What Are The Ingredients In Mascara?

Mascara is a popular makeup product that enhances the appearance of lashes. Whether you’re going for a natural look or dramatic, voluminous lashes, mascara is a key tool in achieving your desired makeup look. But have you ever wondered what goes into creating this magic in a tube?

Mascara is made up of various ingredients that work together to deliver the desired effect on your lashes. These ingredients can be categorized into waxes, oils, pigments, emollients, and preservatives. Each ingredient serves a specific purpose in creating a mascara formula that delivers length, volume, and definition.

Some common ingredients found in mascaras include:

  • Beeswax: Acts as a thickening and stiffening agent.
  • Lanolin: Helps coat and thicken the lashes.
  • Mineral oil: Adds viscosity to the mascara.
  • Castor oil: Known for its thickening and moisturizing properties.
  • Paraffin wax: A moisturizing agent.
  • Floral waxes: Such as bitter orange blossom wax, rose wax, cassia flower wax, and blue lotus wax, which coat and protect the lashes.
  • Carnauba wax: A plant-derived wax commonly used in mascaras.
  • Iron oxide: A colorant that provides black, yellow, and red pigments.
  • Carbon black: Acts as a black pigment.
  • Nylon microfibers: Adds volume and length to the lashes.
  • Glycerin: Moisturizes and conditions the lashes.

These ingredients, combined in specific ratios, create the unique texture, color, and performance of the mascara.

Key Takeaways:

  • Mascara is a makeup product that enhances the appearance of lashes.
  • Common ingredients in mascaras include beeswax, lanolin, mineral oil, castor oil, paraffin wax, floral waxes, carnauba wax, iron oxide, carbon black, nylon microfibers, and glycerin.
  • These ingredients serve different purposes such as thickening, moisturizing, conditioning, and providing color to the lashes.
  • Understanding the ingredients in mascara can help you choose the right product for your desired look and preferences.
  • Always check the ingredient list and prioritize mascaras that align with your personal values and safety concerns.

Common Ingredients Found in Mascara

When it comes to mascara, there are several common ingredients that help create the desired texture, color, and performance. Let’s take a closer look at these ingredients:

  1. Beeswax: Beeswax acts as a thickening and stiffening agent in mascara, giving it the ability to coat and separate lashes.
  2. Lanolin: Lanolin, a waxy ingredient, helps to enhance the thickness of lashes and promote a fuller appearance.
  3. Mineral Oil: Mineral oil adds viscosity to mascara, allowing for a smooth application and ensuring even distribution on the lashes.
  4. Castor Oil: Castor oil is known for its thickening and moisturizing properties, helping to nourish and condition the lashes.
  5. Paraffin Wax: Paraffin wax serves as a moisturizing agent in mascara, keeping the lashes hydrated and preventing them from becoming brittle.
  6. Floral Waxes: Mascara may contain floral waxes such as bitter orange blossom wax, rose wax, cassia flower wax, and blue lotus wax. These waxes coat and protect the lashes, providing added conditioning benefits.
  7. Carnauba Wax: Derived from the leaves of the carnauba palm, carnauba wax is a plant-based ingredient commonly used in mascaras for its natural thickening and moisturizing properties.
  8. Iron Oxide: Iron oxide is a colorant that provides black, yellow, and red pigments to mascaras, allowing for various shades and intensities.
  9. Carbon Black: Carbon black is a black pigment commonly used in mascaras, providing rich, dark color to the lashes.

By combining these ingredients in different formulations, mascara brands are able to create products with different textures, finishes, and effects to suit individual preferences.

Ingredients in Waterproof Mascara

Waterproof mascaras are formulated with specific ingredients that provide them with water-resistant properties. These ingredients work together to create a formula that can withstand water without smudging or running. Let’s take a closer look at the key ingredients in waterproof mascara:

1. Isododecane

Isododecane is an emollient and solvent commonly found in waterproof mascaras. It helps to create a smooth and even application while also acting as a barrier against water.

2. Dimethicone Copolyol

Dimethicone copolyol is a silicone ingredient that adheres to the lashes, creating a protective layer that repels water. This helps to prevent the mascara from smudging or smearing when exposed to moisture.

