Speaking of things I wasn’t sure I’d ever crack—mascara. There’s a reason this is my first entry of my third year of blogging. I have been trying to figure out mascara for ages now. You wouldn’t believe the amounts of black goop I’ve tossed over the last few years. You see, mascara is tricky. Infuriatingly so.
First off, mascara must dry quickly—but not too quickly. Once on your lashes it must dry straight away, but on the brush or in the bottle, it must remain supple and apply-able.
Once it’s on your lashes, it mustn’t flake, but it also mustn’t melt. If it dries too much, it will flake, but if it doesn’t dry enough (basically, if it is almost entirely oil based), it will melt off your lashes in hot weather, leaving you with black stripes and dots on your face. (And, from there, it must also stay on all day, yet come off easily when you no longer want it around).
Then, after all that, it must actually do something. It needs to add body and length to the lashes, whilst not clumping them together. It must darken them. It must give the illusion that your eyelashes were ripped off of a doll, though obviously they were not.
As it turns out, it is very difficult to achieve all of these things without the use of coal tar, a wide variety of solvents and petroleum-derived dyes, and a heavy dose of chemistry inspired magic.
My initial experiments focused around activated charcoal mashed together with oil thickened with wax. While this worked moderately well initially (it gave darkening and some thickening properties), I discovered that on warm or hot days, it would melt off easily, leaving me with some rather haphazard Morse code dotted underneath my eyebrows. It would also wipe off far too easily.
From there I moved to experiments with activated charcoal or black iron oxide in a thickened water base, but all that got me was utterly crap gel-type mixtures with bits of black suspended in them. They had no interest whatsoever in clinging to my lashes and/or doing anything beneficial to their appearance. So down the sink went those experiments as well.
Finally—clay. I’ve got bits of a clay mask stuck in my hair often enough over the last few years that I can’t believe this didn’t occur to me earlier. It’s a bit embarrassing, really. Anyhow, it became far more obvious when some Australian Reef Red and Black clays arrived in the mail.
Clays make a brilliant paste, and are naturally inclined to dry quickly. Depending on how much water you add, you can have a thick or thin solution. The brush you use also makes a big difference, so be sure to experiment. In any case, I think you’ll be quite pleased with this DIY mascara. I am, of course, always experimenting and working on improving my recipes, but after two years I finally feel like I have a mascara recipe that is good enough to share with you.
Natural Clay Mascara
NOTE: I would HIGHLY recommend not making this recipe, and instead using the recipe in my book; it’s much better, requires far fewer weird ingredients, and is likely safer as well since these clays are no longer recommended for use in eye cosmetics, though they were when I purchased them.
Stir together the clays and guar gum in a small dish. Add the vegetable glycerine (USA / Canada), preservative, and water. Stir/mash to combine (you may have to add more water, but be cautious—too much water will give you a mascara that is not viscous enough to apply/have any effect).
You can store it in a new mascara tube if you have one (seriously, do not try to clean out an old one, that is an exercise in futility, only to then discover that you will not actually be able to get any mascara through the tiny hole at the top). However, I find I prefer to keep it in a small 5g jar, where I can dip my brush in and then wipe off the excess to my taste.
When applying, be sure to experiment with different brushes—I find bristley ones work better than the silicone/plasticky/spikey ones.