When it comes to cosmetic products, I know the only thing I’d feel truly naked without is MASCARA. If you’re reading this, odds are you’re not looking for just any regular mascara. You are searching for one that is sourced, created, and inspired by people with similar convictions. And let’s not forget, a mascara that doesn’t wind up under your eyes at the end of a long day.
I’ve always struggled with finding mascaras that don’t smear because I have long lashes. I’ve tried so many over the years and for many of those years I was not paying attention to the ingredients because I had no idea what’s in mascara, and how it’s made, could even be something to be concerned over. Another confession, I even steered away from mascaras that were labeled clean because the few I had tried at the beginning of the clean beauty movement seemed to underperform.
Let me tell you the clean beauty industry has made leaps and bounds and when I started to pay attention to what I was putting in my body I decided to give clean beauty another chance, and I’m so glad I did!
The more I started looking for products that said they were clean, the more I noticed other labels popping up, like cruelty-free, vegan, natural, and organic. This is when I realized something labeled with any of the previous terms might still not be the best choice for me, because in an unregulated industry, the line between can get hazy about what any of these words are guaranteeing when slapped on a product.
One of the first products I was determined to find for myself with my new set of standards was mascara. Before I get to the mascara, I’ll briefly break down the difference between all the terms listed above since this is my debut article on Soul Hugger. If you are well versed on all of this already, then feel free to skip down to the mascara pick!
WHAT IS A CRUELTY-FREE PRODUCT?
Seeking out cruelty-free makeup is a great place to start when it comes to your clean beauty journey. Cruelty-free means that the product that has not been tested on animals, or so we all thought. Upon doing a little digging the term “cruelty-free” can often be a play on words and a marketing tactic to attract those who care about animal welfare and want to avoid supporting companies that engage in animal testing.
You’ll notice that even cruelty-free drugstore mascaras are becoming more common on shelves when you start to look out for the Leaping Bunny logo, which is the internationally recognized marker for cruelty free products. However, that logo doesn’t guarantee that an animal wasn’t harmed at some point during the production of a product. It just means that the final product wasn’t tested on animals. You really have to do a little extra digging to verify, especially if a company isn’t transparent about their production process. One way a company can blur the line is having the product manufactured in multiple facilities. Packaging, ingredient sourcing, and assembly can all take place in different locations. This expands the odds that a part of the final product was tested on animals at some point along the way. Any chemical ingredients sourced are usually tested on animals before they get to the lab where the cosmetic manufacturer makes the product.
So what does “cruelty-free” mean if it cannot guarantee a product in its entirety has not been tested on animals? How can they put that cute little bunny logo on their product if it’s not true? Well, my animal loving friends, the company actually selling the finished product probably didn’t test it on animals themselves. I say probably, because it’s an unregulated industry. Unfortunately, they get to take advantage of buzz word marketing if other companies they’ve sourced from have done the animal testing for them.
Now I’m not here to take the joy out of your trip to Sephora. A few phrases to look out for to start the process of elimination when it comes to spotting products that are not entirely cruelty-free are “final product not tested on animals” or “we do not test on animals.”
Now that you know there are often multiple phases before a product is put together, you also know that those phrases can largely be left up to interpretation. In addition, get to know the brand. Usually a brand that is proud of how they source and produce a product will let you know it on their website and even educate you on their process.
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN CRUELTY-FREE BRANDS / PRODUCTS AND THOSE LABELED VEGAN?
A lot of cruelty-free mascaras have mascara formulas with a non-vegan ingredient or two hidden on the ol’ mascara wand. Common product ingredients to look out for that are animal-derived are listed on the product as honey, cera alba (beeswax), cochineal dye, guanine, tallow, squalene, ambergris, estrogen, retinol, lanolin, collagen, albumen, carmine, cholesterol, and gelatin. BUT, just because it doesn’t contain animal products in the final product doesn’t mean it wasn’t tested on animals in production. The terms do not go hand in hand, much like clean beauty does not necessarily mean animals weren’t involved at some point in the process. Also cruelty can still be involved via the sourcing of the animal components. And by the way, don’t feel bad if this is the first time you’re learning about all of this.
