5 Things You Can Use as a Substitute For Mascara

Run out of or misplaced your mascara? Or perhaps you just want to give your lashes a little respite. In this article, we will look at what you can use as a substitute for mascara (and that actually works!)

Photo Credit: LightField Studios/Shutterstock.

Main Takeaways

  • Vaseline is the best substitute for mascara but don’t use it if you are prone to breakouts
  • Liquid or gel eyeliner, and lash curlers also work
  • Try lash extensions or a lash lift treatment for longer-lasting results

What Can I Use As A Substitute For Mascara?

Vaseline is the most effective substitute for mascara. It can be easily applied using a clean mascara wand or Q-tip and the sheen it gives your lashes allows them to catch the light. Furthermore, it also adds strength and moisture to lashes.

Vaseline is easy to get hold of at any drugstore or you probably already have a tub of the versatile gel at your disposal.

It leaves lashes with a lustrous sheen as well as nourishes them with moisture, leaving lashes protected and strong.

However, you may want to avoid Vaseline if you have oily skin or are prone to breakouts as Vaseline can be triggering for this.


Liquid or gel eyeliner is another possible substitute for mascara. Using a brush with a fine tip, you can apply the liner to the base of your lashes. This will give the illusion of darker lashes overall.

Comb Or Eyelash Curler

Using a lash comb on your lashes can be an effective substitute for mascara. Combing your lashes will separate and lift them, making your eyes appear more open.

An eyelash curler can also be used to lift and open your lashes.

Eyelash Extensions

If you’re making an informed decision to ditch mascara, you could consider having eyelash extensions applied to your natural lashes.

The process is carried out in a salon by a lash technician and involves individual lashes being glued to your natural lashes.

The treatment usually lasts for about 4-6 weeks and adds volume and length to your lashes.

Lash Lift

A lash lift is another alternative to endlessly applying mascara. This procedure takes place in a salon and results in lashes that appear more voluminous. Your natural lashes are boosted at the root.

This treatment generally lasts around 4-6 weeks.

Check out our guide on a Lash Lift vs Extensions for a more detailed explanation.

Lash Tint

If color is your main requirement from mascara, then it might be worth considering a lash tint.

Carried out in a salon, this is a semi-permanent treatment involving the application of a vegetable-based dye.

This treatment is most effective on those with fairer lashes and lasts around 4-6 weeks.

How Do You Make Homemade Mascara?

If you’re looking for an alternative to mascara because you have concerns about the ingredients, then homemade mascara could be the solution.

Here’s a great recipe from kintegraresearch.com

You will need:

  • Beeswax
  • Aloe vera
  • Coconut oil and vitamin E oil
  • Activated charcoal capsules for black pigment or cocoa powder for brown pigment
  • Clean mascara tube or small storage jar
  • Bentonite clay (optional)
  • Small saucepan
  • Spoon/whisk
  • Clean syringe


  1. Add ½ tsp of beeswax, 1 tsp coconut oil, and half a teaspoon of vitamin E oil to the small saucepan and melt over low heat.
  2.  Add 1 tbsp of aloe vera gel to the mixture and stir until combined.
  3.  Add the contents of 2 or 3 charcoal capsules into the mixture for black color or a similar amount of cocoa powder for brown color.
  4.  Continue to stir until the mixture is consistent.
  5.  Adding about ¼ teaspoon of bentonite clay at this point will help the mascara dry quicker and make it longer lasting, but this is optional.
  6. Use a clean syringe to get the mascara into the mascara tube or storage jar then you’re ready to apply!

It is important to be aware that activated charcoal is not Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved for use as a cosmetic colorant.

If this is concerning for you, charcoal can be replaced with a safer option such as mica or mineral powder.

It is also good to be aware that as this mascara is free from preservatives, you will need to make a new batch every 4-6 months.

Will Not Wearing Mascara Help My Eyelashes Grow?

