The Glasshouse Guide to Mascara

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When it comes to natural and organic beauty, it seems mascara is often the one makeup bag item people take the longest to convert to. Complaints of smudging, no staying power and not enough volume compared to their tried-and-tested mainstream alternatives are all commonplace. But why? ‘Green’ beauty has stepped up a notch in the past couple of years and any conceptions of more natural products not performing as well as their chemical counterparts are long-forgotten.

Although not touching the skin like moisturiser or foundation, mascara is applied to a very sensitive part of the body. Watery, stingy, itchy or dry - anyone with (or without) allergies will understand the complexities of the eye area and the wrong mascara can only intensify this. At Glasshouse, we prefer the gentle approach. Luckily, the good news is is that a high-performing mascara doesn’t have to sacrifice on being kind to the eyes. Rejoice! The even better news it that we have three makeup brands who we can rely on equally for decent mascaras that give us everything from barely-there to clumpy, fluttery and wide-eyed.

Image: The Line
Image: The Line

We turned to holistic makeup artist and Glasshouse contributor Sjaniel Turrell to give us a little guidance when it comes to choosing the right mascara for you.

“Organic and natural mascaras are not a ‘one-size-fits-all’ affair” she told us, “They range from very natural coverage to commercial level volume. Natural versions will have better staying power since using a certified organic one will mean many of the synthetic ‘fixers’ that make mascara stay on will not be allowed to be used - although if it says ‘waterproof’ you can be sure that it’s neither organic or natural.”

Mascara is typically made with a few key ingredients. Pigments for colour (traditionally things like iron oxides, ultramarines and titanium dioxide), waxes to stabilise and thicken, fats to moisturise (often from natural extracts but more often from silicones), preservatives and then in some cases, fragrances.

What we love about our Glasshouse-stocked mascaras is their transparent, natural-where-possible approach. Ilia’s vegan mascaras use 100% natural dyes, cult American brand RMS’s are packed full of certified organic oils, butters and waxes and mineral makeup pro’s Jane Iredale keep their’s free of petroleum-based ingredients.

As Sjaniel says, “mascara is one of the single most individual beauty products and often the most difficult to find the ‘one’” - which is why below you can find all the necessary details of each of our mascaras to help you in your decision-making. You can thank us later.

Ilia Mascara in Asphalt Jungle
Ilia Mascara in Asphalt Jungle

Ilia Beauty

There’s a reason why we never steer far away from Ilia’s lipsticks. One word: pigment. The brand are known for their focus on contemporary, long-wearing colour, and their mascara is no different. Available in four shades - from the warmest of coppers to the chocolate-iest of browns (not forgetting a trusty grey and black) - Ilia’s mascaras will add an instant wash of colour.

The rubber brush is a great tool to separate lashes and avoid any unwanted clumps. If you’re used to a more traditional brush, then this shouldn’t be too much of a transition. It still gives you full lashes and long-length, plus it lets you really focus on separation and definition - this is definitely one for a wide-eyed look.

Formulated with a natural preservative, this mascara is also vegan and gluten free. It contains no Phenoxyethanol - a common preservative found in everything from cosmetics to paint. Ilia also know how to provide intense nourishment and hydration (their Lip Conditioners are a dry lip saviour and lipstick all in one) and for their mascara, it comes in the form of avocado butter and natural Vitamin E. In short, that means no dry lashes by the end of the day and eye-popping colour for the rest of it. Win win.

RMS Defining Mascara
RMS Defining Mascara

RMS Beauty

Created by Rose-Marie Swift, a beauty industry heavyweight and makeup artist, RMS’ products have gained a cult following for their durability and multi-purpose. Their two mascaras - Defining and Volumizing - follow the raw and organic ingredient ethos. If you like your lashes to look like yours, but on a good day, we’d take a guess that RMS’ offering might be for you.

Defining is (you guessed it) best for lash separation and that bright-eyed look. The natural bristle brush is thin and long - ideal for those hard to reach corners. Volumizing does exactly what it says on the tin, with a little help from certified organic oils and waxes to shape the lashes and keep them looking plump.

If you like things clumpier and fuller, RMS’ mascaras probably won’t give you the lash-coating you’re after. But if you suffer from allergies or sensitivity in your eye area, both their mascaras are a safe option. The formula is 100% natural and packed with organic plant waxes (Shea and Carnauba) to condition the lashes. They’re easy, everyday mascaras for a natural-looking boost.

Jane Iredale Pure Lash Lengthening Mascara
Jane Iredale Pure Lash Lengthening Mascara

Jane Iredale

Jane Iredale have been pioneering in the natural makeup market for a while now and their mascaras are no less pioneering. The unique squeezable tube of their Longest Lash Thickening and Lengthening formula is a revelation - containing 75% more product than normal mascaras and meaning you don’t miss a drop. This particular product bridges the gap between mainstream and natural. The ingredients include sea minerals that work on lash condition and aid growth, but the fat, fibrous brush and thick formula means it’s as close (if not better) to a “traditional” mascara that you can get. We like ours wiggled on liberally.

If length in particular is what you’re after, then we recommend Jane Iredale’s PureLash option. “Feathery” is probably the correct adjective for the effect it gives and the dual-sided brush is ideal for bottom and top lashes. One of our favourite high-performing shampoo ingredients - wheat protein - also makes an appearance in the formula, helping strengthen and plump lashes in the same way it does to our hair. Genuis. No lacquers, shellac or petroleum-based ingredients means it ticks all the green boxes too.

So, there you have it, our favourite mascaras in bite-size format that will (hopefully) help you on your journey to finding ‘the one’. Sjaniel advises to “consult as many natural beauty resources as possible to find out which one is the best for you and the type of finish you prefer” and we couldn’t agree more. In the meantime, browse all of our mascaras here on Glasshouse Shop.

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