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Zero Waste Eyeliner and Mascara


Last Updated on June 21, 2022

Zero waste eyeliner and mascara work beautifully, are sustainable, and only take 4 ingredients. Look your best while avoiding waste when you make DIY mascara and DIY eyeliner.

Homemade mascara and eyeliner require some basic ingredients and is long lasting. We’ll teach you how to make eyeliner and mascara that doesn’t run, burn, or flake.

diy mascara and eyeliner

eyeliner and mascara

The hunt has been on for quite some time. I could write a book on all my failed make-up experiments.

I’m still a fan of my lip to cheek, but it doesn’t have a very long shelf life. Which does not fit with my rules of personal sustainability.

So, I’m looking for shelf stable options.

I’ve been so close to breaking down and buying mascara. There’s a brand that sells it in stainless steel refills, but at $48 + shipping – I can’t; I could buy 2 dozen organic cupcakes for $48! 

I just cannot see myself spending that much on organic mascara that needs to be replaced every 3 months. 

Mascara or 2 dozen cupcakes? Mascara or 2 dozen cupcakes? Cupcakes win every time. 

Thankfully my homemade mascara costs less than a dollar; which means, cupcakes and mascara! 

why you’ll love DIY mascara and eyeliner

  • Quick and easy to make
  • Makes a great gift
  • Sustainable
  • Zero waste
  • Long lasting
  • Beautiful results
woman with bare face

ingredients needed for homemade mascara and eyeliner

  • 1 Tablespoon Activated Charcoal: bought in bulk at Rainbow
  • 1/2 Teaspoon of Shea Butter: bought in bulk at a local boutique 
  • 1 Teaspoon of Bentonite Clay:  bought in bulk at Rainbow
  • 2-3 Drops of Oil:  like sweet almond or olive oil bought in glass bottles

Activated charcoal is very fine and very free. The bottle at Rainbow is even labeled with a warning. You open it and a mushroom cloud arises. The other ingredients are used to weigh the powder down and give it sticking power.  

A NOTE ON ACTIVATED CHARCOAL: If you can’t buy activated charcoal in bulk, you can make it. There are tutorials here and here. You can also buy it in capsules at your local drug store, or you can buy it loose. It’s shelf stable, so buy a large quantity to reduce packaging. I use it in a lot of beauty recipes like this face mask and my whitening toothpowder.

Mix all of the ingredients together. I used a mortar and pestle to really work the oils into the fine powder. If you use metal you will deactivate the clay. Mine, being in a metal tin, is deactivated, which means it won’t pull toxins out of my skin. The clay is used as a binder, so it doesn’t matter if it has been deactivated in this recipe. 

how to make eyeliner and mascara:

rinsing brush under water

Step 1: Dip a line brush into water.

dipping brush into product

Step 2: Dip it into the powder.

tapping off extra diy eyeliner

Step 3: Give it a good tap.

adding homemade eyeliner to eye

Step 4: Draw on your eyelids. Remember this is not a make-up tutorial. There are WAY better bloggers out there for that! 

rinsing mascara brush under water

Step 5: Run your mascara wand under a slow stream of running water.

applying diy mascara

Step 6: Dip it into your eyeliner mix, tap, and apply. My lashes are normally light brown, so this makes a huge difference. I like to do a second coat. Wait about five minutes. This time don’t run the lash brush under water, dip into the mixture, and reapply. 

Always apply your eye makeup before the rest of your makeup. You may get some specs on your face — it is, after all, powder. Just wipe them away.  

 Finished at 3pm

frequently asked questions

how long does DIY mascara last?

It typically lasts all day. See my photo below to see what my results are after wearing the DIY eyeliner and mascara after a full day of activities.

 Turning in for bed at 11:30. After an afternoon/evening of BBQing with friends, how does my eye make up look?  

how long does it take to dry homemade mascara?

Both the eyeliner and mascara will dry in a few minutes. After applying, be sure not to touch them for a few minutes.

Also, if you curl your lashes, do so after applying the DIY mascara. I know it sounds like blasphemy to curl your lashes after, but if you curled them before and applied a damp mascara brush, they would go limp. So, instead, curl when dry. 

what do I use to apply DIY mascara and eyeliner ?

You can use an old mascara brush to apply it. Be sure to clean it well before you use it for DIY mascara. If you don’t have one, you can find sustainable spoolies online or at your local co op.

For the DIY eyeliner, a thin stiff brush works well.

how often should I clean my mascara brush?

For best results, wash the brushes every other day or so. This will keep them clear of bacteria.

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  1. Mascara is my one health and beauty product I’m still struggling with. Because I’m so fair I actually get my eyelashes dyed at the local college (so it’s pretty cheap) every 6 weeks, but still use mascara occasionally to lengthen or in the week or so before my next appointment when the dye starts to fade. I haven’t delved into the world of homemade mascaras yet but I’m more and more tempted, so might just give this a go! Out of interest, what is the refillable mascara you mentioned? Definitely pricey but as I use very little it’d probably last a long time for me, so could be worth it…maybe.

  2. I just asked about this on our ZW group on FB, so good timing, Kathryn 🙂 The ingredients aren’t readily available where I live, so I would have to order them. Can you recommend any online shops for this?

