Finding the Best Cruelty-Free Vegan Mascara for YOUR Eyes
As every woman knows, the perfect eye is not complete until you’ve added the perfect amount of color, volume, and length with your favorite mascara.
This simple, sometimes unappreciated product can provide an easy baseline of put-togetherness for trips to the grocery store, all the way to turning the volume up to 11 on a dramatic, bold look for a night out.
But, with so many products available, and all kinds of unpronounceable ingredients in many of them, how do you know if the mascara you’re considering is cruelty-free?
We know that many companies engage in cruel animal testing when it comes to cosmetics, often rubbing products into the eyes and skin of rabbits, mice, and rats, or forcing ingestion - a hefty price to pay for makeup, so it’s important to choose a mascara that is 100% cruelty-free.
But, that doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice quality.
In addition to providing gorgeous, quality lashes, many vegan-friendly mascaras are also suitable for people with sensitive eyes and skin, contact lens wearers, and those who are looking for natural and organic products to apply to the most sensitive part of the face.
While there are countless options out there, the five in this article are the most highly rated and recommended vegan mascaras on the market.
Read below to get the skinny on each.
What to Look for - and Avoid - in Vegan Mascara
Thanks to improved labeling, it’s pretty easy to quickly find hidden animal products in foods - however, the makeup world has a little catching up to do.
Much to the frustration of those trying to live cruelty-free, animal products can lurk in your makeup under a wide variety of sneaky names. On the plus side, if you know what things to look out for, you don’t have to spend the whole day in the makeup aisle trying to determine whether or not your mascara is bunny-friendly.
Because mascara is a product that’s used near the eyes, it’s commonly tested on animals like mice, rabbits, and rats. To ensure that your mascara didn’t adorn a rabbit’s eye before yours, look for the Leaping Bunny logo on the packaging to ensure that the product and company are committed to eliminating testing cosmetics on animals.
You’ll also want to keep a lookout for mascaras containing beeswax, which is often added to lock color and curl into place - opt for a formula that uses plant-based carnauba wax instead.
Lanolin, which is derived from the wool of sheep, and keratin, which comes from the hair and horns of animals and are often used for shine and making the product spreadable, should also serve as red flags - put that one back on the shelf!
On the flip side, do look for words like “plant-based,” “vegan,” and “cruelty-free” on packaging, in addition to a plant- and mineral-based ingredient list.
Oils, nut butter, and herbs will serve the function of many animal-based cosmetic ingredients while nourishing your eyelashes and the skin around your eyes. In addition to being kind to animals, these kinds of products, especially those that are all-natural and certified organic, will be kind to your body and the earth in the long run, too.
If you have a question about a certain mascara not on this list, you should reach out to the manufacturer and ask if they are cruelty-free. This not only will help you get the information you need, but it will also send a message to the company that there is demand for mascaras that are free of animal ingredients and are not tested on animals - and that has a long-lasting effect beyond your own makeup bag.
Choosing the Right Color
As a general rule, everyone looks good in black mascara - even people with very fair skin benefit from the dramatic shade it gives to the eye.
Women of color will find that it adds drama and put-togetherness to lashes - if you aren’t sure exactly what color to go for, a classic black is the Little Black Dress of the makeup world.
If you want to make your eyes pop, pick the best mascara color for your skin tone and eye color.
Fair-skinned folks who prefer a natural look should reach for a rich, brown mascara, while a blue mascara, as strange as it might sound, creates a perfect extra something on top of a classic black mascara to make eyes pop for that little extra something.
A purple mascara looks particularly gorgeous on people with green or hazel eyes, or whose skin has warm undertones that pair well with jewel tones.
Play with these options and see which looks work best for you, capture your personality, and make a statement.
Should I Go with a Vegan Waterproof Mascara?
If you’re not planning on crying, swimming, or sweating in your mascara, it may seem strange to opt for a waterproof formula.
However, in many cases, reaching for a waterproof or water-resistant product can be a little bit of extra insurance - with a waterproof mascara, your daily activities are dictated by you, not your makeup.
If you suddenly find yourself outside on a hot day, stuck in the rain, or in a particularly emotional situation, waterproof mascara has got you covered.
However, you might want to opt for a version that’s not waterproof if you have sensitive eyes or thin lashes.
Because waterproof mascara can be so difficult to remove, it can cause you to lose valuable lashes.
Going with a formula that isn’t waterproof will help with this (though you’ll risk streaking, running, and smudging), but if you do wind up opting for waterproof, use a conditioning primer and be gentle when taking off your makeup.
Brush Shape Matters!
People put a lot of thought into the shape of their hair brushes and makeup brushes, but for some reason, mascara brushes seem to be something of an afterthought, if they’re a thought at all. Almost as important as the formula itself, though, the shape of a mascara brush can have an enormous impact on the final look.
Brushes come in tons of shapes, sizes, and bristle types, but the most important factor will be to match the size of your brush to the size of your eyes.
