DIY Homemade Vegan Mascara & Vegan Cake Mascara

Mascara!  The staple of all beauty products – it lengthens, thickens, darkens, colors, curls and makes your eyes look absolutley fabulous. I have been offering my Vegan Mascara in my shop HerbanLuxe on Etsy for close to two years now – it’s one of my favorite products to make.  My formula is based on an old recipe my grandmother taught me when I was very young.

Believe it or not, the earliest historical recording of mascara dates back to the Egyptians in 4000BC, they used Kohl combined with malachite and other minerals to tint their lashes and eyebrows.  They didn’t have any fancy equipment or use “icky” preservatives and chemicals in their products – they used what they had. But, as everything else in our world, Mascara has evolved and  gone through several formulations to become what it is today – a chemical-laden products.

As I was planning for this post, I was originally going to share a more complex recipe, but then I remembered teaching a DIY Homemade Makeup class and the frustration so many had when it came to making mascara. So I figured why not share two of my easiest homemade vegan mascara recipes – a wet and a cake mascara. Just a little history lesson for y’all before we start.  Cake mascara was all that was available for women to use between 1917 – 1957, when a squeeze tube mascara was invented.  

Before we get stated, I am obligated to ad a my personal disclaimer, so here it goes.

“These products are intended for personal use and has a limited shelf life – this means that it must be used within a week or two of making it and then tossed to avoid any potential contamination.”

Got it? Good!  If you don’t have all the ingredients in your supply stash – don’t fret, I’ve put together a DIY Cake Mascara kit available in my Etsy Shop – Now let’s get to it.

Homemade Vegan Mascara


Your vegan mascara will have a wet consistency. Once it has sat for an hour it will dry and not be runny so it can be stored in a small jar. 

What you will need:


(This will yield a enough product to fill a small container) 

4 Activated Charcoal caplets (found in health food stores, Whole Foods, local pharmacies – usually found in the vitamin isle / Can be substituted with 1/4 tsp Black or Brown Iron Oxide which is less gritty but just as messy)

1/4 tsp Cornstarch (Usually found in your kitchen or get it at the grocery store / Can be substituted with 1/4 tsp serecite, titanium dioxide, rice powder or other loose powder used to make makeup)

1/2 tsp  Contact lense solution or bottled water (You can grab a small bottle at the dollar store or local stores)

3-4 drops Argan Oil, Coconut Oil, Jojoba Oil or Vigin Olive Oil (found usually in kitchen cabinets or the grocery store)

cake mascara ingredients



Small glass, metal or porcelain bowl (I get mine at the dollar store)

Popsicle sticks (also a dollar store purchase)

Measuring spoon (kitchen drawer or dollar store)

Small container with a lid (if you feel you have to buy one, the dollar store usually has some great finds)

Old mascara brush you’ve cleaned and disinfected or a brow brush (for applying your cake mascara)

Whipping It Up!

Once you have your ingredients and equipment lined up, it’s time to roll up  your sleeves and get started – this is gonna be a messy job so I recommend wearing an apron or old tshirt and disposable gloves because Activated Charcoal is no joke.

Before you begin, clean all your containers thoroughly with hot water and soap, then wipe them down with alcohol.

Step 1

Open the 4 activate charcoal caplets and dump the contents into the glass bowl – this is by far the messiest part of this recipe.  If you are using iron oxide instead of the Activated Charcoal – scoop 1/4 tsp into the glass bowl

Activated Charcoal

Step 2

Add 1/4 tsp Cornstarch (or other powder you are using) to the bowl with the activated charcoal and blend them together by scraping and pressing against the bowl until all the cornstarch has combined with the charcoal. Be patient and be sure to get all the white blended with the black.

blend cornstarch with activated charcoal

Step 3

Once your cornstarch and charcoal are completely combined and you no longer see any white specs in your powder, it’s time to add your oil.  Add 6 – 8 drops of argan oil (or whatever other oil you decide to use) to the mix and stir it up a bit

add oil

Step 4

Next, add your water and mix it all up.  Be sure to scrap the sides of your bowl – this will ensure you get it all mixed in there.  Since we are using a popsicle stick and a small quantity of product you will want to blend this for a few minutes taking time to scrape, pull and press the ingredients together as you go along.

add water

Step 5

Pour the mixture into your container and let it sit for a hour.  Your finished product will be gritty because it’s the nature of activated charcoal.

pour into container

Once it has settled, That’s it – you have a wet mascara.  It will be a bit gritty, especially if you’ve used Activated Charcoal. 

2013-02-15 09.58.38


Now, let’s kick this up a notch and try a second recipe.


Homemade Vegan Cake Mascara


Your cake mascara will have a solid consistency – like a hardened cake – thus the name. 

