waterproof mascara and mascara waterproofers

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Get your mascara right, and you will become the exquisite butterfly-flower-girl you know has always been hidden within you…


Mascara has appeared on here on numerous occasions. I love mascara. My life is not complete without it. I also like my mascara within limits, to stay within its bounds, where it’s supposed to, on my lashes. Not smudging under my eyes or up onto my eyelids, and not onto my glasses. See, for most people, mascara might be less of a Problem: either they’re not wearing glasses, or if they are, their eyes are set further back and/or their lashes are shorter. Many mascaras may be fine on such fortunate persons, but fail on me. Some change, too, as my skin changes, and what I’m putting on it, and so on.

Oh yes, and why waterproof? I live in Vancouver. It often rains here. I’ve also managed to spend most of life up to now in more or less rainy places. And not always with access to lash-tinting places, good ones using decent stuff (cruelty-free but people-tested).

Three solutions:

(but first, an appropriate song)


The best one I’ve used most regularly over the last couple of years or so is from HerbanLuxe on Etsy.

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It’s not tested on animals, is vegan, contains a preservative, is made from plant-based sustainable ingredients, is in recyclable packaging, and is made by a small independent company who sell the stuff for non-insane prices and without any silliness on the marketing front.

INGREDIENTS: distilled water, arabica gum, vegetable glycerine, candelilla wax, ozokerite wax, carnauba wax, iron oxide, mica, provitamin B5, trade secret waterproof blend of oil and wax, caprylyl glycol

The very best veggie waterproof mascara I’ve ever used would be Urban Decay Cannonball. It is very very very waterproof. A bit crispy and spidery, but manageable with a metal-toothed comb. It is a PITA to remove, and don’t get any stray bits on skin around your eyes when you’re applying it, because they too will be a PITA to remove (and certainly not without tugging on delicate eye-area skin). But the damn stuff is damn fine and hellish tenacious. Come natural disaster, come alien invasion triggering nuclear zombie apocalypse, this is what the survivors will be wearing.

(The survivors will, however, be rats and cockroaches rather than humans. Now, let’s not be prejudiced. Rats and cockroaches can still be eyelash-flutteringly attractive and appreciate a good mascara: just like anybody else. And it’s these little things, the little extras beyond bare brute survival, that ensure the saving and continuation of civilization. Rats and cockroaches are the future, and our future. If you don’t love them already, it’s not too late to start loving them now. Never too late to change, change is good for you, and as good as a rest. Even zombies might appreciate a rest.)



The first one I ever used, over ten years ago, was the old classic Kiss Me / Blinc. I’ve used others, and there are more and more on the market, more or less readily available depending on where you are and how much of a Dramatic Adventure you want to go on (and how much you enjoy such adventures). I think the more recent Blinc Amplified is superior to the old one–better brush, an easier wetter formula to work with–but for both, I meed to go to Sephora (gag; anti-Sephora rant follows further down) or small boutiques (they scare me) or online. Also, it’s not cheap.

The very cheapest tuber in many places would probably be L’Oréal Double Extend Beauty Tubes. I don’t see it around here as regularly as other mascaras from that brand, and I admit I never liked it much, especially not the brush. Over to you on the ethics of dealing with L’Oréal (see a post from last month on why this might be a more complicated issue than just “big=bad”).

Middle of the range, and not significantly more expensive than the L’Oréal one, is Clinique. Aside from Sephora and department stores, it’s readily available in many drugstores here like Shoppers Drug Mart. Clinique has several tubing mascaras now, and my own favourite remains their first one, Lash Power. I love its tiny brush and simple easiness. Also, it stays on and is in every practical (and simple and straight-forward) way Good. Unlike some of their other mascaras, Clinique Lash Power is a pre-03/2012 development so it fits with my FCOD policy (again, see last month on this blog for the post on why).

Both Blinc and Clinique Lash Power are available in brown as well as black.

