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After a year of trying safer mascara brands, I've finally found 3 excellent options to recommend!
- Lengthening Mascara from Beautycounter lasts, holds curl and lengthens with a precision brush
- Marajuca Mascara from 100 Percent Pure lasts and uses super-natural ingredients
- Lash Project by Red Apple conditions and is gluten-free (join the waitlist)
Why did it take me so long to find mascaras deserving of an official recommendation? Because mascara poses a significant challenge to those of us who want to use safer makeup.
While there are many brands that market themselves as safer, more natural, and less toxic, and that rank very high on the Skin Deep safety evaluation database (many of which truly are better, ingredients-wise, than what you'd find at the drugstore), not all of them actually perform well.
Of the many I tested, most of them either smudged prematurely, made my eyes itch, didn't maintain the curl in my lashes, or, in one case, the company itself wasn't entirely forthcoming about their ingredient screening standards.
I was looking for a safer, high-performing, long-wearing, easy-to-apply mascara that held curl, didn't irritate my eyes (or cause the dreaded mascara-induced stye), and that actually made my lashes look damn good…
…and I wanted all of that from a transparent company that, at the very least, doesn't use common questionable ingredients like BHA or parabens.
That's the unicorn, really. I've tried every mascara out there, I swear – and for a long time, I was using the junk from the drugstore (that ranks terribly on the Skin Deep database and left me prone to styes) because I simply couldn't find a mascara that worked for me without smudging.
(And in case it's in doubt that I actually field tested all of my recommendations, here's a photo from my Instagram, and below is an impromptu pic with my 3 top choices…apologies, the kiddo got ahold of my phone a few too many times and she appears to have compromised the camera!)
From left: Beautycounter's Lengthening Mascara, 100 Percent Pure's Marajuka Mascara, and The Lash Project by Red Apple Gluten-Free Mascara.
Here's the rundown:
Beautycounter Lengthening Mascara: Beautycounter's transparency and ingredient screening process are huge pluses for me, since they skew on the science side – meaning, their ingredients aren't 100% natural, yet each ingredient is still screened for safety. This is, sadly, not the standard in the high-performing products industry.
Their mascara uses vitamin B5 and shea to condition, it's free of BHA and parabens, and it doesn't smudge. It holds curl, lengthens, wears well, is water-resistant (I remove it with a swipe of their Baby Balm), and doesn't irritate my eyes.
While all 3 brands that I highlight here are excellent, I personally use the Beautycounter mascara the most – simply because the lengthening brush is incredibly precise and very little product goes to waste.
100 Percent Pure Marajuca Mascara: 100 Percent Pure is a truly standout brand. How they manage to make such excellent products while keeping their ingredients super-duper natural, I don't know – but they do a darn good job.
Their mascara uses ingredients like black tea, aloe, and vitamin B5 to condition lashes. While they once had issues with flaking and smudging, they seem to have completely corrected those problems and made their formulation stronger and longer-wearing at the same time.
The brush is a bit softer and more bulky than Beautycounter's brush, but it's truly a matter of preference and what your lashes like best.
My final field test of the Beautycounter and 100 Percent Pure brands was on a 90 degree day – one brand the left set of lashes, the other on the right – and after 12 hours of wear in and out of air conditioning, both held my curl and didn't smudge. It's a safer mascara miracle!
The Lash Project Mascara, below, wears similarly for me, although it doesn't hold curl as well as the others. I have very long lashes, though, and they can get quite heavy; this should be a great option for most people.
The Lash Project mascara by Red Apple: This brand is dedicated to both performance and safety for those with gluten allergies. This mascara helps rebuild lashes that have suffered from long-term exposure to conventional mascaras, and it volumizes very well.
Keep clicking “refresh,” because it should be available soon! Join their waitlist if you need a lash-conditioning, restorative, and certified gluten-free option.
FYI, the application process with these brands are no different than any other mascara – check out my video below.
Here's to keeping our lashes safe AND gorgeous!
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