What You Will Need:


You will use all the same ingredients you used for the Vegan Mascara PLUS:

1/4 tsp Calendula Wax (you can substitute with Jojoba wax or Beeswax – you can purchase a beeswax lip balm at a local store and use the required quantity)

1/2 tsp Jojoba Oil (you can substitue olive oil, argan oil, avocado oil, or coconut oil  – you can find these at a local grocery store)

Small Clean microwave safe glass bowl (I get mine at the dollar store)

Popsicle stick for stirring

Microwave (if you don’t have a microwave, you can use the double boiler method, just place a glass heat-safe bowl in a pan with water over a low flame on the stove)

Whipping it all up!

Step 1

Follow all Steps 1 – 4 for the Homemade Vegan Mascara posted above.

Step 2

In another small glass bowl add 1/4 tsp candelilla wax and 1/2 jojoba oil (or whatever wax and oil you are using) and melt in microwave on Defrost in 10 second intervals opening the door and checking your melt before putting it in for an additional 10 seconds until the wax is completely melted.  *** You want to make sure you use the defrost setting because we don’t want the oil to burn or overheat***

candelilla wax and jojoba oil

If you are using the double boiler method, place water in a pan – fill it 1/4 of the way bring water to a boil. Lower the flame and place your heat-safe glass bowl in the pan making sure the water doesn’t get into the bowl

Step 3

Once the wax is completely melted remove the bowl from the microwave and add your mascara mixture from Step 1 and mix it up well.  Work quickly as the wax will begin to harden.

mix and wax


Step 4

Transfer the mascara to your container.  If the mix has hardened, put it the microwave for 10 seconds on defrost setting to to make it pourable.

pour into container

Step 5 

Once you have poured it into the container, place a clean paper towel over the mix and use the back of a spoon or your fingers to press it into the container.  You don’t have to apply too much pressure, you must want to pack the mixture into the container.



You’ve made your very own homemade vegan cake mascara.

homemade vegan cake mascara


Basic Troubleshooting:

Q. My water  and oil didn’t mix completely – what can I do?

A. When combining water with oil it has a tendency to separate.  So you should blend the oil with the dry ingredients a bit before adding water.  Think “making a cake” literally.

Q. My product is too runny

A. Reduce the amount of water you add to the product.  I used contact lense solution in my homemade cake mascara, but if you use bottled water you may want to reduce it down to a 1/4 tsp and then add a few extra drops until you get the consistency you want.

Q. I want my cake mascara to be darker in color

A. Easy enough just use one or two more caplets of activated charcoal or add an 1/8 tsp of black iron oxide to the mix and blend, blend, blend.

Q. My wax hardened too fast

A. You can stick it back into the microwave for an additional 10 seconds to get it back to a working consistency.  Make sure your counters and stirring tools are too cold either as that will speed up the hardening process.

Q. How to I get my lashes to curl when using cake mascara

A. Curl is all in the brush.  So try using different brushed to apply your mascara.

Q. How do I make my cake mascara last longer on my lashes

A. Here’s a tip I share with a lot of people – before applying your mascara dust some loose foundation or translucent powder on your lashes then apply your mascara.  Works with any mascara – especially if your have oily eyelids.

Q. How do I use the cake mascara

A. Cake mascara is kind of messy – you may want to dampen your brush with warm water *** I said dampen – not soak ***, then rub your brush across the cake mascara to load your brush.


Q. How can I make a blue, brown or other color mascara?

A.  You can use food grade products, just remember that your shelf-life will be only about 2 days then you have to toss it.  Here are my suggestions for making different colors using food-grade ingredients (however, I would recommend using cosmetic-grade ingredinets such as blue or brown iron oxide or even mica – read my reply to reader comments below (proceed at your own risk)):

  • Brown – use a dutch cocoa powder 
  • Blue – Blueberry or Acai powder
  • Green – Matcha (green tea powder found in wholefoods – it’s yummy too)

Hope you have fun trying out these two recipes. Remember, the first time you make your cake mascara, it may not turn out the way you expected – but practice makes perfect. I’d love to hear your results and if you change any of the steps to make it work better for you I’d love to hear your hacks.




© Myra Roldan of HerbanLuxe and EcoEtsy, 2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material (written and images) without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Myra Roldan of HerbanLuxe and EcoEtsy with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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About Myra @ HerbanLuxe

Myra is an Etsian with an MBA. The art of business and technology are her two obsessions. She has been writing EcoEtsy Business Tips since 2010. Myra grew up in Puerto Rico with grandparents who were a head of their time and didn't know it - living what we would call today, "a simple green life." Her love of learning and teaching are the key drivers in almost everything she does.


  1. Did you mean Candelilla wax?

  2. I have been searching for a long time to find a mascara recipe that actually works (I hate the ones that use aloe vera and they almost all do. they don’t work!) This one is awesome. Thank you!

  3. This is such a cool post! I’ve been looking for mascara that works on EEs this is super cool, is it easy to clean?

  4. A family member recommended me to your resource. Thnx for the information.

  5. Saludos,
    Acabo de descubrir tu página. Me parece genial :). Cuál de tus productos me recomiendas para mis pestañas?, busco algo que las haga ver abundantes y largas.