It’s not your fault that companies resort to pulling at your heartstrings in a non-transparent way to get you to put more money in their bank account, the same way they have used celebrities and public figures to increase sales. By reading this and getting more knowledge, you’re already doing your part when it comes to keeping animals safer.
To kick off your clean education, I’ll point out why it’s important to also factor in the product’s clean factor.
WHAT MAKES A MASCARA CLEAN? IS THAT THE SAME THING AS HAVING NATURAL INGREDIENTS OR ORGANIC INGREDIENTS?
Much like how vegan and cruelty-free don’t always go hand in hand, natural, organic and clean also can be mutually exclusive. Of these three buzzwords, the main one I am after is clean. If it is clean, and the ingredients are organic, that is a bonus. More and more often, clean lines are trying to incorporate and source organic ingredients as much as they can. Clean doesn’t mean that it is directly from mother nature. Clean can also mean something a little different to every company. The overall understanding is that the product avoids known and potentially harmful ingredients. However, as I’ve learned over the years, a product might have swapped out a few of the big known toxic ingredients, but still have a thing or two in there that someone looking for a totally clean product would want to avoid. The best definition I can give is what it means to me and if that aligns with you, then I hope to be a resource and make this clean journey for you a little less confusing.
To me, clean means without synthetic fragrance, hormone disruptors, harmful dyes, parabens, phthalates, harmful preservatives like formaldehyde, and known carcinogens like talc.
Also, I try to find products that care about organic ingredients and are sourced ethically, because Honey, the less pesticides and funny business we have in our daily lives the better. Also I’m constantly evolving my requirements for products the more I learn. Natural is also sneaky, especially in food. Ever seen the ingredient “natural flavors” listed on your food or drink? I thought for the longest time that was a positive ingredient. NOPE. Natural flavors are made in labs. All it means is one part of it was derived from something found in nature. Luckily we don’t need to worry about every ingredient being natural with clean beauty, because natural might not always be the best for your skin. Essential oils is a great example. Although they are natural, many people have strong reactions and allergies to them because they are so concentrated. Yes, there is a world where a product can be vegan, cruelty-free, clean, natural and organic, but for the purposes of this article, we are just going to focus on vegan, cruelty-free, and my personal standard of clean.
AND THE WINNER IS…
I have been using RMS Straight Up Volumizing Peptide Mascara for almost a year now and it is my current favorite mascara. I think it outperforms even not so clean mascaras. RMS stands for the initials of company founder and clean beauty movement pioneer, Rose-Marie Swift, as well as “Real Make-up Secrets” and “Right Mental State.” RMS is a company who proudly creates cruelty-free products and is one of the first large brands to have success in the clean beauty movement. RMS also happens to be one of my favorite brands when it comes to having a wide variety of quality clean beauty products. Not to mention, they have reformulated this product to be vegan so it officially checks off all the Soul Hugger beauty boxes!
All RMS products are paraben, gluten, synthetic fragrance, sulfate, phthalate, and talc FREE. They don’t include GMOs and have the strictest of standards when it comes to proudly waving their cruelty free flag. Not to mention, they are constantly looking for ways to incorporate sustainability into their products.
What I love about this mascara is it doesn’t take a million coats to achieve a dramatic look, and you can even achieve an extra dramatic look in as little as three coats. The color is a vibrant black color and when I tell you I’ve put this mascara to the test, I mean the ultimate heat and humidity test in New Orleans, LA. At the end of a full day wearing this mascara, I’m not looking in a mirror and finding raccoon eyes or that 5 o’clock mascara shadow. Not only does this mascara provide volume, but also length and definition. It’s easy on my sensitive eyes and can even be layered lightly for a more natural look.
