Mascara: Why You Want This to Be Green

I like to take spinning classes. At the end of a recent session, my sweaty instructor announced to us that she needed to buy new mascara “because her eyes were burning.” Eager to help and suck up to teacher, I leapt off my bike while recommending green product suggestions off the top of my head. Such is what happens when you write about green beauty professionally – you become a powder keg of unsolicited information ready to blow at the slightest mention of organic beauty.

My teacher’s burning eyes got me thinking. Yes, we want to keep our cosmetics as pure as possible simply because they go on our skin which absorbs them straight into our systems. But does mascara have a special place on top of the pyramid of clean? Like our lips, our eyes make like a waterslide for chemicals to enter our bodies. Common sense and the Center for Disease Control all warn that the quickest way to catch a cold is to touch your eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands.

Traditional mascaras seem like they contain more chemicals that you might need to paint your car. Just check out the ingredients of this mascara from Revlon. Its composition is linked to cancer, reproductive toxicity, allergies, and more. Other mascaras contain parabens, (linked to reproductive issues,) phthalates, (problems with liver, kidney, reproduction,) Petrolatum (cancer,) Diazolidinyl urea (cancer), and more.

Then there is Latisse. Every time I see actress Claire Danes flashing her lashes on TV while shilling for this product, I want to reach through the screen and ask her if Angela Chase would approve. Latisse is a drug by pharmaceutical giant Allergan that promotes growth of eyelashes. Recently, the FDA sent a warning to Allergan that they were minimizing the dangerous risks associated with this product. Just some of these side effects include “changing eye color to brown, infection in the cornea, inflamed red eyes, darkened skin on eyelids, and the growth of hair in areas of the body other than the lash area.”

Consequently, if elves were stealing my makeup bag and let me keep one thing out of it, (it could happen,) I would grab my mascara. My eyelashes are slightly anemic and need cosmetic support to stand out. I want to keep this support as pure as possible.

So how best to keep your mascara clean? Way back in 2009, otherwise known as a world without Lady Gaga, we looked at what the organic industry was offering up as green mascara. Since then, we’ve discovered another brand that pack a cosmetic punch without an overload of chemicals.

Lately, I’ve become enamored with Jane Iredale’s Longest Lash ($32.00). First, this product gets a low hazard rating from Skin Deep. Second, it really gives a great, natural look. Rather than immediately coating your eyelashes in a slick, clumpy coating, it rather looks like you’re not even wearing mascara – just that your lashes are suddenly enhanced. It’s also available in natural shades like “dark blonde” and fun hues like “ripe plum.”

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Katherine Butler

Katherine Butler is the Beauty Editor of EcoSalon and currently resides in Los Angeles, California.