Mascara has always been the hardest swap for people to make. When you love a certain mascara, it's so hard to give it up! But good news! There are so many good quality zero waste mascaras on the market that will make your eyelashes pop whilst reducing waste at the same time, what's better than that!?
Why consider a zero waste mascara?
Beauty products are not so pretty when you think about the volume of waste they create. The concept of zero waste living is to produce no waste at all, but the way products are designed today it's pretty hard to achieve zero waste. That's where products like environmentally friendly mascara come in. The goal of all the brands below is to help consumers reuse, compost, or recycle their products instead of sending them to landfills.
Living a zero waste life is not easy and I actually prefer to call it low waste as it takes the pressure off to live perfectly, which does not exist. I've said it before, change takes time. You can start trying to set up a zero waste bathroom, or a zero waste kitchen to help with food waste, or how about zero waste cleaning, zero waste beauty, or even zero waste camping. The goal is to pick one area and go from there.
Choosing the best zero waste mascara can be tricky - Here's what we look for:
We created an easy way to help you choose your sustainable mascara. Our clean beauty criteria include:
- Is it local?
- Is it made of natural ingredients?
- Is it certified organic?
- Is it vegan?
- Is it cruelty-free?
- Palm oil-free?
- Are the ingredients sustainably sourced?
- Does the company use environmentally-conscious packaging?
Zero Waste Mascara Brands we love
The perfect eco-friendly mascara that gives length to your lashes and is easy to use on the most sensitive eyes. The Essential Mascara is water and sweat-resistant, available in black and brown, and packed full of beneficial ingredients to help your lashes look as luscious as possible. Elate is gluten-free, cruelty-free, and PETA-certified vegan. Some of their products, including the mascara do contain palm oil derivatives, but they do use RSPO-certified palm oil.
This is my go-to mascara. I have been using it and loving it for almost 2 years now. I tried so many other natural brands but none of them felt like the one I was used to wearing, until Elate. I will never go back!
It comes packaged in a "recyclable plastic inner tube, encased in bamboo." You have to crush the bamboo tube and then compost it. Wash and recycle the rest. It's important to note that this is not 100% zero waste but since they are so transparent about their products and they use good materials with the end life in mind, I thought it necessary to include them.
Elate Cosmetics is a Canadian-based green beauty brand that measures its waste outputs and sets goals to decrease the amount of waste produced in and out of our office each year. They not only carry sustainable mascara but the best natural eye shadows and some of the finest adorable organic makeup on the market today!
They are officially a B-Corporation and all products are packaged beautifully and sustainably. They select materials that are as low waste as possible and the packaging is currently around 75% waste-free.
2. Dab Herb
Dab herb’s organic powder mascara set is non-waterproof, non-toxic, and vegan. It is versatile since it serves as an eyeliner and eyebrow filler. This mascara has a much longer shelf life in comparison to traditional and all-natural mascara so you get to save extra cash. It’s paired with a lash serum, both are absolutely clean and junk-free and have amazing benefits. The key ingredients include coconut-activated charcoal, slippery elm, and marshmallow root. You have to use the powder and the serum together.
This does take a little more time to prepare, but it's well worth it in my opinion!
You simply apply the serum, then mix the two to form a paste, and voila you have the perfect mascara. They offer two sizes and when you are done, simply clean it and send it back to be refilled.
They follow Good Manufacturing Practices and their powder products like the petal translucent powder, petal blush, and face polish soap are refilled via kraft packets. They are also certified organic, cruelty-free, vegan, and palm-oil-free.
Clean Faced carries a huge variety of plastic-free mascara, you will find a color you love: black, brown, clear, and white just to name a few. Each one is packed full of four superhero ingredients: castor oil, candelilla wax, kaolin, and activated charcoal. They are also fragrance-free, cruelty-free, and palm-oil-free. They do use some dyes, namely Yellow No. 5 FD&C Lake and Red No. 40 FD&C Lake in their foundation's powders.
You can order mascara in either a small tin pot or a glass vile, both come with a compostable bamboo applicator. Super easy to use, you just apply it to your lashes, let it dry and you are good to go.
