Mascara is a staple make-up item that can boost your confidence by giving you luscious lashes all day. However, this also comes at a costly price for the environment.
The beauty industry is notorious for creating products with ingredients that are toxic and using plastic packaging, showing little or no care for the environment. Some brands also use palm oil, which contributes to deforestation, affecting the entire ecosystem.
If you are committed to creating a zero-waste make-up bag, you can switch out those toxic mascaras for more plastic-free zero-waste options.
Read on as we go through a list of some of the best zero-waste mascara options that can brighten up your look while protecting the planet.
Using zero-waste mascara is a great way to protect the environment. Zero-waste makeup brands produce their mascara products ethically and sustainably, using recycled materials for thoughtful packaging. They also use natural and organic ingredients for healthy skin and the environment.
Also, some companies that make zero-waste mascara find ways to offset carbon by using renewable energy and carbon-neutral shipping. Further, companies offer take-back programs and follow strict standards to gain authentic environmental and sustainability certifications, thereby avoiding greenwashing.
You should consider a few things as you go shopping for zero-waste mascara brands. Here are a few things you should pay attention to:
You need to look for the ingredients used to make the mascara you want to buy. The skin around your eyes is sensitive, and you will most likely get a slight smudge in your eyes occasionally. You want to ensure the ingredients your skin absorbs are organic or natural. Look out for mascara products that are palm oil-free, free of harsh chemicals, and made with natural or organic ingredients.
Look out for mascaras that are cruelty-free or vegan. A cruelty-free product indicates that the product has not been tested on animals. Some of these brands come with a Leaping Bunny Certification, which indicates that the product has not been tested on animals. On the other hand, vegan alternatives use zero animal-based ingredients.
Most drugstore mascaras come in plastic packaging and containers that contribute significantly to plastic waste.
If you are shopping for zero-waste mascara, look out for brands that offer plastic-free refillable or recyclable packaging.
Ethical Features: Non-toxic, vegan and cruelty-free, palm oil-free, sustainable packaging
If you are looking for something a little different from the usual, this mascara product delivers just that. You don’t have to worry about clumpy or smudged eyelashes, as this 3 in 1 mascara formula is formulated with organic ingredients like Aloe vera.
Applying this mascara might take some time, as you must mix the powder formula and lash serum. The brand recommends priming your lashes using just the serum and then mixing the serum with the powder to form a paste. You can also use this as an eyeliner and brow filler.
The powder and serum come free of parabens, alcohol, silicones, and heavy metals, making them safe for sensitive eyes. The brand can send you a bamboo wand and reusable silicone mixing on demand.
Dab Herb uses sustainably sourced ingredients that are healthy for your skin and the environment.
The brand offers refillable mascaras in glass containers with a refill option. Each product comes in little glass jars that are either full or sample-size. Once used up, you can clean it up and send it back to the brand for a refill.
The brand believes that beauty and sustainability are inseparable. They source their ingredients from fair trade-certified suppliers and farmers. They also ship their products plastic-free and use recycled materials for printing back at their office.
Through diverse partnerships, Dab Herb is also passionate about rescuing and caring for human trafficking victims.
Ethical features: Vegan-friendly, handmade, plastic-free mascara wands and containers
This mascara from Clean-Faced Cosmetics is a vegan cake mascara with options to give your lashes some volume. From black mascara to brown, clear, white, and more, this cake mascara comes in four unique natural ingredients, namely: candelilla wax, castor seed oil, kaolin, and activated charcoal. Castor oil conditions your hair and promotes long lashes. You don’t have to worry about chunks of excess product on your lashes, as this mascara is oil-based. Simply apply and let it dry.
Each mascara comes in a reusable tin or glass vial with compostable bamboo applicators. You can also add their lengthening mascara setting powder and eyebrow mascara to your zero-waste mascara order.
Clean-Faced Cosmetics makes organic beauty products using cruelty-free natural ingredients. Their products come in packaging that is biodegradable and reusable. They also ship in biodegradable cello bags. All their labels come in recycled paper, using eco-friendly ink. The brand is also striving to operate as an entirely zero-waste company.