Many mascaras out there contain aluminum powder, formaldehyde, and parabens which can damage your lashes.

Lash expert, Dionne Phillips , advocates taking a mascara break of 5 to 7 days every few weeks or so.

This gives your natural lashes more opportunity to grow and you will notice a difference in the density and strength of your lashes.

Removing the need to be rubbed and tugged through the makeup removal process, also gives lashes the chance to go through their natural hair growth cycle.

This promotes lash growth in so far as your natural lashes have the opportunity to grow to their optimum length.

In addition to the mascara hiatus, using an oil such as castor oil or olive oil at this time helps keep lashes conditioned and in tip-top health.

Avoiding mascara means you can also avoid inflammation and infection, which the product can be responsible for, albeit in a minority of cases.

This can also contribute to reduced lash fall thus giving you more opportunity for fuller lashes.

Tips For Longer Natural Lashes

If you’re desperately seeking a substitute for mascara, you may like the idea of abandoning any additional treatments or products that may be deemed artificial.

Instead, you may want to just focus on boosting or maintaining your natural lashes with our tips below.

Avoid False Eyelashes

While false eyelashes can give you a short-term lash boost, they can also have a detrimental effect on your natural lashes.

Having them on your own lashes may actually restrict natural lash growth while removing them can result in pulling out some of your own lashes.

Healthy Eating

What you eat affects your body and this includes your eyelashes. Improving your diet can improve lash health.

Foods packed with iron, such as spinach, promote lash health, as well as foods high in folic acid, such as milk and whole grains.

Omega-3 fatty acids are also beneficial for healthy lash growth, which can be found in fish and nuts.

Apply Coconut Oil

Applying melted coconut oil to your lashes using a spoolie or a Q-tip can promote lash health. It moisturizes and nourishes lashes meaning they can stay healthy and grow to their full potential.

Check out our post on Why Coconut Oil Is Good For Lashes for more information.

Use A Lash Serum

A lash serum can be used instead of coconut oil if you prefer a product that comes ready to apply for your convenience.

Lash serums containing hyaluronic acid and glycerine are good to look out for as they hydrate lashes by attracting and holding onto water.

This reduces lash breakage and keeps lashes healthy and strong.

Eyelid Massage

Gently massaging eyelids increases blood flow in the eye area. This stimulates hair follicles and may lead to a boost in lash growth.

Take Care When Using Eyelash Curlers

Care needs to be taken to curl lashes gently. Avoid pressing on the lashes for a long time or removing the curler when your lashes are still clamped.

Take Biotin Supplements

Not only are biotin supplements good for promoting healthy hair growth, but they are also effective in promoting healthy eyelash growth.

In addition, biotin can be found in avocadoes, liver, sweet potato, and egg yolk. Enriching your diet with these will benefit lash health.

Apply Green Tea

Green tea is bursting with antioxidants which is good for overall health. It also contains flavonoids which can stimulate lash growth.

Applying cold green tea to lashes helps clean and stimulate hair follicles, further promoting growth.


Can Mascara Damage Eyes?

When not used with care, it is possible for the mascara wand to cause damage to the eye. The wand can accidentally scratch the cornea which can be both painful and serious.

Can I Make Homemade Waterproof Mascara?

Yes, the ingredients are the same as homemade regular mascara with a slight variation. To make your homemade mascara waterproof, you increase the amount of beeswax you add. So, instead of ½ tsp, add ¾ tsp of beeswax. Wax repels water, giving you a waterproof effect.

Is Vaseline Better Than Mascara?

Not necessarily. While Vaseline can be a good alternative to mascara, it can have drawbacks. Vaseline works so well as a barrier to moisture that it can cause the delicate glands and pores around the eye area to become blocked, leading to inflammation and even styes.

So, there you have it. There are plenty of substitutes for mascara out there and ways to strengthen and nourish your natural lashes to negate the need for mascara. You just need to find the one that works best for you.