Building a zero waste makeup bag isn’t always that straightforward. However, when it comes to zero waste mascara, our options are steadily increasing. Which we absolutely love, especially as mascara can quickly brighten up any look, match it with a natural lipstick for a pop of colour and you’re good to go.
That said, eco-friendly mascara isn’t easy to make. If you’re looking for a waterproof version your best option will contain chemicals of some sort. Natural, zero waste mascara won’t give you the staying power of a drug store one, but it comes without the nasty ingredients – which is a fair trade-off.
Let’s take a look at some of our favourite Zero Waste Mascara Brands.
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Ethics | Cruelty-Free, Vegan, Non-Toxic, Contains RSPO Certified Palm oil Derivatives
Packaging | Compostable with recyclable tube
Elate’s Essential chemical-free mascara is available in black and brown and comes in an earth-friendly bamboo outer tube with a recyclable inner tube. Unfortunately, Elate does not offer a refill option but, you can crush the bamboo outer tube to separate the two components. The Bamboo portion can be composted and the inner tube recycled.
As stated on Elate’s website, their mascara isn’t 100% zero waste, although we have to argue that it comes close.
Overall this mascara adds good volume and length without being clumpy which is a great plus. It’s also sweat-resistant and the wand is very comfortable to use.
They previously used Phenoxyethanol as a preservative, but at the time of writing, this was no longer on their ingredient list.
Elate is a Certified B Corporation and has ambitions to become the first waste-free cosmetics company and they donate a 2% minimum of all sales to social and environmental impact programmes.
Ethics | Cruelty-Free, Vegan, Organic Ecocert certified, 100% natural, Contains RSPO Certified Palm oil Derivative
Packaging | Refillable with recyclable tube
Zao makeup is very popular and we’d say rightfully so. Their products are made with the environment in mind. If you’re looking for an eco-friendly mascara in a tube then Zao makes absolute sense. You can buy refills from them, these do come with a wand due to safety regulations, but you can donate your old mascara wands – see details at the end of the post. The packaging is very sleek, there’s no denying it, it also makes application easy.
At the time of writing, they offer two types of mascaras an Aloe Vera product as well as a Volume and Seething Mascara. Both come in Black and Brown, which will suit most complexions.
The Aloe Vera Mascara soothes irritated skin and is slightly better when it comes to moisture resistance thanks to its thicker formula, but neither of these is fully waterproof as you’d expect from a natural chemical-free mascara. Both these mascaras deliver great colour but can get a slight bit clumpy, however, it’s not catastrophic by any means.
Zao’s was founded by four friends based in France, all their products are manufactured in Europe. The brand and its bamboo packaging are inspired by Asian culture. Zao products are widely available and can be bought in a few countries outside France such as the USA and UK.
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Ethics | Cruelty-Free, Naturally Pigmented, Palm oil-free
Packaging | Recyclable metal outer with plastic inner tube
100% pure make two types of zero waste mascara. Maracuja, which is vegan and an Ultra Lengthening version that contains beeswax, so is not vegan.
Maracuja is a volumising mascara that coats without clumping or flaking. It contains Pro-vitamin B and lash-thickening seaweed to give more volume. Pigmented with tea, cocoa and coffee beans, this mascara is water-resistant and give great colour.
The Ultra Lengthening version separates lashes without clumping or flaking. It has quite a strong smell and is made with natural pigment from black tea, berries and cocoa. It uses a water-resistant formula that is free from toxic ingredients.
Even though the packaging of both these mascaras contains plastic, the wand, inner and outer tube can be returned to a 100% pure store for recycling.
As a company, 100% pure is committed to improving the lives of animals across the world, so they donate one bowl of dog food for every purchase.
Ethics | Cruelty-Free, Non-Toxic, Certified Organic
Packaging | Metal outer tube with recyclable inner tube
Kjaer Weiss is a luxury brand and makes two zero waste mascara options, one for volume and one for length. It comes in an impressively sleek steel tube that can be refilled. These mascaras give a more natural look and need quite a bit of layering if you’d like to add more drama. It does seem to glide on and isn’t clumpy which is a plus.
