The 12 Best Natural Mascaras of 2022

Our best overall pick is ILIA's Limitless Lashes Mascara

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Best Natural Mascaras

Byrdie / Sabrina Jiang

If you’re anything like us, mascara is a non-negotiable staple in your daily makeup routine. Even on the most bare-faced of days, you better believe our lashes are getting a swipe from our trusty tube. And while products like deodorants and face moisturizers may be more talked about in the clean beauty space, clean mascaras deserve a place at the table, too.

The inky formulas that lift and lengthen your lashes are often filled with a laundry list of potentially harmful ingredients. Clean mascaras, on the other hand, give you the same effect without including some of toxic components. Alexis Bonin, a licensed esthetician at The Detox Market tells Byrdie, "Clean mascara formulas are free of carbon pigments, parabens, silicones, synthetic dyes, and artificial fragrances." She adds that clean mascaras have benefits, especially for those with sensitive eyes. "Clean mascaras usually don’t irritate the skin or eyes, dry out lashes, or expose you to harsh or potentially unsafe chemicals."

Byrdie Researched & Approved

Our best overall pick is ILIA Beauty Limitless Lashes Mascara. It has a double-sided brush to give both volume and length, and its formula contains nourishing ingredients that strengthen your lashes. If you're on a budget, we love the more affordable Honest Beauty Extreme Length Mascara + Lash Primer, which is able to prime while adding length and definition for a dramatic look.

We conducted hours of research to find the best clean mascaras on the market, evaluating how each formula lengthens and defines. We paid special attention to what these ingredient lists lack, or are free-from to narrow down our selection. After considering dozens of formulas and consulting expert opinions, we landed on these 12 top-rated picks.

Ahead, find the best clean mascaras for long, fluttery lashes.

Best Overall: ILIA Beauty Limitless Lash Mascara

4.8
ILIA Beauty Limitless Lash Mascara

Dermstore

What We Like
  • Gives impressive definition

  • Has dramatic lift and curl

  • Easy removal without rubbing

What We Don't Like
  • Doesn't volumize

Who else recommends it? TreeHugger, The Good Trade, and Vogue all picked the ILIA Beauty Limitless Lash Mascara.

What do buyers say? 4,100+ ILIA reviewers rated this product 4.6 stars or higher.

Byrdie Associate Editorial Director Avery Stone raves about this mascara, an innovative option that is beloved in the clean beauty world. Not only is this formula free of the toxins that are found in the majority of mascaras, but we also love that it's formulated with shea butter and arginine (keratin) to fortify and strengthen your eyelashes. Alongside a combination of carnauba wax and beeswax to condition, this mascara has an abundance of good-for-you ingredients.

The brand also tested more than 100 different brushes before they landed on the final design of this unique wand. Look closely and you’ll see that one side has curled, shorter bristles that pack on more product for lots of volume, and the other touts longer, straight bristles that pull through each lash for mega-length. Couple that with a formula that doesn’t smudge or flake and is easily buildable, and this is one of our favorite mascaras, ever, clean or not. Celebrity makeup artist Renée Loiz also recommends this is as one of her top clean mascaras, saying that it works better for her than other non-clean formulas.

Benefits: Defines, lifts, lengthens | Size: 0.1 / 0.3 fl. oz | Shades: 1 | Waterproof: No | Byrdie Clean: Yes | Cruelty-Free: Yes

close up of ilia limitless lash mascara applicator

Khera Alexander

What Our Testers Say

"When I opened the ILIA mascara, I was immediately drawn to its design: I don’t use mascaras that have a brush on one side and a comb on the other too often. I immediately knew this product placed emphasis on having clearly defined, separated lashes." —Khera Alexander, Product Tester

Best Budget: Honest Beauty Extreme Length Mascara + Lash Primer

4.9
honest 2-in-1

Honest Beauty

What We Like
  • Built-in primer

  • Conditioning formula

  • Lengthens without clumping

What We Don't Like
  • Can weigh down lashes

Our wallet-friendly pick gives you two products for the price of one. The dual-sided tube houses a primer on one end—the perfect prep step to ensure the mascara on the other side goes on smoothly and stays put. Brush through lashes with the primer first, wait 30 seconds, then apply the mascara. It’s free of parabens, synthetic fragrance, silicones, and mineral oil, instead including jojoba esters, which help condition the hairs.

