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The 17 Best Mascaras Of 2023 — Organic, Natural, Clean & Drugstore

Alexandra Engler
Author:
Updated on January 14, 2023
Alexandra Engler
mbg Beauty Director
By Alexandra Engler
mbg Beauty Director
Alexandra Engler is the beauty director at mindbodygreen and host of the beauty podcast Clean Beauty School. Previously, she's held beauty roles at Harper's Bazaar, Marie Claire, SELF, and Cosmopolitan; her byline has appeared in Esquire, Sports Illustrated, and Allure.com.
Best Mascar hero Woman wearing mascara on orange baackground
Image by Liliya Rodnikova / Stocksy/ mbg creative
Last updated on January 14, 2023
Our editors have independently chosen the products listed on this page. If you purchase something mentioned in this article, we may earn a small commission.

For such small tubes, mascaras sure tout a long list of benefits. Depending on what you're looking for, you may find a lengthening staple that practically promises inches on short hairs. Or you may be looking for thickening and volumizing numbers that will give you a dense-looking lash line. Straight hair fibers? No problem: There are options that curl and hold, so you get that doe-eyed effect worthy of a fairy tale. And for those who want something more subdued—where it's supposed to achieve that difficult balance of making it look like you almost have nothing on but you still look a bit more done up—there are even mascaras for you! All that in one or two swipes. Not bad, huh?   

All in all it's no wonder mascaras are such a coveted beauty item for many. And for those on the market for their newest addition, we rounded up and tested the best clean mascaras available right now.

How we picked:

Editor tested & approved

Every single product on this list has been tested by an mbg beauty editor or staffer. Throughout, we added our own personal experiences with the formulas.  

Variety

As we noted up top, there's a wide range of mascara outcomes you may be searching for: thickening, lengthening, curling, smudge-proof, a subtle finish, dense pigments, all of the above. We included a range of benefits so you're sure to find one that works for you.

Quality formulas

These mascaras have cleaner formulas and are filled with lash-supporting ingredients. So not only do you get the efficacy you're looking for, but they're better for the hair fibers themselves.

Reviews

While we took our own opinions into account when crafting this list, we also listened to real users in the review sections. Customer feedback is valuable and can give insights into how these products work for day-to-day life.

The best mascaras of 2023:

Best definition: Ilia Limitless Lash Mascara

Pros:

  • Contains the amino acid arginine to strengthen and fortify the lash
  • Has staying power and even stays put against oily eyelids
  • Award-winning

Cons:

  • Contains beeswax, if you avoid all animal byproducts
Ingredient considerations:: Cruelty freeAntioxidantsBotanical buttersPlant waxesBeeswaxAmino acidsOrganic ingredients

This mascara tops many "best of" lists, even those that aren't just dedicated to clean or natural options. Where this mascara truly shines is how well it separates your lashes—not a clump or "spider lash" in sight. This is largely thanks to the (patented) brush: One side looks almost like a tiny comb, and the other has more dynamically placed tongs. But the silky formula also plays a role in its power to define each hair fiber: Its a nonsticky, silky texture that glides effortlessly.

What mbg's beauty director says:

This is one of my personal favorite mascaras—so much so that I once wrote a whole story about how fantastic it is: "This natural mascara holds up, take my word for it—a word from someone who has tested mascaras (clean, natural, and decidedly not) for years and could clock samples up into the hundreds. The amount of compliments I get on my lashes is more than I get with any other mascara. If you're looking to make the switch to a natural mascara, this one is not to be missed." 

Best volumizing: KJAER WEIS Im-Possible Mascara

Pros:

  • Ophthalmologist tested
  • Certified organic
  • Has a versatile brush that targets both volume and length
  • Packaging made from 50% recycled plastic and infinitely recyclable aluminum

Cons:

  • Pricey
Ingredient considerations:: Cruelty freeAntioxidantsPlant oilsBotanical buttersPlant waxesBeeswaxOrganic ingredients

It used to be that creating a clean, natural mascara that actually worked was thought to be near impossible—nonetheless an organic one. But this mascara came in and busted all our misconceptions about what an organic mascara could be. The blend of organic beeswax and plant waxes thickens and creates hold. Marula oil helps improve the texture and feeds the strands vitamin C and E. Then sunflower seed oil provides a coat of protection. 

