It’s true that clean makeup has come a long way in the last five years. It’s even come a long way in the last year alone. While we’re more invested than ever before in finding beauty products that are safer for our bodies and the environment, that often comes at the sacrifice of performance, pigment, and payoff. There are plenty of clean makeup swaps for products you’ve traditionally loved like lipstick, eyeshadows, and creamy blushes and highlighters. But mascara? As a diehard mascara junkie, I can confidentially say that most clean mascaras are…fine. They lengthen and define but often flake and fail by the end of the day. Saie is here to change that.
Saie (pronounced say) was dreamed up by founder and CEO Laney Crowell. Formerly an executive at Estée Lauder, Crowell tapped a team of seasoned cosmetics veterans and wellness-focused influencers to help with product development, sustainability, and branding. Beauty giant Unilever then got on board and invested in Saie. The result is an initial launch of four products (mascara, tinted lip balm, an eyelash curler, and two shades of brow gel) tailored to the beauty lover who doesn’t have time to do a full face beat. While most clean makeup products are cost prohibitive, all Saie’s products will be priced under $25. There will be new launches from the brand every six weeks—so get your makeup bag ready.
Saie’s clean makeup ingredient standards are rigorous. Not only are there over 2,000 ingredients they won’t ever touch, they’re also proud to formulate without phenoxyethanol, an alcohol-based preservative used by many other makeup brands that call themselves clean. The ingredient, often used as a safer alternative to parabens, is potentially allergenic and irritating.
The star of show is Saie’s $24 mascara. When I met with Crowell, she explained that most clean mascaras are water-based. When that water inevitably evaporates the formula starts to flake. Which is why clean mascaras have a bad reputation of ghosting before the day is done. Saie’s formula is packed with oils that actually stay wet. This sounds like a recipe for disaster, but it’s not. The formula does dry down but not all the way, which means the inky black color stays malleable on your lashes and doesn’t flake. The formula is more defining and lengthening than volumizing, but you can pack on several layers to get thicker lashes without risking clumps. Plus, the brush is genius. The rubber bristles are perfect for separating each lash, and there’s a rounded spiky tip that goes one step further to help you get those annoying inner lashes.
The $16 liquid lip balm comes in one universal shade of mauve and is formulated with sustainably-sourced beeswax. It’s also worth noting that every ingredient in the brand’s formulas are biodegradable. The product packaging is 100% recyclable and the lip balm tube is made from post-consumer plastic. If you want to recycle any of the brand’s products after you’re done using them, just shoot them an email. They’ll send you a shipping label so that no product ever gets thrown in the trash. Crowell assured me that they’re working toward fully sustainable packaging and are currently partnered with TerraCycle and Carbon Credit Capital.
There are two brow gels in the line, each priced at $18. One is clear and one is a faint light brown shade that is universal as long as you don’t apply 20 layers of pigment. They’re perfect for sweeping quickly over brows for a little definition. The $18 sturdy lash curler comes in the brand’s signature lilac shade.