Trying To Be Greener

Safer eco-living, one day at a time

How Safe Is Your Mascara? August 28, 2008

It’s time to buy new mascara so I’m passing off all of my research.

The Environmental Working Group has a website called Skin Deep. This site is an excellent resource for consumers in that it lists thousands of personal care products in an organized way and rates them on how safe their ingredients are.

“Skin Deep pairs ingredients in more than 25,000 products against 50 definitive toxicity and regulatory databases, making it the largest integrated data resource of its kind.Why did a small nonprofit take on such a big project? Because the FDA doesn’t require companies to test their own products for safety.”

At Skin Deep, you can find hundreds of specific items for hair, skin, eyes, nails, baby, oral care, fragrance, and makeup rated from 0-10, zero being the safest. Each item’s score is explained in detail and safer options are given.

In today’s post I’m listing safer mascara choices from Skin Deep’s site that can easily be found at your local drugstore. I’ve also listed some common items with high (not safe) scores as comparisons. It should be noted that although Skin Deep gives products a “moderate hazard” score, some of them contain the chemicals below with cautions from testing results of these chemicals:

PEG-10 Dimethicone and laureth-12: Also known as 1,4-Dioxane: Endocrine disruption, identified as a probable human carcinogen by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

Propylene Glycol: FDA says is safe for general use but can cause cancer and contains toxins that affect reproduction

Alcohol Denatured: Cancer, Developmental/reproductive toxicity, Organ system toxicity (non-reproductive)

Benzyl Alcohol: Neurotoxicity

Parabens: May cause breast cancer due to hormone mimicking properties

Sodium laureth sulfate: Can cause skin and eye damage

Phenoxyethanol and Potassium hydroxide– Organ system toxicity (non-reproductive), eye irritation

Butylene glycol – Eye irritation

Panthenol – Alcohol

Triethanolamine, Polyethylene – Cancer concerns

Midazolidinyl urea, quaternium-15 and imidazolidinyl urea – Formaldehyde

Oryza sativa (rice) starch – Pesticides

Ethylacrylate and Methyl methacrylate – Cancer, developmental/reproductive toxicity

Mascara with a score of 3 having a “moderate hazard”:

Boots No. 7 Lash and Brow Perfector (clear) – Parabens, Phenoxyethanol, Potassium hydroxide, Panthenol, Butylene glycol

Max Factor Stretch No color Mascara – Triethanolamine, Midazolidinyl urea, Parabens

Almay Bright Eyes Mascara, Waterproof Black Brown and Black – Polyethylene, PEG-10 Dimethicone, Parabens, Phenoxyethanol

Almay One Coat Mascara, Thickening Black Brown and Blackest Black – Quaternium-15, Imidazolidinyl urea, Parabens

L’Oreal Paris Voluminous Mascara Waterproof Black – Oryza sativa (rice) starch, Parabens

Maybeline Sky High Curves – Waterproof Mascara, Very Black and Brownish Black – Oryza sativa (rice) starch, Parabens

Mascara with a score of 7 having a “high hazard”:

Cover Girl CoverGirl LashExact Mascara – Triethanolamine, Benzyl Alcohol, Sodium laureth sulfate, Parabens, Phenoxyethanol, Propylene Glycol, Alcohol Denatured

Cover Girl Super Thick Lash Mascara, Black Brown and Soft Black – Triethanolamine, Benzyl Alcohol, Sodium laureth sulfate, Parabens, Phenoxyethanol, Propylene Glycol, laureth-12

Mascara with a score of 8 having a “high hazard”:

Maybelline Illegal Lengths Washable Mascara, Black Onyx; Brownish Black (old formulation) – Ethylacrylate, Methyl methacrylate, Polyethylene, Triethanolamine, Parabens, Propylene Glycol

There were many more popular mascaras listed with a score of 3 – 7. Visit Skin Deep and look up what you’re using. Then decide if you need to choose a safer option with a lower score next time you’re running low.

Take a look at earlier posts of mine on how safe is your deodorant, bar soap, baby shampoo and soap, and shampoo and conditioner.

add to :: Add to Blinkslist :: add to furl :: Digg it :: add to ma.gnolia :: Stumble It! :: add to simpy :: seed the vine :: :: :: TailRank :: post to facebook


10 Responses to “How Safe Is Your Mascara?”

  1. Mascara has been a particular source of dismay for me, because I haven’t found a conventional one that is acceptable to me, but (so far) haven’t found an eco one that I love.

