I love mascara. In truth, I rarely leave my house without it and a bit of tinted moisturizer with SPF, concealer (thanks baby;) and a quick brow pencil. I’ve written about cleaning up my beauty products after becoming pregnant, but was shocked to learn about the hidden dangers of mascara.
We know what we put on our body is just as important as what we put into our body. Remember that fun fact: whatever we put on our skin is absorbed within 26 seconds. Don’t believe me…try rubbing a clove of garlic on the bottom of your feet (I dare you!) You’ll taste it in about 10 seconds!
Many of us are working on using safer soaps, deodorants, shampoo, etc. But makeup is hard. Most of us have our favorite brands and it’s hard to make a change. If you’re not ready to change, please head over to the Skin Deep database and check the safety of what you’re currently using.
Hint: if it’s not listed, there’s a strong chance the company making your mascara may not be very transparent and it’s likely not safe. This is the exact reason I have partnered with Beautycounter. They are transparent and committed to producing safe personal care products.
Conventional Mascara Ingredients
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.
PARABENS – Used as a preservative and is an endocrine disrupter that messes with your hormones. They’ve also been found in breast tissue of women with breast cancer.(1)
BHA and BHT: Used as a preservatives and is an endocrine disruptor and may cause cancer and damage the liver. These are also found in some foods.
PROPYLENE GLYCOL: Linked to acne, eczema, and other skin allergies.
RETINYL ACETATE (VITAMIN A ACETATE) – Biochemical or cellular level changes, Cancer, Developmental/reproductive/organ system toxicity DNA damage, speeds growth of tumors, and birth defects. (2)
ALUMINUM POWDER – Considered a neurotoxin and linked to Alzheimer’s disease and other cancers.
PHTHALATES– found in synthetic fragrances, phthalates are responsible for a host of health issues, most notably infertility and birth defects.
PARFUM (a.k.a. fragrance) –even found 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. Why do you need fragrance on your eyes – that’s the definition of crazy. Oh it’s to cover up the smell of coal tar!
COAL TAR DYES- potential to cause cancer and may be contaminated with heavy metals toxic to the brain.
MERCURY (THIMEROSAL)- FDA has banned the use of mercury compounds in all cosmetics except those used around the eyes, where levels are limited to 65 parts per million (ppm). It can accumulate in the body and may cause allergic reactions, skin irritation, or neurotoxic manifestations. Mercury is considered particularly toxic to the developing brain during pregnancy, infancy and childhood.
*Ingredient research provided by The Environmental Working Group*
Which Mascara’s are Safe?
*Please note…this study showed NO mascara is safe after 3 months as bacteria such as staph, strep and spores are likely present after that time period.
Beautycounter Lengthening Mascara: wears similar to a waterproof and I love that one coat gives me long pretty lashes all day. I like the sleek tube and that it does not clump.
The brush is also very small and according to top Hollywood makeup artist Genevieve Garner, “I prefer smaller brushed because you can wiggle the mascara onto lashes with less mess. The brushed don’t dry out as fast because you aren’t pushing as much air down into the tube. However, you should still replace your mascara every 3 months because of bacteria growth and to prevent eye infections.”
Is it safe?
Ingredients: Aqua/Water/Eau, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea) Butter, Cera Alba/Beeswax/Cire d’abeille,Citric Acid, Gluconolactone, Glycerin, Iron Oxides, Isododecane, Lecithin, Panthenol,Polyglyceryl-3 Polyricinoleate, Polymethylsilsesquioxane, Rosmarinus Officinalis (Rosemary) Leaf Extract, Sodium Benzoate, Tocopherol (Vitamin E), Trimethylsiloxysilicate, Calcium Gluconate, Ceresin, Cera Carnauba/Copernicia Cerifera (Carnauba) Wax/Cire de carnauba,Disteardimonium Hectorite, Euterpe Oleracea (Acai) Fruit Oil, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil, Cera Microcristallina/Microcrystalline Wax/Cire microcristalline, Polyglyceryl-3 Diisostearate, Polyglyceryl-6 Polyricinoleate, Punica Granatum (Pomegranate) Seed Oil, Theobroma Cacao (Cocoa) Seed Butter, VP/Eicosene Copolymer. *Organic/Biologique
Beautycounter carefully selects ingredients based on level of toxicity, choosing safer preservatives. I’m pleased this mascara contains lots of organic and botanical ingredients, and is free of the toxic ingredients we talked about above.
