77007).
W3LL PEOPLE’s Expressionist Volumizing Mascara | $20
This formula stung my eyes. I’m still trying to figure out what ingredient is causing this reaction for me. (Maybe it’s castor oil?) They did just reformulate it though (used to have beexwax, now it’s vegan), and we haven’t tried the most up to date one, so it could be better! We’ll sample it and let you know.
Ingredients: Water (Aqua), C10-18 Triglycerides, Bis-Diglyceryl Polyacyladipate-2, Copernicia Cerifera (Carnauba) Wax/Copernicia Cerifera Cera,Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Wax/Helianthus Annuus Seed Cera, Stearic Acid, Glyceryl Stearate, Palmitic Acid, Glycerin, Olea Europaea(Olive)Oil Unsaponifiables/Olea Europaea Oil Unsaponifiables, Shorea Robusta Resin, Glyceryl Caprylate, Octyldodecanol, Aminomethyl Propanol, Microcrystalline Cellulose, Rhus Verniciflua Peel Wax/Rhus Verniciflua Peel Cera, Xanthan Gum, Potassium Sorbate, Tocopherol, Glyceryl Undecylenate, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil/Helianthus Annuus Seed Oil.
Westman Atelier Eye Love You Mascara | $58
For $58, this mascara should knock a bag of chips off the counter 9 feet away if I glance right. Can I get a witness?! Love the uber chic packaging and the luxe vibe, but in the end, two coats delivered a spidery, thin and clumpy look. It also flaked off easily. Wouldn’t repurchase.
Ingredients: aqua/water, cera alba/beeswax, copernicia cerifera cera/copernicia cerifera (carnauba) wax, sucrose distearate, cichorium intybus root extract/cichorium intybus (chicory) root extract, propanediol, helianthus annuus seed cera/helianthus annuus (sunflower) seed wax, sucrose stearate, galactoarabinan, caprylyl glycol, caprylhydroxamic acid, glycerin, sodium hydroxide, ci 77499/iron oxides.
Zuzu Luxe | $17.60
A good budget pick. Honest Beauty is just way better. (Love that it comes in Navy.)
Ingredients: Aqua (Infusion of Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice), Cellulose Gum, Sorbitol, Stearic Acid, Cetearyl Alcohol, Lecithin, Panthenol, Crithmum Maritimum (Sea Fennel) Extract, Tocopheryl Acetate, Euphrasia Officinalis (Eyebright) Extract, Xanthan Gum, Iron Oxides, Hectorite, Titanium Dioxide, Potassium Sorbate.
Natural mascara FAQs
Look for mascaras that are formulated without the use of aluminum powder, Diazolidinyl urea, parabens, carbon black and irritants like chloroxylenol, chlorphenesin, tropolone, propylene glycol, phenoxyethanol, calcium aluminum borosilicate. Learn more here.
Swirl, don’t pump the wand into the tube.
Don’t add water to your mascara.
Try layering different mascaras.
Toss mascara after 3 months.
Recycle your mascara once done using.
Learn more here.
Per Kate Noonan, Molecular Biologist and Cosmetic Chemist, a natural mascara should be formulated with:
20-30% plant wax or beeswax
8-15% fatty acids or plant butters
0.4-4% of an Ecocert emulsifier like polyglyceryl-6 distearate
4-6% Ecocert thickener like xanthan, guar gum, cornstarch, cellulose
2% organic glycerin or propanediol
0.4-1% Ecocert preservatives like glyceryl caprylate and phenethyl alcohol
8-12% iron oxide black Ci 77499 (Ecocert approved for purity)
Learn more here.
Coupon codes for natural mascara
- AILLEA: NEWKNEW15 will save you 15% on your first order online or in store.
- The Choosy Chick: THENEWKNEW will save you 10%.
- The Detox Market: TNK15 will save you 15% on your first order.
- Erin’s Faces: NEWKNEW will save you 10% on a one-time purchase.
- Fitglow: NEWKNEW20 will save you 20% sitewide.
To save on other ethical beauty and lifestyle brands, check out our EXCLUSIVE coupon codes!
After reading this, most people bought…
ILIA Fullest Volumizing Mascara | $28
My top pick for volume and length.
Honest Mascara | $17
My top budget pick.
What’s your favorite natural mascara?