Lise Watier’s 24h Glam might be as good. It has other benefits. It’s even more readily available and cheaper here in Canada; and not tested on animals, including not for/on the Chinese market. Note that it only comes in black, no brown; and contains carmine, so it would be worth asking if that’s animal-derived or synthetic. I can get Lise Watier in lots of drugstores near my work and home, in areas I’m going to regularly anyway for other things as part of my weekly chores, to meet up with friends in cafes and bars, etc.

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I’ve also occasionally used tubing mascara on top of regular mascara. Works with Lash Power, less so with others.

CONCLUSION: plenty of fish in the sea.


This is where things get interesting.

Once upon a time, ten years or so ago, there was (cruelty-free, vegan) Urban Decay’s Lingerie & Galoshes (around $17 to $20). The latter part was a waterproof top-coat.

Screen Shot 2015-01-30 at 4.23.32 PMINGREDIENTS:
Mascara Ingredients: Isododecane, Aqua (Water), Cera Alba (Beeswax), VP/Eicosene Copolymer, Ozokerite, Silica, Quaternium-18 Hectorite, Paraffin, Polybutene, Polyethylene, PEG-22/Dodecyl Glycol Copolymer, Propylene Carbonate, Acrylates/C10-30 Alkyl Acrylate Crosspolymer, Trihydroxypalmitamidohydroxypropyl Myristyl Ether, Butylene Glycol, Triticum Vulgare (Wheat) Germ Extract, Hydroxypropyltrimonium Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein, Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein, Panthenol, Phenoxyethanol, Methylparaben, Propylparaben, Butylparaben, Ethylparaben

Primer Ingredients: Aqua (Water), Isododecane, VP/Dimethylaminoethylmethacrylate Copolymer, Nylon-6, Butylene Glycol, Cera Alba (Beeswax), PVP, Polybutene, Sorbeth-20 , Glyceryl Stearate, PEG-100 Stearate, Copernicia Cerifera (Carnauba) Wax, Panthenol, Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein, Hydrolyzed Wheat Starch, Stearyl Alcohol, Cetyl Alcohol, Magnesium Aluminum Silicate, Xanthan Gum, Cellulose Gum, Disodium EDTA, Phenoxyethanol, Methylparaben, Propylparaben, Ethylparaben, Butylparaben, Isobutylparaben

RIP for several years now.

For some time, there was a competitor. For a long time, it too was cruelty-free. It was, I thought, a superior product: Clarins Fix’ Mascara, which originally came in a squeezy tube with tonnes of product; then reincarnated as Double Fix’Mascara, in a more rigid tube containing less product.


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In my experience, this stuff works but it does leave a waxy coating all over lashes. Get it in time and you can comb them through (metal-toothed Tweezerman). Too late, and it’s a mess of gloops, blobs, and the mascara underneath coming off. Tricky stuff. And lashes can look greyish and feel dry and crispy.

Now, I could persuade myself to rebuy this stuff, as it antedates my FCOD. But it turns out there are others on the market now that could be alternatives…

isododecane – polyethylene – disteardimonium hectorite – synthetic wax – vp/eicosene copolymer – propylene carbonate – trimethylsiloxysilicate – parfum – ascorbyl tetraisopalmitate

I tested the following other waterproofers, on top of Clinique Naturally Glossy Mascara. I will be continuing to test two of them. In a later stage, I’ll test the survivors of this first test-series over Earthlab Raw Mascara and see how that compares to Naturally Glossy.


BareMinerals Locked & Coated

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INGREDIENTS: Isododecane, Polyethylene, Trimethylsiloxysilicate, Synthetic Wax, Disteardimonium Hectorite, Silica Dimethyl Silylate, Propylene Carbonate, Gossypium Herbaceum (Cotton) Seed Oil, Caprylyl Glycol, Pentaerythrityl Tetra-Di-T-Butyl Hydroxyhydrocinnamate, Amethyst Powder, Diamond Powder, Sapphire Powder, Ruby Powder, Phenoxyethanol.