  2. Erika Says:

    I’m going to have to agree with the first comment. I haven’t found an eco friendly mascara that I like either 🙂

  3. efletcher7 Says:

    GREAT bLOG! Very informative! Thanks!

  4. Abby Says:

    I’ve tried a few (and spent a lot) on non-toxic mascaras. My eyes tend to water a lot so i always (toxic or not) had trouble with runny mascara under the eye.
    Here is what I found:
    suki- expensive ($30+)…smears very easily

    Dr. H(don’t remember the spelling)- expensive ($20+ on sale)…smears

    Gabriel – great, average cost ($11.99) doesn’t smear, looks natural, but very difficult to remove. I guess that is why they sell an eye make-up remover.

    I’m currently trying out this one:
    Origins- $13.99. The lady at the store said that Origins is phasing out phthalates and parabens… so she showed me a box of the mascara (“full story is what it’s called) and it said that there were none of these….so I bought it…but when I looked at the box after I purchased it, it was a different box because I chose to go with ‘fringe benefits’…I assumed they have the same ingredients..but am not sure because I had to toss the box(before crossing the border)…..

    Can anyone help me with this…where can I find Origin ingredients? or does anyone know if Origins cosmetics is non-toxic.

  5. Kirstin Says:

    Great question about Origins makeup. I wrote and asked them about this and here’s how they responded:

    Dear Kirstin,

    Thank you for your interest in Origins.

    Origins Products are formulated without: Parabens – Phthalates – Propylene Glycol – Mineral Oil – PABA – Petrolatum – Paraffin – DEA – Animal Ingredients (except cruelty-free honey and beeswax)

    Origins tests its products on human volunteers.
    For more information visit:

    Consumer safety has always been top priority at Origins. Our product safety testing requires collaboration of experts across several sciences to ensure the excellence and quality of all products brought to market. Before being approved for manufacture, formulations must exceed the high Company standards for ingredient preservation and stability, product efficacy, compatibility, and durability.

    Origins employs extensive Research and Development teams at its state-of-the-art laboratories. Primarily responsible for continuous exploration of new technologies in advanced skin care and makeup development, R&D works with suppliers and leading universities where research is conducted in dermatology, skin aging, and cellular biology. We reference peer reviewed scientific research as well as international regulatory guidelines regarding ingredients we use in our products.

    All Origins products are tested for irritancy and allergy, using biological assays and volunteer panels. We do not test our products on animals, nor do we ask others to conduct animal testing on our behalf, except where required by law.

    We are proud of the enviable safety record Origins has sustained since our company was founded.

    Again, thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts and concerns.


    Katie Morton
    Response Representative
    Global Consumer Communications

  6. Bob Says:

    My wife was just diagnosed with “scratches” on both of her eyes, for no apparent reason. I saw a segment on the news today where they reported on anti-aging products used around the eye (and some mascaras) having a dangerous chemical in them that causes eye damage. I asked my wife if she used anti-aging cosmetics around her eyes and she does. Now I can’t find the info that I saw on the news (and can’t remember if it was CNN, Headline News or local news.) Does anyone else remember hearing this today?

  7. Aaryn Says:

    I just tried Tarte Lash Hugger mascara! It is awesome. Eco-friendly and it doesn’t smear, plus it comes off easily with cleanser and water. So so nice — but a bit pricey — $18 at or

  8. Jill Says:

    I just bought the Tarte Lash Hugger on Aaryn’s recommendation. I really like it too. But I’m not accustomed to spending so much for cosmetics!

  9. DeeDee Says:

    I am using Talika’s Lash Extender the one ingredient in it and the last one is ALUMINUM CHLORIDE. I googled this stuff and it doesn’t even sound like it should be in this kind of product if it’s used for lashes near the eyes..This ingredient burns and irritates..I kept wondering why my eyes were burning during the day..It’s this stuff. When I remove it at night my eyes are purely calm. I think I will go back to Fast Lash..It’s more gentler on my eyes and lashes..
    Anyone use this product Talika Lash Extender..

  10. Dani Says:

    Physician’s Formula has a good one that is organic…. I have used a couple tubes now, and I still like it. The price here in Canada is around 15$, but I usually buy it on sale for about the same price as other mascaras!

    Here’s a link!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s