Benefits: Lengthens, defines | Size: 0.2 fl. oz | Shades: 1 | Waterproof: No | Byrdie Clean: Yes | Cruelty-Free: Yes

Best Drugstore: Burt’s Bees 100% Natural Nourishing Mascara

Burt’s Bees 100% Natural Nourishing Mascara
What We Like
  • Defines and separates lashes

  • Conditioning formula

  • Keeps lashes feeling soft

What We Don't Like
  • Can flake

As a general rule of thumb, there aren’t that many clean mascara options to be found at the drugstore; this is one of the exceptions. It’s made of 100% natural ingredients, including jojoba oil and glycerin for plenty of hydrating and conditioning benefits, and imparts both defined length and impressive lift. Bonus points for the fact that it comes in both black and a very natural-looking black-brown, and is ophthalmologist-tested and safe for even sensitive eyes.

Benefits: Defines, lifts, lengthens | Size: 0.04 fl. oz | Shades: 2 | Waterproof: No | Byrdie Clean: Yes | Cruelty-Free: Yes

Best Vegan: CoverGirl Lash Blast Clean Volume Mascara

4.4
Covergirl Lash Blast Clean Volume

Ulta

What We Like
  • Vegan

  • Conditioning formula

  • Separates and defines lashes

What We Don't Like
  • Not ideal for dramatic looks

Clean, vegan, cruelty-free, and affordable, this newbie is definitely worth checking out. It offers the same majorly volumizing (and smudge-proof) effects as the brand’s beloved OG Lash Blast variant but has now been formulated without parabens, sulfates, talc, or mineral oil. Plus, not only is it vegan and cruelty-free, it’s also Leaping Bunny certified and is housed in FSC-certified packaging made from 80% recycled paper.

Benefits: Volumizes, lengthens | Size: 0.4 fl. oz | Shades: 2 | Waterproof: No | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes

What Our Testers Say

If you want long, defined, full lashes that still look natural, the Covergirl Lash Blast Clean Volume Mascara is for you. The plastic wand provides great separation and lift, but it doesn't deposit heaps of product, so it’s not too clumpy or intense.” — Emily Algar, Product Tester

Best Volumizing: Kosas The Big Clean Volumizing + Lash Care Mascara

Kosas The Big Clean Volumizing + Lash Care Mascara

Credo Beauty

What We Like
  • Flexible, ergonomic brush

  • Lifts and curls

  • Buildable without flaking

What We Don't Like
  • Not waterproof

Team Byrdie is, in a word, obsessed with this lash-boosting mascara; it's one of our favorite newbies to hit shelves this year. It took the brand 104 iterations to get the formula just right, an effort we think was well worth it. One swipe leaves lashes super full, fluffy, and noticeably more voluminous (sans clumps). Credit both the mascara itself and the brush, which boasts a unique rainbow-shape and different length bristles to catch and coat every lash. It’s also free of carbon black, mineral oil, acrylates, and more.

Benefits: Volumizes, curls | Shades: 1 | Waterproof: No | Byrdie Clean: Yes | Cruelty-Free: Yes

Best Lengthening: Juice Beauty Phyto-Pigments Ultra-Natural Mascara

juice beauty phyto pigments ultra natural mascara

Courtesy of Juice Beauty

What We Like
  • Made with organic ingredients

  • Keeps lashes feeling soft

  • Conditioning formula

What We Don't Like
  • Can smudge

The slim, spiral brush of this option coats lashes from every angle, all while separating them for maximum length and definition. (And if you prefer more volume and lift, just swipe on a second coat.) It’s made with 60% organic ingredients, relying on plant-derived pigments instead of traditional carbon black and petroleum derivatives. Also noteworthy is the fact that it’s not water-based, meaning it doesn’t need the same amount of preservatives as other formulas. And thanks to the creamy and non-drying consistency, you don’t need to worry about it flaking off throughout the day.

