Is There Toxic Coal Tar In Your Mascara?

One of the hardest products for me to switch up to safer in my beauty routine was mascara. It seemed liked every mascara I looked at purchasing had some pretty awful ingredients in it. It was so hard to find a non-toxic one that actually worked.

Mascara is one of the most commonly used makeup products by women. Most women, if given the choice, will opt for mascara over any other makeup item. That’s why the ingredients are so alarming.

Let’s talk about Carbon Black.

What is Carbon Black?

It’s an ingredient produced by the incomplete combustion of heavy petroleum products like coal tar. This in and of itself may not make you raise your eyebrow in alarm, but when you realize a couple things about this ingredient you’ll probably decide that you want it nowhere near your eyes.

How Do We Know that Carbon Black is Bad?

#1 Carbon black is rated a 6 for toxicity by the Environmental Working Group (ie. that’s bad!).

#2 It is considered a toxic substance to your organs.

#3 It is classified as toxic and harmful to humans by Environment Canada in the Domestic Substance List.

#4 It is a possible human carcinogen by California EPA Proposition 65.

#5 It is found unsafe by the CTFA International Cosmetic Ingredient Dictionary and Handbook.

When you take into account that this along with propylene glycol (ie. antifreeze) is also in most all mascaras, it’s enough to make you never want to wear the stuff again.

Are There Any Safe Alternatives That Work?

Eventually after trying a multitude of mascaras, I found Beautycounter. I wanted a safer alternative that actually worked well. Neither their Lengthening Mascara or Volumizing Mascara have carbon black or propylene glycol. And the nice thing is that they work great, too!

Watch Out For Where It May Be Hiding


This ingredient may also hide in eye liners, eye shadows, and other cosmetics! So be alert, and always look at the ingredients in your beauty products. And if the ingredients aren’t listed, that’s a big red flag!

What are the ingredients in your mascara? If you look at it and find one of these two ingredients, let us know in the comment section.

Environmental Working Group
California EPA Proposition 65
CTFA International Cosmetic Ingredient Dictionary and Handbook
Environment Canada

By |2018-08-12T10:53:36-04:00August 12th, 2018|Health and Wellness, Natural Products|1 Comment

About the Author:

I'm a former sweet-tooth turned health-nut. After a difficult loss of a first pregnancy and having a second child with a heart condition, I became obsessed with health and wellness. I revamped our entire family's lifestyle, dropped seven pant sizes, and created a website where I could share our story and help support people wanting to make small changes day by day in order to live well. I also support my family by the work that I do here through advertising content, affiliates, and partnership/consultant links within content. When you click and/or order, it puts food on our table. Thanks for all your support, and may you live well and thrive!

One Comment

  1. maggie August 12, 2018 at 11:43 am - Reply

    I was with you until you said “propylene glycol (i.e. antifreeze)”….and then you lost me. That’s about as accurate as saying “hydrogen peroxide (i.e. water)” — uh, no, they both have hydrogen and oxygen in the molecule, but you can’t drink peroxide without vomiting, so clearly they’re NOT the same. Car antifreeze is ETHYLENE glycol. Ethylene is not propylene. Propylene glycol has been found to either be excreted in the urine or is metabolized to lactic acid (normal metabolic products). Ethylene glycol (used in car antifreeze) is metabolized to oxalic acid — poisonous. You may have other reasons not to trust propylene, but it shouldn’t be because you think it’s antifreeze.

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