How Does It Work? Mascara

Mascara is a handy tool for emphasizing your gorgeous eyelashes. As magical as it may seem, its mechanism is hardly wizardry.

All mascara is made of three main ingredients: pigments, oils, and waxes. Additionally, preservatives are needed to keep your favorite lash goop safe. Finally, lengthening mascaras have added ingredients to create the illusion of longer lashes.

My eyelashes here are coated with Clinique High Impact Mascara.

Pigments are the most fundamental part of any mascara. They are, of course, what gives mascara its color. Carbon black and iron oxides are the most common pigments, providing brown and black colors. If you feel like getting fancy, some mascaras contain ultramarine blue pigments as well.

Ultramarine pigments likely gave these lashes their blue hue.

The oils in mascara vary widely. Mineral oils, caster oil, lanolin, and sesame oil are all particularly common. These oils help create a texture that is easy to apply.
Next, waxes are needed to provide the body of the mascara. These coats the lash, providing volume. Paraffin wax, carnauba wax and beeswax are all commonly used as waxes in mascara. Higher proportions of waxes are what gives waterproof mascara its tear-proof formula, since these ingredients repel water.
Waterproof mascaras may also include ingredients like dodecane, an alkane hydrocarbon that is, like all alkanes, insoluble in water. This also helps prevent streaking as you bawl your eyes out to the introduction to Pixar’s ‘Up’.
Additionally, of course, mascaras are packed with preservatives so you don’t get any weird infections.
Many modern mascaras also help boost eyelash length. This requires an additional ingredient: short, synthetic fibers that help build up your lashes. These are typically made of nylon or rayon. As you brush the mascara on, these fibers get stuck in the waxy goop and lengthen out your eyelashes.

As you apply your favorite mascara, these forces work together to give you lovely-looking lashes.


  1. This makes me curious about how the blind “tubing” mascara works as compared to regular ones.

2. Darn autocorrect. I meant Blinc!

3. Very informative! Thanks for the info, 🙂

4. Haha, the LC crying scene LOLOL