Homemade Mascara

I've tried my hand at making a number of cosmetics (see my "Homemade Beauty" link, above) but I'd never tried making mascara.  It seemed daunting given how visibly wrong things can go if you don't get it right, but I gave it a try.  The results were fairly good after some trial and error with proportion of ingredients, but no where near as long-lasting or reliable as commercial formulations.

Here's how the adventure unfolded:

I poked around quite a bit online to find a recipe that is simple, safe for my eyes and wouldn't make me look like a raccoon within a matter of hours (or minutes!).

You already know my philosophy about my makeup: if I can't eat it, it has no business sitting on my face all day.  Not that I've made a habit of wearing food on my face.  Well, not as an adult, anyway.  My point is simply that if it's safe to eat, it's probably safe for your face.

That said, you wouldn't stick a banana in your eye.  Well, maybe YOU would, but I wouldn't.  So when it comes to eye makeup, I take into account the especially delicate nature of the eye.  Whatever goes into my eye shadow, mascara, concealer or eye liner must be safe for my eyes, just in case it ends up in one.

Ancient Egyptians wore kohl liner around their eyes (sometimes made with lead sulfide).  Around 1890, burnt match sticks were used to darken eyelashes.  In 1915, T.L. Williams came up with a way for his sister, Maybel, to darken her lashes, and the company Maybelline was born.  That formula was a combination of coal dust and petroleum jelly.   Until the 1950s, mascara was sold in cake form and had evolved into a combination of wax and colorant.  Helena Rubenstein created the wand and tube delivery method in the late 1950s.

Since then, mascara has become much more complicated in order to have certain helpful attributes (waterproof, smudge-proof, lengthening, curling, different colors, and so on) and the list of ingredients is now typically tongue twisting.

We need to get back to basics, but without the match sticks, coal dust and petroleum products.
Mascara is traditionally black or dark brown.  This brought to mind activated charcoal.  It's certainly dark enough, and it's been used through the ages as an antidote for poisoning because it's highly absorbent.  It pulls the toxins from the body as it passes straight through.  So, it's safe for ingestion. But can it be used around your eyes?  Actually, yes!  Prepared properly in a moist poultice or strained into eye drops, it's used to treat eye ailments. That said, as with anything, you don't want to put it directly into your eye.

So we've got our colorant: activated charcoal.  Now for the grease.

What natural oils are safe to use around your eyes?  Almond oil has been used as a treatment for under-eye circles.  Vitamin E oil has been used to reduce wrinkles around eyes.  Some claim that castor oil can help you grow more luxurious eyebrows and eyelashes.  Still others use grapeseed oil and olive oil as eye makeup removers.  So you have a few to choose from.  In this example, I used castor oil.

I decided to include water in my recipe because water ends up drying on the lashes, leading to less smudging.

  1. Empty a capsule of activated charcoal into a small nalgene container, then add two drops of water and a drop of oil, blending well with a cotton swab.  
  2. Continue to add water and oil in the aforementioned proportions until it reaches the consistency of store bought mascara.
  3. Apply to lashes with a clean mascara wand (I reused the wand from my store bought tube after thoroughly washing it in warm soapy water).  
  4. When done, wash the wand well in warm soapy water and screw the top tightly on the jar.  If your mascara dries out a bit, add a bit of water and blend with a cotton swab.
You may need to experiment with the amount of water versus oil to minimize smudging, depending on what oil you're using.  To begin, you might err on the side of more water than oil.

In future, I'll also experiment with adding a bit of wax, as this should further lessen smudging (I'll keep you posted here on that). Or, I'll just save myself the grief and go back to buying an all natural brand, such as Physicians Formula Organic Mascara.
Physicians Formula Organic Mascara - Ultra Black

    1 comment:

    S. Brown said...

    I think I'll just stick with my over-the-counter mascara, but I do admire you for your devotion and determination. Good luck for getting it perfected. Let me know if the wax helps & I may give it a try. Sally

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