What mbg's beauty editor says:

This mascara not only makes a lasting impact on your lashes, but it made a lasting impression on Schnieder: "If you're looking for a clean mascara that provides fluttery volume, this mascara is a worthy buy. I've truly never experienced a creamier formula, and you can slick on coat after coat without worrying about clumps."

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Best buildable: Saie Mascara 101

Pros:

  • 100% natural or naturally derived ingredients
  • Contributes to 1% For The Planet

Cons:

  • Uses virgin plastic packaging but is also Climate Neutral Certified and Plastic Negative
Ingredient considerations:: Cruelty freeAntioxidantsPlant oilsBotanical buttersPlant waxesBeeswaxAmino acidsOrganic ingredients

We talk about buildability with makeup a lot. And for good reason: When a product is buildable, it means it's also versatile. Depending on the application approach, you can have a finish that spans the spectrum from natural to full face. And this formula has build-ability thanks to an ideal blend of organic non-GMO shea butter and responsibly sourced beeswax. You'll notice one coat, but with one or two more layers, you'll have full, gorgeous lashes. 

What users say:

This is a hit among users (it's a bestseller and award-winner): "For me it's all about the brush and how the mascara goes on. This mascara has it all. I'm older so my lashes need a little more help filling in and looking great, this mascara does it. A great find for me."

Best longwear: Kosas The Big Clean Longwear + Volumizing Lash Care Mascara

Pros:

  • Made with vitamin B5, castor oil, and peptides to condition lashes throughout the day
  • Uses plant-based sugars instead of traditional microplastics
  • Ophthalmologist tested

Cons:

  • Uses beeswax, so not fully vegan
Ingredient considerations:: Cruelty freeAntioxidantsPlant oilsBeeswaxPeptides

For when you have a full day ahead of you, you know how vital a long-wear and smudge-proof mascara is—especially if you simply can't be bothered to touch up your makeup throughout the day. (Guilty.) Not only does this option provide serious longevity, but it also makes your lashes look full and soft. Sometimes the best mascara is the one that sticks around. 

What mbg's beauty editor says about it:

Recently Schneider wrote about the brand's newest mascara: "Hot on the heels of the brand's first mascara launch comes its new long-wear formula. Rather than relying on microplastic film formers (like acrylate copolymers), this number features plant-based sugars that work as a natural binder, so you'll get 12 hours of smudge-free length and curl."  

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Best everyday: Jones Road The Mascara

Pros:

  • Curved brush to easily get inner corners in one pass
  • Made with vitamin E for antioxidants

Cons:

  • Dark black pigment, if you wear brown mascaras
Ingredient considerations:: VeganCruelty freeAntioxidantsPlant waxes

Listen, Bobbi Brown knows makeup: Anything she makes is a guaranteed hit. The makeup artist turned beauty mogul's newest endeavor is the clean beauty brand Jones Road, and their products pretty regularly top our list of favorite finds. This mascara included. The brand calls this a foundational mascara, which is a pretty accurate assessment. It lifts, separates, adds volume and length, and won't flake throughout the day. I also love how buildable it is: Wear one coat for a natural look, then swipe on one (or two!) more for something a bit more bold. Essentially, this is a mascara designed for every need. 

What users say: 

Scroll through the reviews and you'll get a sense of how popular this option is: There are a lot of superlatives like "great," "perfect," and "amazing." One reviewer even noted it was the mascara she'd waited two decades for: "I am constantly looking for a magical mascara and after over 20 years of searching have found it! It layers great, and does not flake!! Love it!"

