Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Eye Goop: Mascara's Eco-Rating

Makeup... silly but I get shivers walking into a M.A.C. store. Despite my firm feminist beliefs regarding societal and cultural pressures on female beauty, makeup has always been fascinating. I know this has less to do with cultural pressures and more to do with my love of colours and yearning to "paint" something. I really only get excited about eye shadow and adore seeing all the beautiful sparkly hues in MAC.

As what I put on my face can be absorbed into my skin and blood stream, I've decided to "green" my makeup one step at a time. The cheater that I am, I'm starting with mascara first... and most likely will leave eye shadow for the very last... lol.

I know many women who abhor all makeup except mascara. Although Andrew thinks my eyelash curler is some crazy, torture contraption, mascara has been a daily thing since I was 16. I've long since stopped using waterproof mascara (if it's that difficult to remove with soap, what kind of chemical crap is seeping into my system?), but I adore my MAC mascara. (my fantastical bag of makeup-y fun! It looks catastrophic, but that's just because each product lasts a ridiculously long time... so they collect!)

However, I knew deep down that it contained some nasty chemicals. That mascara smell?? Not the result of herbs and spices and the fact that black goop can "lengthen, strengthen, volumize, grow another limb etc" is a little "Who" shouting up: "Warning! Chemical Alert!!". Mascara can be extra tricky as our eyes are sensitive areas to infections and disease. I rub my eyes a lot (not so great for infection control either!) and all that black stuff is being rubbed along the edges and absorbed into my system.

A couple of months ago I made the decision that I couldn't keep this "eco" ness up and continue buying a new MAC mascara. I went to the local natural products store (Planet Organic) and marched myself up to the lady at the beauty place. After a bit chatting, she recommended Dr. Hauschka's volumizing mascara. It was pricey, but I'd rather try something that works instead of start a wasteful trend similar to the shampoo experience (btw I'm on day number 5 and my hair isn't catastrophically greasy!! WOOT). (my mascaras, side by side)

Dr. Hauschka is a well known and quite respectable natural product company. I have tried their shampoo and was NOT a fan, but I've heard and read good things about their transparency and products. So no prior research was had, I purchased my mascara and went home.

The verdict? The mascara actually SMELLS different, kinda citrus-y. It smudges a bit more than the MAC mascara, but lasts fairly well and washes off the lashes easily with water. However, trying to get the stuff off my skin is another story. Even the facial-lady (another story I soon will report!) was amazed at how difficult it was to remove the mascara from my skin. Weird.

Now it's almost that time to invest in another tube (mascara should be replaced every three months to decrease likelihood of bacterial infection). I thought I'd just replace the one I have, but figured it wouldn't hurt to actually do a little research first... What I've discovered isn't as rosy of a picture.

First I looked up the ingredients of Dr. Hauschka mascara:
Water/Aqua, Pyrus Cydonia (Quince) Seed Extract, Alcohol,Saccharum Officinarum (Sugar Cane) Extract, Sorbitol,Ricinus Communis (Castor) Seed Oil, Acacia Senegal Gum,Cetearyl Alcohol, Beeswax/Cera Flava, Mica, Camellia Sinensis (Black Tea) Leaf Extract, Melia Azadirachta (Neem) Leaf Extract, Euphorbia Cerifera (Candelilla) Wax, Lysolecithin (Hydrolyzed Lecithin), Euphrasia Officinalis (Eyebright) Extract, Silk/Serica Powder, Hydrogenated Jojoba Oil (Jojoba Wax), Rosa Damascena Flower Oil (Rose Essential Oil), Rosa Damascena (Rose) Flower Wax, Fragrance/Parfum (Essential Oil), Citronellol, Geraniol, Linalool, Hectorite, Maltodextrin,Ferric Ferrocyanide/CI77510, Carmine/CI 75470, Silica, Iron Oxides, Titanium Dioxide/CI 77891, Ultramarines/CI 77007

Looks alright, some weird-type chemicals in there but nothing catastrophic. May as well compare to MAC mascara... and couldn't find the ingredients on their website. Right. So I looked it up on Skin Deep Cosmetic rating system:

Wow, much more chemicals at first glance. I felt pretty darn smug. I wonder what Dr Hauschka's rating would be? Wouldn't you know that Dr. Hauschka and MAC have close ratings?? I couldn't believe it. They both rate a 6; a moderate hazard.

