Alternatives to Mascara: A Comprehensive Guide

Alternatives to Mascara: A Comprehensive Guide

It’s one of your favorite cosmetic products, even though your relationship with it has been a little rocky. Mascara is the OG of lash enhancement and dates back to early Egyptian times when people used bones to apply burnt ash (and other not-so-great ingredients) to their lashes to make them look darker. 

Since that type, there have obviously been upgrades, but the fact that we’re still applying a coating of shellac on our lashes has remained constant. We’re putting even more ingredients on our lashes today than the ancients did, and our natural lashes have suffered. 

Many mascara users suffer from broken, brittle lashes due to continued mascara use, which can lead them to use even more mascara to make up for the lack of lashes. It’s a lash habit loop you might be attempting to break, but if you’ve been a mascara junkie your entire teen and adult life, breaking up with your mascara can feel like a lot. 

Don’t worry. There are plenty of non-mascara-based alternatives that can give you the lash enhancement you want. You might also find that some of these alternatives work better than mascara and give you more lash bang for your buck. 

Together, we’ll talk about lash enhancement options, including the risks of certain types of enhancements and how they work. First, let’s talk a little about why mascara might not be the best option for you. 

Why Should I Stop Using Mascara?

Why break up with the Holy Grail of eye makeup? For starters, it’s time-consuming. Applying mascara and taking it off can take time you don’t want to spend. 

Most users will want at least two coats of mascara, and you’ll likely need to wait between coats. In addition to time, there are other issues with our favorite lash lacquer. 


Nothing is more frustrating than smudgy mascara, especially when it happens so quickly after application. You can take steps to eliminate smudges, but even that isn’t completely foolproof. Using waterproof mascara may help, but what will likely happen is that you’ll end up with smudged, waterproof mascara that is hard to wipe off.

Lash Damage

Mascara contains ingredients that aren’t always natural. In fact, most store brands that aren’t explicitly plant-based contain ingredients that can dehydrate your lashes and leave them brittle and subject to breakage. 

Unsavory Ingredients

Let’s be honest; the ingredients in most mascaras aren’t going to top the list of cleanest and greenest. Mascaras can harbor unsafe ingredients, particularly PFAS, which are considered toxic. They may also contain chemicals like carbon black, which is a pigment derived from petroleum. 

Waterproof formulas are even worse. Most waterproof mascara formulas contain polymers and silicones, which are water-resistant. These are often byproducts of the coal mining industry and can irritate sensitive skin and eyes. 

Removal Is Hard

Ever tried removing waterproof mascara? It’s an entire process that involves makeup remover, cotton rounds, facial cleanser, and time. It can leave you with missing lashes and red, irritated skin around your eyes. 

There Are Better Options

The biggest problem with mascara is that even formulas that are lengthening and volumizing don’t give you as much length and drama as some other lash-enhancing alternatives. So the big question is, why do we still keep going back to the tube?

The answer could be that other alternatives seem risky or too expensive. Thankfully, that’s not always the case. 

What Are Alternatives to Mascara?

Breaking free from the daily spoolie cycle can give you healthier, more voluminous lashes if you pick the right mascara alternative. 

We’ll cover the options and let you know which ones work best. 

1. Lash Lifts

Lash lifts are like perms for your eyelashes. If you were ever personally victimized by a curly perm in the mid-90s, we honor your trauma but promise you that a lash lift won’t leave you looking like little orphan Annie.

Lash lifts are applied either at home or in a salon. A permanent curling solution will be applied to the upper lash line while it is curled around a silicone roller. Once it’s complete, your lashes will look curlier and more lifted. 

  • Pros. Lash lifts aren’t incredibly expensive, ranging between $50 and $100. They last about four to six weeks or until your natural lashes reach the end of their life cycle. A lash lift can give the appearance of wider eyes and make you look more awake.
  • Cons. A lash lift can’t make your lashes longer, thicker, or darker. Some people might be allergic to the solution used to curl the lashes, and even if you aren’t, you could end up with irritated skin. 

2. Lash Tints

Lash tints are similar to lash lifts; you can get them at a salon or do them at home. Like a lash lift, you’ll apply a permanent solution to your lashes while your upper lashes are secured against a silicone roller. However, you’ll be dying your lashes a darker color for a lash tint. 

The FDA does not approve lash tints, but laws about whether a salon can do them vary from state to state. The entire process takes about 15 to 20 minutes, and you’ll have visibly darker lashes that might allow you to skip your mascara.

  • Pros. Lash tints are not expensive; you can get an at-home kit for under $20. They make your lashes darker and may save you from using mascara. They’re also fast and last for about four to six weeks.
  • Cons. Lash tints can come with serious side effects (even blindness) if you have an allergic reaction or get the tinting solution in your eyes. There’s also the risk of getting the tinting solution on your skin, which can be hard to remove. Lastly, a tint will make your lashes darker but won’t add volume or length. 

3. Eyelash Serums

Just open your favorite social media app, and you’ll instantly see someone talking about their favorite eyelash serum. There are at least 10 you could probably name off the top of your head. 

While some of them are approved by the FDA to increase lash length, none can increase lash volume. You can only produce one hair per hair follicle, and you cannot increase the number of hair follicles you have. 

