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