Zero Waste Mascara: 11 Brands For Sustainably Bold And Beautiful Lashes
Zero waste looks good on everyone, just like long lashes! Lucky for us, the two aren’t mutually exclusive.
Though, eco friendly mascara is a notoriously tricky product to make, because it’s difficult to properly store and apply without making a mess.
Which makes us bat our eyelashes even more at the zero waste mascara brands who have worked it out.
And of all the brands on this list, these three may just make some of the best zero waste mascara around: Dab Herb for their unusual but effective powdered mascara, Clean-Face Cosmetics for the largest range of vegan and plastic free mascara.
And BeeYou Organics for their super simple ingredients list (only 5).
If you want to know how we decided which brands made the cut for this list, scroll to the bottom of the article.
*This post contains affilate links
1. DAB HERB MAKEUP
About Dab Herb Mascara
Here’s a little something different on the list: organic powder mascara!
Dab Herb’s take on zero waste mascara takes a little bit more time for the prep and application process, because it requires mixing together the powder and a lash serum.
They recommend first priming your lashes with just the serum, then mixing the serum with the powder to make it into a paste (which can then also be used as eyeliner and brow filler).
They’ll send a bamboo wand and reusable silicone-mixing dish if you need (but you can also just use a bowl or tin you already have).
The powder and the serum are both free from parabens, heavy metals, glycols, alcohol, and silicones.
You can choose either full or sample size, as they both come in adorable little glass jars with tin lids that look like something straight from an 1800s apothecary!
Once you use it, just clean it and send it back for a refill.
Mixing your own mascara every day is not for the busy, as Dab Herb point out so be prepared to invest a little extra time in your routine.
Otherwise, this brand also offers two other refillable mascaras: Organic Herb Mascara Black and Organic Henna Mascara, both of which come in glass containers and have refill options
About Dab Herb Makeup
Dab Herb is a “Nature to Nurture” beauty and sustainable skincare company that believes “beauty and self-care are inseparable from sustainability, transparency, and wellness”.
What started as small makeup made just for their founder Crissy’s personal use, developed into an advocate for green beauty standards.
Many of these of herb and plant oils to heal the skin itself, not just disguise it.
Dab Herb’s products are all palm oil free (including free of palm oil derivatives). Ingredients are sourced from fair trade certified farmers and suppliers.
Dab ships their products plastic free and they re-use their own suppliers’ shipping materials for larger orders. Back in the office, any printing they do is on recycled materials.
Dab Herb also support “MADE IN THE FREE WORLD” which focuses on developing and implementing high impact solutions to human trafficking by working with the most effective partners to rescue and care for victims worldwide.
2. CLEAN-FACED COSMETICS
About Clean-Faced Cosmetics Zero Waste Mascara
Clean-Faced Cosmetics wins the prize for biggest zero waste mascara brand selection, creating vegan cake mascaras with options for volumizing, black, brown, clear, white, and more!
Best of all?
Only four ingredients: candelilla wax, castor oil, activated charcoal, and kaolin!
They’re oil based, which reduces the chunky mess of many zero waste mascaras, and you won’t need to moisten the brush before use. Just apply, let dry, and repeat for as thick do lashes as you like!
Each mascara comes either in a small reusable tin pot or in a glass vial (though the lids look plastic so we recommend the pot) with compostable bamboo applicators (although the bristles are unlikely to be compostable).
Accompany your waste free mascara with their lash lengthening setting powder and eyebrow mascara.
About Clean-Faced Cosmetics
Eco friendly makeup brand CFC comes from Michigan, where they make custom made-to-order beauty products that are palm-oil free, vegan, cruelty-free (tested on friends, never animals), and as organic as possible.
They sometimes using tiny amounts of Yellow No. 5 FD&C Lake and Red No. 40 FD&C Lake to properly create skin tone matched foundation powders, but only when necessary.
Creator Laura is currently striving to operate the company entirely waste free, though she, just like the rest of us, knows this is very much a process.
Currently, all product packaging is either biodegradable or reusable and ships in biodegradable cello bags (which look a lot like plastic but aren’t).
All labels are printed on recycled paper with eco-friendly ink.
3. BEEYOU ORGANICS
*Note many of this brands products are not suitable for vegans but there are vegan options available
About BeeYou Organics Mascara
Aside from having tons of 5-star reviews, BeeYou Organics waste free mascaras are super simple (only 5 ingredients!) and promote lash growth, especially when primed with their minerals setting powders.