Best for sensitive eyes: Tower28 Make Waves Mascara

Pros:

  • Has a special Aquaflex® Technology to help hold shape and curl
  • At first swipe it appears very subtle, but it builds very easily
  • Packaging is made from PCR plastic

Cons:

  • A thinner formula, if you prefer more mousse-like texture
Ingredient considerations:: VeganCruelty freeAntioxidantsPlant oilsPlant waxes

The eyes are a sensitive area—not only is the skin around them more delicate, but the eyes themselves are very susceptible to irritation. If you know yourself to have easily irritated eyes, please be extra cautious and get yourself something ophthalmologist tested, like this one. Not only is it M.D.-approved, but it's safe for contacts and allergy tested. Of course, I'd be remiss to not talk about the actual star quality of this mascara. It has a triple-wand design that helps separate, lengthen, and build thickness—and a formula chock-full of antioxidants. 

What mbg's beauty editor says:

When this product launched, Jamie Schneider wrote about how much she adores the formula: "My lashes are naturally quite long and curly—you'd never know it, though, because they're very light and practically disappear in the sun. My eyes are also extremely sensitive, and mascara can easily irritate the delicate area. This ophthalmologist-tested number may just be my new tried-and-true favorite." 

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Best lengthening: BeautyCounter Think Big All-In-One Mascara

Pros:

  • According to consumer studies, 93% experienced visibly longer, defined, and separated lashes
  • Uses synthetic beeswax, so it's still vegan

Cons:

  • Not for those who like subtlety
Ingredient considerations:: VeganCruelty freeAntioxidantsPlant waxesBeeswaxPeptides

There's a lot to love about this mascara, but I'm particularly fond of the nutrient-rich formula. It blends together a tripeptide complex to feed and fortify the hairs, as well as the antioxidant vitamin B5 to protect them from damage. And the base is a blend of rice and plant waxes, which coat the hairs evenly from root to tip. So, not only does it help create the illusion of length while you're wearing it, but it keeps the hair fiber long and strong. 

What mbg's beauty editor says:

Schneider also had high praise for this length-creating mascara. Particularly, she loved the brush: "My favorite feature is the cone-shaped brush: The tapered tip allows you to grab those smaller, stubborn lashes at the inner and outer corners, making sure you coat every last hair." 

Best thickening: Exa ten18 Lash Amplifying Mascara

Pros:

  • Naturally tinted jet-black Bamboo Charcoal Powder (no carbon black)

Cons:

  • Contains orange peel extract, which may not be the best for ultra-sensitive eyes
Ingredient considerations:: VeganCruelty freeAntioxidantsPlant oilsPlant waxes

Just like you can have fine hair, you can have fine lashes. This mascara improves the appearance of spare, thin lashes with natural black cellulose fibers that coat the strands, adding some bulk. It's also infused with vitamin A and C to help protect and condition the strands, for added measure. And in case you were worried about your precious lashes sticking together: The bio-plastic brush keeps them separate, so you're not dealing with clumping (a common problem with thickening mascaras). 

What mbg's assistant beauty editor says: 

Our beauty team is always testing out new products, including this brand-new launch. Assistant beauty editor Hannah Frye was a fan of it both day and night: "Some mascaras are best fit for a night out while others are perfect for an everyday look—this one does both. The buildable vegan formula and micro-bristle brush make sure no lash gets left behind, sans clumping. Even the sparsest lashes appear full after a swipe or two of this mascara." 

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Best lifting: Milk Makeup RISE Mascara Natural Lift + Length

Pros:

  • In a consumer perception study, 96% of users saw visible lift at the root after one swipe
  • 96% said formula did not weigh lashes down

Cons:

  • Doesn't have as long of staying power as other options on the list
Ingredient considerations:: VeganCruelty freeAntioxidantsBotanical buttersPlant waxes

Lifting the lashes can instantly help the eyes appear larger and more awake. This is why makeup artists encourage you to curl your lashes at the base, even if you're not wearing mascara or aren't planning to go full-glam that day. But this mascara does the heavy lifting for you. Thanks to the weightless formula and blend of four vegan waxes, this keeps your lashes fluttering. 