PROS compared to Clarins Double Fix’Mascara:

  • similar basic formula (superior, I thought: smoother and lighter, no crispy lashes) and modus operandi
  • cheaper
  • superficially, a better brush: short handle, fine bristles, perfect for short-sighted people
  • no animal testing


  • the company is owned by Shiseido, who are Bad Guys in the world of animal rights; though many-to-most of their own products are not tested on animals, hence available for sale in the EU and Canada
  • the brush turns out not to be that amazing: it’s a buzz-cut of short rubbery bristles, less good than longer bristles for depositing substance evenly and combing it through lashes
  • some smearing on glasses: whereas there is none with Clinique Naturally Glossy (or any of the abovementioned tubers) alone
  • some irritation, itchiness of eyes (this happens to me with lots of minerals)
  • inconvenience and cost (time and money): I have to schlep out to Sephora for this, which either means extra journey time (and time is money, and there are other things I would rather do with my time than go to Sephora) or buying online, which costs extra and costs in carbon footprint.
    Also, I hate going to Sephora. The perfumey smells, the awful people, too crowded, SAs attempting to “help”, queues at the till. Bah humbug. If I’m lucky, I only leave with a rash. Usually also asthmatic wheezing and French Classical theatrical misanthropy.


Anastasia Beverly Hills Lash Genius Mascara Top Coat

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INGREDIENTS: Isododecane, Polyethylene, Trimethylsiloxysilicate, Synthetic Wax, Disteardimonium Hectorite, Silica Dimethyl Silylate, Propylene Carbonate, Gossypium Herbaceum (Cotton) Seed Oil, Pentaerythrityl Tetra-Di-T-Butylhydroxyhydrocinnamate, Caprylyl Glycol, Phenoxyethanol.


  • works well, lashes are nice, light, and soft; and indeed waterproof, I prefer this to the Clarins on performance alone
  • better brush than the Clarins
  • better brush than the BareMinerals, once I actually use it: it has longer bristles, proper ones not rubbery nonsense, and the head size and slight curve make it dead easy to sweep through all my lashes in two swoops, rather than several, depositing waterproofer and brushing through lashes evenly
  • sweet f*** all difference in formula between this and the BareMinerals topcoat, except no extra powdered minerals precious stones
  • no irritation
  • it is fairly tenacious
  • compared to both the Clarins and the BareMinerals: no animal testing, and not owned by someone who tests (or sells somewhere where testing can or might take place)


  • more expensive than the BareMinerals, but the tube is bigger (I’m pretty sure)
  • longer handle and bigger brush than the BareMinerals: could be unwieldy in comparison (though I preferred Anastasia, and didn’t expect to); may be better for long-sighted people; still, perfectly usable and better than the Clarins and BareMinerals ones
  • some smearing on glasses: if that means I have to let this set for longer, that’s no bloody good as I need to get out the door in the morning. If this stuff applied over regular mascara takes longer to apply than a tubing mascara, then it’s a fail.
  • price! USD21.00 translates here in Canada, plus tax, to CAD31.50.
  • same inconvenience and cost in time and money as the BareMinerals waterproofer: I have to go to Sephora (be that in person or online) to get this





  • no animal testing, and none for selling on the Chinese market either
  • on paper, similar formula to the two above, but simpler
  • in practice, it feels quite different. I found it applies easily, perhaps better, due to the very runny texture. Once on and dried, it seems to stay there well.
  • absolutely no smearing or flaking of mascara under the eyes, stays on, leaves lashes more separated and soft, flexible and fluttery, than the other waterproofers above. (UPDATE later in the morning) It has also stayed on impeccably overnight, and through a run outside in rain. (I’ve now taken it off, showered, re-mascara-ed, etc.)
  • I also tested this out with some leftovers of a couple of mascaras that I’d rejected because they were flaky and smeary, and abandoned to malinger in the makeup-bag of reject doom at the back of the cupboard under the bathroom sink.
  • decent-looking brush: looks sort of between the two above
  • cheaper: CAD16.95 for a generous 9.5 ml
  • readily-available here in Canada, and indeed Canadian-made (for what that’s worth): buying local often equates to buying greener, when considering transport and shipping costs, factoring them into the carbon footprint of what one is consuming. In my case, I can pick this up fairly nearby as it’s in branches of Shoppers Drug Mart and London Drugs next to where I do regular weekly food-shopping. So I’m not paying money or fuel for extra shipping (compared to shopping online), and it’s not an extra trip (I’m walking or else taking a bus journey I would be taking anyway)
  • from what Spiffy Kerms had to say about it back at its launch in 2013, this is not only viable but a drugstore dupe for Anastasia Genius. Here is her comparative photo:

Spiffy Kerms


  • very runny, needs to be stored upright otherwise it leaks out the tube, can be difficult to get enough of the waterproofer onto its brush without pouring it out all over the place
  • tricky to use, work in progress. I will update later (hopefully) on any tips and tricks. For the moment, the issues are:
    (1) wetness and runniness, which mean this topcoat is hard to apply evenly (the next stage after getting it onto a brush);
    (2) drying time: if you over-apply and/or don’t let it sit for long enough, it will come off on glasses.


1. If it ain’t broke don’t fix it.
2. Waste not, want not.
3. Beware of lust, envy, and greed; remember that they are mortal sins.

I already had the HerbanLuxe. Using it alone is already a good option. I recommend it heartily to others.

The same is true of a good (and, ideally, ethically Good or at least Gingerrama-FCOD-goodish) tubing mascara: for the former, Lise Watier 24h Glam (in Canada); for the latter, Clinique Lash Power (ditto, and elsewhere).


Round One of the test knocks out BareMinerals Locked & Coated.

If you’re in the market for a waterproofer, Marcelle Topcoat is the cheapest of the four above; it’s as cruelty-free as the Anastasia Genius but way cheaper and more easily obtainable if you’re in Canada. If you’re not, Anastasia Genius may be a better option.

In the interests of economy and environmentalism, I would usually continue to use (and use up) what I have. But in the interests of public information, I will also do some testing of what I have for comparative performance.


I tested Earthlab Cosmetics raw mascara and Clinique Naturally Glossy side-by-side, to see if I am correct in my earlier hypothesis (of months if not years ago) that they are very similar. Tested them alone, and then with a waterproofing topcoat. What I would have very much liked would have been if my old beloved combo of Clinique Naturally Glossy + Clarins Double Fix could genuinely be replaced by Earthlab Raw + another waterproofer (be that Anastasia or Marcelle; with a preference for Marcelle because it’s cheaper and easier to get).

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INGREDIENTS: Water/Aqua, Natural Beeswax, Copernicia Cerifera (Carnauba) Wax, Lecithin, Glyceryl Stearate, Glycerin, Xanthan Gum, Celluloses, Carthamus Tinctorius (Safflower) Seed Oil, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Extract, Jojoba (Simmondsia Chinensis) Oil, Tocopherol, Chamomilla Recutita (Matricaria) Flower Extract, Rosmarinus Officinalis (Rosemary) Leaf Extract, Cucumis Sativus (Cucumber) Fruit Extract, Phenoxyethanol, Silica, Mica, Iron Oxides

Biodegradable ingredients. Costs around $20; ranges from $16 to $27 (10 ml), depending where purchased.

Compared to Clinique Naturally Glossy, Earthlabs is usually the same price (can be more expensive depending where you buy it), the brush isn’t as good (it’s bushier, though still nice and short-handled), and the mascara itself dries out and needs to be replaced (if used daily, like I do) in 4 weeks, 6 max. Earthlabs looks superficially like a better deal, as you get more mascara for your money (0.33 vs. 0.2 fl oz) but it can’t be used as many times, over as long a period of time. I get a good three months out of a tube of the Glossy, which makes it a better buy. Factor in transport or shipping (and carbon footprint) for buying a mascara over the course of a year, let alone several: and you and the environment are better off with a tube of mascara that lasts longer.

I can get Earthlabs from a local pharmacy a short walk from home, which reduces the carbon footprint compared to the Clinique. Getting the latter means a bus-ride, so add on the cost of a ticket, and some fuel though our buses here are hybrids. On the other hand, I would usually get it in a Shoppers Drug Mart when out doing weekend chores / food shopping, so on a journey I was already taking anyway (or add postage if ordering online). So that leaves the two of them about even.

