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While it's become easier to swap out skincare formulas for cleaner ones, the market for organic color cosmetics has dragged a bit behind—though not at Follain, the little South End powerhouse of a shop with a growing customer base of all-natural disciples. Mascara has been one of the final frontiers of the healthy beauty movement, historically hampered by consumer expectations from the high-tech (but damaging), chemical-laden formulas of mainstream cosmetics. Store owner Tara Foley road-tested more than a dozen natural options to arrive at the four products stocked on her shelves, so we asked her a bit about the trials and tribulations of both sourcing and using these mascaras.
How did the search begin?
The two hardest things to pick in the whole store were the deodorant and the mascara—especially in terms of efficacy. It's easy to find blush, bronzers...there are tons of mineral lines out there. With mascara there is so much technology. People are used to that high standard; it's difficult to achieve that high standard without the crappy stuff. And it's really bad stuff.
This product is going IN your eye; it's important to find ones that won't harm it or cause irritation. The number one thing I think is bad is that, for whatever reason, they put fragrance in mascara. Another one is coal tar, which is usually what gives the color. Parabens, which are illegal in other parts of the world, are in almost all mass-manufactured formulas; it's a highly toxic preservative. That being said, all that helps them achieve the technology to make them waterproof, to stay all day. Most of the big natural cosmetic lines don't make mascara. RMS is the most well-known line and she just came out with it two months ago.
Why did you select the products you did?
When I brought in makeup I had tested tons of mascaras and I liked Jane Iredale best. That's the reason I brought in her brand. It's in a toothpaste style tube so you can get out every last bit of product. I also like RMS a lot; she has a couple different options with the brush heads. Traditionally the biggest problem with natural mascaras is preventing them from crumbling. Neither of the mascaras we carry do that. These have a lot of waxes and butters in them. Minerals and natural oxides give them their color.
Things to know when using a natural mascara?
1) People have gotten lazy with mascara, so you'll find you need to work a little harder with these to get the same effect. You need more than a swoop.
2) Natural mascaras work a lot better if you use a primer. One of our most popular cosmetics is the Jane Iredale primer. Some people even buy it and use chemical formulas on top. It coats your lashes with a conditioner, kind of like how you put moisturizer on before makeup. It helps them bind more evenly and helps the mascara stay on longer throughout the day.
3) If you wear all natural cosmetics, the formulas often have a lot of oil, which if you think of makeup removers, remove color. So we recommend using a setting powder on your concealer and face makeup to prevent natural mascara from running.
Follain carries both RMS mascaras (a volumizing and a defining formula, $28 each), Jane Iredale's Longest Lash formula ($33), and Jane Iredale's PureLash primer ($16). "We're so confident in the ones we carry. I can only hope more begin to come out," Foley said optimistically.
· Boston's 38 Essential Spots to Shop All Things Beauty [Racked Boston]
· The Near-Impossible Quest to Create a True Organic Mascara [Racked]
· New Shop Follain Is on a Mission to Spread Natural Skincare [Racked Boston]