First up, you might be asking what makes a natural mascara. In reality, there are no set parameters for what makes any beauty product natural... and pretty much any beauty product you pick up will have chemicals in them, because they need to be preserved to keep bacteria from multiplying in the tube. But by and large, natural mascaras will be enriched with ingredients like shea butter and natural plant oils, which help to condition your lashes as it makes them inky. Pros also suggest looking for mascaras that are free of formaldehyde, carbon black, or parabens, three ingredients that have been shown to cause eye irritation.
But note that the cause of eye irritation can be wide-ranging and it might not necessarily mean that a chemical is to blame for the itchiness or redness. “Ingredients in eye makeup—including mascara—may have harmful effects,” Mark Jacquot, OD, clinical director at LensCrafters previously told Well+Good. “Many mascara products on the market that can help you gain length and volume in your lashes contain ingredients that can negatively affect your vision.” Allergies to natural ingredients are common, so if you notice undue irritation around your eyes, discontinue use and see a professional who can help ensure your problem gets better.
Lastly, while natural mascaras have improved loads over the last decade, and have gotten really sophisticated, some still don't have the wear power of traditional formulas (FWIW: two of our editors are head-over-heels for Benefit Cosmetics They’re Real! Lengthening Mascara, $26). That said, it might take some trial and error on your lashes to see if one is right for you. We're here to help limit that testing, however. Keep scrolling for 7 of the best natural mascaras around.
Shop the best natural mascaras
The one that does it all: A single coat of Kosas’s mascara makes my natural lashes look like they’ve been treated to a pro-grade lash lift. It somehow manages to make them look longer and thicker at the same time, which is not an easy feat considering most mascaras on the market force you to choose between one or the other. It slicks my wispy strands with a smooth coat of pigment that somehow never clumps (even after two or three swipes), and doesn’t melt into raccoon eyes no matter how many hours I wear it to stare at a Zoom screen. —Zoe Weiner, Beauty+Fitness Editor
The best brush: As someone with short lashes that are stick straight, it’s all about a good wand for me. It’s easy to get every lash, and it doesn’t smear or clump. —Jenna Gibson, Design Director
The vegan pick: I’ve always been jealous of my brother’s long, thick lashes. I have thick, curly hair everywhere else, but when it comes to my eyelashes, point straight out and are barely there. As a result, I’ve tried everything. Seriously. From drugstore mascaras to designer formulas, growth oils to serums. Until I found my knight in shining…spoolie brush. The Lily Lolo Natural Vegan Mascara doesn’t fade or flake while it lengthens, and volumizes your lashes. And you only need one or two coats to reap the full benefits. —Saanya Ali, Editorial Projects Associate
The drugstore pick: Honestly I’m a tried-and-true drugstore girl when it comes to most of my make-up, so Lash Blast in it’s OG form was a beauty mainstay for years. But I love their clean take on this flawless formula – it’s nourished by argan and marula oils for a smooth, unclumpy finish, and still amplifies the volume for the going-out Bambi lashes I covet. You know, even if I’m mostly just dolling up for the bodega these days. —Mary Grace Garis, Lifestyle Writer
The volumizing pick: This volumizer mascara is truly a gift for your eyes! It gives lashes a natural-looking effect, and it’s formulated in a way that doesn’t leave black smudges all over your face when you wash it off, or rub your eyes. This means it’s the only mascara I will ever wear again. —Ella Dove, Director of Creative Development
The lengthening pick: I definitely wouldn’t describe my mascara game as EXTREME, but I happen to love the Hourglass Caution Extreme Lash Mascara. It gives me thickness and volume in the spots where I need it, while somehow managing to find eyelashes in the way inner and outer corners of my eyes that I didn’t even know existed! My favorite part? It has the silkiest texture, which, for someone who is an eye rubber (after a long day staring at a screen sometimes rubbing your eyes is the equivalent of taking your bra off!) it’s nice not to feel like my eyes have had glue on them. —Kendall Bryant, Director of Product
The curling pick: As someone with super pale blonde lashes, I have devoted a fair chunk of my life to testing out mascaras. So when one of my favorite makeup artists, Gucci Westman, created her own line of makeup, naturally I had to get my hands on the mascara. And it did not disappoint. The fluffy brush coats lashes in a volumizing inky black formula that gives even my translucent ones that Nestor Carbonell zhuzh. Unlike most natural mascaras that I’ve tried, this one is long-lasting and doesn’t smudge all over my face by the end of the day. Yes, it’s pricey, but IMHO is worth every penny. —Allie Flinn, Writer
Then, watch our very own beauty editor try out some of these mascaras for herself:
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