Products are mailed out in CFC’s biodegradable cello refill bags, you can mail back your container for anything that isn’t powdered. They offset 100% of their carbon emissions from shipping and packaging on every delivery.
Zao’s waste free mascara promises a long-lasting look, beauty, and comfort. The Volume and Sheathing mascara combines three impressive ingredients: organic bamboo hydrosol which helps to repair and strengthen your eyelashes. Acacia gum is used to improve the hold and organic avocado oil which helps with growth! The specific shape of the brush gives it a “sheathing” effect which envelops the eyelash curving. Choose between black and brown.
Zao's eco-friendly mascara comes cased in a bamboo tube that can be refilled over and over again. They are Eco-Certified organic, 100% vegan and cruelty-free, and gluten-free. I am checking whether or not they use palm oil in their products.
Known for their trendy brow gel that shapes thickens and tints brows. Kjaer Weis’s low waste mascara is made with certified organic ingredients that are kind to and condition your brow hairs, including moisturizing rice flour, calming lavender water, organic coconut oil, and chestnut extract, both known to help with hair growth. They are cruelty-free but not vegan and they do use palm oil derivatives. I could not find any information on how it's sourced.
The mascara comes in a lovely tube that you can refill which I suggest you take advantage of as you can't recycle the tube.
Being a bit more of a luxury brand, they are a little spendy, but the tubes are an elegant refillable metal case. Please refill because they are unfortunately not recyclable.
Kjaer Weis is a leader in sustainability being the first luxury beauty brand to introduce refillable packaging. Certified-organic ingredients are hand-selected for quality and source. All products, packaging and shipping materials are 100% recyclable, compostable or refillable, sourced from FSC-certified materials, and printed with water-based ink.
6. Nudi Goods
Nudi’s Raven Mascara is plastic-free and when applied it is very smooth and subtle without any clumping. This zero waste mascara wants to provide a simple, honest approach to undefined beauty as it is very minimal and contains ingredients without any pollutants and toxins. All-natural ingredients include shea butter, coconut oil, beeswax, bentonite clay, and activated charcoal. It also comes in a reusable metal tin and you have the option to buy a wand separately.
Founder, Jaime is a certified California Naturalist, and anti-plastic human so after seeing first-hand how much plastic pollution is in our oceans she started Nudi Goods.
Nudi Goods products are cruelty-free, ethically sourced, and made with plastic-free packaging. They carry a wide range of beauty products some do contain mica, but they do note on their website that their suppliers are child-labor-free. They do use beeswax in some items but are palm-oil-free.
Bee You's organic waste free Mascara can assist with nourishing your eyelashes as they grow longer, thicker, and darker. It is plastic-free, mineral, mica, and iron oxide-free and made with 100% organic ingredients such as castor oil, jojoba oil, beeswax, fractionated coconut oil, shea butter, carnauba wax, and activated charcoal. Bee You does use beeswax in their mascaras, but it's USDA-certified and sourced from a local and sustainable beekeeper. You can custom order a vegan mascara that is made with Carnauba Wax.
They are completely phasing out plastic and moving towards glass tubes that you can request at checkout. They swear to never use palm oil or derivatives of palm oil, fragrances, synthetics, or any questionable ingredients.
This sustainable brand carries other products such as organic skincare, foundations, sunscreens, and lip balms. Bee You are huge on giving back to the community and all products are made from scratch in the Pacific Northwest. All items are shipped using compostable packaging.
How to recycle mascara wands and tubes?
If you’re wondering, where can you recycle your old mascara wands rather than just toss them in the bin? Donate your used mascara wands to be repurposed by wildlife rehabilitators to groom, clean, and treat wild animals through a nonprofit called the Wands for Wildlife. A few brands like Lush and MAC offer a special rewards program for those who recycle their products, however, it’s unclear where the waste ends up.
A final word on zero waste mascara
Finding a zero waste mascara is always said to be difficult but I hope this list made it less complex. All are great options to help reduce single-use plastic packaging from sustainable bamboo, card stock, glass tubes, or refillable packaging. Always check labels and do your research if you’re not quite sure about a brand. Have you made the switch as yet?
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