Kris Carr

Blog Post

Natural Mascara Review: What’s Non-Toxic, Cruelty-Free & Works?

Hiya Bright Eyes!

If I were stranded on a desert island and only allowed one makeup item, it would definitely be mascara.

That peeper potion is like oxygen—essential to my very survival.

During my days in showbiz, I worshipped the classic green and pink Maybelline Great Lash. But as I wised up to the reality of animal testing and toxic chemicals, I ditched my go-to lash blaster in search of a mascara that respects animals, is safe, and actually works—a shockingly difficult combo to find. Many of the more “natural” brands lack the va-va-va-voom-ba-BLAM!

Like me, I know you gals are on a quest to upgrade your makeup bags, so I enlisted my team to help me research, test and rate some of the best cruelty-free makeup on the market today.

The results: an epic mascara review!

This is our biggest deep dive yet and we really hope it helps you. Let’s get started beauties.

To make all of my product reviews as accurate and useful as possible, I always bring in one of my favorite organizations, the Environmental Working Group (EWG). EWG is a leader in up-to-the-minute research on toxins and chemicals present in the environment and our personal and home products. Together, we’ve teamed up and created a Healthy Home Checklist and done several beauty reviews like this one, including deodorantlipstickconcealer, foundation and nail polish (stay tuned for more reviews to come!).

EWG did us a huge favor by analyzing the ingredients in these foundations and adding the product ratings to their Skin Deep Cosmetics Database, which contains information and online safety assessments for over 60,000 products. Thanks, EWG! So, let’s get started, gorgeous.

Over the course of three months, my team and I wore so much natural mascara it was a gorgeous fest. We took each product for a spin at least 5-6 times to see if they really worked. We rated them in the infographic below based on volume (thickening & length-boosting), definition (accentuating the number of lashes) and wear (staying power). We’ve also noted the price of each mascara for your reference. Let’s meet your glamourous testers!

The Crazy Sexy Beauty Sleuths

Kris Carr Beauty Sleuth

Who she is: Chief Unicorn at Crazy Sexy Wellness, NYT bestselling author, green juice priestess, mother of two (Lola & Buddy), forty-something going on thirty something.

Makeup IQ: Years of experience studying makeup artists while in the TV/film/modeling world.

What I’m looking for: Some days I want long and luscious spiders on my eyes. Think Tammy Faye, without the clumps. Especially when I’m working the stage. But when I’m at home hanging around, I love being a country pumpkin-bumpkin and I rarely wear any makeup. A little light mascara is enough—and some lip balm.

Review faves: It was so hard to narrow down my favorites! I chose two for fancy times and one for down home daily wear. For my fancy days: it’s a tie between Kjaer Weis & W3ll People.

Corinne Bowen Beauty Sleuth

Who she is: Vice President at Crazy Sexy Wellness, mama to Audrey, Instagram addict, avid plant-based cook & cookbook reader/collector in her early thirties.

Makeup IQ: I usually feel like I have two left hands when putting on makeup, but Kris and Ashley have been coaching me (I almost passed out from all the attention during my first makeup how-to lesson in Kris’ bathroom!). I’m discovering that wearing healthy cosmetics can actually be fun, but I still have a lot to learn.

What I’m looking for: I’m an impatient gal but I also want to look like I’ve got my shiz together (hello, video conferences), so I gravitate toward low-maintenance beauty. My makeup routine needs to be 10 minutes or less and super-easy to remove at the end of the day, especially when my 3-year-old wants my attention (always!).

Review fave: Physician’s Formula Organic Wear: I love that it gives awesome definition and volume to my lashes and the brush doesn’t get clumpy. My only complaint is that it smudges under her eyes a bit as the day goes on, but that happens with most non-waterproof mascaras. The very first application wasn’t stellar, but superb moving forward. I also love that’s it’s inexpensive!

Ashley Zink Beauty Sleuth

Who she is: Creative & Marketing Director at Crazy Sexy Wellness, dog-lover, beginning backyard gardener & artist in her late twenties.

Makeup IQ: I’ve been a beauty loving “girly-girl” since the first time I got my hands on my grandmother’s makeup mannequin. I know what I like and enjoy keeping up with the trends.

What I’m looking for: I’m a bit of a ‘volume-vixen’ when it comes to mascara, a.k.a. I can’t get enough lash volume. That means I’ve got to have a mascara that lets me pump things up for an evening look. Killer lashes bring the focus to my eyes so that I can balance the rest of my face with a more natural finish. I’m also the sensitive skin tester of the group!