What reviewers say: 

Users agree that their lashes appear more lifted after use: "I really love this mascara. It helps lengthen and make my eyes look bigger. I like the brush, it helps separate the eyelashes nicely. It adds volume to my straight eyelashes and keeps my lashes curl all day. I highly recommend this mascara."

Best curling: Tarte SEA Surfer Curl Mascara

Pros:

  • Ophthalmologist tested
  • 12-hour smudge and flake-free wear

Cons:

  • Not as thickening as the other formulas on the list
Ingredient considerations:: VeganAntioxidantsPlant oilsPlant waxes

Curling your lashes gives them a natural doe-eye effect. Not only that, but they can help eyes and circles appear brighter. Makeup artist Jenny Patinkin once told me that straight lashes can cast a shadow, making the undereye area appear darker. So by lifting and curling them, you'll naturally get a bit of pop. This mascara is able to achieve that and hold the lashes there all day. Plus the formula is a blend of marine plants, castor oil, gardenia extract, and vitamin E. 

What mbg's beauty director says:

It's not just the curling ability of this mascara that I adore, it's also infused with a pretty great active ingredient: "The star player in this blend is the algae extract. Algae has an incredible ability to soothe and has some pretty impressive antioxidant properties. Another benefit? Users say it improves lash curl by nearly 50%—so grab this one if your eyelash curler needs an assist."

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Best smudge-proof: Ere Perez Natural Almond Mascara

Pros:

  • Comes in 3 colors: black, brown, and a very vibrant purple

Cons:

  • Contains essential oils, which are irritating for some folks
Ingredient considerations:: Cruelty freeAntioxidantsPlant oilsPlant waxesBeeswax

You don't often find water-resistant natural mascaras (water-proof mascaras contain PFAS, which more and more people avoid nowadays). But this option powers through with its natural blend of almond oil, beeswax, mamey oil, avocado oil, and more. 

What users say: 

The brand touts this as long-wear, and honestly, so do the users: "I kept seeing this mascara on Instagram and just kept making excuses not to get it, but I finally caved and OHHH MYYY so glad I did! It doesn't contain water so don't expect instant perfect lashes: The formula is designed to be buildable to apply as much or as little product as your lashes desire. I love the control! I know that it lasts all day too. I originally purchased it in brown, and now I have all the shades—I love it that much! Seriously, do yourself a favor."

Best natural-looking: Rose Inc Lash Lift Serum Mascara

Pros:

  • Packaging made with 50% post-consumer recycled plastic compact

Cons:

  • Like we noted, this is for the subtle makeup lover, so avoid if you're going full face
Ingredient considerations:: VeganCruelty freeAntioxidantsPlant oilsPlant waxesPeptides

Most mascaras talk about how big and bold they make your lashes—but honestly not all of us are looking for in-your-face aesthetics. For the minimalist makeup lover, this serum and mascara hybrid is perfect for you. It gives your lashes just enough lift and pigment to make you appear more polished, without overpowering an otherwise clean makeup look. The formula contains pigment-treated squalane, argan oil, goji berry extract, peptides, and several plant waxes to condition and strengthen your hair fibers.

What the users say:

Reviewers keep on raving about the subtle look and major lifting effect: "I love how easy it is to apply. The mascara really lengthened and curled my super straight lashes. No clumps, super soft, and subtle look. It looks like I did a lash lift. It makes the lashes feel strengthened."

Best luxury: Westman Atelier Eye Love You Mascara

Pros:

  • Feeds the lashes antioxidants and fatty acids
  • Chicory root extract extends wearability for long wear

Cons:

  • Pricey
Ingredient considerations:: Cruelty freeAntioxidantsPlant oilsPlant waxesBeeswax

Certainly the more high-end price point on the list, but this mascara from famed makeup artist Gucci Westman is for those who are looking for a clean swap that rivals options from the likes of Dior or Armani. The 95% natural formula is dense and creamy—that combined with the thick nylon brush, it will give you ultra-thick lashes. 