What the eff you say? I know. However, if you look more closely, you'll see that the biggest black marks go to the ingredient "fragrance" of 8 for Dr. Hauschka. Typically this is a big red flag for scary chemicals like formaldehyde and such. However, following fragrances we have "essential oils" in parentheses, which would take care of that. Other black marks include the use of ethanol, geraniol and linalool. Both geraniol and linalool have been banned from cosmetic products in Europe since 2003. Not so great.

If we check out MAC's rating scores, we see that parabens and other pretties take up a large portion.

Want to see how your mascara fairs? Click here and search away!

There are also some low hazard ratings including Earth's Beauty mascara (2), Suncoat sugar-based mascara (2), most of Jane Iredale's mascaras (1-2's) and Coastal Classics "whispering seas" mascara gets a 0!

Well, I guess my search has not ended. Although Dr. Hauschka does have less sketchy chemicals than my MAC mascara, I'm not about to spend 25$ (yep, crazy huh?) on a mascara that a bit more chemical-free every three months.

I'm thinking that Suncoat will be my next purchase as I know a few places that carry them (re: my phobia for ordering online). I love how on their site they list why certain chemicals are dangerous (i.e. petrochemically derived) and how they are using sugar-based polymers that are renewable and biodegradable. Further, the company is Canadian :)

Happy Painting (sigh, sometimes I can be such a girl!)

article and photos copyright of EcoYogini at


  1. My favorite eco-friendly brand is Afterglow Cosmetics. I've been using their foundation, lipstick, and eyeshadow for about a year now. A tad expensive, but worth the great skin & peace of mind. Afterglow mascara rates a 3 on SkinDeep:

  2. I have heard so many great things about Dr. H, but when I looked online I was turned off by two things: 1. They are so expensive. 2. They do have SOME chemicals in them, which almost seems to defeat the purpose. They aren't as bad as traditional by a long shot, but if I'm going to pay that much, I don't want ANY chemicals! :)

    Anyway, I haven't used mascara for almost a year now, because I'm just tired of looking for a good one. And tired of it smudging. Mascara is my favorite (and blush) so this is hard for me, but...I'd rather just stick with eyeliner.

    Makeup has been a frustrating journey, that's for sure! I'm still working on it.

  3. i don't wear makeup as a rule. i wore it a lot senior year of college when i was all about dressing up and partying and meeting guys. but other than that i have never been that interested in it - probably because my mom wasn't i never thought it was important to become a makeup expert. i gave it up a couple years ago and have only worn it a few times since for occasions like halloween and galas. but i did try to buy my sister some eco friendly make up for her birthday a couple years ago - i went with Gabriel eye liner and mascara. it's available at whole foods and i remember it was about $10 each. skin deep doesn't rate the mascara, but the eye liner is rated 2 low hazard.

  4. I tried greening my make-up a couple months ago and got soooo frustrated. I couldn't find anything that was affordable, available somewhere around here, and rated well on Skin Deep. Why does the less toxic make-up cost so much more than regular make-up. The price difference is crazy!

  5. GASP! My mascara that I thought was eco-friendly (Boots- The Power of Plants Botanics waterproof mascara) gets a 6 as well. Luckily I only use it for special date nights ; ) Thanks for posting - that site is very informative.

  6. Interesting stuff! Thanks for doing this research. Mascara is the one beauty product that I use religiously...

  7. I love make up. It's like painting on a blank canvas. There is a company called BNever who are associated with Lush that I get make up from. I've always assumed their association with Lush means they are pretty "green" but I will definitely double check. Thanks for another thought provoking post. (although I'm not sure I could ever give up make up :()

  8. Julie: afterglow looks fab! I've alerted a close friend to some of their pretty eye shadows :) thanks!

    greenspell: yep I hear ya, it's like my search for good face/hair stuff. blegh.

