6 Best Natural Mascaras For Perfect Lashes, According To Beauty Experts

These will plump your lashes minus the gross chemicals.

June 28, 2017
woman applying mascara
Lorraine Barnard/getty

Even the most minimalist of minimalist makeup routines— just a swipe of mascara... and done—could be adding dangerous toxins and chemicals into your everyday life.

Like many cosmetic formulas, the lengthy ingredient list of your favorite mascara might be hiding some grim details. (Think Thimerosal—a mercury-based preservative still used in eye makeup—or known carcinogenic ingredients like formaldehyde and parabens.)

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“Before I knew better, I did it all — dyeing, perming, growth serums, and of course trying many, many different mascaras in pursuit of long, full lashes,” admitted 100% Pure Cosmetics founder Susie Wang. “But now I learned that anything that comes that close in contact with our eyes is something we especially need to be careful with.” 

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While beauty products we tend to ingest (looking at you, lipstick) tend to get the most flack for chemical ingredients, toxins hiding in mascara can be just as harmful due to their close access to your eyes. “Our eyes are the most sensitive parts of our bodies because the soft tissues of cornea is exposed and has minimal protective layers,” explained Wang. “The vitreous (the clear gel coating our eyes) acts as a quick delivery system into our brain and other parts of our bodies. Even if the mascara formula itself is not getting inside our eyes, the fumes of the chemicals can still be harmful and irritating.”

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Wang’s watchlist includes coal tar dyes (“these dyes contain toxins like toluene, xylene, benzene”), aluminum, fragrances, and “harsh preservatives like parabens, urea, formaldehyde, thimerosal.” Instead, she encourages shoppers to seek out natural lash conditioners and strengtheners with ingredients like panthenol, vitamin E, wheat and oat proteins, seaweed, plant butters—that not only result in comfortable-wear mascara, but healthier, stronger lashes over time.

Still don’t know where to start? Well, you could make your own natural mascara, or revamp your makeup shopping list. Here are some top picks from natural makeup experts and users:

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Photograph courtesy of 100% Pure
100% Pure

With an influx of education and awareness on the market, it should be pretty easy to forfeit your favorite drugstore mascara for an all natural alternative, and 100% Pure is a great place to start. Not only do these conditioning, certified organic mascaras come in a range of fun on-trend shades like navy Blueberry and violet Blackberry,  they’re made with all natural colorants derived black tea, chocolate, and berries.

Buy it: 100% PURE Fruit Pigmented Ultra Lengthening Mascara, from $25, Amazon.com

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Photograph courtesy of Amazon
Josie Maran

New York-based editorial makeup artist and Beach Oil founder, Joan Gray, always reaches for this lash-softening fan favorite. “Argan is also a main ingredient in my Beach Oil,” she adds. “It's an amazing moisturizer that contains tocopherol, which is a compound similar to vitamin E, and keeps your skin and lashes hydrated all day long. No one wants the dry, clumpy lash look.” 

Buy it:Josie Maran Black Oil Mascara, from $16, Amazon.com

well people mascara
Photograph courtesy of Amazon
W31LL People

One beauty insider told me this mineral pigment-tinted mascara is the bee’s knees. The formula features a blend of natural palm and sunflower botanicals for fluffy, fluttery lashes that are nourished without the added weight. Plus, it’s super slim plastic applicator allows for precision application on the lower lash line and those tricky outer corners.

Buy it: W3LL People’s Expressionist Mascara, from $24, Amazon.com

Related: 6 Worst Ingredients In Soap—And What To Look For Instead

organic wear mascara
Photograph courtesy of Amazon
​Physician's Formula

The drugstore brand features an “EcoBlend” of natural pigments, preservatives, and volume boosters, like rice protein and organic tapioca starch. Users praise it for its ability to hold a curl, while still being able to wash off clean with just water and soap.

Buy it: ​Physician's Formula Organic Wear 100% Natural Origin Mascara, from $8, Amazon.com 

Lily Lolo mascara
Photograph courtesy of Petit Vour
Lily Lolo

This plant-based mascara is known to be flake-free and contact lens-friendly while still creating lush, dramatic lashes. The vegan U.K. brand is also dedicated to keeping their products natural, sustainable, and cruelty-free, meaning you can front the extra shipping without the added guilt.

Buy it: ​Lily Lolo’s Vegan Mascara, from $20, PetitVour.com

rms beauty mascara
Photograph courtesy of Amazon
RMS Beauty

Of course celeb-loved RMS Beauty, by makeup artist Rose-Marie Swift, has a stellar all natural mascara. Ideal for those looking for sky high lashes, her formula features a blend of organic plant waxes and raw minerals for an emollient mascara that is buildable and separates lashes with every stroke.  

Buy it: ​RMS Beauty Volumizing Mascara, $28, Amazon.com