Zero waste mascara, part two (soap free recipe)

zero waste mascara DIY

I knew it was possible to make a cake mascara without soap, but never had a reason to try until this spring. It’s beautiful here in Sydney, now on the first day of summer. The Jacarandas are in full purple canopy, and the air smells of jasmine. I don’t know which beautiful flowering tree to blame for my sneezing, watery eyes. The soap in my cake mascara was stinging me when I’d rub my itchy eyes. Even though I have been using the soap based mascara formula for years without issue, I had to stop wearing it.

Anyway…I’m smiling again, because I made a waste free mascara without soap that works great.

zero waste mascara soap free

I used very similar ingredients to my last cake mascara formulation, minus the soap, I’ll credit my years of tinkering with all sorts of personal care formulas for helping me develop a sense of what would work. I’m not saying there isn’t yet a better way, just that this worked for me.

How to make soap-free cake mascara

Here’s what I used to make a soap-free zero waste cake mascara:

  • 3g charcoal powder
  • 3g bentonite clay
  • 1g beeswax
  • 1g shea butter
  • 1g vitamin e oil

I measured each ingredient one by one in the same jar I used to melt the ingredients, then tared after adding each ingredient.

The method is the same process as in the older soap-based cake mascara recipe:

  • put everything in a heat proof glass container.
  • place the jar it in a saucepan of simmering water to melt, stir to combine once melted.
  • Pour into a clean shallow mould or old makeup container and it’ll set within a minute.

I used an old MAC bronzer case, which I like for the width and the mirror. It’s easy to rub the wand into the cake. I apply to lashes by wetting the mascara wand then rubbing the brush into the cake to moisten. I use more water for this formula than my soap based recipe.

This mascara has lighter, dryer texture on the lashes than the soap based version and because there’s no soap in it I can shimmy the brush closer to my eyelid for a thicker overall look. Once on, it doesn’t move around. At the end of the day, it comes off with my usual few drops of oil.

mascara soap free

I’ll use up the rest of my soap based mascara when allergy season has passed, but this is a great alternative and recipe I’ll probably use from here out. I had all of the ingredients on hand already, but if I didn’t, there are now shops in Sydney where you can find them for refill and buy only what you need.

The truth about cleaning with vinegar and bi carb

bi carb and vinegar for cleaning

Cleaning with a paste of bi carb and vinegar is a waste of both substances. I use both in my zero waste cleaning routine, but separately.

The advice to combine vinegar and bi carb (baking soda to my North American readers) for cleaning is pervasive and well intentioned, but ignores a basic rule of chemistry.

Bi carb is a base and vinegar is an acid. When combined, they produce mostly water and sodium acetate (a salt). Now, water is still a decent cleaner and a wonderful solvent. In fact, when I have baked on grime on my glass stovetop, my first step is to pour on a layer of plain water to soften and dissolve the soil, before following up with something like castile soap and/or an abrasive scrub brush. But if we want to clean with water, let’s just clean with water from the start. That’ll save trips to the store and money to buy the ingredients (yes they are cheap, but still).

The advice to mix bi carb and vinegar is vexing because bi carb is a mined, non-renewable resource. When we use it, better to use it properly. Furthermore, if we want others to join us in using less toxic cleaning ingredients, the substitutes must work better than the incumbents. I firmly believe that a very small collection of mostly food grade substances can satisfy all of my cleaning needs, but only when used properly.

How I use bi carb and vinegar for cleaning

For most day to day cleaning, I rely on elbow grease and diluted castile soap, which is made from olive oil and works brilliantly to remove dirt. The first step in removing bacteria is mechanical.

Vinegar is great for cleaning windows, cutting grease, and as an added disinfection step. It kills the flu virus, salmonella, e.coli and other pathogens – even the bacteria that causes tuberculosis (with the proper amount of exposure). However, I do not disinfect daily. There are good and bad types of bacteria, and nature hates a vacuum, so I don’t see the point in overzealous disinfection. I live in a house, not a hospital.

I use bicarb sparingly and infrequently. I keep a shaker bottle in the bathroom cabinet and use a sprinkle to scrub the sink (and as a face exfoliant). After I’ve mechanically scrubbed away grime and bacteria using a rag and the abrasive bi carb, I’ll rinse with water, then spray on vinegar to disinfect.

I suppose my point in all of this is to say that good old soapy water is underrated and the combination of bi carb and vinegar is overrated, and worse, wasteful.