Another criterion to bear in mind for deciding between these two mascaras, and any of the others, is packaging. So, for example, the Clinique tube is aluminium (can be recycled) and its brush, like most mascara brushes, is a plastic that can be recycled. Its outer packaging is recyclable paper. The Earthlabs mascara comes in a recyclable plastic tube… but covered in a security/hygiene plastic film that’s not. Score a point to Clinique?

See the old review of Earthlab mascara here, along with some other “greener” mascaras: reviews: new mascara (2013-08-19)

CLINIQUE NATURALLY GLOSSY INGREDIENTS: water – beeswax – copernica cerifera (carnauba) wax – styrene/acrylates/ammonium methacrylate copolymer – stearic acid – pvp – acrylates copolymer – tromethamine – peg-20 sorbitan beeswax – butylene glycol – glyceryl stearate se – hydroxyethylcellulose – ethylhexylglycerin – glycerin – lecithin – nylon-12 – sodium lauryl sulfate – isostearic acid – caprylyl glycol – c11-15 pareth-7 – potassium stearate – disodium edta – phenoxyethanol – sorbic acid – chlorphenesin- [ +/- iron oxides (ci 77491, ci 77492, ci 77499) – chromium oxide greens (ci 77288) – carmine (ci 75470) – ultramarines (ci 77007) – titanium dioxide (ci 77891) – mica] [iln36361]

Old Clinique review on here, copied and pasted from what I think was my first ever MakeupAlley review back in 2007: my MUA reviews: mascara (2011-07-30)


Both mascaras stay on well with either of the waterproofing topcoats over them. I performed splash-tests too, though did not go swimming (let alone in salt water, a whole other test).

I have, however, to revise my previous opinion of Earthlabs. It’s still a nice light mascara, a subtle tint to lashes, applies smoothly with no globs or flakes; and it’s still a comfort to wear, with no irritation or flaking into or around eyes. But that’s where the resemblance to Clinique Naturally Glossy ends.

Earthlabs has a traditional teddy-bear brush. It’s bigger than the Glossy brush, thicker, and not as good for both precise application (corners of eyes, lower lashes, down to the roots all over) and big sweeps.

Glossy needs, like every mascara I’ve ever used, to have a teeny extra bit wiped off the tip of the brush; I use some old paper for this. With a decent mascara, you just dab off the brush-end and get on with things. (Many people wipe that surplus off on the neck of the tube; this can mix drier mascara in with wetter when you replace the brush on the tube, and that can dry out all the mascara in the tube faster.) Earthlabs has technical issues with the tube construction: a narrower neck would be a start in improvement. The brush needs more wiping and whole globs of mascara come out on the brush-sides. Leave them be, and you get globs on and in lashes. Wipe down the brush, and you’re wasting mascara and adding faff and therefore time (and annoyance) to the application process.

The tube, brush, and how they interact needs major redevelopment. Now, to be fair, this is true of many “greener” mascaras; indeed, many of them use the exact same (classic) mascara-wands and standard tubes. On the other hand, companies like Clinique employ actual engineers to work on delivery-system designs. A mascara like the Glossy is a better buy in terms if the research and development behind it: a mascara with several PhDs. One should also factor in these people’s salaries and the time, money, and effort they’ve spent getting to where they are. Education is time and money and even if on scholarships and stipends and grants, that’s time they could have been working in industry at a higher salary (say, straight out of undergrad or an MSc).