The brown shade is 100% organic and the black (while not certified organic charcoal) is mostly organic and 100% natural. Both are free from parabens, phthaltes, and oxides.
While they are cruelty-free, Bee You (as the name might imply) is not strictly vegan as their mascaras contain beeswax, which is USDA-certified organic harvested from local Pacific Northwest beekeepers.
However, they make a vegan mascara option upon request, which substitutes beeswax with Carnauba Wax.
They used to sell sample size tubes but they are phasing out plastic mascara tubes and moving entirely over to the full size glass tubes. They are continuing to run out the last bit of their plastic inventory but even before then, you can specifically request glass in the order notes.
They will also leave out their reusable mascara wand if you already have one.
If you’re looking to retire your wand, however, they urge you to donate it to the Appalachian Wildlife Refuge, where it’ll be used to help remove fly eggs and larva from wildlife.
About BeeYou Organics
Based in the Pacific Northwest, Bee You was started by Larissa, who was raised holistic but rebelled against the lifestyle in her teenage years.
At least until a car accident left her face scarred and sensitive.
She returned to her humble holistic beginnings and now creates soothing products designed to heal on every level, right down to each ingredient.
All ingredients are ethically sourced, non-GMO, cruelty-free, alcohol-free, palm oil-free (including derivatives), and preservative-free.
Most are certified organic and ALL are 100% natural.
While not vegan as a company (look out for beeswax and emu oil) they have so many vegan options available. Plus, they support responsible beekeeping and donate to local bee research projects through WSU.
Bee You Organics supports local and small business when possible and also supports various charities in their community.
When they start hiring, they plan to hire economically disadvantaged woman and provide a daycare for their children while they work.
4. DIRTY HIPPIE COSMETICS
*Note: Dirty Hippie has announced that one of their suppliers no longer guarantees certain ingredients to be palm oil free. This directly impacts their mascaras
About Dirty Hippie Mascara
Dirty Hippie makes two different mineralizing mascaras: lengthening and volumizing, available in carbon black or cacao brown.
The lengthening mascara uses a thinner Aloe Vera base to coat and separate while the volumizing blends Aloe Vera with clay.
Combined with nourishing essential oils and vitamins B5 and E, these mascaras promote healthy base lashes, too!
The plastic free mascara containers come in glass tubes with an aluminum cap. The bamboo spoolie brush is designed for reuse (just add “no brush needed” to the notes when reordering).
You can actually get the glass tube refilled if you live in Australia but they don’t offer this take-back program for international orders as shipping emissions would negate any good done; instead just recycle or reuse the glass.
As for their natural skin care ingredients, they’re almost all certified organic (including the one preservative used to make it shelf stable for four months).
A few simply aren’t certified but are grown using organic practices.
Dirty Hippie’s supplier of Olive and Coconut oils (aka Cetearyl and Sorbitan olivates) no longer guarantees them to be palm oil free.
While Dirty Hippie is looking for a 100% Palm Oil Free alternative supplier, for the time being that change affects their mascara.
About Dirty Hippie Cosmetics
Aside from mascara, Dirty Hippie makes a wide range of zero waste make-up, skin, and haircare products. Each and every handmade product is organic, cruelty-free, palm oil-free (subject to them finding a new supplier), and vegan.
This super sustainable brand (which keeps popping up in our sustainable beauty lists) is based in the zero waste community of Bywong, Australia, where they grow and source ingredients locally and only purchase externally (certified Fair Trade, of course) where necessary.
They even use naturally collected rainwater and are moving to a new, totally solar powered HQ. Currently, they operate at a 50% carbon offset.
All packaging is either compostable recycled cardboard tubes or reusable tin and glass, with vegetable ink labels.
Not to gush, but we also have to mention their charitable endeavors, which include everything from suicide prevention to animal rescue. Currently, a portion of proceeds go The Stroke Foundation Australia.
This company gets a high-five from just about every ethical standpoint.
5. KEEPING IT NATURAL
*Note we have attempted to confirm the policies directly with the brand with no response to date.
About Keeping It Natural Mascara
Keeping It Natural makes mineral cake zero waste mascaras in both brown and black.
They also double as eyeliner so you can minimize your make-up needs!
These vegan mascaras are also cruelty-free, fragrance-free, and paraben-free (they say they use “all natural preservatives”).
However, they do unfortunately contain palm oil derivatives and a few not entirely natural ingredients (like stearic acid, potassium sorbate, and ceteareeth-20).
To apply, just wet your eco friendly mascara wand (if you get the one from them it will be plastic, but they’ll omit it upon request) and dip into the cake.