Ethical features: Plastic-free tube and a mascara wand, 100% natural ingredients, cruelty-free
This zero-waste mascara comes in little glass tubes, an aluminum lid, and a brown string. BeeYou makes this mascara from five healthy ingredients on the skin and promotes lash growth. The brown shade is 100% organic, while the black shade is 100% natural and mostly organic. They are free of parabens, oxides, or phthalates.
They are cruelty-free; however, they are not vegan. Their mascara contains organic beeswax, which is USDA-certified organic.
The brand also has vegan mascara options, which you can get upon request. They will also leave out their reusable wand if you have one.
BeeYou Organics, started by Larissa, is based in the Pacific Northwest. A car accident, leaving her face scarred, pushed her to create soothing and designed-to-heal products. All ingredients used are 100% natural, with most certified organic. They are non-GMO, cruelty-free, alcohol-free, palm oil-free, and ethically sourced.
The brand supports ethical beekeeping and also donates to bee research projects. They also support small businesses and charities in their community.
Ethical features: Handmade, cruelty-free, ethical sourcing, non-toxic
This brand is well known for making two kinds of mineralizing mascaras: volumizing mascara and lengthening mascara. This is available in cacao brown or carbon black.
Made with essential oils and vitamins B5 and E, these mascaras are healthy and promote lash growth. Most of their ingredients are certified organic.
These mascaras come in plastic-free containers made of glass tubes and an aluminum cap. The mascara wand is also reusable.
The brand offers a take-back program to get your glass refilled if you live in Australia. This product comes in recyclable cardboard tubes or reusable glass and metal tin.
You don’t only get quality zero-waste mascara from this brand but also skincare and hair products. Each of them is cruelty-free, organic, and palm-oil-free. This brand is based in Bywong, Australia - a zero-waste community. They grow and source their ingredients locally.
When it comes to production, this brand gets a high-five. They use naturally collected rainwater solar-powered HQ, reducing their carbon footprint significantly.
Their charitable endeavors are also commendable. The brand gives a portion of its proceeds to causes like suicide prevention and animal rescue.
Ethical features: Natural ingredients, non-toxic, cruelty-free
Made with only five ingredients, namely: coconut oil, beeswax, shea butter, activated charcoal, and bentonite clay, these eco-friendly mascaras are designed to give you beautiful lashes all day long.
They are not vegan but are cruelty-free and free of palm oil. They come packaged in reusable metal tins and an optional applicator spoolie. The brand also ships products completely plastic-free.
Nudi Goods is a sustainable brand that makes mostly certified organic products using natural, cruelty-free materials. The brand prioritizes using small-scale local suppliers that adhere to organic practices. They source their beeswax sustainably and ethically, ensuring their farmers receive fair pay.
Nudi Goods makes other products, including lip balms, brow-taming wax, and highlighter sticks.
Ethical features: vegan, non-toxic, family-owned business, reusable metal tin
This refillable cake mascara comes in vintage-looking metal tins you will most likely want to keep on your dressing table for a long time.
This 1920-inspired design comes with sustainable ingredients perfect for sensitive eyes. They are free of harmful chemicals, including parabens, gluten, or mineral oils. The product is made by a family-owned business down in southern California. They make all their products with low-waste options and sustainable materials.
While most of their products are vegan, they also have other products that combine both natural and synthetic ingredients. Some of these are palm oil derivatives, responsibly sourced beeswax, Mica, Squalane, and so on.
The brand tries to reduce its carbon in all aspects of production. They also use recycled paper packaging to wrap their products for shipping.
This zero-waste mascara can be used both as an eyebrow filler and eyeliner. All you need to do is add little drops of water to your cake mascara and apply accordingly. Also, this mascara is smudge-resistant.
Ethical features: Zero-waste, sustainable ingredients, ethical packaging
If you are looking for a high-quality, zero-waste mascara that encourages lash growth, then you might love this mascara from Blinking Owl Acres.
This mascara is a unique 3-in-1 product that contains a growth serum, mascara alternative, and conditioner that helps your lashes grow healthier and thicker with constant use. It contains organic ingredients like organic castor oil, organic beeswax, organic rosemary oil, and so on. It comes in a metal tin and wand.
This brand claims to “honor and protect the integrity of every individual's unique skin ecosystem” by choosing natural, clean ingredients that do not clog or irritate skin pores. The brand avoids preservatives and surfactants that could harm the skin. Their products come in packaging that is recyclable, compostable, or reusable.