Fond though I might be of gutsy indie people trying to save the earth one mascara at a time, they’re not of the same technical calibre. They’re often farming out their R&D elsewhere (though some are in-house like Aubrey, Derma E, Dr Hauschka, EarthScience, ShiKai, and parts of the Hain group like Jason). This often means their product is not as unique as they would like you to think (see earlier review of Earthlabs mascara, and its strong resemblance to others like the old Honeybee Gardens). It’s often a very traditional standard recipe and design: see Etsy for more cases of this, and remember that kitchen-sink companies not subject to the same health and safety regulation and quality consistency control as other companies. This is why buying from indie companies and through unorthodox channels is a gamble: Etsy, for example, covers the whole gamut from brilliant to sketchy. For every one of the good guys (Garden of Wisdom, Silk Naturals, Roxana Illuminated Perfumes)–who also happen to do a lot of work, themselves, in R&D; who use proper scientific methodology; and whose kitchen sinks are a million miles from my own one–there’s one-trick ponies, genuine and manufactured “mothers & daughters,” trustafarians with good PR, charlatans, shysters, MDs with (divorce, golf, coke) habits to support, disbarred practitioners, desperate housewives (and remember the soap-making business at the start of Orange is the New Black?), and fly-by-night entrepreneurs on the green bandwagon. All out to be exclusive fashionable flavour of the month (or subjects of devoted believers for longer, if they are successful in becoming A Cult), often with thanks to No More Dirty Looks. This is not planet-saving sustainability. It’s just consumption, greed, envy, fashion, and waste: just like all the cosmetics business.

Traditional simpler tried-and-tested products can be a great thing: chamomile tea, for example. But if a manufacturer is not running their own lab (or large stainless-steel sanitised kitchen-sink complex) and constantly working on innovation, the money you’re paying for their product goes straight into profit (once materials, manufacture, packaging, and some salaries have been paid for). The two mascaras we’re looking at here cost about the same, but that money goes in very different directions. I would rather have more of my money go into research and development; which includes research on ingredients, sustainability, relationships with suppliers, more efficient energy-efficient production techniques, putting money back into communities (and other–admittedly tax-deductible image-enhancing–charitable works), taking the long view, looking to the long term and greater good. I would rather not help someone make a quick buck on a product that’s unnecessary anyway because others like it, and better, are already out there. That’s not competition and choice. It’s unsustainable overdevelopment (with, ironically, underdevelopment). Green business isn’t always that green–in the long term, the bigger picture–though it is always a business, and the bottom line is always the bottom line.

But I digress. Back to our two mascaras.

The Glossy is more buildable, faster. I can never add enough layers of Earthlabs to look like just two layers of Glossy: that’s how light Earthlabs is.

Glossy gives lashes a lighter and more supple feel: my lashes felt drier and crispier with Earthlabs, both used alone and with the topcoat (though the topcoat made them less crispy).

With Earthlabs, lashes poke around somewhat floppily. This is noticeable when wearing glasses, as you end up with an apparent gap in the lash-line where the lashes in the middle–longest and at the point of greatest protuberance of the eye–constantly bat against glasses-lenses, and are pushed by that action to the sides. That’s an issue with mascaras that are too gentle. You need a bit of rigidity. But without too much, otherwise it’s hard chitinous spider-legs. One of Glossy’s finest features is its perfection in balancing rigidity and flexibility. I don’t get the floppy-gap-problem with it, ever; yet lashes remain soft and pliable to the touch. This is noticeable in comparison with another mascara, as here, in side-by-side testing.

So I’m sorry: I have to say that Earthlabs is not a substitute for Clinique Naturally Glossy. I tested the hypothesis, and it failed. A compromise, though: my desired end result was Earthlabs + Marcelle Topcoat, and my actual best pairing (of the four combinations) is Glossy + Marcelle.

Still doesn’t beat Clinique Lash Power for ease and speed of application, though.


  1. WI

    How is tubing mascara from an environmental perspective? Do the tubes break down after removal, or are they a risk to fish, freshwater and saltwater creatures similar to the plastic microbeads used in scrubs and other products? Has this been looked at by anyone? Thank you.

    • gingerama

      Excellent questions. Some attempts at reasoning-out some answers:

      1. The tubes dissolve in water, and are made from different polymer materials from microbeads, so should be OK once down the drain.


      2. Canada (where I am and where I buy mascara) is pretty strict about water pollution, much more so than the USA for example, so if there were issues with the tube-materials it is probable-to-likely that they would have been met in this country. Tubing mascaras have been sold here for a long time (over a decade from big mainstream brands, and for far longer from East Asian brands sold in Chinatown and Richmond here in Vancouver, for ex.).

