Are Some Mascaras More Dangerous Than Others?

Meggles has somehow managed to light her eyelashes on fire a total of five times in her short 23-year life. How can this be? We discussed the possibilities recently. Emma, who has long eyelashes herself and is arguably as clumsy if not more clumsy than Megan, has never done this. Not even once.

That’s when the lightbulb went off. Mascara! Everyone knows hairspray is flammable (if you don’t, refer to this video of Michael Jackson’s head bursting into flames). It wouldn’t surprise us if all cosmetics contained flammable ingredients, especially when we’ve already discovered the unthinkable filth companies let us insert into humanity’s most sacred vessel. Corporate interests don’t care about you ladies, or your unsinged fringe either.

We decided to investigate. Are some mascaras more flammable than others?

Our hypothesis

Yes. Specifically, Megan’s brand is more flammable than Emma’s brand.


The experiment

We started with Emma’s mascara, presumably the less flammable of the two. It’s They’re Real by Benefit, and the first three ingredients are water, paraffin, and polybutene. Paraffin is basically just wax. Flammable? Highly. Polybutene is an oily colourless liquid that floats on water. Flammable? Highly.

Well, shit. That was meant to be the less flammable one.

Moving onto Megan’s option, Double Extend by L’Oreal Paris. Its first three ingredients are almost identical — water, paraffin, and potassium cetyl phosphate. Interestingly enough, the internet couldn’t determine whether this third ingredient is flammable.

But and this is an important but, a fact sheet on the chemical names its number one safety hazard as “risk of serious damage to the eyes.” Risk of serious damage to the eyes. Like, don’t get it in your eyes or call a doctor. Specifically because it causes eye burns. WTF is an eye burn? It’s what it sounds like. This is in Meg’s mascara. This is one of the main chemicals composing Meg’s mascara. Which she puts on her eyes. Every morning. Of her life.



Everything sucks and nothing’s okay. All our cosmetics are made from ingredients we can’t identify, some of which sound delicious (rosa canina fruit oil) while others sound downright radioactive (acryloyldimethyltaurate copolymer). Like pardon me? Some literally contain petroleum which is probably the first ingredient to avoid if you’re a smoker.

We read around some more and discovered many mascaras contain ingredients that aren’t necessary flammable but are certainly toxic. Some are even made with formaldehyde. Sick, guys. Thanks for that. No one really talks about flammable ingredients, probably because normal people aren’t Meg and normal people don’t live in constant fear of setting their eyelashes aflame when they go for a smoke break.


Pray for Meg. Pray for Meg’s darts. Pray for Meg’s eyelashes.

So what’s a make-up lover to do?

Luckily there are brands out there who make their products with natural and organic ingredients. Some solid options are Physician’s Formula, Origins, and Sephora’s all natural make-up section. Or follow this brilliant guide to make your own with coconut oil, aloe vera, beeswax, and charcoal.

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