Is Mascara Toxic? Popular Drugstore Mascara Ranking (2020)

Natural Pioneers Is Mascara Toxic Popular Drugstore Mascara Ranking

With the booming clean-beauty trend, many women start to wonder if their mascara is safe. We gathered data about the 10 most popular mascaras in the US and will show you their ingredients, including toxins and hazard levels. At the end, we will also provide you with a list of safe mascaras to use.

Popular mascaras show ingredients like Retinyl Acetate, Preservatives, Propylene Glycol, Fragrances, Triethanolamine & Aluminum Powder. They are known to cause breast cancer, allergies, hormone disruption, disturbance in normal development in children, and are toxic to skin, nervous & organ system.

Let’s dive into the ingredients of popular mascara brands.

1. What Is In Mascara?

There are 3 main features we’re looking for in a mascara. We want it to make our lashes thicker, longer, and darker. Let’s see what mascara is made of to achieve those features.

Ingredients In Mascara

Mascara is made of mainly pigments, oils, and waxes. [1]

  • Pigments make up the color. Whereas carbon black is the most common black pigment, brown mascaras use iron oxide.
  • Oils are usually mineral oil, lanolin, linseed oil, castor oil, oil of turpentine, eucalyptus oil, or sesame oil.
  • For waxes, beeswax, carnauba wax, and paraffin are commonly used.

Additionally, mascaras may contain alcohol, stiffeners, and tiny fibers of rayon or nylon that stick to our lashes, making them appear longer and thicker. [2]

Is There Bat Poop In Mascara?

This popular urban legend is untrue. While “guanine” might be an ingredient in mascara, this is not to be confused with bat “guano”. Guanine is made of fish scales to add shine to mascara.

Most Popular Mascara Brands

Before we dive into toxins, let’s take a look at the mascara brands with the highest sales volumes in 2019. We’ll take these products and will give you a transparent hazard rating based on EWG scores. You’ll notice that 3 main brands cover most of the market. That means most of us buy one of these products listed. Let’s check their safety next.

Natural Pioneers Is Mascara Toxic Popular Drugstore Mascara Ranking Top Ten Most Sold Mascaras In the US

>> Learn more about toxins in soap Chart Data Source [3]

Taking a look at EWG’s Skin Deep Database, which ranks ingredients based on their toxicity, here’s what we found. Best-selling L’Oréal mascaras have a score between 4-5 which makes them a moderate hazard. Popular Maybelline mascaras score between 2-7, making some only a low hazard, but others a high hazard. CoverGirl mascaras have a score of 5, making them a moderate hazard.

If we take Maybelline’s Total Temptation Mascara as an example, the EWG found its ingredients concerning as they are known, among others, to cause:

  • Cause allergies (high)
  • Cause endocrine disruption (moderate)
  • Harm to our organ system (moderate)
  • Harm the environment (low)
  • Cause irritation (skin, eyes, or lungs) (moderate)
  • And cause cancer (moderate)

Let’s take a look at these popular mascaras again. I’m sure you’ll recognize some that you’ve used in the past – I do for sure. I filled in the EWG scores to give you a feeling for how hazardous these mascaras are.

Natural Pioneers Is Mascara Toxic Popular Drugstore Mascara Ranking Top Ten Most Sold Mascaras In the US With EWG hazard toxic scores

>> Learn more about toxins in shampoo Chart Data Sources [4], [5]

2. Toxins In Mascara

And here are the Bad Boys. These chemicals are toxic to our body and despite the fact that we only cover our eyelashes, they do come in contact with our skin or eyes eventually. You will find them in most popular mascaras. Let’s quickly go over them to learn what harm they can do to our health. In the next chapter, I’ll show you some of my personal favorite mascaras that are safe and non-toxic, to make sure you’re not putting your health at risk.

1. Retinyl Acetate

According to the EWG, this is a skin-conditioning agent and synthetic form of Vitamin A. Studies show a that it is toxic to our organ system. Researchers recommend limiting Vitamin A products to face and hand care. It should not be used at all in lip and body care products. [6], [7]

The Bad Boys: Retinyl Acetate

The Take-Away: Stay away from Retinyl Acetate and check out our safe mascaras without this ingredient at the bottom of this article.

2. Preservatives

To extend shelf life, many products contain preservatives. Some may cause breast cancer, are associated with immunotoxicity and allergies, or are neurotoxins. [8], [9], [10]

The Bad Boys: Parabens, benzyl alcohol, methylisothiazolinone, and methylchloroisothiazonlinone. diazolidinyl urea, imidazolidinyl urea

The Take-Away: Avoid preservatives!

