One of the great advantages of handmade cosmetics is having the ability to speak with the maker about the product. Knowing what is in your cosmetics and what isn’t is as simple as asking the question. And many disclose product ingredients in their entirety, and pride themselves on product safety.
Legislation protects cosmetics wearers in the United States to some degree. But mercury has been found in mascara in as late as 2007 when Minnesota passed a law banning mercury in cosmetics.
Most makeup manufacturers have phased out the use of mercury, but it’s still added legally to some eye products as a preservative and germ-killer, said John Bailey, chief scientist with the Personal Care Products Council in Washington. That group doesn’t track mercury in beauty products and favors a national approach to regulating cosmetics, instead of laws that vary from state to state.
Which leaves it up to consumers to educate themselves about brands using mercury as a preservative in other states.
Two things to look for in safe mascara:
- Full disclosure of the ingredients.
- Reminds you more of a cookbook than a textbook.
Please note, neither of those two things are the words mineral makeup, or organic. Those words can be used freely by mass producers of cosmetics and artisans of handmade cosmetics alike. That’s marketing, not disclosure of ingredients. If you are not certain about the safety or purpose of an ingredient, just ask. The maker should be able to explain what it is, and why it is necessary in a manner which is understandable to person who is not a chemist.
Also, keep in mind, that just because something is natural, doesn’t mean it can’t be irritating to your skin. Nuts and seeds, for example, are parts of plants. But if you’re allergic; they can still kill you.
Two great handmade mascaras to try are Mineral Mascara by Funkey Monkey and Vegan Mascara by The All Natural Face. Funkey Monkey’s mascara is thick and smooth, and in my opinion does as good a job of coating the lashes as the more expensive, commercial, Body Shop mascara that I have used in the past.
The All Natural Face’s mascara is very lightweight and gentle, and my first choice if I’m having a bad eczema day. (My second choice is no makeup at all.) It’s the only mascara that I’m willing to put on my four year old for dance recitals. The maker, Crystal, does not list the ingredients on the web for proprietary reasons. She does list them on the bottle.
I should also mention that both the Mineral Mascara and the Vegan Mascara came with expiration dates. Since handmade cosmetics typically don’t have irritating preservatives in them; they also have a more finite shelf life.
To find out what’s in the cosmetics you already have on your shelf or research a specific ingredient, try Skin Deep, which has a searchable cosmetics database.