Natural vs. Traditional Mascara: Can You Tell the Difference?

Natural versus Traditional Mascara
Affiliate links appear in this post. I was not compensated by any company for this review. I’m just a gal with a blog and felt this was a worthwhile topic. All opinions are my own and I hope it lends you some insight! :)

One of the biggest complaints I have heard (and uttered myself!) concerning natural cosmetics is that natural mascara cannot compare to traditional (read: toxic) mascara in terms of performance and wear. I gave up on the natural brands I’d tried and just went back to using drugstore-brands of mascara. I wrote about my natural makeup routine and decided to do a comparison of the natural and traditional mascaras in my possession, to truly see the difference between natural vs. traditional mascara, and why I decided to return to the toxic stuff.

Read More: My Natural Makeup Routine: It’s Not All Natural Makeup!

So check it out:

Below are photos of my eyes sans mascara, one eye done in mascara, and both eyes done with two types of mascara: Suncoat Natural Mascara and Maybelline Colossal Volum’ Express (the drugstore brand I really liked and used daily). Note: I have done no photo re-touching other than to slightly airbrush the area between my eyebrows and remove errant hairs hanging from my forehead which could have been distracting. You can tell by the red skin irritation to the left of the photo that I haven’t touched the eyes. I did not curl my lashes and used only one coat of mascara.

Try to guess which is the natural and which is the traditional brand.

Mascara Comparison

Can you tell the difference?


I couldn’t!

Natural vs Traditional Mascara

I was honestly shocked when I did a side-by-side comparison.

I knew that the Suncoat Natural mascara was the best NATURAL mascara I’d tried, but I didn’t realize it looked almost identical to the traditional mascara I thought was so much better.


More Details:

First, let’s talk ingredients.

Ingredients are, in my opinion, the biggest reason to switch.

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Ingredients in Maybelline Colossal Volum’ Express:
Isododecane, Cera Alba (Beeswax) (Beeswax), C8 9 Isoparaffin (Aqua), Disteardimonium Hectorite, Cera Carnauba (Copernicia Cerifera Wax) (Carnauba Wax), Water (Aqua), Propylene Carbonate, Allyl Stearate/VA Copolymer, Lecithin, Silica, Sodium Polymethacrylate, Hydrogenated Jojoba Oil, Phenoxyethanol, PEG/PPG 17/18 Dimethicone, Ethylenediamine/Stearyl Dimer Dilinoleate Copolymer, Ethylparaben, Polyvinyl Laurate, Polyquaternium 10, Soluble Collagen, Panthenol, Propylparaben, Isobutylparaben, Methylparaben, Butylparaben, Oryza Sativa Starch (Rice Starch), May Contain (+/-): CI 77499, CI 77492 (Iron Oxide Yellow), CI 77491 (Iron Oxides) (Iron Oxides), CI 77007 (Ultramarines), CI 77891 (Titanium Dioxide) (Titanium Dioxide), CI 77288 (Chromium Oxide Greens) (Chromium Oxide Greens), CI 77289 (Chromium Hydroxide Green) (Chromium Hydroxide Green), CI 77742 (Manganese Violet) (Manganese Violet), CI 77510 (Ferric Ferroxyanide), Mica

To summarize this LONG list of ingredients, the major toxic contenders are parabens: Ethylparaben, Propylparaben, Isobutylparaben, Methylparaben, Butylparaben. Propylparaben and Isobutylparaben are known endocrine disruptors and register 10 and 7, respectively, the highest toxicity ratings, by the Environmental Working Group.

Now, I am not a scientist and I can’t speak to the effects these parabens have on the body when used to coat one’s eyelashes, but I can speak to my experience when I wear traditional mascara: I almost always have those red, dry, itchy patches by my eyes (see photos above), and if I forget to remove my makeup at night–the jig is up. I’ll have those red patches for weeks.


Take a look at what’s in the Suncoat:

Suncoat Natural Mascara

Ingredients in Suncoat Natural Mascara:
Aqua (water), kaolin clay, vegetable glycerin, hydrolyzed Zee mays (corn) starch (natural sugar-based biopolymer), lecithin, Citrus grandis (grapefruit) seed extract, tocopherol (vitamin E), citric acid, pigments (see below).

Black: iron oxide (CI 77499).
Blue: iron oxide (CI 77499), ultramarine blue (CI 77007).
Brown: iron oxide (CI 77499, CI 77491).
via Suncoat website


Read More: Are You Being Duped By That Natural Beauty Brand?


The Maybelline wears all day, with no flaking, which is why I liked it. In comparison to other traditional mascaras, this one may not be the most lengthening, or volumizing, or whatever-made-up-beauty-word as other brands. But, in the realm of beauty blogs, it gets high reviews, so that’s saying something to its likability.

But guess what? The Suncoat lasted all day, too. It felt like I wasn’t wearing anything at all. And as we’ve seen from the photos, it looks the same on my lashes.


Admittedly, this is where the Maybelline wins out. Maybelline is smooth in consistency and doesn’t require too much attention when applying. In contrast, the Suncoat is thick and sticky and can easily clump your lashes together if you’re not careful. That said, it is the case with most natural mascaras due to the type of ingredients. I remedy it with a quick swipe of my eyebrow comb or an old mascara brush before the mascara has dried.


WINNER: SUNCOAT. If you’ve ever used traditional mascara, you know that even the non-waterproof kind requires special attention to remove it all–and you still wake up with circles under your eyes. The Suncoat wipes off easily with water. I’m lazy enough to also have a report about sleeping with it on: no irritation occurred.


Welp, you can’t argue with drugstore prices. The Maybelline mascara retails for around $7. Meanwhile, the Suncoat’s pricing is almost double. The current price on Amazon (cheaper than Suncoat’s main website) is shown below:

One thing to note: due to its thick consistency, the Suncoat mascara does seem to last longer. I have quite a bit left after using it for three months, meanwhile, the Maybelline needs to be replaced after the same amount of time. In comparison to department-store or high-end brands, though, the Suncoat is certainly cheaper.

CONSENSUS: Suncoat wins, on ingredients, wearability, and washability.

Suncoat Natural Mascara

So, make the switch!

It should be noted that I was not compensated by Suncoat in any way for this review.

I discovered Suncoat mascara via an Ecocentric Mom subscription box. I received a full-sized tube of mascara, used it for awhile, and, for some reason, convinced myself it didn’t make my lashes look as good as the Maybelline. This was the first time I’d done a true comparison, and now that I see the photographic evidence, I will not be going back to the traditional, toxic brands. Suncoat is the best of any natural brands I’ve sampled.

The best price I’ve found for Suncoat mascara is on Amazon. Click Here to get the best available price.


Do you think you’ll change your mascara? Do you have another brand you think I should try?


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5 Responses to Natural vs. Traditional Mascara: Can You Tell the Difference?

  1. Green Diva Meg February 17, 2014 at 3:01 pm #

    ooooo – what a great post. well-illustrated. i’ll have to try suncoat!

    • HealthfulMama February 22, 2014 at 4:36 pm #

      Thanks, Meg!

  2. Colleen Anderson February 17, 2014 at 4:02 pm #

    Love it! And I liked the Suncoat brand the best!

  3. OnGreenCarpet February 18, 2014 at 2:57 am #

    Thanks! I also love dr.Hauschka mascara, it is really nice!

    • HealthfulMama February 22, 2014 at 4:36 pm #

      I’ve heard good things about Dr. Hauschka, but I can never bite the bullet on the price–currently just under $30 on Amazon!

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