It may be the science dork in me, but I secretly love knowing the ingredients in my beauty products. It gives me delight to not only know what’s in these beautifying products, but why they are there and what they do for me. Luckily, beauty products – especially mascara – have come a long way since their introduction. This is why I wanted to find out what mascara is made of.

mascaraYears ago, mascara contained some pretty harmful ingredients. Dating back to the 1930s, mascara included dangerous chemicals like turpentine and lead, to name a few. Today, they are mostly made of water and oil mixtures plus pigments from iron oxides, preservatives and thickeners.

Diving into those ingredients, it’s important to know which ingredients could potentially harm your eyes or help your peepers look super awake. For instance, a mascara made with more water would be better for dry eyes than a waterproof, water-free formula. Look for mascara with water closer to the top of the ingredient list if this describes you.  On the other hand, a gal with zero eye sensitivities could use the most waterproof mascara she can find.

The preservative Thimerosal should be avoided by everyone. It’s been known to cause irritation and even rashes, leading to smudging as well. No one likes that look, so just avoid it all together, ok?
Finally, the thickeners are usually a form of oil or wax. Castor oil, mineral oil, carnuba wax and a few others will typically make the mascara ingredient list. Again, the higher these are on the ingredient list, the more emollient and thickening the mascara.  Beware, however, a waxier formula may also lead to more smudging if you’re an eye rubber.
Next time you’re at the store, check out the back of that mascara package or box. There could be more than meets the eye. Leave me a comment with your favorite mascara and I’ll research the ingredient list for you.

shannon hagerty

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