Written by Daisy Bradbury

Plastic-free mascara bars sound like a sustainable beauty swap we could all get on board with. But do they actually work? 

In a bid to live more eco-consciously, the sustainable beauty market has soared in popularity with solutions like refillable lipsticks and plastic-free powders becoming more commonplace on the high street and within our favourite beauty retailers. While many of our routines have received a needed eco-makeover, one product has been left behind: mascara. That was, however, until the return of the mascara cake.

Rather than the conventional liquid tube mascara, this sustainable alternative is a solid bar of product that you dampen and apply to eyelashes. They were all the rage in the early 1900s before tube mascaras were invented but have recently made a comeback in the name of plastic-free primping. 

But how are they sustainable? “Mascara bars last a lot longer and don’t dry out,” explains Jane Whillock, founder of Bain and Savon. “This means you don’t end up tossing a plastic tube out every couple of months.”

Sustainable beauty expert Nat van Zee also clarifies that mascara bars “contain no petrochemicals or micro-plastics, which are used in most conventional mascaras” that pollute the earth. They’re better for the environment, our wallets and even the most sensitive eyes – what’s not to love?

A sustainable mascara with years of stellar performance sounds perfect on paper but is it too good to be true? I put the mascara cake to the test to see if it lives up to tube alternatives.

Plastic-free mascara bar: an honest review

I tested Bain and Savon’s Vegan Cake Mascara, which is the most eco-friendly formula I could find, with only four ingredients listed. To give it a fair test, I applied it using a mascara wand that I already loved and curled my lashes beforehand, as I would with any other lash product.

My first attempt to use the mascara was nothing short of a mess – I applied water directly to the mascara cake, which was a disaster – before soon realising that dampening the brush instead of the product is the best way forward. Applying the product to my lashes was surprisingly smooth and precise and I really enjoyed being in charge of how much product was on the brush.

MY LASHES AFTER ONE COAT OF MASCARA

After applying one coat, my lashes were looking darker and more defined with no clumps in sight. However, it created a very subtle look that didn’t do a great deal for my naturally straight and limp lashes. I instantly knew that this product would need layering and lots of it.

I ended up applying four generous coats of the mascara, which is definitely more laborious than others that I’ve tried. If I’m completely honest, I couldn’t see a massive difference between only one coat and the final look.

MY LASHES AFTER FOUR COATS OF MASCARA

The almond wax is supposed to add volume but I found this virtually impossible to achieve – even after thoroughly building up the product on my lashes. While this mascara creates a gorgeous natural look, it certainly didn’t achieve the intense volume that I usually look for in mascara.

My biggest worry when trying the mascara cake was that it would run throughout the day. My oily eyelids mean a waterproof formula is necessary to avoid a smudgy mess, but this is difficult to achieve with an all-natural product.

Surprisingly, I found that this mascara hardly budged throughout the day and my eyelashes looked virtually identical when I came to remove my make-up. While I don’t think it would withstand crying or torrential rain, for daily wear it certainly passed the test.

  • Bain and Savon Vegan Cake Mascara

    Shop Bain and Savon Vegan Cake Mascara, £8.50

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Whether the mascara cake can compete with your usual product depends on what you’re after. If you want a natural, effortless sweep of mascara then this definitely rivals others on the market. If you’re after full-on volume and spidery lashes, the mascara cake might be a bit of a flop.

Personally, I’ll continue to use the mascara cake for natural make-up days, but if I’m going for a full glam look it’ll probably remain in my make-up bag as I favour more intense products.

Regardless, this mascara cake achieves a lovely look while simultaneously caring for the planet. If you want an eco-friendly mascara swap for natural-looking lashes, I’d highly recommend giving this product a try.

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