What makes Glossier Lash Stick irritating?

Some Redditors have complained about the irritating side effects of this mascara. Let's investigate what ingredients are to blame.

I first learned about Glossier a few years ago, as I was listening to a podcast, Call Your Girlfriend. Glossier was sponsoring the podcast and advertising a product known as the Boy Brow. Since then, it’s really exploded and become a cult favorite among beauty and skincare lovers. Glossier does a great job with marketing. I really want to buy their serums simply because they’re packaged so nicely. But recently, as I was browsing through /r/SkincareAddiction, I noticed several people lamenting that they experienced issues with the [Glossier Lash Stick]()—it seems that this product is irritated their eyes, which is unfortunate because it’s mascara, a product that’s meant to be used in the sensitive eye area.

I was curious as to why this product was causing problems for some people, so I decided to send the ingredient list to my dad to see what ingredient(s) might be the culprit(s).

Glossier Lash Stick ingredients

aqua/water/eau, acrylates copolymer, alcohol, cera alba/beeswax/cire d’abeille, peg-15 glyceryl stearate, cera carnauba/copernicia cerifera (carnauba) wax/cire de carnauba, butylene glycol, kaolin, pullulan, behenyl alcohol, bentonite, rayon, alcohol denat., dimethicone, stearic acid, sucrose distearate, vp/va copolymer, nylon-6, aminomethyl propanol, glycerin, tocopherol, silica, panthenol, biotinoyl tripeptide-1, sodium dehydroacetate, phenoxyethanol

Interesting. Lately I keep noticing products with phenoxyethanol in them—this natural preservative is used pretty commonly, I guess. I also find it interesting that this product includes two kinds of wax: beeswax and carnauba wax. It also contains rayon—isn’t that a type of clothing/textile material?

My Dad the Chemist’s take on Glossier Lash Stick ingredients

Here was my dad’s response when I sent him that ingredient list and asked him what he suspected were the most irritating ingredients in the formula.

Dear Emily, Alcohol and Alcohol Denat. Is the major irritant.

What is the marketing company? These two ingredients are the same thing, but first Alcohol is not a correct INCIDENT name for Alcohol, the second one is, don’t know why they list under two names and placed them in different orders, very confusing! by the regulation, if any other ingredient contains alcohol Denat. In the composition, they should be added together then listed in the correct order.



Interesting. My dad was bewildered as to why they listed both “alcohol” and “alcohol denat.” He thinks they should have just combined them and listed them as “alcohol denat.” Either way, it’s probably alcohol (denatured or not) that is causing irritation to some users of the Glossier Lash Stick. Strangely, the product page states that it’s “suitable for sensitive eyes and contact lens wearers, non-irritating” in its “Claims” section. Redditors and some one-star reviews would beg to differ, however. It also contains And bentonite, the clay that I used to put on my face to dry out my acne. Perhaps that also contributes to the irritating qualities of this mascara.

This isn’t the first time the company had trouble with its marketing claims. According to NY Mag, back in March, the company listed “vegan” under the claims section of its Lash Stick product page, while the ingredients listed “beeswax” (and still do). The company then issued refunds and updated the website to correctly state that this product was not vegan.

Don’t lash out prematurely

When it comes to products that will come near your eye area, it’s really important to scan through the ingredients just to make sure that the product doesn’t contain alcohol or alcohol denat. Denatured alcohol can also appear in the following forms, as well:

  • SD Alcohol (short for “specially denatured alcohol”)
  • SD Alcohol-40 (Alcohol Denat.).
  • SD Alcohol 23-A
  • SD Alcohol 40
  • SD Alcohol 40-B

Read more about it in my other article: What is denatured alcohol, and why is it used in personal care products?

I suspect (but can’t confirm) that the alcohol in this formula may also have something to do with one-star reviewers who report that it flakes off extremely easily. So even if it doesn’t necessarily irritate your eyes, I think I’d recommend passing on this mascara if you have sensitive skin.

Anecdotal devil’s advocate: One of my friends really loves this mascara, and her lashes look great. She said that she normally is very sensitive to irritating ingredients, but she hasn’t noticed any problems with this mascara. So YMMV, I guess.

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