One review cautions from getting it too wet, which makes it a little tricky to apply. It’s not smudge proof but on the flip side, that makes it super easy to remove at night!
About Keeping It Natural
After years working in commercial cosmetics, owner Linda Hoffman decided to use her expertise to create her own all-natural small batch cosmetic company in 2011.
It’s now become popular and excellently-reviewed.
All products are vegan and cruelty-free are made-to-order to ensure freshness.
Because she will “pack each order exactly as you wish” you can opt to forego the plastic mascara brush and get it shipped in plastic free envelopes.
6. NUDI GOODS
About Nudi Goods Plastic after Mascara
Nudi Goods Raven Mascara is an all-black mascara designed to give you bold and beautiful lashes all day or night.
And all with only five ingredients: Bentonite Clay, Activated Charcoal, Coconut Oil, Beeswax, and Shea Butter.
This mascara is not vegan but is cruelty-free and palm-oil free.
These mascaras come in reusable metal tins with an optional applicator spoolie if you don’t already have one. Shipping is also totally plastic-free!
About Nudi Goods
Nudi Goods products exist to “take the risk for creating a new normal for our planet.”
Other Nudi Goods goods include lip balms, mascara, highlighter sticks, and brow taming wax.
Jaime Boddorff started the brand just a few years ago, making the first batches while working at a wildlife hospital and ocean conservation non-profit. Jaime still makes every product herself, but sometimes hires extra packing hands during busy seasons.
While not everything is certified organic, this is because “the organic label is just that: a label, and therefore it’s not our highest priority to be able to say all our products are organic.”
Instead of a label, Nudi prioritizes small-scale local suppliers that adhere to organic practices but often can’t afford the official certification.
When it’s possible to source locally, Jaime uses ethical global suppliers when not. Their mineral pigments and mica in makeup in particular are from “suppliers providing a child-labor free guarantee”.
While not a vegan brand, the reasoning for using beeswax is well thought-out:
“We want to know where our ingredients are coming from, and many vegan alternatives are tropical plant products that come from a large supply chain where we cannot trace who is sourcing of the ingredients. This means we don’t know if laborers are paid fairly, if the sourcing is ethical, if the sourcing displaces animals in the wild or causes deforestation, among other concerns. Since our beeswax is currently sourced plastic-free and closes the waste loophole, switching to an alternative that is shipped in large plastic bags or buckets would mean moving backwards.”
She will custom make vegan products (if possible for that item) for those who are adamantly against beeswax either way.
They recently switched beeswax suppliers, from one that didn’t provide traceable apiaries or plastic-free shipping to a fully traceable, family-run apiary.
This apiary uses cruelty-free and organic beekeeping practices, which means no hormones, chemicals, or antibiotics. They also don’t do anything that might stress the bees, like moving the hives.
7. BESAME COSMETICS
*Note: Not all products are vegan, however the mascaras are vegan
About Bésame Mascara
Bésame makes two different kinds of eco friendly mascara, aimed at capturing a vintage aesthetic: the 1920 cake and 1940 cream.
In light of our focus on zero waste, we recommend the cake mascara. The 1920 Cake is vegan comes in a reusable metal tin while the 1940 cream mascara comes in a plastic tube (and contains beeswax).
Inspired by the femme fatale look of the 1920s, this cruelty-free and paraben-free cake mascara is designed to give dark, defined lashes.
And since leading ladies of old needed their makeup to resist smudging under movie set lights, this mascara is smudge resistant, too.
Plus it’s designed for multi use as eyebrow filler and eyeliner as well. Just add an extra drop of water to the cake for these uses.
Founded in 2004 but inspired by the art and beauty of the first half of the 20th century, Bésame makes:“modern reproduction of classic luxury makeup […] designed to make women feel elegant, inspired, and empowered by their beauty.”
Based in Southern California (with Hollywood at its heart!), all products are made in the USA.
All products are gluten-free, PETA’s Beauty Without Bunnies-certified cruelty free, and many of their products are vegan.
However if you plan to buy anything other than the cake mascara, do check the ingredients first as some contain responsibly sourced beeswax, Bésame is currently looking for options to replace this to ensure all their products are vegan.
Bésame’s uses Ethylhexyl Palmitate, derivative of palm oil in their natural lipsticks, which accounts for 4% of the formula.
Bésame use a combination of natural and synthetic ingredients.
These include: Mica (natural, cosmetic grade, ethically sourced), squalane (plant derived – not to be confused with squalene which is the one that comes from sharks), talc (cosmetic grade and not to be confused with asbestos) and a variety of pigments (food grade dyes).