Benefits: Defines, separates | Size: 0.3 fl. oz | Shades: 1 | Waterproof: No | Byrdie Clean: Yes | Cruelty-Free: Yes

Best Versatility: WELL People Expressionist Volumizing Mascara

W3LL People Expressionist Volumizing Mascara

W3LL People

What We Like
  • Buildable without flaking

  • Conditioning formula

  • Won't irritate sensitive eyes

What We Don't Like
  • Can be a little clumpy

This mascara is one of Bonin's favorite clean options—and it can do much more than volumize, despite its name. One coat of this plant-based formula leaves lashes soft and fluttery, ideal for those who prefer a more feathery, lengthened look. But swipe on a second layer and you instantly have dramatic, va-va-voom lashes. A dense, hourglass-shaped brush packs the product onto every lash without clumping—plus, not only are the ingredients clean, but it’s also made using sustainable energy. You’ve gotta love that.

Benefits: Volumizes, lengthens | Size: 0.3 fl. oz | Shades: 2 | Waterproof: No | Byrdie Clean: Yes | Cruelty-Free: Yes

Best Conditioning: Westman Atelier Eye Love You Mascara

Westman Atelier Eye Love You Mascara
What We Like
  • Conditioning formula

  • Lashes look glossy

  • Adds feathery length

What We Don't Like
  • Reviewers note that it can flake after a few hours

This pick is pricey, yes, but considering that it does double duty as both an excellent mascara and a lash-conditioning treatment, it's worth it. Made from 96% natural ingredients, it touts a tree-derived sugar that hydrates and conditions the delicate hairs, while chicory root and natural waxes impart thickness and volume. Rather than relying on traditional, chemical-based preservatives, this uses a natural alternative that comes from coconut oil.

Benefits: Volumizes, lengthens | Shades: 1 | Waterproof: No | Byrdie Clean: Yes | Cruelty-Free: Yes

Best Waterproof: Ere Perez Avocado Waterproof Mascara

Ere Perez Avocado Waterproof Mascara

Credo

What We Like
  • Waterproof

  • Long-wearing

  • Lashes look glossy

What We Don't Like
  • Could be more lengthening

Finding a formula that’s both clean and waterproof is no easy feat, but this pick recommended by Bonin checks both boxes. The smudge-proof formula (it touts a 24-hour wear time) is infused with avocado oil, which is considered to promote lash strength. We love that it leaves a nice glossy finish, and the minimal list of ingredients is squeaky clean.

Benefits: Volumizes | Shades: 1 | Waterproof: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes | Cruelty-Free: Yes

Best for Sensitive Eyes: Tarte Lights, Camera, Lashes 4-in-1 Mascara

Tarte Lights, Camera, Lashes 4-in-1 Mascara

 Courtesy of Amazon

What We Like
  • Lengthens

  • Defines and separates

  • Won't irritate sensitive eyes

What We Don't Like
  • Can flake

Not the newest kid on the block (it’s been a fan favorite for over a decade), but this is a staple for those with easily irritated eyes. It’s both ophthalmologist- and dermatologist-tested, hypoallergenic, and safe for contact lens wearers, too. Mineral oil, paraben-, and phthalate-free, it’s also just a great all-around formula that lengthens, curls, volumizes, and conditions.

Benefits: Defines, lengthens, volumizes | Size: 0.2 fl. oz | Shades: 1 | Waterproof: No | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes

Best Shade Range: 100 Percent Pure Fruit Pigmented Mascara

100 Percent Pure Fruit Pigmented Mascara
What We Like
  • Available in multiple shades

  • Conditioning formula

  • Easy, damage-free removal

What We Don't Like
  • Can transfer

Using totally natural pigments that come from black tea, berries, and cocoa, this lengthening mascara has the added benefit of coming in four different shades. Yes, you’ve got your classic black, but there’s also a denim blue, deep plum, and chocolatey brown, all of which are surprisingly wearable and flattering on a wide array of eye colors. It’s also water-resistant and free of harmful petrochemicals.