The product contains rose flower oil so it smells just like roses, the scent is natural so there is no need to worry about artificial fragrances here. All in all the ingredients list is clean but does contain Beeswax so isn’t vegan if that’s a concern.
Kjaer Weiss was founded by Danish makeup artist Kirsten Kjaer Weis who has worked for some of the most prestigious fashion magazines around the world. She set out to create a luxury beauty brand with sustainable packaging and non-toxic ingredients so that her clients don’t have to sacrifice their health for beauty, which is a very sensible approach right?
Some products contain palm oil, but Kjaer’s Palm oil sourcing policy is unclear.
Ethics | Cruelty-Free, Vegan, Organic, Non-Toxic, Palm oil-free
Packaging | Clear glass vial with metal cap
If you’re not into that fake lash look then this mascara is for you, it’s natural, yet provides good colour coverage. Clean Faced’s vegan, chemical-free mascara conditions with Aloe and Vitamin E. You can use it on your brows but apply it sparingly as the colour can be a little intense if you’re not careful.
They now use a water-based formula that dries much faster than their older formulation. For extra length and thickness, you can build up the lash length by layering a few applications and letting it dry in between.
Your plastic-free mascara will ship with an eco-friendly bamboo brush – it does have plastic bristles so remember to strip those off before composting. The only hassle with the packaging is that it doesn’t come with those scraping sides (reducer) at the top of the container so you’ll have to use the side of the vial to remove excess mascara. It takes a bit of practice to master, but it’s a small price to pay for less waste right?
Clean Faced don’t contain any silicones or alcohol. Combine their mascara with their All Day Long Powder for faster drying and more volume.
Ethics | Cruelty-Free, Non-Toxic
Packaging | Terracycle return programme
Vapour’s mascara lengthens, defines and builds your laches with activated botanicals. They use acacia flower and jojoba to soften and ensure there are no clumps or irritation. We’d say as a more high-end option they do come very close to the old fashion mascaras without the nasty ingredients. They use organic beeswax in their formula, so it’s not a vegan product.
Application is easy and coats the lashes really well, although you’ll have to build it up to get a good amount of length. It’s easy to remove at the end of the day and won’t smudge by lunchtime, so no need to worry there!
The only downfall is that their products do come in plastic, however, Vapour offers a Terracycle return programme and offer reward points for returning your tubes directly to them.
Originating in the USA, founders Krysia and Kristine is committed to creating clean beauty products and from where we stand it looks like they’re creating just that. We’d love to see more steps taken in terms of reducing plastic in their packaging in the future!
Contains palm oil derivatives with responsible sourcing noted on their website.
Ethics | Cruelty-Free, Non-Toxic, Palm oil-free
Packaging | Metal container
If you’re looking for something that works a little differently, then Dab Herb certainly delivers. Their mascara comes in bar form and is formulated for sensitive skin and eyes. You’ll get around 8 hours of wear out of this mascara, no problem, and it gives reasonable volume.
Being a bar you’re not paying extra for additional water so it’s quite concentrated. You can order it with a silicone and wood mascara wand for no extra cost and it can be used as an eyebrow or mascara applicator.
To use you must add 1-2 drops of water, wait for a minute, perhaps two and then swirl your clean wand gently around the bar. The mascara will become creamy, you can then coat your brush and apply as normal, controlling the intensity with less or more water. Wait for the first coat to dry then reapply for more volume and length.
This nifty little bar doubles up as an eyeliner, which makes it a great multi-tasking product.
Ethics | Cruelty-Free, Non-Toxic, Palm oil-free
Packaging | Glass vial with aluminium cap
Dirty Hippie is an Australian brand, well known for its zero waste makeup. Their products are handmade using organic ingredients. Their volumising mineral zero waste mascara is clay and aloe vera based, adding length and volume.
