Green Girl Looks Behind the Masc(ara)

I don’t know about you, but when I started using makeup I didn’t know what on earth I was doing. I think I started in eighth grade and goodness gracious, was that a disaster. I call it my “goth phase” because, while I certainly did not have the goth attitude, my makeup reflected a different story. Yes, I was a black eye liner and mascara addict. I admit it.

Five years later, I would like to believe that I have a better handle on my makeup. Unlike high school (my high school, at least) where it was social suicide not to wear tons of makeup every day, college is a place where you don’t necessarily need to look very put together all the time. This said, most days I do wear some makeup. My choice? Tinted moisturizer (my face gets very dry), chapstick, and mascara. It’s the perfect combo: In as little time as possible, I can look presentable.

Mascara, mascara, mascara. I do love you so. Who doesn’t? After all, from the instant we see Disney movies with those princesses and their long, dark, beautiful lashes we’re shown what the ideal eyelash should be. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not condoning stereotypes for women to fall into, but I certainly want my eyelashes to look like that. And there’s long lash mascara, no clump mascara, extra volume mascara, and dozens of other styles to give us just those Belle or Arielle lashes.

So, yes, I use mascara a lot. It’s my makeup item that I can’t live without. But is this a good thing? No, it most certainly is not. Mascara, in fact, might easily be your downfall. Mascara, you say? That tiny tube of black gunk?

Yes, that tiny tube of black gunk. Let’s take a closer look at said gunk. As I wrote this I thought to myself, “Hm, I wonder what’s in my mascara?” Now, my mother would not be happy at all if she knew that I was using a drug store mascara, but I am: Cover Girl LashBlast. Looking up the ingredients, the ones that stand out to me are: petroleum distillates, polyethylene, propylparaben, and phenoxyethanol. Perhaps the letter “p” denotes “carcinogenic.”

Between these four ingredients alone, you have the possibility of cancer, organ system toxicity, neurotoxicity, developmental and reproductive toxicity, endocrine disruption, and immunotoxicity.

The worst? Petroleum distillates. Banned by the European Union but still used in American cosmetics, these chemicals rank high in terms of hazard to your health and can be found in the majority of drug store brand mascaras (Maybelline, Cover Girl, Max Factor, L’Oreal, Mary Kay). Not my idea of healthy. Maybelline also uses ethylacrylate in at least one of their mascaras—on the Environmental Working Group Web site, this chemical is listed as having the highest hazard ranking possible. It is linked with the same diseases listed above.

So what do you do? Do you give up on those gorgeous lashes? Well, I’m not giving up on them. But I am giving up on my Cover Girl. Instead I’m going to go for Aveda, which I’ve used in the past. Aveda mascara (or “mosscara”) is made from plant-based materials; its main ingredient is carnauba wax (a hard beeswax) (). Sounds a lot better to me. Also, it isn’t that much more than drug store mascara (only $12).

Note to self: Switch to non-everykindofdiseaseimaginable mosscara.

Lily Berthold-Bond grew up in a chemical-free zone and has struggled her whole life to understand and accept this non-commercial lifestyle. Now a freshman at Tufts University, she has embraced her green life and hopes to share its possibilities with the rest of her generation.

By Lily Berthold-Bond


Vicky Pitchford
Vicky P4 years ago

^^ There's more Organic make-up available on the market now, if you can't find it in stores, try online.

Minjoo C.
Minjoo C.4 years ago

great information.

May Howie
may Howie5 years ago


Nikky Sops
Nikk Sops7 years ago

Oh my
I'm actually wearing Lash Blast right now, THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR THE INFO!:)
Going to wash it off right away.

Terri S.
Terri S.7 years ago

please share your natural mascara recipe with me.

Michelle P.
Michelle P.8 years ago

Hi Christie, can you email the natural mascara recipe, thanks Michelle

Christie C.
Christie C8 years ago next batch came out much, much better. People don’t believe I made it when I show them! I haven't nailed down the exact measurements yet since I’ve only made it this way once. I can, however, tell you what I used and explain the process and supplement that with exacts if still needed after I make it again (in another week or so). It’s a bit too much to say for this little comment space, so I will send you a message instead. If anyone else is interested, feel free to message me here on Care2.

Charlotte Krause
Past Member 8 years ago

Hey Christie C.! I was wondering would you share your mascara recipe with me? Thanks! :D

Christie C.
Christie C8 years ago

I gave up trying to find mascara that is both safe and affordable. So, after extensive research online, I started making it at home. I only found 1 recipe that had truly natural ingredients, and have been experimenting with it. I've finally gotten something that doesn't smear every time I blink but isn't too crumbly either. It still smears a little though. I want to improve on the next batch. If anyone else here has made their mascara before, I'd love to chat.

Olive oil: You can buy mascara brushes at most beauty supply stores. I get mine at Sally Beauty Supply (not a plug, their just on my way home from work) and they're only $2.99 for 12. I haven't used olive oil on my lashes, but have been using it as a base oil in a hair dressing that I massage into my scalp at night. It does a great job of moisturizing. I would think it'd keep mascara from adhering to your lashes if it's not rinsed off really well, which is hard to do around the eyes... I agree with Caralien that it's also an excellent face cleanser.

Heather B.
Carolyne H8 years ago

I don't wear any form of make up but if I did I would want to know what is in the product and be told of the dangers it could do to me and my health. Instead these companies use advertising to sell their products without telling us the truth! "What could be in this mascara or lipstick, could it be harmful to me??" The truth is kept from the people and that is wrong. Most of these companies test on animals too and that is very sad. For one to look beautiful a animal was hurt all for the good of Makeup!! What is this world coming too? :(