Mascara is one of the quintessential products in a woman’s makeup bag. A few seconds to apply, and long, thick eyelashes in an assortment of colors are yours – no wonder the average American woman will spend about $3,770 on mascara in her lifetime, as opposed to $2,750 for eyeshadow and $1,780 for lipstick.
But if you’re using run-of-the-mill, commercial mascara, you could be exposing your eyes to some harmful ingredients. This goes beyond the dangers of using mascara unhygienically (such as sharing makeup or not removing it properly) or not replacing your mascara periodically (it can grow bacteria and cause eye infections). Look up the ingredients to any mainstream mascara and you’ll find:
Methylparaben, propylparaben & ethylparaben
These are anti-fungal and preservative chemicals, used to prevent bacteria growth. Parabens, the chemical group to which these three compounds belong, have been shown to mimic estrogen and act as hormone disruptors, and have been linked to breast cancer.
An ingredient used to help mascara maintain its liquid form, Propylene Glycol can cause skin irritation and allergic reactions in concentrations as low as 2 percent, and it is considered a toxic substance by the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry.
BHA & BHT (butylated hydroxyanisole & butylated hydroxytoluene)
Neither of these preservatives have been fully researched – tests have shown that both can cause (or decrease the risk of) cancer. The National Toxicology Program stated that BHA “is reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen,” and has been linked to cell toxicity (or, the opposite, cell protection), in different doses. The EU classifies BHA as an endocrine disruptor. Some researchers suggest avoiding these preservatives until their effects become better understood.
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In addition to the above, look out for ingredients like Retinyl Acetate (Vitamin A Acetate), fragrance and formaldehyde releasing preservatives, such as DMDM, imidazolindyl urea, methenamine, diazuli dinyl urea, and quaternium-15 – just to name a few.
We shouldn’t have to sacrifice our health for beauty! Luckily, many companies are starting to recognize this and create safer products.
My favorite SAFE mascara!
I had initially hoped to give you 3 options here, BUT I’ve been trying non-toxic mascaras for the last 5 years and this is the first time I’ve found one that I can confidently recommend to you.
I’ve been waiting for this mascara for a LONG time! I’ve tried soooo many non-toxic brands over the years and they all left me looking like a raccoon. Beautycounter has been working on this formula for 3 years! They wanted to make sure that the ingredients were safe, while the mascara actually performed. Unlike any other clean formulas on the market, this mascara doesn’t leave lashes sticky or stuck together. (available here)
Things I LOVE about Beautycounter’s mascara:
- It goes through a strict ingredient screening and testing process.
- It’s a light black, which means it can work with all skin tones and hair colors.
- It’s buildable! It goes on light for an everyday look, but you can build layers for a more dramatic look.
- Really cool wand! The wand doesn’t end up with all of this extra product that you have to scrape off and waste.
- 4 Organic oils: pomegranate oil, acai oil, shea butter and cocoa butter condition our lashes while we wear it.
Click HERE to PIN it for later!