This is not a waterproof mascara, but you’ll find it’s almost perfect when it comes to being smudge-free, flake-free, and long wear. It is also not a pain to take off with eye makeup remover. I love gently massaging the Skincando CBD oil and warm water on my lashes to get things dissolving before I wash my face. I have yet to find a waterproof formula that doesn’t dry out my lashes. Here’s hoping RMS comes out with a nourishing waterproof version in the future. I always recommend veering away from frequent use of waterproof mascara for lash health. This RMS mascara is nourishing with ingredients like organic shea butter for hydration, candelilla wax for retaining moisture, and white tea leaf extract to combat free radicals. The rest of the ingredients are listed at the end of the article with brief descriptions next to any not mentioned in this article or that might not be in your vocabulary yet.
I chose RMS Straight Up Volumizing mascara because I love what the company stands for, the product performance, the lash friendly ingredients (it even promotes lash hair growth and protects the integrity of my natural lashes), the absence of irritation to my sensitive and allergy prone eyes, lash lengthening results, as well as the overall wow factor it gives my lashes. I love that it turns into a mega volumizing mascara with only a few coats. I’ve even been asked on occasion when sporting this mascara if I’m wearing false lashes.
So, remember when looking for cruelty-free, vegan, and clean products, it’s important to consider the ingredients that are used and the performance you want to get out of them. There are lots of great cruelty-free and vegan formulas popping up on the beauty market to choose from that can help you achieve the look you desire without potentially compromising your health.
Now that your eyes are WIDE OPEN to all of this, I hope you are inspired to pay more attention to not only what is marketed to you on the front of a product, but to the ingredients on the back. Check out apps like the EWG and Think Dirty. They are both continually expanding their database of exposing what is really in products, and listing the ingredients. Because the market is wisening up to a more informed consumer, they are swapping the words we recognize with one of possibly a dozen synonyms. Or even worse, they are replacing the exposed unclean ingredient with a lesser known version. Don’t throw everything away in your beauty bag just yet. Let’s take it one ingredient, one product at a time. Because just like with most things in life, slow and steady wins the race.
Comment below if you use a vegan and cruelty free clean mascara on the regular, because I’d love to give your top picks a try! There’s always more room in my makeup bag ;).
If you’re looking for more information on clean and cruelty free beauty products, be sure to check out my videos on the Soul Hugger YouTube Channel. This channel is packed with informative videos on a variety of topics, including clean beauty, astrology, crystal healing, mindset coaching, and more. You’ll find everything you need to know about making the switch to living a cleaner, cruelty free lifestyle.
Thank you for using my affiliate links when shopping for your next great mascara. It helps support my research and moves the Clean Beauty Movement forward for our minds, bodies, and our planet!
You can purchase my favorite mascara and get discounts on many more clean, vegan and cruelty free products here!
RMS Straight Up Volumizing Peptide Mascara Ingredients:
Water/Aqua/Eau, Euphorbia Cerifera (Candelilla) Wax/Candelilla Cera/Cire de candelilla, *Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea) Butter, Polyglyceryl-6 Distearate (a skin conditioning agent), Glycerin (conditioning agent), Dimer Dilinoleyl Dimer Dilinoleate (mixture of fatty acids and fatty alcohol), Copernicia Cerifera (Carnauba) Wax/Cera Carnauba/Cire de carnauba, Polyglyceryl-10 Myristate (emulsifying agent), Cetyl Alcohol (Fatty Alcohol), Glyceryl Caprylate (conditioning agent), Leuconostoc/Radish Root Ferment Filtrate (alternative to harmful preservatives), *Zea Mays (Corn) Starch (non-GMO), Butylene Glycol (emollient & humectant), Xanthan Gum (binding, emulsifying and skin conditioning agent), Arginine (amino acid that stimulates hair growth), Phenethyl Alcohol (prevents bacterial growth and has a natural fragrance), Portulaca Grandiflora Extract (purslane extract that has antioxidant benefits), Camellia Sinensis (White Tea) Leaf Extract, Glycoproteins (retains moisture), Oligopeptide-2 (peptide), Iron Oxides (CI 77499, adds pigment and can protect skin from visible & blue light) . * organic