Finding a zero waste mascara that works well and doesn’t break the bank isn’t easy. We’ve done the research and laid it out to help you find the perfect zero waste mascara for everyday use.
It’s an exciting time to be alive! There are so many eco-friendly and zero waste makeup brands available and more starting everyday. The more companies there are, the more awareness can be raised about how the ingredients we’re actually putting on our faces and how wasteful they are.
When was the last time you thought about how many mascara spoolies you’ve thrown away in your lifetime? If you’re anything like us *checks watch* It's been 5 minutes.
How often have you actually used an entire palette of eye shadow, properly washed it out, and recycled it? Not to mention every tube of lip gloss, chapstick, and those eye shadow applicators that come in packs of 50 and like bobby pins they seem to magically disappear.
There’s a lot of room for improvement when it comes to creating less waste with makeup products. But finding products that work for you isn’t always the easiest.TBH some companies are simply better than others and it can be hard to know what to look for. Then there’s the process of weeding through all the greenwashing. It turns looking for a simple item of makeup into feeling like you’re writing a thesis.
Mascara can be extra tricky — it needs to be able to do a lot of things without doing a lot of other things — flaking, running, clumping, you get the picture.
We know how important having the right mascara is so we’ve done the research for you. Below are some of our favorite zero waste mascaras and the reasons we love the companies that make them.
Always remember, with a zero waste journey, strive for progress not perfection. Some of these aren’t perfectly 100% zero waste but we’re moving in the right direction and still creating less waste.
Our Favorite Zero Waste Mascaras
This mascara comes in black or brown and a traditional tube + applicator. It comes with an outer bamboo shell and inner plastic casing. After the product has been used, crush the bamboo off which can be recycled or composted; rinse out the plastic lining and recycle. Clean the wand and keep around the house for crafts or projects, or donate to a local wildlife center.
Elate Cosmetics is a leader in zero waste makeup; 100% of their products are recyclable or compostable and 75% are plastic free. Every product’s sustainability features are clearly labeled in the descriptions and all are vegan and cruelty free. Elate is currently in the process of becoming B-corp accredited meaning they abide by the regulations of ethical working conditions and using sustainable development goals as a benchmark.
This zero waste mascara from River Organics is Coconut Oil, Castor Oil, and Rhassoul Clay based, and that’s basically half of the ingredients! In addition to all day color, the castor oil conditions and strengthens lashes. Of course this mascara is completely vegan and cruelty free.
Packaged in an eco-friendly paper jar (with a biodegradable label) it’s a little different than using a tube and applicator. Roll your spoolie (mascara wand) in the product to collect the product then apply to your lashes as you normally would. Repeat as necessary to achieve the desired look.
All River Organics products are packaged in recyclable plastic-free paper tubes and shipped using recycled and recyclable eco-friendly materials.
Even the labels are composed of natural fibers that are devoid of chlorine and chemicals, making them compostable and biodegradable. Business cards are manufactured from recycled kraft paper that has been hand cut and printed at home.
*The product is sold at the time this was written but will restock August 25th*
Photo by Kjaer Weis
Kjaer Weis is the leader in sustainable luxury cosmetics — what else would you expect from a Scandinavian former makeup artist? What makes this mascara especially unique is their refill system.
Each tube of mascara contains enough product for roughly 3 months of use to prevent bacteria build-up. When you’re ready to refill, pull the silver casing off the inner tube (and wand), insert your refill into the tube — you should hear it click in place. Wash your wand and inner casing thoroughly. The wand goes back in the tube for future use and the inner casing to the recycle.
Kjaer Weis has been a sustainable brand since their inception in 2010. Their packaging is designed to be refillable, recyclable, and/or compostable. Their refill system lets you choose what shades you want to receive and how you want it packaged, reducing what ends up in the landfill.
Photo by Nudi
This completely plastic free mascara from Nudi Goods has only 5 ingredients: Shea Butter, Coconut Oil, Beeswax, Bentonite Clay, & Activated Charcoal so you really know what you’re using. This is the perfect formula for a clump free natural boost for your lashes.
This formula comes in a small metal tin that can be recycled or upcycled, without a spoolie — make sure to save one before you convert to zero waste mascara. (You can also purchase one from their store if you don’t have one).
Nudi Goods was developed while the founder, Jamie, was working for a wildlife hospital and ocean conservation nonprofit. After seeing firsthand the amount of plastic in the ocean and living a plastic free lifestyle herself, she created Nudi Goods where everything is plastic free with as few ingredients as possible.
Photo by Nudi
Izzy is the first tube + applicator zero waste mascara! The process works as any refill subscription does. Purchase your first item and in 3 months, you’ll receive a sterilized and refilled mascara. All you have to do is return your old one in the reusable return mailer that comes with your refill. Where it gets interesting is that it is all truly zero waste.
- Packaging is shipped in reusable containers made from recycled ingredients
- Stainless steel tubes are designed to be reused literally thousands of times
- The only plastic is in the wipers on the wand which are ground down and recycled
- The water used during production is recycled and reused rather than dumped into waterways
- All manufacturing happens within 400 miles giving Izzy a smaller carbon footprint
Not only is Izzy zero waste but the formula is vegan, cruelty and gluten free, certified organic with no alcohol, no preservatives, and no GMOs. With every purchase, Izzy donates to three charities that embody their beliefs: the National Forest Foundation, Her Justice, an organization that helps connect women in need with legal representation, and Pencils of Promise — supports educational programs throughout the developing world. sterilized and refilled.
The hardest part about a zero waste journey is that it’s not perfect, but imperfect progress is better than not trying at all. The fun part about a zero waste journey is that it’s not perfect!
This is the time to get creative, use things in ways you hadn’t thought about doing before — find new ways to upcycle jars and tins — plants, spices, random small items like earring backs, and so on.
Finding new creative ways to reduce and reuse can be so satisfying. Maybe you already have something that can work as an eyeshadow palette and you just need some refills, perhaps you already have applicators that can work for lipstick/lipgloss so you don’t need an entire tube and can look for solids in a jar.
The journey is yours so do what you can when you can.