Natural Pioneers Is Mascara Toxic Popular Drugstore Mascara Ranking Toxins in mascara

3. Propylene Glycol

This is an alcohol commonly used as a skin conditioning agent. It is associated with irritation (skin, eyes, or lungs) and allergic contact dermatitis. It is toxic to our organ system. [11]

The Bad Boys: Propylene Glycol

The Take-Away: Avoid this chemical altogether!

4. Fragrances

When you see “fragrance” or “parfum” on the ingredients list, they really mean phthaltes. Phthaltes disrupt our hormones and can harm our reproductive system. In children, they can disturb normal development. [12], [13], [14]

The Bad Boys: Phthaltes (labeled as parfum or fragrance).

The Take-Away: Go fragrance free or choose products with essential oils.

5. Triethanolamine

Triethanolamine is a strongly alkaline substance used as surfactant and pH adjusting chemical. It is a human respiratory and skin toxicant. [15]

The Bad Boys: Triethanolamine

The Take-Away: Avoid this ingredient altogether and check our list for safe, non-toxic mascaras at the bottom of this article.

6. Aluminum Powder

Aluminum powder is a metallic substance composed of finely ground particles of aluminum and used as a colorant. It is absorbed into our skin and shows high neurotoxicity and organ system toxicity. [16]

The Bad Boys: Aluminum Powder

The Take-Away: I personally recommend avoiding aluminum altogether, be that in your kitchen where you use it as foil, in deodorant, and in your mascara!

3. Non-toxic, Clean Mascara Brands

Natural Pioneers Is Mascara Toxic Popular Drugstore Mascara Ranking Trust it use it stick with it

Here, you can find a list of my favorite mascaras. They are non-toxic, have best EWG scores, and work just like any other mascara. A year ago, I’ve made the switch to non-toxic mascara. I use mascara on most days and I still feel excited every day when I use these safe products.

1. Beautycounter Volumizing Mascara

WHY WE LOVE IT:

  • Made with natural fibers to increases volume by 385%
  • Clean, plant-derived ingredients like carnauba wax and rice bran wax
  • EWG Verified

2. Mineral Fusion Lash Curling Mineral Mascara

WHY WE LOVE IT:

  • Non-irritating thanks to soothing botanicals
  • This curling brush lifts and separates your lashes for that naturally curled wow factor
  • EWG Verified

3. W3ll People Expressionist Pro Mascara

WHY WE LOVE IT:

  • Great for layering bold, feathery lashes
  • Comes in brown and black
  • EWG Verified

4. Maia’s Minerals Natural Mascara

WHY WE LOVE IT:

  • Comes in black, brown, and mocha
  • Best for safe for sensitive eyes and contact lens wearers
  • EWG Verified

5. Mineral Fusion Volumizing Mascara

WHY WE LOVE IT:

  • For the fullest, lushest lashes. Kiss flaking, caking, and smudging, goodbye
  • Made with luxurious botanicals like White Tea and Aloe that condition your lashes
  • EWG Verified

How To Remove Mascara Naturally

Ever wondered how to effectively remove mascara at night? Easy! Use a tiny bit of coconut oil, apply it onto your eyelid, work it into your lash line to remove all mascara, and wipe it off with a tissue. I do this every night.

It’s a 4-in-1 solution: It’s safe (non-toxic), it conditions your lashes, it moisturizes your eye area (no more eye cream), and doesn’t sting a bit.

4. Conclusion

We buy mascara to make our lashes look thicker, longer, and darker. To achieve this, mascara consists of mainly pigments, oils, and waxes. In addition, mascaras may contain alcohol, stiffeners, and tiny fibers of rayon or nylon that stick to our lashes, making them appear longer and thicker.

The most popular mascara brands in the US are L’Oréal, Maybelline, and CoverGirl. All three are available in drugstores. From a hazard perspective, EWG ranks these mascaras as low to high hazard products. Popular brands commonly show ingredients that are known to:

  • Cause allergies (high)
  • Cause endocrine disruption (moderate)
  • Harm to our organ system (moderate)
  • Harm the environment (low)
  • Cause irritation (skin, eyes, or lungs) (moderate)
  • And cause cancer (moderate)

Toxins to avoid in mascara are Retinyl Acetate, Preservatives, Propylene Glycol, Fragrances, Triethanolamine, and Aluminum Powder. Products with these ingredients can cause breast cancer, allergies, hormone disruption, disturbance in normal development in children, and are toxic to our skin, nervous, and organ system.

Natural Pioneers recommends safe, non-toxic mascara brands such as Beautycounter, Mineral Fusion, W3ll People, and Maia’s Minerals.