Ethical features: Vegan, Non-Toxic, Contains RSPO Certified Palm oil Derivatives, bamboo casing, and an inner recyclable plastic tube
This high-quality mascara comes in a bamboo casing and a recyclable inner plastic. However, once you have used up your mascara, you must crush the bamboo casing and dispose of the bamboo casing and plastic tube separately. You can use the bamboo casing for composting. While their products are not entirely zero waste, most of their packaging can be put to good use. They’re also gluten-free, internationally certified, and PETA-certified vegan.
This mascara contains a vegan formula made of carnauba wax from the Copernicia prunifera tree. The bamboo casing is also sourced sustainably from China.
This natural brown mascara provides lengthening and is resistant to sweat and water.
Elate Cosmetics is a certified B corporation that follows strict standards to ensure environmental and social sustainability. Most of their products contain mostly organic ingredients. The company also uses RSPO-certified palm oil derivatives in its products. They also use fair trade ingredients that support the ethical treatment of employees across the entire supply chain. Their products also come in plastic-free packaging. Elate Cosmetics uses Bullfrog Power to offset carbon emissions.
Ethical features: refillable, no outer packaging, mailer made of upcycled materials, carbon-neutral, vegan
This zero-waste mascara comes in a tube and applicator. The tube is stainless steel, and you can reuse it many times. The packaging comes in reusable containers made of recycled items. The mascara contains non-GMO ingredients, free of parabens, preservatives, and alcohol, making them healthy even for sensitive eyes.
The brand is also conscious of its footprint during production. The water used is recycled instead of being dumped in waterways.
With every product you buy, this brand donates a portion to three charities: National Forest Foundation, Her Justice, and Pencils of Promise.
Izzy offers a refill subscription that is truly zero waste. Purchase the first mascara product, and in three months, you will receive your refill. Your mascara comes in a zero-waste shipper with no outer packaging. After use, you can send the old mascara in their returnable mailer made of upcycled materials to get a refill.
Customers say this mascara is luxurious and volumizing.
Ethical features: Vegan, 100% natural, RSPO Certified Palm oil Derivative, Organic Ecocert certified, refillable (with recyclable tube)
Made with your lashes and the environment in mind, this zero-waste mascara delivers volume and intense definition.
Its organic and eco-friendly ingredients give your eyes a nourishing touch. It contains organic aloe vera, natural wax, castor oil, and more, promoting growth and moisturizing your lashes from root to tip.
This mascara reduces irritation and redness of the eye. It is also compatible with sensitive eyes. This product hasn't been tested on animals and uses no animal products. You can get this mascara in colors dark brown and black.
This mascara from Zao Organics comes in bamboo packaging. It includes a bamboo case and bamboo pouch with a drawstring.
Four friends in France founded Zao. They manufacture their products in Europe. The brand comes with a COSMOS organic certification by ECOCERT, which requires that products use ingredients that are 100% natural and at least 51% organic.
They also offer refills and include new mascara wands. However, you can donate your mascara wand when old to charities that need them.
Ethical features: Non-toxic, certified organic, metal outer tube, recyclable inner tube
This luxury brand makes low-waste mascara from castor oil and jojoba seed oil. The former has natural antioxidant properties, while the latter moisturizes the eye skin. This mascara comes in recyclable metal mascara tubes. The ingredients used are gluten-free and CCPP-certified organic. No petroleum, parabéns, fragrances, or animal testing. This mascara gives your lashes a natural and well-defined look. If you like a little more drama, you must add some layering.
Thankfully, the brand claims this product is not clumpy.
Kjaer Weis is a luxury brand that creates beauty products, including cheek colors, lip stains, eye shadows, and more, using almost 100% organic ingredients.
Their products come in metal containers and compacts that you can send back for a refill.
Ethical features: zero waste, vegan, non-toxic, glass vial, no plastic insert
This zero-waste mascara from Zerra & Co. comes in a plastic-free glass vial in dark brown and black colors.
It also comes with the option of reusing your old wand or getting bamboo wands. Let the brand know if you want to skip the bamboo-made wand altogether.
They make this mascara with vegan ingredients free from animal testing. They are also free of parabens and fragrances. Unlike other mascara products, this mascara only takes a second to dry.
The brand claims that while others may add a plastic insert to remove excess mascara, they skip this to reduce plastic waste.