      Were there known to be problems, we would have known about them here in British Columbia very fast and early. Especially the remotest possibility of tubes affecting our local fish. The fish industry and wild fishing are massive here: salmon and other species like the spot prawns, sea scallops, Dungeness crab.


      3. Legal in Australia, where the equal oldest maker of tubing mascaras is based (there seems to be some uncertainty / debate as to whether Kiss Me / Blinc or the Australian Mirenesse got there first), and they appear or would like to appear to be very ethical in all ways including the environmental. Australia is also big, when it suits commercial interests (like Canada, I’m afraid), on environmental impact especially (like here in BC) on water.


      That having been said: there is a data gap.

      4. I have seen nothing at all on the environmental impact of these tubes. That is, independent peer-reviewed articles. That look for observable data and use proper scientific methodology: hypotheses that are testable, then duly tested, in replicatable tests. Ideally over a long time. With results that are significant. Meaningful. Providing useful information.

      That might mean “we can’t prove anything either way”, or it could be “animal respiratory systems / skins / etc. get clogged with small particles” and then anything from “mascara tube materials are definitely there and cause problems, directly, immediately” to “can’t be them, they’re too small / the wrong materials / not here.” Via “coincidence or maybe even possible correlation but no provable causation.”

      Tests would also have to demonstrate that what was found in test subjects (ex. fish) was the specific materials from which the mascara tubes are made, in their sizes, and would need to show exactly what happened along the way, the whole process from mascara on eyelashes to upset environment (water, soil, animals, plants, micro-organisms, whole ecosystem, etc.). A well-designed experiment would add tracers to the mascara materials–dyes, radioactive isotopes, etc.–so as to absolutely prove (or disprove) causality.

      5. Does this mean that there have been no studies, there is no research data, there are no studies currently in progress, and there are no results to be expected in the foreseeable future? I don’t know. I haven’t checked. I may do so at a later date, when I have the time to do so properly (sorry, but my working week starts tomorrow–Monday–at 5 a.m. and, like every other of my working weeks, will be at least 60 hours long, and that’s at least at 80% brain, attention, and energy capacity all the way through because that’s the nature of the job).

      6. I suspect that there won’t be any research, or none that’s useful, just on tubing mascaras (unless there’s something comparing different formulae or generations of formulae, to show how they’re all equally bad or good or benign, or there’s been progress).

      That is for two reasons:

      (A) research on specific mascaras is more likely to have been conducted by mascara manufacturers themselves, and therefore it won’t be properly independent. It may not be publicly available at all if the formulations are patented.

      There would be no harm in asking manufacturers directly about the environmental impact of a mascara’s ingredients, and to ask them if this has been tested and if so, how. The worst that could happen would be that a company would not reply at all, or give a bad reply: silly, dismissive, a marketing-so-called-“customer service” pseudo-“reply” that doesn’t answer. In which case, keep asking until they get upset and negative, or until you get someone higher up who actually knows something.

      I’ll do this with Lise Watier and with the Marcelle waterproofer. (Some point. Not now. But making a mental note to do so…)

      (B) unless a key ingredient, i.e. here the film-forming polymers, has other applications, it’s unlikely it’s been the subject of proper major massive full studies. It’s simply not financially feasible to test everything properly and fully. It costs a lot of money: for paying expert and experienced human beings, even before getting into non-human resources.

      Tubing mascara just isn’t all that big a deal, economically or environmentally.

      7. I would still expect a higher probability of finding useful research data from looking up individual ingredients, and groups of the main polymers at work in a mascara. In this here present post to which we’re replying, there are already a couple of main different formulae and a small group of ingredients to look up. Over to you… and I mean that in a good way!

      If you’re an experimental scientist with a lab or know people who are and in the right fields, over to you from here. This would be a major multi-year study over a large geographical area. It could be combined with groups engaged in other work on other pollutant plastics (such as the microbeads studies in the Great Lakes area).