  3. Do you think it would work with cocoa? I’m à redhead and fair skinned and don’t look good in black mascara – Linda (sweden)

    1. I’m sure! Cocoa isn’t nearly as fine, so you probably don’t need all of the weight. I’m sure it would work as a liner but unsure about it for the lashes. Give it a try and let me know!

  4. Hi Kathryn,

    Maybe you mentionned it somewhere else, but have you found a mascara wand (and in general, make-up brushes) that are compostable? If you are reusing an old mascara wand, how do you clean it up so it stays hygienic after several months of using it?

    1. I’m using my old brushes. I do have a plastic mascara wand that I bought for this. I try to wash the brush every couple of days and let it air dry to keep bacteria from growing since I’m using water.

  5. You look great! This is a great tutorial. And… cupcakes totally win in my book 🙂 I’d be interested in hearing how the cocoa powder works too. Someone emailed me recently saying they used it to fill in their eyebrows and it looked great. I tried the Kjaer Weis mascara with the refills after reading so many zero wasters amazing reviews. Well, I hated it. It didn’t do anything for my lashes and came out clumpy. Maybe it was a bad tube? Homemade is much better. Fortunately here there are consignment shops for used makeup (you can’t return makeup in France). It sounded gross to me but the Kjaer Weis sold right away!

    1. Thank you! Yes, cocoa is fabulous for brow powder and eye shadow. I add arrowroot, bentonite and a couple of drops of oil for weight and a lighter color. I will try it for liner! Fascinating. A consignment store for makeup? I’m not too freaked out about germs, but for some reason, that worries me a little. But, I’m still utterly fascinated.

  6. I love this so much as an eyeliner!! Thanks for the easy, wonderful recipe. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work for me as mascara. My eyelashes are really blond and fine and nothing sticks to them except really sticky, thick mascara. I’ve tried other ZW versions that didn’t work either. Sigh. I’m still finishing up a "regular" mascara that is at least rated a "1" according to EWG, but creates plastic waste that I am trying to avoid. So my ZW mascara search continues.

    Regarding this recipe with cocoa- I tried it as well, but I think the shea butter was too much weight for the cocoa. I can still use it as brow color, though it is a bit clumpy. Also I think the cocoa is too light of a shade for eyeliner and mascara….even on my blond lashes.

    Thanks again Kathryn! I love your blog!

  7. THANK YOU ! 😀 I made this mascara and it’s great, doesn’t give me panda eyes, my lashes look full and there are no clumps. I was just about to give up on making my own mascara after many failed attempts, so I’m really happy and feel more motivated to continue finding more zero-waste alternatives 🙂

  8. Hello:)

    On Etsy you can find hand made zero waste mascara for 10,99 euros (without shipping though) It seems to be really nice but I didn’t ordered it yet. I’m not sure because it comes from the US and I live in the Netherlands and I’d prefer something local. I’m still looking for alternatives. It is hard to find those ingredients that’s why I would prefer to by mascara.

    I discovered your blog recently and really love it!
    here’s the link for the mascara:

  9. Love this recipe! You are look gorgeous! I felt it was important to share some friendly advice: it is not safe to have essential oils near your eyes! Please don’t use essential oils in this recipe, EOs can get into the mucous membranes of your eyes and cause damage. Peace and love, only good vibes intended here.

    1. I have seen several other bloggers use it in their mascara recipes. I don’t know anything about essential oils. It was only for weight and a nice smell. It’s not essential to the recipe.

  10. Hi lovely! I’m such a big fan of your blog and zero waste recipes and been following you for a long time. I’m about to try this recipe, just ordered the ingredients. My question is, is bentonite clay safe to use near the eye? Every manufacturer recommends not to apply anywhere near the eye. so that’s my only worry.

    Thank you!

  11. Hi,

    It’s almost a year on now. Do you still like using this recipe? Are there any quirks you’ve noticed while using it? Anything in particular you liked or disliked about it?

    Thanks 🙂

  12. I buy sticks of charcoal to filter my water. After 4 months it needs to be changed. Can I repurpose that charcoal for mascara?

  13. I made this recipe before and I love it! It took me a little while to find again, but I love it so much I had to find it again! Thank you so much!!!

  14. Have you ever tried putting beeswax or aloe in this to make it a liquid instead of a powder? I love this, but I get the powder everywhere every morning and I find it only last about 1/2 of my work day. I’m looking for something to make it a liquid and/or last longer.

  15. Hey! I just tried this, and I love this recipe! It goes on much better than even some store-bought eyeliners!
    But, I was wondering why you don’t use water in it? I did, because I wasn’t sure what to do with the powder and shea butter (or were we supposed to melt the shea butter?).. does that make it go bad faster or something?

  16. It’s also true that one should be careful with a curler. A friend of mine was curling her eyelashes so much that they got damaged. I suggested her Cherish Lash serum and she restored them in 2 months. As to me I curl just a little with a spoon and don’t put too many layers of mascara.

  17. Hi Kathryn! Any suggestions on where to buy plastic free eyeliner brushes? I always used the pencils, so I don’t have old brushes on hand. Thanks so much for all of your wonderful research!

  18. Wooww!!! You have a wonderful way of explaining things! 🙂 No unnecesary text, very useful info and details… and pictures!! haha! Thank you sooo much!! I too was veeeery hesitant about buying cruelty free mascara and eyeliner, as in my country is so expensive! Plus, it’s not even close to zero waste! I’ll deeeeef try this!! Thank you soo much!! 😀