Review fave: bareMinerals Lash Domination: The plastic wand helps to define your lashes and gives me va-va-voom volume at the same time. It even has lasting power for all day wear. For a night out on the town, I put on two coats to add some length. This is as close as you’re going to get to a “false-lash” look without all the work.

Now that we’ve reviewed our process for selection and evaluation, let’s get to the main event—the results! Check out the infographic below for all the dazzling details.

Natural Mascara Review Infographic

Non-Toxic Cruelty Free Mascara Smackdown

For those of you who are wellness detectives like I am and want to know more about how we vet the products I recommend, read this.

Bonus: Natural Mascara Application Tips

Makeup artist and green beauty expert Rebecca Casciano sent us these 5 mascara tips to help you make the most of your gorgeous lashes.

  • Start from the base of your lashes and comb through mascara from root to tip.
  • To add more volume, lightly move brush from side to side at the middle of the lashes.
  • It’s best to apply mascara after eyeshadow and face powder. That way, any powder that accidentally falls on the lashes can be used to build volume.
  • Apply pressed or loose powder under eyes with a puff or small brush to prevent smudging.
  • You can use a bit of raw coconut oil on a tissue for removal. To avoid getting it in your eyes, lightly pull the mascara from lashes, rather than rubbing the whole eye area.

And we have some Crazy Sexy Tips of our own!

  • Kris’ Application Tip: Avoid applying mascara in taxi cabs or while drinking.
  • Ashley’s Application Tip: Since I love my volume, even with the best non-clumping mascara, sometimes I like to do a little extra to smooth things out and separate a few lashes that stick together. My go-to method is with a lash comb—it’s super easy and just takes a couple swipes while the mascara is drying. You can also use an old application wand that you keep clean for the same effect.
  • Corinne’s Removal Tip: Sometimes the best volume boosting mascaras require more than a cleanser at the end of the day, but you don’t want to use any old chemical-laden remover on the shelves. I wash my face first and then use a safe makeup removal product.

Your turn: What’s your favorite natural mascara? I wanna know!

Peace & lovely lashes,

Add a comment
  1. Heather S says:

    I tested a few of these and am glad to see so many that did well. I am currently wearing Pacifica’s STELLAR GAZE LENGTH & STRENGTH MINERAL MASCARA daily but I also love 100% Pure. I am also so happy to see Bare Minerals lash domination rated so well on EWG.

    • trisha barker says:

      Always love your newsletters and so glad to see you helping people making healthier and wiser choices for make up. I’m an Arbonne consultant and love helping people use products that are safe, pure and beneficial for them as well as for the environment. Happy to help anyone who wishes to try our mascara or any of the other wonderful products 🙂

  2. gerri says:

    NYR Organic Mascara is triple 5’s – personally, I’d rate it triple 10’s, off the chart!

    Please don’t forget NYR Organic when you review lipstick and other organic and natural products!

    • Jessica says:

      I wanted to second that! I was so disappointed that NYR Organic wasn’t tested. Maybe next time.

      • Roberta says:

        Hi Jessica…what does NYR stand for? I have never heard of it but am very interested in the mascara :)….I also have an amazing chemical free cloth that removes all your makeup including any mascara with WATER ONLY!…it is seriously awesome the cloth is a blend of 2 high end polyesters woven together that when gotten wet with water only removes your makeup!…check out my website and please contact me at or you can order a makeup eraser off my site for only 19.99 totally reusable over 1000 washes and you wash it in your laundry with your towels no special way just as you would wash your bath towels and it comes out completely clean!….SUPER AMAZING 🙂

        • Diany Moony says:

          NYR Organic is Neal Yard Remedies way of marketing out of their stores. They have been selling organic certified products around 33- 34 years in stores and 5 as NYR Organic. The products are handmade in the UK and approved by the Soil Association with standards that are above the USDA Organic certification. You can check more in

          • Raquel Denise says:

            Thanks for that info…I am checking them out and ordering their mascara today (been researching which vegan mascaras for three days at this point and I am so ready to make a decision…happy I found this info). 🙂

    • Gabbie says:

      Yes! I just ordered NYR and I am glad to see a good review here. Plus you can’t beat the vanilla icing scent.

  3. This is FANTASTIC! I have spent years looking for great mascaras that are clean by EWG standards, free of animal and insect products, and work well. It seems every brand I’ve come across has a downside, but I have yet to try several of these! Thank you so much Kris – I’ll be passing this list along to the Eco-Vegan Gal community!

