The 6 best ‘clean’ mascaras every woman over 40 needs to try

There are a million mascaras out there – or almost. No huge surprise. Mascara is the desert-island choice for millions of women. Arguably, if one were to wash up on an island, the single beauty weapon one should select is non-toxic SPF. But SPF doesn’t have the transformative powers and mood-elevating skills of mascara.

Of all the gifts the beauty industry lays before us, mascara is the most democratic. Be it £5.99 for a Maybelline or £55 for Christian Louboutin, pretty much all do the job so well, it’s hard to imagine what took us so many millennia to come up with the current crop.

Yet, amazingly, in Jane Austen’s time, there was no mascara. Think of Pride and Prejudice’s Lydia Bennet, an early prototype of Kim Kardashian (take the novel from 1813 to 2013 and there surely would have been a Lydia/Wickham sex tape), doing it all without mascara. 

Not so long ago, mascaras came in blocks with funny mini-combs that were as far from today’s volumising and lengthening spirals as a cave dwelling is from The Shard.

Nourishing Mascara in Black Brown, £12.99, Burt’s Bees 


Nourishing Mascara in Black Brown, £12.99, Burt’s Bees 

I’ve tried ones that expel microfibres to leave lashes as pumped up as caterpillars. I’ve dabbled with double-ended ones that first coat lashes with white thickener. But my undoubted favourite is Burt’s Bees Nourishing Mascara, £12.99.

It not only lengthens and colours, but – like a good bra – lifts and separates. It also contains jojoba oil and glycerine to condition, and is free of phthalates (research suggests these absorb into the bloodstream as toxins), sodium lauryl sulphates (which can strip and irritate), mineral oil and synthetic scent. And performance-wise, this is a fabulous mascara.

5 tried and verified mascaras 

Volumising, £29, The Organic Pharmacy 

Volumising, £29, The Organic Pharmacy 


Volumising, £29, The Organic Pharmacy 

Volumising, £26, RMS Beauty  

Volumising, £26, RMS Beauty  


Volumising, £26, RMS Beauty  

Lengthening,  £29, Kjaer Weis    


Lengthening,  £29, Kjaer Weis    

Long Lash Vegan, £23, Inika 


Long Lash Vegan, £23, Inika 

Truly Natural, £12.95, Honeybee Gardens 


Truly Natural, £12.95, Honeybee Gardens 

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