3. Cyclopentasiloxane

Cyclopentasiloxane is another silicone ingredient often used in waterproof mascaras. It evaporates quickly after application, leaving a thin film that helps the mascara to stay in place even in humid conditions.

4. Waxes

Waxes like paraffin wax, carnauba wax, or beeswax are also commonly included in waterproof mascara formulations. These waxes enhance the waterproof properties of the mascara as water naturally rolls off wax, preventing it from compromising the mascara’s performance.

Waterproof Mascara

Ingredient Function
Isododecane Emollient and solvent
Dimethicone Copolyol Silicone that repels water
Cyclopentasiloxane Quickly evaporates and creates water-resistant film
Waxes (e.g., paraffin wax, carnauba wax, beeswax) Enhance waterproof properties

The combination of these ingredients in waterproof mascaras ensures that your lashes stay defined, volumized, and smudge-free even in challenging conditions such as rain or humidity. Enjoy beautiful lashes that withstand water with the help of these innovative ingredients.

Chemicals to Look Out for in Mascara

While mascara ingredients are generally considered safe, it’s important for consumers to be aware of potential risks associated with certain chemicals. Here are some chemicals commonly found in mascaras that you should look out for:

Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAs)

Some waterproof mascara formulations may contain PFAs, which have been associated with health issues such as impaired immune function and certain types of cancer.


Shellac is a resin used in mascaras to provide a glossy effect. However, some people may be allergic to shellac, leading to skin irritation or other allergic reactions.


Thimerosal is a mercury-based preservative that is sometimes used in mascaras. While it helps prevent bacterial contamination, there are safety concerns when this ingredient is used in the eye area.


Parabens are commonly used as preservatives in cosmetic products, including mascaras. However, they have been linked to potential endocrine disruption.

It’s important to understand the potential risks associated with these chemicals and make informed choices when selecting mascara products. By reading ingredient labels and opting for products that prioritize cleaner and safer formulations, you can minimize potential risks and protect your overall well-being.

Check out the following table for a quick reference on the chemicals to look out for in mascaras:

Chemical Name Potential Risks
Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAs) Impaired immune function, certain cancers
Shellac Allergic reactions, skin irritation
Thimerosal Safety concerns in eye area due to mercury content
Parabens Potential endocrine disruption

Please note that this table is for reference purposes only and not an exhaustive list of all chemicals found in mascaras.

chemicals in mascara

Animal-Origin Ingredients in Mascara

Some mascaras contain animal-origin ingredients, which may not be suitable for vegan individuals. These ingredients serve various purposes such as providing a glossy effect, thickening, binding, lubricating, and moisturizing the lashes. It is essential for those seeking vegan alternatives to be aware of the animal-origin ingredients commonly found in mascaras and explore alternative options that align with their preferences and values.


Guanine, derived from fish scales, is a common ingredient in mascaras that provides a glossy effect to the lashes.

Beeswax and Lanolin

Beeswax, derived from bees, and lanolin, derived from sheep, are often used as thickeners and binders in mascara formulations.


Panthenol, sourced mainly from meat or honey, acts as a lubricant and moisturizer in mascaras, helping to condition the lashes.


Shellac, derived from the lac insect, is another ingredient used in mascaras to provide a glossy effect to the lashes.

For those looking for vegan alternatives, there are cruelty-free mascaras available in the market. These vegan mascaras use plant-based waxes and oils, such as paraffin wax, carnauba wax, and candelilla wax, along with synthetic beeswax substitutes. These options provide similar effects without the use of animal-origin ingredients. It is important to check the ingredient list carefully and choose mascaras that align with personal preferences and values.

Animal-Origin Ingredients Vegan Alternatives
Guanine Synthetic alternatives, natural pigments
Beeswax Paraffin wax, carnauba wax, candelilla wax
Lanolin Plant-based thickeners and binders
Panthenol Plant-based lubricants and moisturizers
Shellac Plant-based glossy agents

Animal-Origin Ingredients in Mascara

When choosing mascaras, individuals can opt for cruelty-free, vegan alternatives that provide similar results without compromising their ethical values. By making informed choices, consumers can enjoy beautiful lashes while respecting animal welfare.

The Importance of Choosing Safe Mascara

Choosing safe mascara is crucial for protecting your health and avoiding potential risks. Certain mascara ingredients can pose harmful effects on your body and skin. By being aware of these harmful ingredients and opting for safer alternatives, you can prioritize your well-being and enhance your beauty routine.