    El “clear gel”qué función tiene? …

    Mis pestanas no son abundantes ni largas :(

    Gracias!! :)

    • Hola Rhode y gracias por leer el blog. De mis productos te dire que el Waterproof Mascara es el mas popular. Tambien ofresco dos colores que no son a prueba de agua – en negro y brown. El clear gel no ofrece lo mismos beneficios que mis otros products – si tienes las pestana cortas debedias de tratar uno de los rimeles con color.

  6. I’m a little taken aback by the cautions about shelf life. It does make sense to me that you might transfer contamination from one use to the next. But I had been told that even though they don’t use preservatives, cake mascaras are safe for much longer periods than tube mascara because they dry out between use and so the bacteria don’t survive. (Not that that’s particularly believable, now that I think of it.) What did the old Maybelline cake mascara use for preservative, I wonder? ‘Cause those puppies lasted forever…

    • Toni,

      Bacteria can fester in different environments. Anytime you introduce water into a formula you have to be extremely careful. As for what was used in the early years of mascara – believe it or not petroleum jelly and in some formulas they even used turpentine.

  7. I already use natural products, but I should definitively switch to handmade or homemade one. Thank you so much for the recipe. I wouldn’t have thought of using charcoal. :)

  8. Really cool! Thank you so much for sharing!! One question – what is the shelf life of the regular vegan mascara?

    • Hi Amanda;

      The shelf live of vegan mascara – like the one I offer in my shop is 3 months from the first day you open or 6 months if it’s NEVER opened (not even to peek at it). Believe it or not that’s the actual shelf-life of a traditional mascara that has been opened as well. I tell everyone to use the sniff test on your mascara whether it’s one you purchased from me or a commercial mascara – if it smells “funky” gross toss it – that smell is a sign that bacteria started colonizing in your mascara.

  9. Katherine Keenan says:

    I’m thrilled that you posted this DYI tutorial! How would one make a soft brown color for a strawberry blonde with white eyelashes. is color adjustment easy? most store bought brown mascara is way too dark for me.

    • Hi katherine;

      I’m glad you liked this tutorial. If you’re going to do the homemade thing and use it in a pinch – you can use dutch cocoa powder – You’ll have edible lashes that this point :). But I would recommend using a cosmetic-grade brown iron oxide. These are available in two colors – a red-based brown and a yellow-based brown. You would want to a red-based brown. You don’t want your mascara to be a dark brown but more of a taupe color so you’ll have to play around blending very tiny amounts of the cocoa or iron oxide with the cornstarch to get the right color.

  10. Can’t imagine making this myself but your Etsy shop looks great – any chance of making a curved brush brown mascara? I love a curved brush!

    • Hi Carol;

      Thanks for the comment. Unfortunately, I don’t make the containers for my mascara – I have to purchase those and am limited by the brushes I’m offered by my supplier. HOWEVER, you can purchase individual disposable mascara brushes at most beauty supply stores – some have different style brushes you can use.


  11. So cool Myra!Mahalo :)

  12. What a great little recipe! I don’t wear mascara much these days, but this would be a GREAT project for teenagers!!!

  13. Wow. How awesome!

    Thanks for this DIY Myra!

  14. This was wonderful!! Thank you so much for doing a tutorial! 😉

  15. Thanks for sharing this Myra! I’m excited to try it out!

  16. Thank you for sharing! So, how can I make it pretty blue?

  17. Great post! Thanks for sharing, Myra.

  18. This can be really dangerous and risk serious eye infections if you use water in a recipe and don’t include a preservative. Usage over time can quickly acquire and grow bacteria which can especially dangerous for eyes. (Lotions that contain water should have preservatives as well.) There are natural preservatives available. This might be ok with the contact solution for up to 30 days – as solution does not recommend story lenses longer than that, I wouldn’t want to risk it. As someone who has had an eye infection due to contact use, you really don’t want to find out how bad it can get. Otherwise this is really interesting. I’d be interested to see results once appropriated preservatives are researched, tested and used.

    • Hi Rebecca;

      This is one of the reasons I added the disclaimer before the recipe. This is recipe is not meant to have a long shelf life, not is it meant to be produced for sale. This is totally a DIY project, that can be used in a pinch. The recipe produces a small amount – enough for a few applications.

      There are some natural preservatives out there that can be used Vitamin E and Olive Oil both have antimicrobial properties that would help extend the life of the product but only for a few days.

      Thanks for the comment and I hope to hear from other who may try this recipe and adapt it with their own ingredients.

    • I assume contact lens solution or distilled water (bottled water) will be fine for this simple DIY, as long as you don’t keep it in your medicine cabinet or in your purse for longer than a week.

      And make sure to take your make up off before going to bed.

  19. Amazing! Thanks so much for sharing these recipes, Myra!