mascara masterclass

If you could only have one thing in your makeup bag, chances are, it would be mascara. The allure of a fluttery gaze has held steady since ancient Egypt when both men and women used kohl and ointments to darken their lashes. For centuries, natural pigments, oils, and crushed berries were used to accentuate the eyes, but in recent years, toxic preservatives, colorants, fragrance, and emulsifiers have made modern mascaras anything but beautiful.

There are two things to keep in mind when it comes to using mascara safely. First, you know how you’ve heard you should throw out your mascara every three months? Yeah, you should go ahead and do that. Seriously, stop reading, go to your makeup bag, and toss all of those old tubes you’ve been hoarding. The moist, damp environment of a mascara tube combined with the vulnerable nature of eyes makes it a terrible combination for your pretty peepers.
Second, there are a few ingredients to avoid. I won’t list every single possible nasty ingredient, but some of the most commonly used ones include: parabens, fragrance/parfum, aluminum powder, triethanolamine (TEA), phthalates, petroleum products, dioxane, retinyl acetate, diazolidinyl urea, propylene glycol, PEGs. These ingredients are included in mainstream mascaras to minimize bacteria, add color, a pleasant scent, or a silky feeling, but they’re all considered toxic and/or irritating.


A recent study found that eyelashes are always about one-third as long as the eye is wide. This is the optimal length for diverting airflow to protect eyes from dryness. Cool fact, but what does this mean?
If you have smaller eyes, and therefore shorter lashes, a mascara with a petite brush may feel more comfortable to use. Larger eyes with longer lashes can use bigger brushes easily.

Another thing to keep in mind? Your hair texture! If you have thick, curly hair, it’s likely your lashes are naturally voluminous. You probably want a mascara that adds definition and length. Fine straight hair? Reach for a volumizing formula to plump wispy lashes.

Last, but not least, it’s makeup! Whatever you prefer, whether it’s a barely-there tint, or drama for days, wear whatever makes you feel good.


We’ve meticulously tested and pored over labels to find our favorite mascaras that are gorgeous and good for you. These are some of our go-tos.


Kjaer Weis Mascara

Want a look that’s polished, but natural? The Kjaer Weis organic formula glides on for a clump-free finish, and the slim wand coats even the shortest lashes. The refillable compact is deliberately smaller to ensure you don’t use it past the three month cut-off.

*Pro tip – Hold the wand horizontally against the base of lashes, wiggling it to work the mascara into the roots first. Once the base is saturated, re-dip, then comb through the tips. Concentrating product at the roots ensures more lift and definition.


W3LL PEOPLE Expressionist Mascara

Looking for length and separation? This mineral-pigmented mascara from W3LL PEOPLE features a unique silicone wand that extends every lash. The buildable formula can go from subtle to striking in just a few coats. It comes in classic shades of black and brown, as well as vivid blue and deep purple.

*Pro tip – Try the blue formula to brighten brown eyes, or the purple to accentuate green and hazel.


Lily Lolo Black Vegan Mascara

Do you prefer bold volume? Go for Lily Lolo’s thick, creamy formula that comes with a big, bristle brush. You can go light if you’d like, but we say go big or go home. Layer on two to three coats for full impact.

*Pro tip – No time for multiple coats? Take advantage of that little dollop of mascara that always sits on the tip of the wand. Run the tip of the brush vertically against the base of your lashes to distribute it quickly. Then hold horizontally to comb through.