  4. Melyssa says:

    Good pick! I love Ava mascara! I have allergies, and my eyes get irritated easily, but I never get irritated by Ava mascara. It doesn’t run when I cry at weddings, but is easily removed with Ava’s eye makeup remover pads. Thanks for the info!

  5. Denise says:

    You have to add Younique ‘ s cruelty free mascara to this list! It’s amazing!

  6. TH says:

    That’s a great chart, but I’d love to know some more – have you checked your green “winners” for palm oil based ingredients?

    • Raquel Denise says:

      Great question…I looked up the Ava Anderson mascara, and it has “organic” palm oil in it…sorry, but #NoThanks. Palm oil will only be vegan when innocent beings stop being killed in order to grow the trees that it comes from.

      • Di says:

        I completely agree. I suspect most of these (like all others) contain palm oil – and there’s no such thing as “sustainable” palm oil. The RSPO is a joke and just a marketing exercise to make it more palatable to consumers. Annoys me no end that so many “cruelty-free” and “vegan” make up reviews don’t take palm oil into account.

        • Tracy E says:

          I totally agree. I spend hours on this searching for POF products. Everybody quotes vegan and cruelty free but it can’t be if it has Palm Oil in it. How these companies get away with promoting themselves as caring when they still use palm oil. Makes me so angry.

  7. Nicole Lange says:

    Please check into Aveda nourish-mint lipsticks! They are as natural as I’ve managed to find and LOVE and I’d love to know how it stacks up to others you try. My fav mascara is Ecco Bella and I’m glad to see it scored well with you all too!


  8. brittany says:

    this is AMAZING! I have been needing a chart like this for a long time….AND my mascara is almost out. Ecco Bella here I come 🙂

  9. Alyssa says:

    This may sound silly but does the “wear” category cover how well the mascaras stayed on as opposed to rubbing off under the eyes? This is a common problem I have, and my lashes don’t naturally stay curled so they hit my skin when blinking and I end up with the whole raccoon look.

    • Ashley Zink says:

      Hi Alyssa, The wear rating mainly covers how long it lasts throughout the day. Everyone’s eyes and lashes are so different that it’s difficult to rate them in the way that you describe. However, one of our beauty sleuth’s (Corinne) had similar issues with a few mascaras. She really loved the Physician’s Formula Organic Wear mascara when it came down to stopping that rub-off.

    • Sue says:

      I too have that same problem with mascara leaving raccoon marks halfway through the day. I’ve tried Physicians Formula and it does it too. Currently I use Clinique Lash Power Mascara, it has been the only one ever to leave raccoon eyes on me. I love it but I don’t think it rates well, actually I think I couldn’t find in ewg list. But I will try some of these on this list and see. If anyone else on this site has this problem and one of these on the list hold up to that please let us know!

      • Charlene says:

        I have the same problem with mascara ending up under my eyes mid-day. My lashes are naturally long…and yep, also doesn’t hold curl. The best I’ve found so far is Tarte’s Faux Lashes. It’s a 3-step process (prep with mascara, use the fiber lash wand, then seal with mascara), and I didn’t find it added that much more time to my routine. Also, I’m seeing now why Tarte didn’t make this list. While Faux Lashes isn’t on EWG’s list, 3 of Tarte’s mascaras rate anywhere between 4-6, saying there’s “limited data.”

  10. Sarah says:

    Benefit is a HUGE contender in the mascara world – their “They’re Real!” line having been number 1 several times in the last few years. I checked it on EWG and their company has low scores. Also, Benefit’s website states:

    We do not test our products on animals nor do we permit others to do so except where it is required by law.
    We are deeply committed to the elimination of animal testing and we are playing a leading role in developing alternative methods through our support of the “Fund for Alternatives to Animal Testing” in the United States and the Opal Program in France. Additionally, we are one of only a few companies to have invested in creating our own internal department to test raw materials and ingredients to further ensure the quality of our products and the satisfaction of our customers, which is our foremost priority.
    We are hopeful that alternative testing methods will be adopted worldwide and we will see an end to animal testing.

    I recommend giving them a try. It’s the long thickest lashes you’ll ever experience!!

    • Barb Murphy says:

      Sarah, unfortunately this company likely does test on animals in order to be able to sell their products in China…that’s where the “except where required by law” tagline comes in. Basically any beauty company selling in China does test on animals. Sadly.

      • Vicki says:

        Benefit definitely tests on animals and they are also sold in China. So while they make great mascaras they are not an ethical company.