    Julia: ouuu Gabriel looks great too! this is fantastic, such options!. Most certainly my 'need' to put on makeup has dimished a lot... but I still love using it. I'd say that the big stuff only comes out once in a while- which is why I have so much MAC, I don,T use a lot of it and it lasts forever.

    Erin: so true! I think a lot of it is ridiculous, really I can't believe I spent 25$ on something I would have to replace in three months anyways. I'm really excited to try suncoat, it's WAY more affordable. I'll let you know how it goes :)

    Jamie: hah, I know! crazy what you find out once you start digging (which maybe I should have looked up this stuff before I bought the mascara haha- oh well).

    roseanne: yep, most women I meet, if they don't wear makeup- they only wear mascara.

    Rachel: YAY- exactly!! sigh- too bad you live in the UK, finding a makeup similar thinker is tricky sometimes :) I'm gonna check BNever out- thanks for the tip! (I'm also not giving up makeup, no worries :) )

  9. Sadly I have just found out that BNever have gone out of business. I will have to start the search anew.... (I use Barry M for now which are vegan at least but I suspect riddled with chemicals).

  10. I did a ridiculous amount of research when my old mascara ran out. I ended up buying Ecco Bella, since it's vegan and not tested on animals. I like it, but I also don't wear mascara every day. And it has a Skin Deep rating of 3. Have you tried No Tears! Eye Makeup Remover by No-Miss? I use an eyeshadow primer, so I need something besides soap to get my eye makeup off. It's gentle, vegan, and works really well.

  11. heheh two years down the line and i still havent found a chemical free mascara i'm completely happy with! 'inika' is quite good.. rates as a 3 on skin deep. barefaced beauty have great mineral make-up but are UK based??
    the lavender~milk cleanser is great for removing eye make-up(as well as cleansing) and i often just use milk on cotton wool to remove make-up from the eyes.. works a treat :)

  12. i've been pretty happy with my suncoat mascara. although, i was unimpressed that planet organic doesn't carry their stuff anymore. it comes off eyelashes (and skin) very easily. it does smudge a bit easier than most mascaras. and i do find it challenging on those foggy-misty-atlantic days, but i have no major complaints.

    you can find suncoat products at pete's frootique. and pete's is willing to special order anything from the suncoat website for you as well (no extra charge). i bought the suncoat french manicure nailpolish kit through pete's, and it was cheaper than if i'd ordered it online myself.

    it seems to me the tube of mascara was about $15. not too pricey, but a bit more expensive than drug-store brands.

  13. I've only just recently started the process of greening my beauty products - transitioning one at a time as they run out. I hear you with the frustrations about price and quality ... particularly with shampoo.

    I just realized on Halloween that I'll need a new mascara soon ... thanks for giving something to think about when I need to replace it. I don't wear it often, luckily.

  14. That's a great post! I'm creeped out by all eye-makeup and things going near anyones eyes...especially my own. I'm even cringing while I'm writing this, but I hate to think of the chemicals that go into that stuff.. Yipes.



    PS- I had to follow your blog because I love it. I do.

  15. I've become a fan of Ecco Bella mascara. I just happend to come across it at my local Whole Foods as I was making the switch to more green beauty products. It's a little pricey, but I think it's worth it.
    Also - everyday minerals has tons of great eyeshadow shades so you don't have to give up the variety of colors just because you wanna go green.

  16. Like KP said Everyday Minerals is AWESOME with lots of options. I love the stuff and I'm saving money because I rarely have to order (like once a year!). For mascara I use Honeybee Garden's. I like it pretty well. It's not a real dark heavy look but good for everyday.

  17. Grrreat post! Have you seen mine on Organic Orgy? When I did the research, it really scared me to find mercury (listed as thimerosol) in my mascara! I'm just a freak about organic and natural makeup! Pthlates are a huge problem, too!

  18. Coastal Classics' mascara is GREAT. Their eye shadows are intense and fun, too.


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