Some of the most concerning harmful mascara ingredients include:

  • Parabens: These synthetic preservatives have been linked to endocrine disruption and potential health risks.
  • Formaldehyde: A known carcinogen that may be present in mascaras as a preservative.
  • Imidazolidinyl Urea: A formaldehyde-releasing preservative that can cause allergic reactions and skin irritation.
  • Thimerosal: A preservative containing mercury, which raises safety concerns when used near the eye area.
  • Coal Tar: Used in mascara to achieve darker shades, coal tar has been associated with potential risks such as cancer.
  • Synthetic Colored Dyes: Artificial colorants in mascara can lead to skin irritation and sensitivities.
  • Synthetic Fragrances: Artificial fragrances can cause allergic reactions and skin irritations.

To ensure your mascara is safe and free from these harmful ingredients, look for mascaras that utilize natural oils and waxes, natural preservatives, and iron oxides for color. These cleaner alternatives provide you with a safer and healthier option for your lashes.

The Risks of Harmful Mascara Ingredients

Harmful mascara ingredients can pose various risks to your health:

  • Endocrine Disruption: Some ingredients, such as parabens, have been found to disrupt hormone function in the body.
  • Cancer Concerns: Certain ingredients like coal tar and formaldehyde have been associated with potential carcinogenic effects.
  • Allergic Reactions: Synthetic fragrances and preservatives can trigger allergic reactions, leading to redness, itching, and irritation.
  • Neurotoxicity: Some mascara ingredients, such as mercury-based thimerosal, can have neurotoxic effects when absorbed by the body.

harmful mascara ingredients

By avoiding mascaras with these harmful ingredients, you can reduce the risk of adverse reactions and protect your overall well-being. Always prioritize your health and choose products with cleaner and safer ingredient formulations.

What to Look for in Mascara

When it comes to choosing mascara, there are a few key factors to consider. In addition to your personal formula preferences, it’s essential to opt for a clean mascara that is free from harmful ingredients. Look for mascaras that prioritize natural oils, natural waxes, and natural preservatives, as they provide nourishing benefits for your lashes.

One important aspect to pay attention to is the presence of iron oxides. These natural minerals serve as safe pigment options that can provide rich color without compromising your safety.

Aside from the ingredients, think about the desired results you want to achieve with your mascara. Whether you’re looking for length, definition, curl, or color, there are mascaras available that can meet your unique needs.

To ensure that the mascara you choose meets safety standards, opt for formulas that have been tested by dermatologists and toxicologists. This will give you peace of mind knowing that the product has undergone rigorous evaluation.

clean mascara

Benefits of Choosing a Clean Mascara

Choosing a clean mascara offers numerous benefits. Not only can you enhance the appearance of your lashes, but you can also do so without exposing yourself to potentially harmful ingredients. Clean mascaras are formulated with ingredients that are gentle on the eyes and lashes, reducing the risk of irritation or allergic reactions.

Furthermore, clean mascaras often contain nourishing and conditioning components that can promote lash health. Natural oils and waxes, such as coconut oil, argan oil, and beeswax, provide moisturizing and protective properties to keep your lashes looking their best.

By opting for a clean mascara, you can enjoy the results you desire while taking care of your eye health and overall well-being.

Choose a Clean and Effective Mascara

Elevate your lash game with Honest Extreme Length Mascara + Lash Primer, a clean and effective mascara that meets the highest safety standards. This 2-in-1 product delivers remarkable results, providing extreme length, definition, curl, and color to your lashes.

What sets this mascara apart is its clean ingredient list. It is formulated with natural oils, natural waxes, natural preservatives, and iron oxides, ensuring that only the best and most nourishing ingredients touch your lashes. Say goodbye to parabens, paraffins, silicones, mineral oil, and synthetic fragrances, as Honest prioritizes your safety by excluding them from their formula.

Enjoy peace of mind knowing that the Honest Extreme Length Mascara + Lash Primer has been rigorously tested by ophthalmologists. It has also received recognition from beauty experts, making it a trusted choice among makeup enthusiasts. With this mascara, you can achieve the desired results without compromising on safety and quality.

Scroll to Top