      Otherwise, there is plenty of freely-available research online, from PubMed and the like, and via public libraries and university libraries (searchable and requestable via public libraries and interlibrary loan). Over to you again: reading research and conducting metadata analysis would be a great hobby-project or leisure activity or, if you are not already in these fields or at the research level, this could be The Quest that gets you into doing more science, continuing your education, and eventually leading you into (post-)graduate, postdoctoral, and professional research work! This is exactly the kind of trigger that gets people into research, and that keeps them going through the long years of hard slog. And the world (and its fish and co.) need more people like that. Especially more women.

      8. There is the matter of the casting of stones and the issue of perspective. All things are important, when it comes to the environment. But some are urgent:

      A. Fossil fuels: you will make more of an environmental impact, you as one single human being, by not driving. Taking public transport. Cycling. Walking. Only ever using a car when absolutely necessary, to a place not served by public transport, and only doing so with three or more other people in the car (and, say, groceries). If that isn’t possible where you live? Move to a sustainable habitat.

      B. Non-biodegradable detergents and other actively bad things going down your drain, including your kitchen sink and (if you have and use one) the insinkerator. (Solution: there are plenty alternatives, even from supermarkets.)

      C. Non-biodegradable items going via your trash into landfill. And, if you’re lucky, to ruin the water and soil in a country in the developing world. If you’re really lucky, also killing its inhabitants when they work on garbage sorting and “disposal.” (Solution may include moving, again, if local recycling and waste systems are crap.)

      D. Plastic bags and styrofoam containers. No excuse in this day and age. Banned in many places, with viable sustainable alternatives for both.

      E. General lifestyle principles: conserve energy and resources, including water itself; be actively and pro-actively and interactively anti-consumerist; refuse, reduce, recycle; reuse, restore, repurpose, refashion/upcycle; and I’m adding “relocate.”

      • WI

        Thank you so much for your detailed response! I have wanted to try a tubing mascara but was concerned about the impact of the tubes after removal. A Google search did not provide a satisfactory response on the environmental impact of the tubes in the water supply on the water and creatures living in the water. I appreciate your input and knowledge on this issue.

        • gingerama

          Hi again: you’re welcome! I’m sorry I don’t know any more than that. This is clearly an area where more experimental data is needed; most of my answer was just argument / trying to reason my way out of the metaphorical paper bag.

          For what it’s worth, I’m back to using Clinique Lash Power right now because of seasonal allergies.

          The current formulation comes off in small flakes, and they grind down very small. I was curious (thinking back to your question, see it’s been haunting me) so I’ve been having a closer look when I take this mascara off. So I remove it using cotton pads (like face-cloth flannel material, reusable) and warm water. I poked at the tube-fragments on the cotton pad to see how small they could get. The answer is, as far as I can see, like very fine powder. They’re just about still visible to the naked eye, and they show up because they’re black against the background of the cotton pad (which is now elderly and much-washed so a greyish shade).

          I reckon these fragments are no larger than, and probably about the same size as, residue from removing powder makeup.

          People removing makeup with disposable cotton pads and wipes will be putting these either in general landfill or in compost. In my case, makeup is washed down the drain, along with everything else washed off my face and the rest of my person. So I’m interested in using biodegradable products.

          My next question would be: What if anything is known about what happens to these powdery residues of makeup when they go into the waste-water and other waste systems?

          How biodegradable they are (re soil and water going into soil) will depend on their ingredients. That’s one factor.

          Another variable will be how specific places deal with their waste. Here in Vancouver, the default is compost and recycling. I don’t know much about how our water is recycled and treated, what happens to it before it’s reused and eventually returns to the whole water-table. I ought to know more about this. We all should. Water is the most important natural resource on this planet.

          I also don’t know enough about fish gills and other respiratory systems of marine life here, and what can clog skin too, at the smaller end of the scale. I know that larger particles can clog breathing systems, and the wrong kinds of detergents remove the oily outer layer on seabirds’ feathers and marine mammals’ fur. Larger pieces of plastics, and especially plastic bags, are a catastrophe: smothering animals, “bagging” smaller ones, suffocating and/or drowning them. The good news is that we’re OK on all three counts with tubing mascaras…

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