Caster, lavender and jojoba oil nourish lashes while seaweed and colloidal oat powders provide condition. The high levels of Vitamin B5 and E help to encourage lash growth.
Similar to the Clean Faced zero waste mascara the vial doesn’t have a reducer which means the brush just dips in and out without anything scraping off excess, so you’ll have to use the sides of the vial to distribute and scrape off excess to avoid clumps. It does take some getting used to. This mascara has great texture when you start building up a few layers and washes off easily – no panda eyes.
You can order your plastic free mascara with or without a bamboo wand, just make sure you clean after every use and use it dry to stop product contamination. If you’re in Australia you can return your empty containers to Dirty Hippie, but for the rest of us, we’ll have to dispose of it responsibly ourselves.
Ethics | Cruelty-Free, Non-Toxic, Vegan, Fragrance-free
Packaging | 100% recyclable
Sweet LeiLani is plant-powered and said to be celebrated by dermatologists and recognised by plastic surgeons
Founder LeiLani Kopp is trained in paramedical corrective makeup and scar re-pigmentation in Canada. She has over 30 years experience in Film and TV. She recognized that clients with scars and other extreme skin conditions require pure formulas that calm the skin, allowing it to breathe and heal.
This mascara buildable formula delivers long and luscious lashes. It’s safe for those with sensitive eyes and ideal if you wear contact lenses. The formula is blended with Provitamin B5 and coconut oil to condition and strengthen lashes.
It uses a clean and non-toxic formula that uses safe ingredients and healing botanicals.
Their packaging is 100& recyclable.
Ethics | Cruelty-Free, Non-Toxic, Vegan
Packaging | Refillable
Bésame makes luxury make-up that is 100% cruelty-free specifically for sensitive skin. You won’t find any gluten, parabens or mineral oils in their formulas. The company is owned and operated by Gabriela who oversees every batch produced in California. All their products are made to last and produce as little waste as possible.
We love this somewhat vintage-looking reusable tin, it’s not likely that we’ll be throwing this one away! Their tins are refillable which is great.
Don’t forget to pick up your mascara brush separately as the little brush it comes with isn’t a mascara wand as you’d expect.
This plastic-free mascara doubles up as an eyeliner, making it a super versatile product for sure.
Note that not all their products are vegan as they contain beeswax and some products contain Ethylhexyl Palmitate, a palm-oil derivative, so be sure to double-check other products in their range before you dive into the entire range.
Chemicals in Drug Store Mascara
Good old fashioned drug store mascara doesn’t just contain plastic, it is laced with a lengthy list of chemicals many of which are what we call “forever chemicals”.
A peer-reviewed research study published in Environmental Science & Technology found high levels of organic fluorine, an indicator of FPAS, which is associated with a list of ailments including liver damage, thyroid disease, decreased fertility, high cholesterol, obesity, hormone suppression and cancer in many drug store mascaras. Many of these companies don’t even list FPAS on their ingredient labels which means it’s almost impossible to detect.
Surprisingly low waste mascaras have a tendency to contain fewer or no nasty ingredients. We can therefore say that choosing a plastic free mascara may not just be a good idea for a zero waste lifestyle, it is also an excellent idea for your health overall.
Discarding Mascara Wands
If you’re wondering what the best way is to discard your mascara wand then look no further. Wands for wildlife takes mascara wand donations to help remove fly eggs and larva from the fur and feathers of wild animals. Visit their website for more information wandsforwildlife.org
Not generally no, the majority of drug store tube mascara contain chemical ingredients that could be harmful to you and the planet. There are some tube mascaras that can be classed as environmentally friendly, for options see our list of mascaras.
Yes, you can although take caution as Vaseline is a petroleum-based product. Even though it’s seen as safe by the FDA petroleum-based products come with a big environmental price tag as it’s a by-product of the oil industry which is very damaging to the environment when extracted.