Per Bésame: “Should we use a synthetic, it is due to it being the better alternative”.
More generally, Bésame tries to keep their carbon footprint low in all aspects. Their packing materials are made from recycled paper (though on occasion, they use bubble wrap on products for shipping).
8. ELATE BEAUTY
About Elate’s Essential Mascara
Elate Cosmetics’s Essential Mascara often pops up on zero waste blogs (with lots of good reviews about its water, sweat, and smudge resistance).
However, we feel it’s important to note they are not strictly speaking zero waste.
They come in compostable bamboo tubes with a thin plastic liner tube.
While these tubes are 100% recyclable, you can’t just throw away the whole thing. Crush the bamboo shell to remove the inner plastic, wash it, and dispose of each separately.
They may be more low waste than zero waste but at least that waste is put to good use!
They’re also gluten free, Cruelty-free International certified and PETA-certified vegan.
Please note that Elate is not 100% natural yet; these mascaras use Phenoxyethanol as a preservative.
However, they are really transparent about listing all ingredients along with a parenthetical translation in layman’s terms so you know exactly what’s going on your face.
About Elate Beauty
Elate strives to make “products that don’t compromise the health of any person, animal or the planet.”
This means being meticulous about ethical sourcing and business dealings.
This does mean that they sometimes choose fair trade over organic ingredients, though they are working on going 100% organic.
As a company they do use some RSPO-certified palm oil derivatives in their products. The derivative(s) they use in their mascara are sourced from both palm and coconut.
They are moving steadily toward being a zero waste company, packing just about everything in self-regenerative bamboo, then offering refills in seed paper pouches. These are so great because you can plant the package to grow herbs and flowers!
Finally, this Canadian company uses Bullfrog Power to offset all emissions.
They also donate to a variety of charities, like the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust through which they sponsor three elephants: Maisha, Dololo, and Larr.
That’s right; your mascara purchases can support these gentle giants!
9. SWEET LEILANI
About Sweet LeiLani Non-Toxic Mascara
Sweet LeiLani’s ethical mascara will not only add some new definition to your eyes, but will nourish and hydrate your lashes with Provitamin B5, coconut oil, and Rosehip, Green Tea and Grapeseed oils.
Add a little water and it doubles as a zero waste liquid eyeliner.
While the ingredient list is a little longer and less… easily understandable… than we usually like, we personally double-checked every ingredient in the Environmental Working Group (EWG) Skin Deep database to ensure they’re all considered non-toxic and low-risk.
We were at first concerned by the Glyceryl Stearate, as it can possibly be a palm oil derivative. After touching base with a representative, they assured that the mascara only has coconut oil, no palm oil.
There are no animal byproducts, either, as Sweet LeiLani is entirely vegan and cruelty free.
As for packaging, they recently switched to recycled card stock tube printed with soy ink and with an inner straw lining.
About Sweet LeiLani
“Plant powered. Vegan. Paraben free. Gluten free. Cruelty free. Fragrance free. Recognized by plastic surgeons and celebrated by dermatologists. That’s not easy to beat.”
Canadian based Sweet LeiLani is named after their founder, who is one of few trained in Paramedical Corrective Makeup and Scar-Re-Pigmentation Specialists in Canada.
That’s why this company is not just about making makeup that isn’t harmful, but actually “Healing with Makeup”.
By choosing soothing and skin calming ingredients (in dosages backed by science), LeiLani’s creations have helped patients with burns, scarring, eczema, and more severe skin and general health conditions. Her products are plastic surgeon and dermatologist approved.
Vegan and cruelty-free through the entire supply chain, they also focus on responsible manufacturing and sourcing ingredients from global suppliers that value sustainability.
Sweet LeiLani also runs a program called “Face the Future” to raise awareness around the “importance of healing patients inside and out”.
LeiLani herself has done lots of pro bono work for various nonprofits and charitable initiatives like the British Columbia Cancer Society, Firefighter Burn Fund, Burn Camps, and Lupus Camps.
10. KJAER WEISS
*Note: We have attempted to confirm the policies directly with this brand with no response to date
About Kjaer Weiss Mascara
Kjaer Weiss makes low waste mascara out of castor seed oil (for natural antibacterial and antioxidant properties) and jojoba seed oil (for moisturizing eye skin) as a base.
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.
Plus, you get what you pay for, and the ingredients are top notch, being gluten-free and CCPB-certified organic with a minimum of 99.8% organically sourced ingredients.
