For lifting, volumizing, curling, and lengthening—we’ve got the best clean mascara that money can buy. Cruelty-free and toxin-free lashes never looked so good.
The right mascara is a makeup kit essential. After all, nothing makes your eyes pop quite like thick, long, and lustrous lashes. For lifting, volumizing, curling, and lengthening, we’ve got the best clean mascaras that money can buy, without paying for any toxic nasties or animal ingredients.
What’s lurking in your mascara?
Not all mascaras are created equal. Take a glance at the ingredients list on your favorite tube of mascara and you’ll see why.
That’s right, mascara can harbor a number of toxic and unsafe chemicals. These include preservatives added to beauty products to boost their shelf life, such as parabens, synthetic antioxidants BHT and BHA, and formaldehyde. Many formulas even use coal tar dyes, which can contain heavy metals, or synthetic dyes to give mascara its rich, dark color.
A 2021 study published by the American Chemical Society found that the vast majority of mascaras contained high levels of fluorine, which contain toxic chemicals called per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). Researchers tested 231 waterproof mascaras and found that 75 percent of them contained fluorine.
Studies have linked PFAS to a host of health issues, including impaired immune function, endocrine disruption, and certain types of cancer. “They appear to be harmful to every major organ system in the human body,” Canadian toxicologist Elsie Sunderland said of the findings.
“At this point, there is very little regulatory activity related to PFAS in cosmetics,” she added. “The best thing to happen now would be for consumers to indicate that they prefer products without PFAS and to demand better transparency in product ingredient lists.”
The best way to avoid PFAS exposure is to use products that are based in clean, natural ingredients. Look for products that don’t boast “long-lasting” type of claims.
Best clean mascara
Trust us, your eyes are ready to ditch parabens, synthetic dyes, silicones, and artificial fragrances. For long, full lashes, toss the toxic tubes in favor of these clean mascaras. They’re the best of the best.
1. Volume Mascara – DIME Beauty
Pump up the volume with this smudge-proof mascara. Featuring a tapered brush for easy application, the volume mascara contains nourishing ingredients like squalene, which helps to boost shine and prevent breakage, and cacao extract, which is packed with antioxidants.
2. Liquid Lash Extensions Mascara – Thrive Causemetics
This best-selling mascara is clump-, flake-, and smudge-free. Infused with shea butter and castor seed oil, it’s also free of icky ingredients like parabens, sulfate, phthalates, and synthetic ingredients. And it removes easily using only warm water, no makeup remover or soap is needed.
3. The Big Bang Volumizing Mascara – Athr Beauty
Vegan and cruelty-free, this beauty brand has banned more than 2,700 toxic ingredients from its formulas, using fair-trade and organic ingredients whenever possible instead. The company’s lash-volumizing mascara is long-wearing and comes in recyclable packaging. And it features plant-based ingredients like quinoa and jasmine plant extract. Your lashes will thank you later.
4. Kush High Volumizing Mascara – Milk Makeup
For lashes so thick they look like falsies, opt for this ultra-volumizing mascara, which features vegan beeswax and hemp-derived cannabis seed oil. Boasting Sephora’s Clean Seal, which prohibits more than 50 unsafe ingredients, Milk Makeup is committed to using ethical and responsible sourcing for all of its formulas.
5. Ultra-Black Lash Lifting & Lengthening Serum Mascara – Rose Inc.
For sustainable makeup essentials, including lash-lifting mascara, shop Rose Inc., which was founded by English model and actor Rosie Huntington-Whiteley. Featuring an ultra-black pigment and recyclable packaging, this lengthening mascara contains superstar ingredients like argan oil and goji berry oil extract.
Not always. Conventional mascara can contain a range of animal-derived ingredients including beeswax, collagen, shellac, and lanolin. Mascara that’s labeled as clean or natural can also contain animal ingredients, typically beeswax, in place of synthetic chemical ingredients.
That all depends on which brand you’re buying from. Many conventional makeup brands are still required to submit to animal testing to sell products in China. So while they may not be testing on their U.S. products, they can test to be compliant in other parts of the world. Most brands that are cruelty-free will denote on packaging and on websites.