It’s well known that cosmetics throughout history have contained some pretty sketchy ingredients. Things that turned out to contain harmful chemicals or things that were just… well, gross.
With rumors circulating online about mascara containing bat poop, the concern is understandable. Given the cosmetics industry’s shady reputation for using questionable ingredients (especially in knockoffs), it’s no wonder people who have heard the urban legend are asking the question: is mascara made out of bat poop? Does mascara have bat poop in it, or any other kind of poop?
The answer is no, mascara does not have bat poop in it. But way back in the olden days, mascara did have some pretty weird ingredients in it!
We’ll dig into the history of the rumor, and explain it all below.
History of Weird Stuff in Cosmetics
People have always used strange items in their cosmetics.
Ingredients like lead and mercury were common in cosmetics from Egyptian times through Roman times, through Victorian and post-Civil War America.
Horse urine was used to dye brown hair blonde in medieval times.
Crocodile poop was used by different civilizations throughout history for everything from facial masks to contraception.
Snail slime is popular in Korean makeup.
So why not bat poop in mascara? Sounds plausible!
Is Mascara Made Out of Bat Poop?
We’re settling the debate once and for all – No, mascara does not have bat poop in it!
So why the confusion? There is a perfectly reasonable explanation for why people have come to believe it and are questioning whether or not they should be using a product that they think might contain animal feces.
When did they stop using bat poop in mascara?
Mascara is just one of many cosmetic products that contain guanine – the root cause of the bat poop in mascara controversy.
First of all, the proper name for bat poop is “guano”, which sounds pretty similar to “guanine”.
Adding to the confusion is the fact that guanine is actually also found in bat poop. But that’s not where they get the guanine they use in cosmetics.
What is Guanine?
Guanine is a crystalline shimmering or light-diffusing material which used in cosmetics for a few different reasons.
Guanine reduces the clear or transparent appearance and gives a white opacity to cosmetics.
It can be used in skin makeup for hiding blemishes.
It’s also used to give cosmetics a pearly, iridescent effect, like in eyeshadows and lipsticks… and mascara.
Where Does Guanine Used In Cosmetics Come From?
The guanine they use in cosmetics comes from fish scales (not bat poop!). The scales are scraped off, soaked in alcohol, and crushed to make a crystalline substance that diffuses light, giving a sheen to cosmetics.
So you’re not applying bat poop to your eyes and lips, just fish scales.
Cosmetics are weird!
Note: many mascaras have moved on from using guanine in their formulations.
What is the main ingredient in mascara?
Different mascara brands will differ slightly on their list of ingredients. But generally, most mascaras ingredients typically include
- A carbon black or iron oxide pigment to darken lashes
- A polymer that coats lashes
- A preservative, to extend shelf life
- Thickening waxes or oils such as lanolin, mineral oil, paraffin, petrolatum, castor oil, carnauba wax, or candelilla wax
Some also contain guanine to produce extra shine.
That having been said, most companies looking to give their mascara a boost of extra sheen will usually opt for the less expensive synthetic pearl, mica, aluminum, and bronze particles.
Our Top Picks for Mascaras
Now that you can rest easy and fully indulge in lushes lashes knowing it’s not made of bat poop, here are our top picks for the best (bat poop-free) mascaras for 2022.
Best All-Around Mascara Too Faced Better Than Sex Mascara
With a name like that, you know it’s gotta be good! Too faced Better than Sex Mascara gets rave reviews due to its lengthening, volumizing formula that separates lashes. We love the hourglass-shaped brush that coats every single lash from every single angle, so you can build and enhance to your heart’s desire.
That’s why it’s our pick for the Best all-around mascara.
- Hourglass shaped brush for voluptuous...
- This formula thickens, lengthens, and...
- FILM-FORMING POLYMER-Locks curl into...
- ACACIA SENEGAL TREE EXTRACT-Sets volume
Best Vegan Mascara Milk Makeup KUSH High Volume Mascara
Made with 100% vegan ingredients, like hemp-derived cannabis seed oil, KUSH High Volume Mascara gives you long, soft, pliable, conditioned lashes. The result is lots of volume without feeling weighed down.
- Black pigmented mascara that gives you...
- Unique criss crossing bristles catch and...
- Formulated to keep lashes soft while...
- This product is vegan, clean,...
- Milk Makeup has one simple product...
Best Mascara for Exercise Eyeko Sport Waterproof Mascara
You can sweat all you want. Eyeko Sport Waterproof Mascara gives you thick, defined, non-clumpy lashes that won’t smear, run or melt off.
- 100% Waterproof, sweat proof, budge...
- designed in London
Best Waterproof Mascara Lancôme Monsieur Big Waterproof Mascara
The waterproof formula instantly darkens, lengthens, volumizes, and thickens your lashes with nary a smudge.
- VOLUMIZING MASCARA - with a false lash...
- VOLUMIZING & LENGTHENING - is...
- WAVY FIBERS - Innovative bristle fibers...
- BIG FORMULA - Our blackest formula with...
- FRANCE HAS A WORD FOR BEAUTY: LANCÔME -...
Best mascara for Sensitive Eyes Tarte Lights, Camera, Lashes 4-in-1 MascaraMakeup KUSH High Volume Mascara
It’s ophthalmologist- and dermatologist-tested, as well as hypoallergenic—plus it’s free of mineral oil, parabens, and phthalates, and is safe for those who wear contacts. Its formula curls, lengthens, volumizes, and conditions lashes.
- Tarte Lights Camera Lashes 4-in-1...
Best Curling Mascara Clinique High Impact Curling Mascara
The arched shape of Clinique’s High Impact Curling Mascara’s wand gives you the boldest, most fluttery lashes without pinching, tugging, or tearing. It lifts every last lash that’s smudge-, flake-, and smear-resistant and lasts for up to 24-hours.
- Make Up
- Clinique - Mascara - High Impact Curling...
- High Impact Curling Mascara - #01 Black
Is there bat poop in mascara? No.
Although you may have heard or read somewhere that there is bat guano (a.k.a. bat poop) in mascara, that’s really just a widespread urban legend.
Some beauty products, like mascara, contain guanine (which sounds like guano) and is derived from fish scales – not bat poop – to give it an extra sheen.
However, the likelihood of your mascara even containing guanine, is pretty slim.