Mascara is a really tough formula to nail in clean beauty. There’s a few categories I’ve learned that are tough for clean beauty… neutral/cool bronzers, liquid foundation for oily skin and mascaras. I’ve tried a LOT of clean (or cleaner) mascaras in the past year or so and although I may not currently have them all in my stash, I want to compile my thoughts – pros and cons – in this clean mascara round up. Let’s look at the following 10 clean mascaras to try…
When I began my journey into clean beauty, it started with Beautycounter. Since then, I’ve tried many other cleaner brands, but we are going to start in the order in which I tried these mascaras.
In order to review fairly, I want to be clear what I look for in mascara. I like drama. I like volume AND length. I like super black lashes. I don’t mind a little bit of clumpiness in the name of volume. NOT spidery, but I like thickness. I also have semi hooded lids, so I am very particular about smudging since many mascaras can smudge because my lashes hit my brow bone when my eyes are open.
This Beautycounter mascara was the first clean mascara that did not flake or smudge. However, this is not a volumizing formula in my experience. To me, this is a lash tint. It tints my lashes black, but takes quite a few layers to give me the look of wearing mascara. Beautycounter’s mascaras are one of their products I don’t recommend often unless you love a soft, natural look. I’d rate this 2/10.
This may be my worst clean mascara yet. This Beautycounter lengthening formula did not flake or smudge, but it barely applied to my lashes. The tiny brush was just not good for my thicker lashes and barely grabbed on to deposit product. You may like this formula if you have thin lashes and want a tint of color, but again, I do not recommend Beautycounter’s mascaras unless you love a very soft, natural look. I’d rate this 1/10.
Next to try was a few drugstore options… Burt’s Bees Mascara appealed to me because I prefer a rubber/plastic bristle brush. This was a huge step in the right direction compared to Beautycounter. Gave light volume and length, no clumpiness… but it smudged very badly on my brow bone. I’d rate this 3/10.
The next drugstore formula to try was from Honest Beauty. This one had rave reviews from other Beautycounter consultant friends of mine. This formula also has rubber/plastic bristle brushes, and includes a white lash primer to build thickness/volume. This formula was very impressive for volume – not as much for length. Sometimes, it would make my lashes appear stubby (but very black and thick). However, if caught in the rain or on a particularly humid day, this mascara smudged. As it dries out, it also becomes a little weird to work with. Rating 5.5/10.
More from the drugstore… I tried the W3LL People mascara. This was well-rated on many websites, but it was quite unremarkable to me. In fact, I barely remember anything about this formula other than how quickly it smudged and the chic packaging. Rating 1/10.
It’s not a secret that Thrive Causemetics is my favorite ‘cleaner’ mascara. I use it 99% of the time for a few reasons. One, this has the plastic/rubber bristle brush that I prefer to really grab all my lashes and apply an even coating of product. Two, it’s super black. Three, it’s a tubing formula that 100% blocks any smudging or fading. Many don’t understand what this is but it basically forms little rubbery tubes of mascara on your lashes… this gives you amazing volume and length without smudging or flaking because it will ONLY remove with a bit of warm water/face cleanser. This cannot be removed with an oil based makeup remover. Just wash your face and gently massage this mascara… it’ll gently slip off in little chunks. *Rating 10/10.*
I wanted to try a new clean mascara for those who DO NOT like rubber/plastic bristle brushes and my friend recommended this one. For me, the Tarte Surfer Curl gave me some volume and length, but not enough for my preferences. It also moderately smudged when I got caught outside in a rainy day. The smudging happens a LOT to me, though, because of my eye shape. So it may be better for you. I’d rate this 5/10.
Another traditional bristle brush to try… the Milk Makeup Kush mascara is very fluffy, very black and has fibers in it. Fibers may be a love/hate for some people… I tend to be a hate. They irritate my eyes. But I still tried it! This mascara reminds me A LOT of the Too Faced Better Than Sex, but a bit richer/blacker. Personally though, it smudged on me and the fibers irritated my eyes. It was very black, gave decent volume and length and I have a lot of Beautycounter clients that like it. Rating it 7/10.
Bobbi Brown left her namesake company a few years ago and has been working on a clean beauty brand – Jones Road. I picked up the Jones Road mascara recently to test out another formula for those who don’t like rubber/plastic bristles. The wand on this brush is REALLY BIG… you have to be careful applying if you have smaller eyes or hooded lids. However, it is very impressive in terms of volume, length and blackness/richness! I really enjoy this formula and do not find it smudges on me with every day wear. I rate it 8.5/10.*
*This one is probably my runner up if you prefer traditional bristles for your mascara and not rubber/plastic
Lucky for me, I got a mini of this Ilia mascara from a recent Sephora order! I have heard nothing but positive things about Ilia’s mascara and I’ve liked MOST of the clean beauty products from the brand (blush sticks are 100!!!). This is a very interesting plastic/rubber brush with varying size bristles in different shapes to really grab and extend the lashes. It deposits a clean coat of product to avoid clumpiness you may have gotten from Thrive, and it’s buildable. I like applying two full coats for maximum volume. I rate this 8/10.
The newest clean mascara to my collection – I couldn’t wait to try the Covergirl Lash Blast Clean because it’s the most affordable one and probably easiest to access in most drugstores. I used to use the regular Lash Blast probably a decade ago, so I remember what it was like. The biggest contributor to the original Lash Blast making it NOT clean is parabens… so by removing those, Covergirl created a nearly identical formula – just cleaner. This formula reminds me EXACTLY of the original. I barely can tell a difference in terms of length, volume or blackness. I credit the similarities to the brush being the same. So if you love Lash Blast original, but want a clean formula… pick this one up. I rate it 7/10.
I have tried a few more clean mascaras since publishing this post, so I may need to make a part two! What other clean mascaras should I try and be sure to include? Let me know in the comments.
Hope this helps you find a clean mascara you’ll love and avoid the yucky chemicals close to your pretty eyes!