Serums may also contain ingredients that can stain your eyelids and even create dark spots in your eyes.

  • Pros. Many serums can lengthen your lashes by keeping them in the anagen stage of lash growth for a longer period of time. They are easy to use and are generally considered safe. 
  • Cons. Lash serums aren’t cheap; you can plan to spend between $80 and $200 on a serum that will last for about three months. If you discontinue the product, the lash length will last for about four to six weeks or until new ones replace your natural lashes. Lash serums can also cause discoloration on the skin. 

4. Salon Lash Extensions

Salon lash extensions are sometimes considered the gold standard for eyelash enhancement. Lash extensions are long-wearing, fuss-free once they’re applied, and are able to enhance the volume, length, and color of your lashes. 

Lash extension fibers are applied at a 1:1 or several-to-one ratio to your natural lashes using an eyelash glue. The more volume you want, the more extensions you’ll need. Once in place, you won’t need mascara and won’t need to do much to maintain them until you need a fill.

  • Pros. Lash extensions look amazing and can both lengthen and volumize your lashes. Extensions lash about four to six weeks, and a fill-in appointment takes less time and costs less money than your initial set. 
  • Cons. Extensions are pricey, costing anywhere from $200 to $500 for an initial set and $150 to $175 for fills. They’re also time-consuming, with an initial application visit taking close to three hours and fills taking up to an hour. If you wear lash extensions for a long period of time, they can also damage your lashes, causing them to break and fall out. 

5. DIY Lash Extensions

We might be biased, but we’d say the best mascara alternative is definitely DIY lash extensions. The Lashify® DIY Lash Extension™ System lets you create salon-looking lashes at home in about 20 to 30 minutes for a fraction of the cost. 

At-home lashes are applied in the comfort and convenience of your own home and typically give you more freedom in deciding your style and how long you want to keep your lashes on. 

  • Pros. You’ll get to do your lashes at home, saving time and money. DIY lash extensions are easy to learn, have great staying power, and will save you from using mascara.
  • Cons. You won’t get to find out whether your lash tech finally broke up with their dusty SO because you're never going back for a fill.

The Lashify system differs from other at-home systems you might have tried. 

The Lashify Way

Our at-home Gossamer® lashes are different in every way. 

  • Gossamer lashes are 100% cruelty-free, made from Korean PBT silk, and feel completely weightless on your lash line, even if you’re using a voluminous style. 
  • We use Underlash Technology™ for lash application. This allows you to apply your Gossamer lashes beneath your natural lashes, close to your waterline, for extreme comfort and fit. 
  • We don’t use glue at Lashify. Instead, we use Bonds formulated with lash-nourishing ingredients like biotin and lavender. Our Bonds never fully cure and feature Micro-Flex™, which allows your Gossamer lashes to bend and move with your natural lashes to prevent them from becoming dry, brittle, and breaking.
  • Gossamer lashes are made to be worn for up to 10 days with proper care. You can even wear them overnight. Although our lashes were made for single use, our customers have hacked the system and learned to wear their Gossamer lashes over and over again.

If you’re serious about breaking your mascara habit, the Lashify system is the solution for getting great lashes. You can get started quickly and easily when you purchase our fully customizable Control Kit™.

Control of Your Lash Game

The Control Kit contains all the tools you need to get lash enhancement without mascara, including two pairs of Gossamer lashes to get you started. 

Each kit contains:

  • Two sets of Gossamer lashes. Pick two from our Curl, Amplify, or Bold collections. You can also use them to create fully customized looks using Lash Maps
  • Fuse Control® Wand. Ergonomically designed specifically for Gossamer application, you’ll never have to use a pair of tweezers again, at least not for your lashes. 
  • One set of Wandoms®. Because Lashify Bonds don’t fully cure, they become tacky during application. Wandoms keep everything clean and frustration-free, so your Gossamers don’t stick to your Fuse Control Wand.
  • Whisper Light Bond™. Dual-sided and never clumpy, this popular Bond will help your Gossamers stay intact for days.
  • Glass Finishing Coat. The perfect sealer for getting long wear out of your lashes. You don’t have to seal your Gossamers, but if you do, Glass is a great solution. 
  • Samples. You’ll get a sample of Pre Cleanse and Melt Away in each Control Kit. Pre Cleanse is our Japanese Cleansing Water that helps remove dirt and oil from your lashes and lids. It’s powerful yet gentle enough to be used as an all-over facial cleanser. Melt Away is our dual-phase, oil-based makeup remover that helps you easily slide your Gossamer lashes off of your natural lashes without damaging them. 

We stash everything inside a hard, protective case so you’ll have a spot to put all your supplies when you’re done.

No Mascara Is the Best Mascara

Sure, we all love mascara, but why use it when there are better, healthier options for your lashes? Lashify gives you the ability to get longer, fuller, and more noticeable lashes quickly, easily, and without a double coat of mascara. 


The History of Mascara | Back Then History

Are there toxins in your mascara? | Harvard News

Know the Risks of Eyebrow and Eyelash Enhancement | American Academy of Ophthalmology

Mink Eyelashes Exposed: What Salons Won't Tell You | PETA

Biotin | Health Professional Fact Sheet