TNK Team Note: This article contains affiliate links. TNK uses affiliate links as a source for revenue to fund operations of the business and to be less dependent on branded content. TNK stands behind all product recommendations. Still have questions about these links or our process? Feel free to email us.
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MargotFebruary 23, 2018
First – I LOVE your hair. Second – so so happy that you are enjoying INIKA Long Lash – there is a bit of a craze for it right now – so word is spreading about it…. Thank you!
Lisa FennessyFebruary 24, 2018
Thanks! I am loving my hair too! I probably talk about this mascara every day! Contributing to the craze! : ) I love it!
StaceyFebruary 27, 2018
I’ve been using Hush + Dotti’s mascara now for about two weeks. I have to tell you that I’m presently surprised how well it works. Love the size. It fits into my clutch perfectly.
Lisa FennessyFebruary 28, 2018
Yes girl! It’s so nice right!!?? Love it. Let us know how long it lasts!
FrancieMarch 1, 2018
Thanks for these great reviews! Mascara is one of my favorite makeup items, and I’m always on the hunt for the best one. I really like the Inika when I put it on, but I have never (among dozens of traditional mascaras and a few green ones) had any mascara flake like it does on me. I’m currently using the Fitglow. I’m not crazy about the brush, but I like the mascara and am curious to see if the serum aspect works.
Lisa FennessyMarch 1, 2018
Bummer! Yeah the Inika doesn’t flake on me – and I haven’t gotten that feedback from others – but it does depend on several factors..eye shape, application, oiliness of skin…Sorry to hear that! I love the Fitglow too – the more coats the better! : )
KateJuly 31, 2020
I love how detailed you are in your reviews, it makes me feel so much better about a purchase.
Have you tried Crop mascara? I have only found it at Credo but I absolutely love it!
LisaAugust 4, 2020
Hi Kate! I haven’t tried Crop but I will look into it – thanks for the tip! xo, Lisa
KellySeptember 13, 2020
Have you come across a clear mascara option? My 12 year old daughter has been wanting one for special occasions so that she can feel like she’s putting something on her lashes to add a little something extra without being very noticeable. I haven’t come across anything natural.
LisaSeptember 13, 2020
Hi Kelly! Yes! Check out this one : ) https://thenewknew.com/recommends/zuzu-luxe-clear-mascara/
LeahSeptember 22, 2020
I’m surprised you didn’t try out Kosas new Big Clean. Any thoughts on that one?! I’ve heard good things but really trust your reviews so was hoping you were testing 🙂
LisaSeptember 23, 2020
Hi Leah! I did! I need to add that in. Kosas gives a pretty look with added volume and length but not as much separation. It also didn’t stay as well as ILIA or Erin’s Faces ; )
MelJuly 3, 2021
Did you figure out what ingredient in W3LL P3OPLE was stinging your eyes? I just got it to try and I’m having the same problem 🙁
LisaJuly 18, 2021
Hi Mel! I haven’t…I wonder if it is the castor though. If you read up on castor you will see why it’s a suspect! xo, Lisa
VeeSeptember 20, 2021
Well People makes my eyes burn too!
Lisa FennessySeptember 27, 2021
I’m wondering if it’s castor oil that makes my eyes burn…I have to look to see if it’s in this mascara too… ; ) Lisa
KaylaJanuary 10, 2022
Thank you for this thorough review! I have eyes that water easily – I know that each individual will react differently to each product – curious, do you think the Erin’s Faces Matcha Mascara or the ILIA has better staying power? Are they both for sensitive eyes? TIA!
Lisa FennessyJanuary 13, 2022
Hmmm, good question. I think the ILIA Limitless Lash might stay the best. And although I like the ILIA Volumizing Mascara, it has stung my eyes before at the end of the day. And I’ve had no irritation from Erin’s Faces. This is so individual…I hope this helps! xo, Lisa
Stacy andersonApril 3, 2022
I am loving Beautycounter think big mascara definitely should try it! Clean ingredients!
Lisa FennessyApril 9, 2022
Thanks! I personally don’t love the phenoxyethanol in that formula. You can check out why on our No Thanks List ; ) – L
FrancesOctober 26, 2022
Thanks for this great advice. Just bought Ilia mascara and eyeliner and LOVE them. I love how chunky the tube is too..
Lisa FennessyNovember 11, 2022
AkankshaApril 9, 2023
I love the Ilia mascaras! I tried the big bang athyr mascara but found it super clumpy right off the bat.