Activated Charcoal for Mascara? Homemade Mascara. Is it Worth It? Yes or No?

For the last five years or so I've played around with making my own homemade mascara whenever I had an 'empty' store bought mascara.  You make it with food grade, trusted activated charcoal.  (NOT the stuff you use in a grill to cook your burgers and make s'mores) and a base of some sort.

I always have activated charcoal powder on hand since I use it in homemade soaps, etc. but if you need to purchase it make sure it's from a trusted source.  I bought a package of it at a local health store for cheap but I also always have capsules on hand because we use CharcoCaps in our home for upset stomachs, gas and bloating.  If you have these on hand, just pop open a capsule or two instead of buying new.

The base.  Here lies the problem, if you will.

Finding a good 'base' to a homemade mascara is tricky. I also think what works for one person won't work for another because we all have different needs, wants, preferences and priorities.

When I was younger (teen and 20's) I could use any mascara.  Any brand, any amount, any style. I could cake it on day after day and never even bother to take it off other than my daily shower.  But towards the end of my 20's I noticed my eyes would start to water a bit when I wore mascara.  And as I got older and wore it less (not applying it when I was home full time, wouldn't 'see' anyone, was going natural that day) I noticed when I put it on for work, or events my eyes started to water even more.  Apparently either my body was starting to reject the chemicals in store bought mascara or they were making it 'more' chemically... or something.  I don't know.  I don't care.  I just know my eyes would water, I am constantly rubbing them and therefore; rubbing off or smearing the makeup.

And that is why about five years ago, I started to play around with making my own homemade versions.  And, they were 'hit and miss' depending on the base used.

There is no real recipe for it; it's just simply a mixture of a bit of activated charcoal powder (maybe 1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon), 1-2 teaspoons of some sort of base to mix it into and apply it to your lashes.  And of course a container to put it in; which is easy if you are re-using an empty mascara container. Put it in the container using a frosting bag or snip the tip off a plastic baggy or just 'scoop' it in using your mascara wand and then clean the container rim of the excess.

Some bases I've either used myself or heard that others have used are;
coconut oil
shea butter
cocoa butter
moisturizing cream
vegetable glycerine 
bentonite clay

This powder is FINE. Expect it to be a bit messy - it's drifts everywhere!

Coconut Oil: I started with one version I was pretty sure would not work. And I was right.  Coconut oil.  Now, I love coconut oil and use it in many things, but it melts to liquid at 76 degrees so basically your own body heat is going to melt it instantly.  This causes smearing something fierce!  I knew a base of just coconut oil would do this but I tried it just to say I did.  And it smeared within seconds. Literally, seconds. And wiping it gently just smeared it worse.  I laughed, and used a moist towelette to remove it all. 

Water: I also decided to do the obvious even though I was pretty sure it wouldn't work either;  I simply used water and activated charcoal.  Water does not like to mix with the charcoal powder so you have to 'whip' it in.  And it's messy.  And doesn't really adhere to the lashes well.  

Bentonite Clay and Glycerine: A mixture of bentonite clay powder with some water to hydrate it and vegetable glycerine mixed in seemed like it was working fairly well but it smeared easily. (I had glycerine in my cupboard from my baking and frosting making so it was worth a shot.) One swipe and you've got smudges down your face.  Nope. Not going to work for me.

Dry: Before another attempt I decided to just try to use the activated charcoal powder alone and brush it on thinking it might adhere to my lashes... no.  But I had caused a great fine powdered black snowstorm upon my face and trying to wipe the dusting of fine black powder off my cheeks and nose resulted in a big black mess over my face and hands.  Fail.  I thought it would be, but I had to try, right?

The last version I tried was the one that worked the best for me.

I have some coconut oil face moisturizing cream in a jar that I don't actually like as a facial moisturizer so it sits ignored most of the time but have been trying to use it up as a body moisturizer on my legs sometimes.  I saw it on the bathroom shelf and knew I also had a mascara that was empty that I had 'cleaned' with some rubbing alcohol but was saving for another attempt at DIY mascara.

Mixing about 1 teaspoon of the moisturizing cream with about 1/3 teaspoon powder I applied it and was fairly happy with not only the consistency, but also the results.  Yes it still smears if directly rubbed but stayed on better than any other attempted base.  In the end it would acceptable if I wanted or needed to use a homemade mascara.

Coconut oil mixes great but melts at 76 degrees so it's an instant smear mess on your face - stabilize with melted beeswax

However my final thoughts (and HONEST thoughts) are this: 
1) I'd prefer to use a natural and healthy coconut oil base but it needs to be stabilized with melted beeswax or it's just not acceptable in the least on its own. The moisturizing cream worked well but isn't purely natural.
2) Honestly, the best mascaras for great coverage and less smears that I've tried, are store bought.  Plain and simple. Easier. Less messy. Works the same every time.  And you CAN find some with more natural ingredients now than you could even 5 years ago so there are more options on the market than when I first started to try making my own 'just for fun' and 'just to try it'.

Close up BEFORE AND AFTER photos... with the coconut oil moisturizing cream base. (This worked the best.)


Honestly I'm going to keep buying a nice mascara at the store - but I also am keeping my last trial (the coconut oil moisturizing cream version) for my 'emergency' stash mascara. It smears a bit easy but then again so do many store bought mascaras.  It's a nice back up just in case.

Products related to this post available to purchase through Amazon if you can't find them locally;

Charcocaps Anti-gas Dietary Supplement Formula 36 Capsules
Activated Charcoal Powder - Food Grade (1.2 oz glass jar)
Nature's Way Activated Charcoal, 100 Capsules  
NOW Solutions Glycerine Vegetable, 16-Ounce
Naturewell Extra Virgin Coconut Oil Moisturizing Cream, 16 oz


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