I Tried 5 Clean, Natural Mascaras and Ranked Them from ‘Hello, Beautiful’ to ‘Get Off My Face’

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I’ve always said if I could have three things on a desert island, they’d be mascara, SPF and my dog (because, let’s be real, a desert island sounds like an amazing place for me and King Louis). As a mascara snob through and through, I’ve tried nearly every formula on the market and I have some ~feelings~ when it comes to clump-free claims. Volume is more important to me than length (that’s what GrandeLash-MD lash serum is for), but it also has to be long wearing yet easy to remove. So when I switched to a clean beauty routine a few years ago, I made it my mission to find a formula that lived up to my expectations. I’m happy to say I’ve finally found my favorite natural mascara (it just took a few duds to get there).

I Alternate These 2 Clean Beauty Products for the Glowiest Skin Ever

1. Saie Mascara 101

I was thoroughly convinced that nothing could ever replace my beloved Milk Makeup KushHigh Volume Mascara, until Saie came along. The thick beeswax and shea butter formula is just the right consistency to grip lashes, build volume and add length without a single flake or smudge in sight. And thanks to a special hydra-mineral complex, it also conditions lashes while you wear it to help them grow even longer. But what I love most is the brush. It’s made of silicone, so it quickly separates and defines each lash, and the tip features tiny bristles that make it easy to reach those small inner and outer corners. Sorry, Kush, but you’ve got major competition.

2. Ilia Limitless Lash Mascara

It was honestly hard not to give this mascara the top spot. For starters, it’s made by one of my favorite clean beauty brands. But the buildable, flake-free wax-based formula speaks for itself. It lifts, curls, lengthens and adds major oomph for falsie-level fullness without flaking off midday. No matter how many coats I add (some days it’s one, others it’s three), my lashes always look healthy, but it’s also super easy to remove with oil cleanser and a splash of water at the end of the day. The brush is also worth mentioning: Ilia tested more than a hundred different wand types and finally decided on this unique dual-sided brush that builds volume on one side and separates lashes on the other (key for a clump-free finish).

3. Thrive Causemetics Liquid Lash Extensions Mascara

Probably one of the highest-rated natural mascaras on the planet (8,700 and counting on the brand’s website), Thrive Causemetics’s formula really does offer lash-extension length without actually gluing falsies to your eyelids for hours. How, you ask? By using Flake-Free Tubing Technology, which coats each lash in ultra-flexible polymers to add millimeters to each tip without worrying about fallout. If you’ve never tried a tubular mascara before, just know thatwhen you remove it, the tubes will slide off and look like lashes in your sink. They aren’t your actual eyelashes though, and thanks to the Orchid Stem Cell Complex in the formula, your real fringe will be longer and stronger after consistent use.

4. W3ll People Expressionist Mascara

This was the first natural mascara I ever tried after a long, happy relationship with CoverGirlLashBlast Volume Mascara. I was looking for that same thick, fluttery look that CoverGirl gave me, but without the toxins. With two or three coats, this one lived up to the hype, until late in the afternoon when it would feel dry and flaky, often resulting in little black flecks falling onto my cheeks. I also noticed that it stung uncontrollably as soon as I started washing it off in the shower, but if I used a cotton round and makeup remover prior, it helped eliminate that uncomfortable side effect.

5. Dr. Hauschka Volume Mascara

Sigh. I am truly obsessed with Dr. Hauschka’s skincare products—they were among the first ones I tried when cleaning up my beauty routine. On a trip to Germany (where the brand is from), I ran through the airport stocking up on its rosehip-packed Lip Care Stick (which translates to Lippengold in German—how adorable!), so I had very high hopes of doing the same for this mascara. I’m sad to say it just didn’t live up to my expectations. Not only was it smudgy, but it also contains high concentrations of alcohol, so it can be irritating if it gets into your eyes. I noticed it most when my eyes started stinging as soon as I tried to wash it off, just like the W3LL People formula.

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Brianna Lapolla formerly held the role of Senior Commerce Editor at PureWow covering all things shopping across beauty, fashion, and lifestyle. Now, she's putting her 12 years of...