The brand simply recommends that you spin your wand around the glass vial and reapply to reduce the extra mascara.
You can say goodbye to plastic cosmetics thanks to Zerra & Co. A container return program gives their old glass refillable containers new life. They are 100% compostable. Simply return any of their old containers in good condition. The brand will then send you a completely biodegradable and plastic-free label.
Ethical features: Vegan, zero-waste, paper packaging
This plastic-free mascara from River Organics is a sustainable dream come true for your lashes and the environment.
Made with castor and coconut oil, rhassoul clay, and other ingredients, this mascara is just right for your everyday use. The natural ingredients condition your lashes and keep them healthy.
To use, simply roll a wand into the mascara tube and apply it evenly on your eyelashes. The brand claims that the color stays all day and doesn't smudge under your eyes.
This product comes in compostable paper packaging and a biodegradable sugarcane label. The brand also ships the product in recycled items that are plastic-free.
River Organics is committed to reducing carbon emissions and does so using Carbon Checkout. You can donate via Carbon Checkout. Carbon Checkout then invests your donations into renewable energy projects by buying carbon offsets. The brand works on various projects, including low-waste shipping, environmental issues, the Plastic Ocean Project, and many more.
Ethical features: cruelty-free, non-GMO, natural, recyclable packaging
RMS Beauty is a luxurious beauty brand that consciously ensures that the ingredients are high quality and organic. This mascara comes in organic beeswax to protect your skin and sunflower oil to condition and help nourish your lashes.
These ingredients are non-GMO, non-nano, and free of silicone, parabens, talc, petroleum, etc. All their ingredients come with a certification and have undergone the least processing.
This mascara is made from two different formulas and adds definition and volume to your lashes.
The volumizing mascara formula gives your lashes some noticeable volume. The defining mascara formula is rich and creamy, separating and defining your lashes. Both of them come in a mascara tube and wand.
To apply, simply roll the wand into the mascara tube and apply evenly on your lashes. To volumize, wiggle your wand at the base of your lashes.
The brand recommends removing your mascara using raw coconut cream or an RMS Beauty make-up wipe.
Founded by Rose-Marie Swift, RMS Beauty has been producing a high-quality product line using living ingredients since 2009. The brand formulates organic, natural, and food-grade ingredients for healthy glowing skin. You can check out their website for a comprehensive list of some of these ingredients.
What better way to reduce your impact than to make your mascara?
Though this might be time-consuming, making your own zero-waste mascara is a great way to ensure no shipping impacts or any plastics ending up in landfills.
You can find various DIY recipes for zero-waste mascara on the internet. Most DIY zero-waste mascaras come in ingredients like coconut oil, almond oil, aloe vera, clays or soaps, charcoal, and so on. All you need to do is get a recipe.
Some old wands may lie around your makeup purses and dressing tables. Here are a few ways you can put them to good use instead of throwing them away
Perhaps the most obvious way to put your old wands to good use is to reuse them. You can wash them in soapy water to remove the mascara residue, sterilize them, and use them around the house. For one, you can use them as eyebrow brushes. You can also use them to get out objects from your bathroom or kitchen sink. They can also be a neat brush for dolls and teddy bears.
Some Wildlife organizations accept mascara wands. Many of them use it to remove ticks, dirt, or bugs gently from animal furs. Organizations like Appalachian Wildlife Refuge and Wands for Wild Life accept wands. However, you must clean them out before mailing them to them.
You can check local drug stores in your area for take-back programs or refill schemes in your area. Depending on the store's requirements, you can send your wands and even mascara tubes for recycling.
TerraCycle is also an innovative recycling company that accepts various plastic components, including your mascara wands and tubes.
The zero-waste journey is progressive, and one way to get one step closer is to pay attention to something as simple as your mascara routine. Thankfully, we have a few brands out there bringing sustainability to the beauty world. You can go through our list of some of the best zero-waste brands to shop for that perfect mascara today.
Jen’s a passionate environmentalist and sustainability expert. With a science degree from Babcock University Jen loves applying her research skills to craft editorial that connects with our global changemaker and readership audiences centered around topics including zero waste, sustainability, climate change, and biodiversity.
Elsewhere Jen’s interests include the role that future technology and data have in helping us solve some of the planet’s biggest challenges.