Benefits: Defines, lengthens, volumizes | Size: 0.2 fl. oz | Shades: 4 | Waterproof: No | Byrdie Clean: Yes | Cruelty-Free: Yes

Best for a Natural Look: Roén Beauty Cake Mascara

Roén Beauty Cake Mascara
What We Like
  • Conditioning formula

  • Adds feathery length

  • Buildable without flaking

What We Don't Like
  • May be too glossy for oily lids

There are days when you want ultra-bold, ultra-dramatic lashes—and then there are days when you just want a little something to make your fringe fluttery and fanned out. For those days, reach for this tube, which offers a completely natural-looking volume, length, and lift. Moisturizing olive oil both hydrates and leaves the intense black color beautifully glossy, further complementing the natural effect. And if you do want to up the ante, the formula is also clump-free and buildable so you can easily add more coats.

Benefits: Volumizes, lifts, lengthens | Shades: 1 | Waterproof: No | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes

Final Verdict

Traditional mascaras are full of potentially-questionable chemicals, and, happily, there are more and more clean alternatives than ever before. When in doubt, try the ILIA's Limitless Lash Mascara, a true standout in the space with a unique dual-sided brush that imparts both length and volume. If you want a more budget-friendly option, we also love the Honest Beauty Extreme Length Mascara + Lash Primer because its two-step formula will give you defined, long lashes without clumps.

Meet the Expert

  • Renée Loiz is a celebrity makeup artist and beauty expert, who's worked with stars such as Quinta Brunson and Jenna Ortega. She's also the founder of Color May Vary, a beauty guide for Black-owned beauty brands.
  • Alexis Bonin is a licensed esthetician at The Detox Market. She has worked with La Roche-Posay, Shiseido, and Clé de Peau.

What to Look For In A Clean Mascara

Beeswax or Carnauba Wax

Normal mascaras usually contain silicones or plastics, which are two ingredients that give mascara its texture—but can have some repercussions as we mentioned earlier. Many clean mascara formulas replace those with beeswax or carnauba wax (or sometimes a combination of both) to give you that flexible, waxy texture for a super smooth application. "In clean mascaras you’ll find ingredients like beeswax, as it is completely chemical and preservative free," says Loiz. Both can also act as emollients, which are able to bring moisture.

Some popular, non-clean formulas contain synthetic beeswax—so when shopping for a natural formula, check the ingredients carefully to make sure you're getting the real deal.

Plant-Based Oils and Butters

Since clean mascaras' goal is to give you more defined lashes sans the harmful chemicals, it only makes sense that they often include other beneficial ingredients to make them healthy and strong. Many of the formulas recommended here include plant and fruit oils, such as jojoba, avocado, and olive oil to condition and treat for full, fluttery lashes. If you're wanting better-looking lashes overall, definitely look out for these before you purchase.

Formula

The majority of natural mascaras are not waterproof (one of the exceptions being the Ere Perez Avocado Mascara, our best waterproof pick), so you want to make sure that the formula you choose isn't prone to running or flaking. After reading through hundreds of clean mascara reviews, it seems that flaking is a popular complaint. To avoid this, look for options that are advertised as smudge-free and flake-free (but always check the reviews to confirm).

FAQ
  • What makes a mascara clean?

    As we previously discussed, clean mascaras are free from chemicals and other artificial ingredients that can potentially be harmful. "When shopping for a clean mascara you should look for formulas that are without chemicals and preservatives like plastics, formaldehyde, synthetic dyes, and parabens," says Loiz. Clean mascaras tend to contain natural ingredients such as beeswax, as well as plant, vegetable, and fruit oils.

  • Is clean mascara better for sensitive eyes?

    Long story short—yes. "Natural ingredients mean a clean mascara is less likely to irritate sensitive skin," says Bonin. "A lot of skin irritation—including irritation of the eyes—stem from using and removing the ingredients commonly found in traditional mascaras."

  • Is it safe to wear a clean mascara every day?

    Since clean mascaras often are formulated with nourishing, natural ingredients, it's definitely safe and may even make your eyelashes healthier, according to Bonin. Just make sure to remove (as well as the rest of your makeup, of course) before heading to bed.

Article Sources
Byrdie takes every opportunity to use high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial guidelines to learn more about how we keep our content accurate, reliable and trustworthy.
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