      • TracyE says:

        Why the hell do we still need to do that?? Surely companies know what the results are going to be by now. Makes me so angry!!!

  11. Jill says:

    Thank you so much for doing this. I’ve been on the hunt to replace all of my skincare, makeup, etc. to natural products with less chemicals. I’d also love to know if the products are gluten free…if that is something you could include in the future.

    Keep up the good work. 🙂

    • Corinne Bowen says:

      We’re so happy to hear that you’re loving it. More to come. 🙂

    • Arbonne rated very well in the mascara test and all the products are certified Gluten Free. Contact me if you would like more information and samples.

    • Valerie says:

      Be sure to take a look at Miessence organic cosmetics. They have been a leader in organic cosmetics being the first to have a complete full line of food grade certified organic skin care. They are also the only cosmetic company to be carbon negative. They don’t use the leaping bunny logo because it is pretty much a marketing scam. Basically the company can use the logo if they don’t use ingredients that were tested on animals in the past 5 years. So all a company has to do is wait 5 years after testing an ingredient on an animal to slap the logo on their product and claim it is cruelty free. None of Miessence products or ingredients are tested on animals. When ever a new product is developed, they have a long line of eager humans who can’t wait to test them. 🙂

  12. I love how easily Arbonne’s It’s A Long Story mascara washes off with my Arbonne RE9 cleanser with no eye irritation. And my eyelashes have never looked better. Even filled in where previous brands created lash loss. I love Arbonne! Thanks for doing this test!!!

  13. Kimi says:

    Since I began using Ava Anderson Non Toxic Mascara, my lashes have been GROWING FULLER and LONGER! I credit the organic aloe base 🙂 My lashes look great, with less work, and I love that they are being nourished!

  14. Becky says:

    I only use Aveda Lipshine and Nourish Mint lip colors. They feel and taste great. Thanks for the mascara smackdown!

  15. Hilary says:

    You missed one of the best new natural waterproof mascara’s on the market.
    Pacifica Aquarian Gaze. It ranks a 2 with the EWG cosmetics database. WATERPROOF and a 2! (I just did the custom report from the ingredients because I’ve been meaning to blog about it and haven’t had time yet.)

    It’s listed and “water resistant” but it seems to stay put even while swimming so I’d call it “waterproof.”

    Beats out the Dior waterproof mascara I was using before on almost all fronts especially on being healthy. It even stays on better. It’s hard to find an effective waterproof mascara let alone an effective AND healthy waterproof mascara but I think I finally found it. This would probably be a 4, 5, 5 according to your chart. I wish the brush were a bit different for a bit more volume but oh well – it’s pretty darn awesomesauce.

    As someone else just mentioned, they also have a non-waterproof mascara called Stellar Gaze in both brown and black. The Pacifica Aquarian Gaze only comes in black which is perfectly fine by me.

    And coconut oil is my favorite eye makeup remover if the Liz Earle hot cloth cleanser doesn’t get it all.

    I’m not much one for lipsticks – hit me up when you start talking about lip glosses. 🙂

    • Vicki says:

      I was wondering why it was missing, I love Pacifica and as soon as I finish my RMS mascara I’m grabbing some Aquarian Gaze! 🙂

  16. Cassie says:

    Love it! Thanks!

  17. Chris says:

    Have you tested ARTISTRY skincare?

  18. Ruth says:

    I love Jordan Essentials products – the mascara is the only one that I can use that doesn’t make my eyes water. The lipstick makes your lips feel great and lasts a long time also.

  19. Barbara says:

    I was so disappointed not to see Red Apple Lipstick’s new The Lash Project mascara. It has just become available to the public and is really nice. Please check it out!
    They also make my favorite lipstick. Gluten, soy and cruelty free! Tons of great colors!

    • Kris Carr says:

      These are the products most used by my readers and most written about. The product you mentioned is too new to be on our radar. Next time! And thanks for the suggestion.

    • Raquel Denise says:

      Ooooh! Just looked this up. Never heard of it…looks pretty promising. Will be ordering this along with NYR to see which one works best for me. I love that the comments section is producing just as much info as the main article. 🙂

    • Lyn says:

      I want a safe, non toxic, cruelty free brand of mascara that does not irritate sensitive eyes.
      I use RAL products and had a bad reaction the first time I used their mascara. I don’t really care so much as to how it lengthens or curls
      I have tried dozens and not found one yet

  20. Angela says:

    I love Physician’s Formula!

    Thanks for the great chart!

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