The beauty industry is notorious for its single-use plastic problem. Literally everything is packaged in plastic, and the industry contributes a lot of waste to the environment, including non-biodegradable glitter, throw away face wipes, plastic cotton buds, and cotton rounds. Luckily, we are increasingly waking up to the damage these things are doing, and are seeking more eco-friendly alternatives. But one thing that's still hard to find is totally plastic-free makeup, and in particular, plastic-free mascaras. I went on a hunt to find the most sustainable and eco-friendly mascara options that use the least plastic and doesn't contribute to our growing problem.
I'll be honest, though: finding plastic-free mascara is hard. From the outer packaging that the tube comes with, to the applicator itself, plastic seems to feature heavily in our mascaras. Many who have tried to go plastic-free, including one writer for Glamour, ended up ditching the idea altogether and opting instead for a lash lift, thus diminishing the need for mascara.
While this is one option (I would wholeheartedly recommend LVL for your lashes), there are mascaras out there that try their hardest not to contribute to our growing plastic problem; you just need to know where to look. Most major beauty brands will not have what you need, and you'll instead need to scour eco-beauty websites and other online retailers for the most eco-friendly mascaras. Some use old school formulations like powders and creams, while others just switch their packaging to metal or wood, with handy refills.
I took it upon myself to search the internet to find the best options, seven of which you can find below. It may take a bit of getting used to and you may need to trial a few before you find one that's right for you, as some are pretty far from what we've come to recognise as modern mascara.
This mascara is vegan, organic, and uses 100% natural ingredients. It is packaged in bamboo casing with a cotton pouch, and refills can be bought for less waste. Ingredients such as aloe vera, castor oil and shea butter are used to make the mascara, which promises to suit even sensitive eyes.
This mascara is dedicated to using zero plastic. It comes in a recyclable glass vial with an aluminium screw cap, and it has no plastic reducer inside to take off excess product before you apply with the brush. This is unlike most mass market mascaras, so does take some getting used to. The brush itself is also a sustainably grown Bamboo handled synthetic fibre spoolie brush. Impressive.
This traditional-style cake mascara comes in a tin with an eco-friendly bamboo applicator. As well as mascara, it can be used as eyeliner, making it more versatile than your average product. Again, this will take some getting used to, but it's a fun process and ensures zero waste.