I’ve got a bone to pick with clean mascara. Traditionally, no matter how amplifying the ones I’ve tried promise to be, they tend to be so “natural” looking that it’s as if I’m wearing nothing at all. Or worse, the ones that do add any sort length and volume wind up halfway down my face, raccoon-style, within two hours of swiping them on. Because of how many times I’d been betrayed in the past, I’ve spent the last few years refusing to even bother with the stuff.
Considering the innovations that have come onto the market as of late, though, I decided I’d give it another try. In the latest episode of Zoë Tries It All, I spent a week testing some of the most well-loved clean mascaras on the market to see if any of them could change my mind.
Since “clean” tends to be a vague marketing term that means a whole lot of different things, in this case we chose to define it as products that don’t include formaldehyde, carbon black, or parabens, three ingredients that have been shown to cause eye irritation. The nominees? Vapour Beauty Mesmorize Mascara ($28), Beautycounter Volumizing Mascara ($29), Ilia Limitless Lash Mascara ($28), Westman Atelier Eye Love You Mascara ($62), and W3ll People Expressionist Pro Mascara ($20).
I tried each mascara for a full day, and judged each on the criteria of how they made my lashes look, how long they lasted, and whether or not they were worth the price tag. And honestly? I was shocked at how much better they were than any of the other clean mascaras I’ve ever tried. Clearly, the category has come a long way.
While each of them had their own benefits—one made my lashes look like they’d just gotten an extension, another one held up during an ocean dip—there was a single mascara that reigned supreme. To find out which product earned the title of “best clean mascara,” press play on the video above. Then, shop below to test them all out on your own.