My tawdry un-green secret: L’Oreal tube mascara

Remember that earlier post where I said being a green beauty junkie didn’t have to be an  all-or-nothing proposition? Well, it’s time to confess my sins…

I have sensitive eyes. Which means that mascara is a particularly tricky proposition for me. Many brands leave my eyes itchy and watering. Montreal’s weather (windchill, snow, rain) means that I have to resort to waterproof more often than not. And I HATE the process of waterproof mascara removal. It’s long, annoying and I always lose more lashes than I care to count.

So for years, I lived without mascara. Yeah. You read right. I used eyeliner and kohl, but skipped the lash plumping. Not any more…

You’ve heard of tube mascara right? Apparently everybody has. I admit I’m new to this trend (all those years of avoiding mascara, remember?). Here’s how it works: instead of creating a layer of pigment and fibres on your lashes, tube mascaras harden into a sort of rubbery (you guessed it) tube that coats each individual lash. It looks totally natural and lustrous and (here’s the best part), it’s absolutely waterproof. Like I  mean you-can-go-swimming-and-it-won’t-budge waterproof! Snowstorm waterproof! -40 Celsius waterproof. You get the picture.

Okay I lied.

That wasn’t the best part; the best part is that it comes off with just warm water and a little rubbing! Yup. No need for goopy makeup remover or expensive wipes. Just good ol’ warm H2O in the shower and the little tubes (that look a lot like lashes actually, so don’t panic!) just slide right off.

I’m sorry. I need to take a moment and do a little dance.

Do you see?! Totally budge-proof but comes off more easily  than regular mascara? Be still my heart!

Apparently tube technology has been around for years. Pioneering makeup company Blinc introduced the earliest version of tube mascara. I have yet to try their product (and they win in the ethics department because they’re clearly anti-animal testing), but I’ve read reviews where ladies complain that the tubes don’t offer much in terms of added volume and length.

As much as I hate to admit it, L’Oreal wins hands down in this department.

The look: The white base coat visibly lengthens and thickens lashes (to the point where I look like I’m wearing white falsies!). And then a couple of coats of the black formula cover it all up and basically make you look like Penelope Cruz. Well, just the eyes then… Whatever. You see my point. (I’ll post photos the moment I can get someone to take them).

Comfort: The mascara didn’t bother my usually sensitive eyes in the least. I’ve worn it through 18-hour days. To walk the dog in a blizzard. Through an afternoon nap. To the gym and yes, famously, through a swim. Doesn’t bloody budge. No flakes. No smears. Nada.

Ease: Some ladies find the extra base coat step time consuming. It doesn’t bother me and I find the added length and volume to be SO worth the effort. And as I mentioned earlier, removal is a breeze. I’ll often just let warm water cascade over my face in the shower; a little gentle rubbing of the eyes and poof! It’s gone.

Green factor: Hmm. Here’s the tricky bit. L’Oreal isn’t exactly famous for its eco-friendly initiatives. As for synthetics and preservatives, this mascara does contain parabens. A whole whack of them. Mascaras often do because they’re used on such a delicate and infection-prone part of the anatomy. Should we be afraid of parabens? Hmm. I’d say “cautious” more than afraid (and this is definitely going to be a future post). From all the reading I’ve done, I’m more afraid of all the potential organic contaminants I swipe across my lashes every day (translation: germs) than the miniscule amounts of parabens it would take to keep them at bay.

I feel differently about cream or kohl that have more direct contact with skin, but that’s just my personal opinion. What do you think?

Animal testing: Although it states clearly on its website that it hasn’t conducted animal tests on new products since 1989, PETA still has it on the “tests on animals” list. I have never wanted more desperately to believe a corporation, but well… It’s more likely that PETA is telling the truth. Which makes me very sad.

The Skin Deep Cosmetics Database gives this product a 5, citing moderate risk. You can get the full report here.

Bottom line: This isn’t a particularly “green” product, although easy removal with just warm water must count for something, right? I’m unhappy about the lack of transparency of L’Oreal’s animal testing policy. But it’s an awesomely effective mascara.

Frankly, as far as I’m concerned, mascara development has officially reached its pinnacle. I can’t imagine how it could get better. So can we please stop testing on animals already and  just stick with what we’ve got?

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