If you’re not sure, opt for a medium sized brush with densely packed bristles and a pointed tip, as this tends to work well on all eye shapes and sizes.
Those looking for natural-looking lashes should opt for the classic straight mascara wand, while people longing for luxurious length and drama should choose a long brush that has tightly packed bristles on a rubber comb.
The brush, and how you apply the mascara with it, can totally change the way the mascara looks on your eyes.
Organic & Natural: Does it Matter?
Traditional makeup can be packed with harsh chemicals, parabens, and synthetic materials, and mascara is no exception. These ingredients can cause irritation to the eyeball and the skin of the eyelid for many people, regardless of whether or not that person has sensitivities or allergies.
Opting for an all-natural formula also increases the chance that a product will be cruelty-free, as it’s usually synthetic, man-made chemicals that are used in cruel animal testing.
When searching for an organic, natural mascara, look for products that include soothing and conditioning ingredients like cucumber and aloe vera, and contain some wax to keep the makeup in place.
Top 4 Vegan Mascara Brands
Highly Rated & 100% Natural!
Voted best mascara in 2015, Endlessly Beautiful’s Natural Organic mascara is 100% natural and made with 85% organic ingredients. Well-suited for sensitive eyes and skin, the formula is long-lasting, easy to apply, and will not flake, clump, or smudge. A great, natural-looking mascara, this formula works to accentuate natural eyelashes, and the formula itself is made in the United States.
Endlessly Beautiful provides color and coverage in a mascara made from entirely natural and mostly organic ingredients. The product contains lash-nourishing and conditioning ingredients that not only soothe and condition but stimulate the growth of eyelashes. The formula contains chamomile, vitamin E, oregano, thyme, coffee powder, cinnamon, rosemary, and grapefruit - you know it’s natural when the ingredient list sounds more like pantry stock than makeup!
Not too expensive, not bottom of the barrel, this is a medium-quality product that will go on a little better than your cheap drugstore mascara, but you won’t need to create a whole separate budget line for. As far as natural and organic products are concerned, this is priced modestly, so it’s accessible for most people of varying financial ability.
What We Love
While many natural mascaras smudge, fade, or smear after prolonged use, this formula stays put - even after sweating, working out, and being exposed to the elements. This means you don’t have to sacrifice good quality coverage and color for opting for a product that is gentler on your skin and the earth. Even better, it’s gentle on sensitive eyes and skin and comes off easily with makeup remover, so you won’t have to worry about losing lashes every time you try to take your makeup off.
What We Didn't Like
Though some reviewers experienced staying power through wet or humid conditions, most found that this mascara runs when exposed to water, as it is not waterproof or water resistant. Some of this may be determined by the oiliness of your skin, so try it for yourself to determine - your mileage may vary.
The Bottom Line
If you’re interested in a natural formula that truly cares for your lashes, or you have short, thin lashes that could use a little boost, the added bonuses of this mascara make it worth it. Ultimately, you’ll want to test how well it stays on your face in wet conditions before wearing this to the gym or out in the rain.
High Quality and Long Lasting
Available in a deep, intense black, Too Faced’s “Better Than Sex” mascara uses an hourglass-shaped brush to evenly separate, coat, volumize, and lengthen lashes without the use of animal products.
The formula includes unique peptides for a deep, intense black, and Acacia Senegal tree extract nourishes and thickens lashes while locking curl into place. It’s important to use a light hand while applying this makeup, as the drama comes largely from a thick, assertive formula that can clump if you tend to “scrub” mascara on from the base of your lashes - a little goes a long way with this product.
This product is not recommended for those with sensitive eyes, as it gets a lot of its drama and staying power from chemicals and synthetics that can be harsh on the skin.
This product is considered a “high end” mascara, and this is reflected in the price. However, those who love it note that it’s worth the price for the quality and that price tag is reflected in the amount of lengthening and thickening provided by the mascara. If you have room in your budget to purchase it, consider it an investment.
What We Love
A recurring theme in the reviews for this product is it has completely replaced the purchasers’ sets of false eyelashes - the lengthening and thickening power of this product is that dramatic! Smudge-proof and long-lasting, one swipe gets even, beautiful coverage, while more coats provide a full set of rich, black eyelashes.
What We Didn't Like
Some reviewers note problems with packaging upon arrival - either the product does not arrive in a manufacturer’s box, or the tube feels emptier than seems reasonable for a new mascara. Additionally, the product tends to clump upon application, which can be frustrating on a pricier product.
The Bottom Line
If you’re looking for a mascara for girls’ night out, a glamorous photo shoot, or you just prefer a very dramatic eye, look no further - this is the product for you. However, if you’re searching for something that’s a little more subtle and easy to wear, it’s likely that this product won’t meet your needs - what you get in drama and glamor, you pay for in a less “natural” feeling wear.