What users say:

Westman Atelier has built a loyal customer base thanks to the brand's luxe and effective offerings. This mascara is no different. Here's what one reviewer had to say: "I finally decided to try this mascara and couldn't be happier. I was expecting a lot based on the price point and it delivered. No smudging, easy application, easy removal and a true black. It is the only clean mascara I have tried that delivered on eyelash definition, thickening and no clumps. The packaging is beautiful too."

Best drugstore: Maybelline New York Green Edition Mega Mousse Mascara

Pros:

  • The vegan formula contains 70% naturally derived ingredients
  • Uses recycled packaging
  • Dermatologist & ophthalmologist tested

Cons:

  • More on the natural-looking end of the spectrum
Ingredient considerations:: VeganAntioxidantsPlant oilsBotanical butters

Clean mascara goes mainstream! Maybelline New York is known for making some of the most iconic mascaras of all time (I mean, who doesn't know that cherished green and pink tube?). Well, they took their mascara expertise to the clean beauty space with this natural-looking option. It skips many of the major ingredients clean-leaning consumers look out for: parabens, mineral oil, silicones, BHT, and petrolatum. And in its place are shea butter and coconut oil, which help create a texture that's equal parts thick and silky. 

What mbg’s beauty director says: 

Recently I tested out the formula for a few weeks, and here were my thoughts: "You don't have to spend top dollar to get a quality, clean mascara—my obsession with this drugstore option is proof. And I can't help but be amazed by the feedback I'm getting from other people. Being a beauty editor opens you up to curiosities about your makeup routine, so I'm used to people asking for recommendations. But the volume of comments I get from this formula is worthy of note: Just the other day a stranger asked me about my lashes while I was wearing it."

Best combo product: Honest Beauty Extreme Length Mascara and Primer

Pros:

  • Award-winning
  • No. 1 bestselling seller on Amazon
  • Ophthalmologist-tested

Cons:

  • Contains beeswax, so not vegan
  • Only comes in black
Ingredient considerations:: Cruelty freeAntioxidantsPlant oilsPlant waxesBeeswax

This lash and primer two-in-one product works together to give you tons of volume, length, and wearability. Simply swipe on the primer first (let it dry down for a moment), and then follow with your mascara coat. The blends are made with jojoba esters to condition and hydrate delicate lashes while wearing them. 

What users say: 

There's a reason this product is bestselling and award-winning! Here's what one user wrote: "I've been looking for a mascara to give me my younger eyelashes. I used to have full, long and curly eyelashes (never used a curler in my life), but they were fair. So just about any mascara worked. With age they've gotten somewhat sparse and most of the curl is gone. I've been looking for a mascara that could give them fullness without clumping, smudging or flaking and any curl. I've tried high end brands, drugstore brands, and clean brands. Then I found Honest and everything I was looking for was there. It's clean, gives fullness, curl and staying power. I thought I lost it the other day and panicked, that's how much I love this mascara." 

Best all-natural: Burt's Bees Nourishing Mascara

Pros:

  • Certified CarbonNeutral product by Natural Capital Partners, which "measures all the emissions created in the product's manufacture, makes internal reductions and offsets the remainder."
  • Ophthalmologist tested

Cons:

  • Some reports of clumping, so avoid if definition is your primary goal
Ingredient considerations:: Cruelty freeAntioxidantsPlant oilsBotanical buttersPlant waxesBeeswax

This 100% natural mascara (yes, really) is made with jojoba oil and glycerin, so it's a soft, moisturizing formula. The brush, we should mention, is ideal for defining and separating lashes. So opt for this if yours tend to stick together. And at a drugstore price, it's hard to beat. 

What users say: 

For customers who want natural formulas and a natural aesthetic, this is for you. As one user writes: "I was looking for a light, natural looking mascara that would be nice for every-day/casual looks but still give some definition to look like I have something on my eyes. I wasn't expecting nearly this much volume and length! It was just as I wanted, not heavy, not too dramatic but still gave volume and length!"

