If you’re trying to avoid toxins, you’ll probably need to overhaul your cosmetic bag. That’s because so many beauty products contain hazardous substances, some of which are known carcinogens.
In the process of upgrading, it’s easy to overlook mascara. However, this item may be among the most dangerous. That’s because it might contain mercury.
That’s because more attention has been focused on other products, such as foundations and moisturizers. Mascara, unfortunately, has slid under the radar.
As has been widely reported, some brands of mascara sold in the United States and elsewhere may contain mercury. When it flakes, as mascara tends to do, these particles fall onto your sensitive and porous eye area.
Does Mascara Have Mercury In It?
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If you’re like many women, you use mascara often, maybe even every day, to darken your lashes and make them appear bigger. You may also reapply it later in the day. This cumulative exposure is very problematic when heavy metals such as mercury are added to the mix. Mascara may also contain questionable dyes and parabens, added as preservatives. These chemicals mimic estrogen and are coming under increasing scrutiny for their possible role in contributing to the breast cancer epidemic.
Fortunately, a few companies now make non-toxic mascara without chemicals. This is what I use, and I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the quality. It stays on my lashes longer and better than the brand I’d been using before.
Does Mascara Contain Mercury?
Amazingly, mercury is allowed in mascara. In 2013, a global treaty was signed by 140 countries at the Minamata Convention. This called for banning mercury in beauty products, except for mascara and eye makeup.
However, you may not notice this as you scan the ingredient list. By law, it only has to appear on the label if concentrations exceed 1 percent.
So, in order to avoid mercury, as well as other noxious chemicals often added to this beauty product, you’ll want to find a brand made with plant-based ingredients and natural minerals.
I need to make the distinction that in this case, the word “organic” does not mean it’s USDA certified, in which case at least 95 percent of its ingredients are grown without pesticides, herbicides or other chemicals. By law, though, cosmetic can use the term “organic” if at least 70 percent of ingredients are organic.
Natural Ingredients Mascara
According to one industry expert, quoted in the online Rack magazine, right now it’s almost impossible to make a 100 organic mascara that will stay on the lashes.
So in my quest for healthier lashes, I’ve had to settle for a mascara made with mostly organic ingredients that doesn’t contain heavy metals or toxic chemicals.
Physician’s Formula Organic Wear is one of my favorite brands of natural mascara that I wear myself. It works great. It contains no mercury, and you won’t find any parabens, phthalates, sulfates, petroleum and artificial dyes. Instead, it’s made mostly from plant-based materials, such as tapioca starch, rice extract, jojoba, aloe and organic soy. There are a couple of ingredients that could be classified as chemicals, such as glyceryl stearate, a derivative of glycerin and stearic acid. But I’ll take it any day over mercury or parabens.
100 Percent Pure Mascara
Although most of the ingredients in the 100 Percent Pure brand of mascara are not labeled organic, they are all natural. This mascara appears to contain more natural ingredients than Physician’s Formula. These include organic green tea, Vitamin E, beeswax and an assortment of fruit pigments for coloring, such as blackberry, blueberry, black tea, grape, pomegranate, acai, boysenberry, blackberry, raspberry and currant.
This mascara may also contain oat and wheat proteins, as well as cocoa powder and various herbal extracts. Of the two brands, this one appears to have the most plant-based ingredients, although it’s not technically as “organic” as Physician’s Formula. But I believe either brand is a much better option than using mascara potentially formulated with mercury.