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Mascara is a cosmetic makeup used to thicken, lengthen and darken your eyelashes to give brighter, bigger-looking eyes. Made of coal dust and petroleum jelly, the first mascara formula was created during the Victorian era, as Victorian ladies were so vain to spend hours upon hours beautifying themselves. The mascara manufacturing process known today includes the anhydrous and emulsion methods in which both involve a base mixture of pigments, waxes, and oils.

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Science of beauty – The mascara chemical formula...

The secret to your good mascara is all in the chemical mix: pigments such as titanium dioxide and iron oxides to give the color; waxes such as paraffin wax, carnauba wax and beeswax to keep the color attached to your lashes; and oils like castor oil or lanolin to help the pigment coat your lash thickly, and provide some water resistance. Cosmetics manufacturers generally follow the same type of process globally.

… and the mascara manufacturing process

There are two methods of making Mascara, anhydrous and emulsion methods. In the anhydrous method, waxes, oils, and pigments are mixed in a mixing tank, heated, and stirred using a propeller blade. As the name goes, this method does not include water as an ingredient.

In the emulsion type of the mascara manufacturing process, the water and thickeners are combined together, while the waxes and emulsifiers are heated in a separate container where the pigment is then added. A homogenizer mixes both of these mixtures to break down the oils and waxes and hold them in suspension in the water. Mixing continues until the mixture becomes the dark paste we all die for.

Water-resistant vs waterproof mascara

Since mascara is applied to your lashes with a bristle brush, its degree of water-resistance might be a deciding factor for someone who would like to spend a day at the beach. Water-resistant mascaras are oil-in-water emulsions and mainly contain waxes of natural and mineral origin, which can resist the penetration of water only to a certain degree. Whereas, water-proof mascaras are water-in-oil emulsions, which contain water rebuffing ingredients like isoparaffins, isododecane, or siloxanes. This acts as a shield against water which gives the required resilience against sweat, tears, and even complete water submersion at the beach!

Safety and regulations when making mascara

Did you know that there are people who believe that mascara is made of bat droppings, i.e. guano? This misunderstanding stems from a similarity of words since a crystalline form of ‘guanine’ is used in some mascaras. The FDA and European regulations have actually authorized ‘guanine’, and not ‘guano’, as a colour additive for cosmetics. Colour additives intended as coal-tar hair dyes need to have FDA approval before they go to the market. For example, kohl is a color additive considered illegal in the United States.

The European Commission bans 1328 chemicals like formaldehyde, petroleum, parabens, hydroquinone and more from cosmetics that are suspected to be harmful to human being. FDA also bans the inclusion of the following chemicals in a cosmetic: biothional, choloroform, halogenated salicylanilides, hexachlorophene, methylene chloride, vinyl chloride and mercury compounds, as they are known to be highly toxic to our human body. As an exception, mercury compounds can be occasionally found as a preservative in mascara and eye make-up such as eyeshadow for the eyebrows.

Processing steps involved in mascara making

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