No petroleum, parabens, coloring, fragrance, or emulsifiers and NO animal testing at any point.
The only downside is these mascara are not vegan, since they contain Cera Alba (aka beeswax).
About Kjaer Weiss
This luxury skin and beauty brand started in Denmark, but now makes many of their products in Italy.
They create foundations, cheek colors, eye shadows, lip stains, and more, all packaged in beautiful (and refillable!) metal tins and compacts. All products are almost (if not 100%) organic.
They make no mention of their palm oil policy and some products do contain palm oil derivatives; we are reaching out to confirm their palm oil policy directly, as well as their ethical sourcing policies.
11. DIY ZERO WASTE MASCARA
If you want to really minimize your impact (and have the time), you can just make your own!
DIY zero waste mascara is a great way to make exactly what you need and control exactly what goes in it (plus no shipping impact!), but we understand it can be quite the process.
Mascara, especially, can be tricky and time consuming to get the right consistency. It’s a fine balance between clumpy and runny.
Basically, you’re going to need three major components:
- Creamy base substance: this is something creamy like Aloe Vera, Shea Butter, or Coconut Oil and will need to be melted down during the making process.
- Something more substantial to hold it all together: many recipes call for beeswax for this but you can use various clays or soaps as a vegan substitute.
- Some sort of colorant: usually this is activated charcoal, cacao powder, or burnt almond paste and it’s also where the process gets messy (charcoal can get everywhere!).
These ingredients must be mixed together, usually in different layers to achieve proper mixing, so it can be quite involved by the time you’re done.
One common type of DIY mascara is soap mascara, which is supposedly amazing… until you try to remove it.
According to Katherine of Going Zero Waste, “you will unleash hells eternal fury upon your eyeballs”.
She’s actually working on experimenting with different soaps to remedy this issue, but until then, offers a simplified non-soap recipe.
For you visual learners out there, watch the process of some different DIY mascara recipes in this video.
WHY ECO FRIENDLY MASCARA?
To understand the importance of opting for a reusable or environmentally friendly mascara, we need to go back to basics. Zero waste principles, ala 101.
Traditionally, we approach products with a “cradle to grave” mentality: taking something new, using it, then throwing it away.
Zero waste aims to use products “cradle to cradle”, using only that which can be reused or composted rather than sent to landfills or incinerated.
Adopting a zero waste lifestyle is a process, step by step, day by day, we make incremental changes which reduce our impact on the environment. You may never actually feel like you’ve reached the finish line, and that’s okay.
There’s no “right way” to do it. Nor is there an end.
We’re on our own slow but steady zero waste journey. It’s tough at times, sure, but we love how much more sustainable our lives have become, it feels good.
Ultimately, we aim to be zero waste in even the smallest of things like make-up.
Of course, there are many easy wins that you can achieve in all areas of your home: zero waste bathroom, zero waste kitchen, general zero waste cleaning habits, zero waste toothcare, zero waste haircare and many more.
Thankfully, zero-waste make-up options have exploded due to consumer demand; check out some some great zero waste make-up brands.
FINDING ZERO WASTE MASCARA BRANDS
As we mentioned above, mascara is one of the tricker makeup products to make zero waste and eco-friendly.
Aside from it just being difficult to make a zero waste container and zero waste applicator (and having traditional containers be extremely hard to recycle properly), even zero waste mascaras often include palm oil and other chemicals to get the consistency “right”.
Eco friendly mascaras can also be incredibly messy which is why we’ve looked for those with raving reviews and those that have a relatively easy application process.
APPROACH TO SUSTAINABLE MASCARA
If this is your first time visiting, we look for brands and products that meet our sustainable beauty criteria, meaning they (ideally) must be:
- palm oil free
- have ethical ingredient sourcing policies and
- use zero-waste packaging (with make-up this typically means reusable or refillable containers).
That’s a lot of criteria and despite all the time we put in to searching, we don’t always find products that tick every criteria but we try to get as many as possible.
FINAL THOUGHTS ON ZERO WASTE MASCARA BRANDS
Ladies (and others), it’s time to go green, go bold, and show off those sustainably smoky eyes. After all, sustainability is essentially a habit, and zero waste can be ‘achieved’ bit by bit through something as simple as your daily mascara routine.
No need to lash out at all the commercial crap out there; just support these caring brands instead. Your lashes (and the earth) are worth it!
As always, we hope this helps you not only get glam but feel good about doing it.
Reach out with questions, thoughts, suggestions, and good vibes by leaving a comment.