Best glam: Thrive Causemetics Liquid Lash Extension Mascara

Pros:

  • Comes in 3 shades: black, brown, and navy blue
  • Tubing mascaras have lots of hold yet come off easy with warm water

Cons:

  • Contains silicones if you avoid those
Ingredient considerations:: VeganCruelty freePlant oilsBotanical buttersPlant waxes

If you're after look-at-me, va-va-va-voom lashes that will leave people thinking to themselves, those can't be real, here's your mascara. Tubing mascaras work by forming little "tubes" around each strand, so the overall effect mimics the volume and length of falsies. It's also infused with an orchid stem cell complex to nurture the lashes while you're wearing them. 

What mbg beauty director says:

As I once wrote about this mascara: "This wand made its rounds around the mindbodygreen office when it first launched, and let me tell you: There were capital-F Fans. The silky liquid coats individual lashes from root to tip—and then doesn't budge. But then, when you go to take it off, the tubing formula washes away with just warm water and a washcloth."

What makes clean mascaras different?

In the past the best mascaras usually fell on the conventional end of the beauty product spectrum. Clean and natural mascaras have been one of the hardest to get right without the use of certain preservatives, like parabens, PFAS, and plasticizers—ingredients that often pop up on a few "things to avoid" lists.

Preservatives:

Preservatives get a bad rap in the clean space, but here's the truth: They are essential for many formulas. They help limit the growth of harmful bacteria. Given the nature of mascaras, it is essential that they have effective preservative systems. Here's why: Mascara's formulas contain water, which can serve as a germ breeding ground. If you combine that with the fact that you regularly dip a wand in and out, you are regularly increasing the chance for contamination. And then they're placed very close to the eye, which is sensitive and can be prone to infection.

Mainstream mascaras lean on preserves like parabens, which more and more people are choosing to avoid. Clean mascaras still have preservatives (again: a good thing!), just newer versions that are thought to be better, such as citric acids, potassium sorbate sodium benzoate, caprylyl glycol, and fermented ingredients.

PFAS & plasticizers:

Another issue is the wearability of natural mascaras: "Natural mascaras don't contain plasticizers to make lashes look soft, hydrated, and bendy. That means some versions can often make them look stiff and feel dry," celebrity makeup artist and green beauty expert Katey Denno previously told mbg. They also use things like mineral oils to achieve that smooth payoff. Finally, to get that smudge-proof finish, they lean on PFAS1 (also known as "forever chemicals"), which most folks try to avoid when they can.

The good news is that clean mascara formulas have come a long way in the last few years. Naturally derived and responsible synthetic ingredients have leveled up. Innovative blends of plant waxes, botanical oils, and bio-based synthetics mean these formulas have as much flexibility, hold, and wearability as their mainstream counterparts.   

mbg's review process.

At mbg, high standards are earned—and there are no shortcuts. Our beauty editors stay up to date on the latest ingredient research and innovation. It's a dynamic, continuously evolving space, and it's important we look into the science so we can make informed choices about which formulas earn our stamp of approval (figuratively speaking).

Our high standards also come from testing products—many, many products. Our editors and writers rigorously test and research the products featured in our roundups to offer you the best, most informed recommendations. When we write reviews, you can trust we spend quality time with the formulas: We don't simply rave about products we've slathered on the back of our hand. We endorse products we've tried and loved.

Learn more about our testing process and clean beauty standards here.

The takeaway. 

A good swipe of mascara can change your whole day—or at the very least, it can change your makeup look. These options are the best on the market right now and have loads of praise, reviews, and accolades to accompany them. Now isn't it time you updated your eyeliner, too? 

Meet The Experts

Alexandra Engler is the beauty director at mindbodygreen and host of the beauty podcast Clean Beauty School. Previously, she's held beauty roles at Harper's Bazaar, Marie Claire, SELF, and Cosmopolitan; her byline has appeared in Esquire, Sports Illustrated, and Allure.com.