Great for Every Day Use
Eyes Right mascara by Lush is a gentle, nourishing formula that soothes and strengthens eyelashes and skin while providing subtle, yet good-quality coverage without the use of harsh chemicals or synthetic ingredients. You can choose the intensity of this mascara through the number of applications - 1-2 coats will provide a subtle, natural, everyday look, while 3-4 coats pumps up the intensity for a date or night out dancing.
This formula uses fresh wheat grass, which conditions, strengthens, and nourishes eyelashes - many reviewers note a marked improvement in the health of their skin and eyelashes after using this product. While many natural products tend to be watery or runny, you won’t have to sacrifice staying power with this formula - carnauba waxes help keep color and curl in place, even in the rain, crying, or on your run. It’s a perfect balance of gentle, yet long-lasting.
As with many natural, “specialty” products, you’re paying extra for the absence of harsh chemicals. However, the price point on this product is justified - each product is made in Canada, and you can think of it as a two-in-one, as it provides not only color and thickness to lashes but also nourishes and repairs the lashes and skin around the eye.
What We Love
There’s no “sacrifice” in this all-natural formula - reviewers love that they can choose a product that contains zero harsh chemicals, but still have it stay on beautifully throughout the day, even in rain and sweaty workouts. We’ve mentioned it a few times, but the nourishing properties of this formula are something to sing about - while many mascaras can be drying and damaging, this product improves the appearance of natural lashes and skin.
What We Didn't Like
The biggest con regarding Lush’s mascara is the brush that comes with the package. While the formula itself gets unprecedented praise, reviewers complain that the wand is incredibly short. The shortness of the brush can make application difficult and increases the chance of accidentally getting the makeup on your skin instead of your lashes.
The Bottom Line
If you’re looking to just give your lashes a little help without the use of chemicals or harsh synthetic ingredients, you’ll be delighted with this purchase. However, if you’re expecting to use this mascara for a full, dramatic set of lashes, you’re going to be disappointed. This mascara is the one you wear for a day at work or school or a trip to the grocery store to add just that little touch of put-togetherness - not when you’re looking for a show-stopping set of falsies.
Best for Sensitive Eyes or Those Who Wear Contacts
Tarte’s Lights Camera Lashes mascara provides a good balance - not too subtle, not too dramatic, this product gives you noticeably thicker, curlier lashes without being too bold or over the top. The product is packaged in a luxe purple faux snake skin tube and is just as glamorous in the tube as it is on your eyelashes.
Tarte’s mascara isn’t organic or all-natural, but its ingredients don’t seem to bother even sensitive eyes, and reviewers rank this product as a top favorite for those who wear contact lenses. Additionally, the mascara doesn’t leave lashes crunchy, crispy, or spidery - the brush fans and separates lashes for maximum effect with just one to two applications.
There’s no getting around it - this stuff is pricey, even on sites like Amazon. However, several reviewers note that it’s “the best they’ve tried yet, so I’ll be ordering again.” Like a lot of things, in the case of this mascara - and others on this list - you get what you pay for.
By spending a little more up front, you can wind up saving in the long run, as it coats in just one coat, so you wind up using less, and you won’t throw out the bottle due to flaking, smudging, or smearing. Besides, if you’re going to shell out a pretty penny for something, it might as well be for something that goes on your face.
What We Love
Reviewers love that this product delivers noticeably thicker, darker, longer lashes without irritating eyes - people with sensitive skin and who wear contact lenses can wear this comfortably, without any irritation or inflammation. The color is also perfect for everyday wear and for taking into the evening - it’s consistently described as “black, but not too black.”
What We Didn't Like
While this product provides beautiful thickness and curl, you may notice it beginning to flake at the end of an eight-hour workday. While this is better than smearing or smudging, it can be annoying to need to reapply if you’re going straight from work to happy hour, or if you need a more long-lasting product.
The Bottom Line
When it comes down to it, this mascara is worth the price due to its thorough coverage and perfect balance between subtle and dramatic. However, it will be worth it to keep the tube in your purse so you can touch it up at the end of the day, as it does have the tendency to flake by the end of a longer wear.
The Search for Bunny-Friendly Lashes
No matter what you’re looking for from your mascara, there is a vegan-friendly product out there to meet every budget and sensitivity available.
From super dramatic, dark, and bold mascaras to natural, organic blends that provide just a hint of color and emphasis on the eyelashes, you don’t have to sacrifice quality for a cruelty-free, animal-friendly makeup kit.
By opting for cruelty-free products, you’re voting with your dollars and sending the message that cosmetic testing on animals is unnecessary and unacceptable.
Additionally, the high-quality of these animal-friendly mascaras will set a good example for your friends and loved ones, and you can dispel the myth that cruelty-free and natural products are somehow of lesser quality than their man-made alternatives.
Consider the needs you want your mascara to meet, and try out one - or all - of the countless vegan options available.