Review: Ilia Mascara

Natural mascara is always a tricky one.

There are so many ‘conventional’ ones on the market offering promises of thicker, longer, curlier lashes, extreme length, false lash effect, the list is endless.  Glossy advertisements entice us in, leading us to believe that we too can have amazing lashes – albeit sometimes with the help of lash inserts ahem L’Oreal.  What is it in these formulations that enables these claims to be made?  Certainly not natural; I would hazard a guess at lots of synthetic fillers and plasticisers to name a few.

But what alternatives are there if we want to avoid said formulations but still want luscious lashes?  There are more natural based ones available now however they don’t all live up to expectation.  Unfortunately a lot of the time it is the so called nasties that give mascaras their power so without them, they do lose a little oomph.  Many will just give a very natural look, some I’ve found you can build to an extent, however be wary in the rain they can run – certainly no swimming or hot yoga – I’ve tried!  It is hard for a mascara to be completely natural, they still need some kind of preservative to be used safely around the eyes.  That said as green technology is improving so are the mascaras so there is hope.

I am currently wearing the new mascara launched by Ilia just a few weeks ago.  It comes in four colours, I am sporting the black, the other three are a grey, a copper and a brown, all are designed to brighten and enhance the eyes.  One of the first things I noticed was the brush, this is the first natural mascara that I have seen with one to rival conventional mascaras.  Most others have had just a regular standard brush.  We all know from the glossy ads that a mascara brush can make all the difference in the finished look.  Too many bristles and there is the risk of clogging, not enough and application can be sparse.  The Ilia brush is curved to fit the eye and to get the product on the right bits, not too much in the middle, with a bit more on the ends to lift.  The risk of clogging is also reduced by the tight lip of the barrel stopping excess product from going on the brush or being wasted.

I’ve found that the mascara goes on really well and you can build it to a nice thickness – still quite a natural effect rather than a full on look.  The longevity is good too, it lasts the day although I do tend to top it up during the day at some point.  It has survived a warm yoga class – can’t guarantee a hot one though….haven’t had a chance to test that yet.  I think for me this is one of the best I have tried so far.  It has really nice packaging as well, a sleek silver tube which looks cool in your make-up bag  which is never a bad thing.

Ilia Beauty



  1. 29th November 2012 / 9:58 pm

    Thanks for this review!
    Am going to try it, once I finish the one I am using now (by Coleur Caramel, which gives a nice volumizing, lengthening effect, but I found clumps a little and also tends to ‘smudge’ during the day……)

    • loudartford
      30th November 2012 / 7:45 am

      Hiya, I like the Couleur Caramel one as well, I think it is a bit more volumising then the Ilia but you’re right it clumps a little and I found it clogged up quite easily. Terre d’Oc is another of my favourites but it clogs a lot – you have to keep cleaning the tube as it does ooze out a bit, other than that it wears nicely and you can thicken it up to an extent.

  2. Lala
    3rd January 2013 / 10:51 pm

    It’s not 100% natural, it is phenoxyethanol in it. This ingredient is wrong for the ultra serious organic german label. So it’s a big no- no for me. Don’t you check your sources and/or ingredients ?

    • loudartford
      31st January 2013 / 7:21 am

      Thank you for your comment. Yes, you are right, the mascara does contain phenoxyethanol, as I said in the piece it is hard for a mascara to be completely natural as they do need some kind of preservative to be safe around the eyes.

      Ilia are quite open in the fact that it contains phenoxyethanol, they don’t claim it to be 100% natural, neither did I say it was – I do consider it to be a natuaral mascara though and still one of the best I have tried. When I met Sasha who founded the brand she said she knew she wouldn’t be abe to please everyone by including it, but until she can find the right alternative it will continue to contain it. I know phenoxyethanol is frowned upon by many and indeed I myself would love it if products did not contain it. However for me it is also a question of performance, other natural mascaras that perhaps did not contain it have not been quite good enough so sometimes it is about compromise. If you have an ultra serious organic German suggestion to share then please do.