Bottom line: I feel great about using it and it works!
Get Beautycounter Lengthening Mascara here.
100Percent Pure: I love how this mascara smells and like that it adds nice volume to my lashes. The downside is it tends to smear a bit compared and is not as lengthening as my beautycounter mascara.
Is it safe?
Camellia Sinensis (Green Tea) Leaf Extract, Tocopherol (Vitamin E), Euphorbia Cerifera (Candelilla) Wax, Oryza Sativa (Rice) Bran Wax, Extracts of Rubus Fruticosus (Blackberry) Fruit, Ribes Nigrum (Blackcurrant) Fruit, Rubus Idaeus (Raspberry) Fruit, Coconut Stearic Acid, Pantothenic Acid (Pro-vitamin B5) and Fucus Vesiculosus (Seaweed) Powder, Theobroma Cacao (Cocoa) Seed Butter, Passiflora Alata (Maracuja) Seed Oil, Extracts of Aloe Barbadensis (Organic Aloe Juice) Leaf*, Oryza Sativa Germ Powder (Rice Powder), Theobroma Cacao Extract (Cocoa Powder), Coffea Arabica Seed (Coffee Beans), Origanum Vulgare (Oregano) Leaf, Thymus Vulgaris (Thyme) Flower/Leaf, Rosmarinus Officinalis (Rosemary) Leaf, Lavandula Angustifolia (Lavender) Flower/Leaf/Stem, Hydrastis Canadensis (Goldenseal), Passiflora Alata (Maracuja) Seed, Lonicera Caprifolium Flower and Lonicera Japonica (Honeysuckle) Flower, Vegetable Glycerin, May Contain Iron Oxides * Certified Organic
100% Pure uses safe botanical ingredients and preserves with ingredients like rosemary and thyme. Bottom line: I feel so comfortable with their makeup that I’d let my daughter (if I had one) wear it.
Get 100% Pure Mascara here.
I used Pacifica Beauty products for many years prior to pregnancy. I felt like I was using a more natural brand that performed fairly well. They are a mid-priced brand that uses some botanical ingredients.
I really like the mascara from a volumizing and lengthening perspective with 2-3 coats.
Is it safe?
Ingredients: aqua, glyceryl stearate se, jojoba esters, glycerin (vegetable), myristoyl pentapeptide-17, tapioca starch, stearic acid (vegetable), cellulose, phospholipids, helianthus annuus (sunflower) seed oil, copernicia cerifera (carnauba) wax, euphorbia cerifera (candelilla) wax), arabic/acacia gum, potassium cetyl phosphate, cocos nucifera (coconut) oil, panthenol (vitamin b), gluconolactone, macrocystis pyifera (brown kelp) extract, hydrolyzed lupine protein, hydrolyzed oryza sativa (rice) protein, sodium benzoate. May contain: Iron oxides CI 77499.
You’ll see the ingredients aren’t perfect, but it’s free of parabens and seems to be free of phthalates and the other harmful ingredients we discussed and also contains some lash-nourishing ingredients like jojoba. Bottom line: I may feel fine using it if I weren’t nursing or hoping to get pregnant again, but there are cleaner options.
Get Pacifica Beauty Mascara here.
What’s your favorite brand of natural mascara? Please share your picks!
Melissa Schollaert is a Holistic Health & Nutrition Counselor and founder of Real Nutritious Living. Helping others achieve their health goals to attain their healthiest, happiest life is her greatest ambition.PAID ENDORSEMENT DISCLOSURE: In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive montetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog. However, I only recommend products or services I have personally used myself and trust. MEDICAL DISCLAIMER: This content is not intended to diagnose or treat any disease, or as a substitute for medical advice. Please consult with your advising physician before starting any treatment for a medical condition. Real Nutritious Living, LLC shall not be held liable or responsible for any misunderstanding or misuse of the information contained on this site or for any loss, damage, or injury caused or alleged to be caused directly or indirectly by any treatment, action, or application of any food or food source discussed in this site.