How to make homemade eyeliner …without trashing the planet

September 16, 2014

DIY eyeliner 1Ever been curious about making your own makeup? Who says we have to get petrochemical-laced brands from the drugstore or overpriced beauty counters? Of course, you can skip that whole scene by wandering into your local health store and looking for natural cosmetics or you can check out some great green beauty stores online, but what about getting all MacGyver meets Maybelline and doing it yourself? I make a lot of stuff from scratch, including body scrubs, face masks, salves, even soap (okay, I only made bar soap once), but never really ventured into do-it-yourself cosmetics territory until my DIY-lovin’ stylist friend Kameryn convinced me to check it out. The trick is finding ingredients that aren’t just as or almost as nasty as some of the drugstore brands. A lot of minerals, for instance, contain high levels of heavy metals and some are mined in places where there’s a lot of child labour, like mica (which I mention in my Ecoholic Optical Illusion guide to storebought eyeliners).


Online DIYers will tell you to make your own with activated charcoal from the supplements aisle. Since this stuff is sold to people with health problems like upset stomachs or radiation exposure, you’d think, ‘Awesome, this is clearly safe for ingesting so it’s got to be safe on my eyes.’ And you’re mostly right. The only problemo (and it’s a big one) is that a lot of activated charcoal is actually made with a major environmental villain – coal. Source of Life told me its AC is made with a mix of coal, lignite, peat and coconut. Swiss Natural wouldn’t tell me what’s in its activated charcoal, other than “activated charcoal” (even though I explained to them charcoal is always made out of other things like coal or wood). I left probably half a dozen emails and voicemails with their media relations peeps and still no answer a week later. Nature’s Way says it makes activated charcoal using nothing but coconut shells (yay!), but unfortunately, it’s not available in Canada, only in the US. So Canadian DIYers are kind of left hanging on this one. Sorry.


Now, if you can get your hands on some coal-free activated charcoal powder (or go another route with fair trade cocoa powder or green spirulina) then great. Next step involves cracking open a capsule into a small jar, dipping a damp angled brush into there and sweeping your lash line. I’ll admit it went on a little gritty, though my left eye had a great thick, jet black cat eye without too much effort. It wasn’t exactly pro results but I was pretty impressed. My right eye was a little trickier, the brush was either too dry, then too wet and I kept getting powder all over my face and my sink and pulling out makeup remover to try and try again. I attempted mixing a dab of coconut oil on my brush instead, as some suggest, and it went on smoother but that ended up smearing on my upper lid within the hour. No good. At least the oil-free version actually had staying power (it lasted all day), much more so than the cocoa powder or spirulina. Will I be making this again and again? Hm, let’s see, no. But try it yourself and see if you have a better go of it. In a pinch, you can definitely bypass the multinational beauty companies and make it yourself. Just make sure you’re not getting an environmentally nefarious ingredient. Otherwise, check out my eyeliner guide for good green natural brands that work without wearing on your conscience.