      • hailey
        17th December 2013 / 12:30 am

        After reading your review I went to buy it, and it says now that the mascara is phenoxyethanol free. Just thought you’d like to know.

        • loudartford
          6th February 2014 / 10:45 am

          Hi Hailey,
          Apologies for my late reply but have been without internet for 6 weeks so the blog had a little rest! Thank you very much for sharing that, yes it is now phenoxyethanol free which is amazing. I hope that you are enjoying the mascara?

  3. 16th March 2013 / 9:51 pm

    I haven’t tried this mascara yet although I am testing the one by Studio 78 Paris and I like it quite a lot (no smudging, no clumping and very nice brush). Certainly more than the other naturals I have tried which include Hauschka, 100% Pure, Lavera and Zuzu Luxe (+Korres and Tarte, which are not truly natural). I will give Ilia a try sometime soon–despite the fact that I don’t wear products with phenoxyethanol anymore, I don’t think there’s much danger of absorption of the chemical from lashes so I don’t see it as a major problem in this case.

  4. loudartford
    17th March 2013 / 11:46 am

    I liked the Studio 78 one as well, it made my lashes look great, quite full in fact however for me I found it smudged quite a lot. I wear contacts so my eyes can tend to water which can be a problem for mascara! Good it’s working for you – I’m a big fan of the range.

  5. Laura
    18th April 2013 / 3:53 pm

    I like the ilia mascara. I agree it is the best natural mascara I tried so far (those sap derived polymers seem to work!) I think it has a similar effect to dior show. I agree, phenoxy free would be great, but I do not think it is a biggie on the lashes. Btw: kjaer weis is bringing out a new mascara this spring; can’t wait to try it. Wish content beauty would stock the range!!

  6. loudartford
    19th April 2013 / 6:58 am

    Ooh how exciting – I haven’t tried a lot of Kjaer Weis for some reason – got a good reason now!!

    • Laura
      19th April 2013 / 7:57 am

      Yeah…. It is so hard to get/try the colours….

  7. Gael
    10th May 2013 / 8:48 am


    have you tried the Ere Perez brand? I bought the waterproof one for my wedding day and would definitely buy again, although you have to order from Australia so I’m shopping around for an alternative. Would be interested to know what you think of their ingredient list for their
    Natural Almond Oil Mascara, Black
    • beeswax (cera alba)
    • carnauba (copernicia cerifera) wax
    • palm kernel wax
    • soybean (gyicine soja) seed wax
    • cyclomethicone
    • dimethicone
    • sweet almond (prunus amygdalus dulcis) oil
    • palm (elaeis guineensis) oil
    • isopropyl palmitate
    • tocopheryl acetate (vitamin e)
    • orange (citrus aurantium dulcis) oil
    • lemon (citrus medica limonum) oil
    • bergamot (citrus bergamia) oil
    • CI77499
    • CI77510

    Any thoughts? Thanks for your blog – read it often!

    • loudartford
      13th May 2013 / 8:28 am

      Hi Gael,

      Many thanks for your comment, glad you like the blog – thank you for reading it! I haven’t heard of Ere Perez before, the range sounds really interesting though. I think the ingredient list for the mascara sounds good, would be great to try it out. Have you tried this one as well as the waterproof one?
      Thank you for flagging them up, I like the look of their beetroot cheek and lip tint too….

  8. mariazahnd
    12th January 2015 / 5:38 pm

    I have just ordered my own ILIA mascara, I am so happy, they have come a long way working out some of the ingredients on the naughty list…I have to agree that companies are always trying to create great natural products…it takes a bit of trail and error. I am happy to support ILIA. They are an honest company working towards the best products possible. I love mascara, and for years I wore the worst that I am more aware I am happy to have found a great new product.

    • loudartford
      12th January 2015 / 9:40 pm

      Thank you for your comment – brilliant – I hope you enjoy using it!! I am very happy to support ILIA too, I love their products. Give their lipsticks a try if you haven’t already!