Linda Sarhan has been a freelance writer and researcher for 20+ years and has a B.A. in English and creative writing.
Approximately $80 billion is spent each year in the United States on cosmetics according to the Global Cosmetic Industry. The U.S. Census data and Simmons National Consumer Survey (NHCS) noted that out of the 341.4 million people in the United States, 118.6 million people use mascara.
Most people have no idea that they are either using their mascara incorrectly, or that old and mishandled mascara puts them at risk of various infections and illnesses caused by microbes, including parasites. Some of the common infections people suffer from when using mascara incorrectly include staphylococcus, streptococcus, micrococcus, and E. coli.
1. Keeping Mascara Too Long
Some mascara seems to last forever, right? Wrong! It actually has an expiration date. In fact, you should toss any opened mascara if you have had it for more than three to six months. Not only does it begin drying out but there is no telling what microorganisms have been growing inside that dark tube of mascara. Also, if you have had an eye infection recently, it is best to toss away the old mascara tube and buy another one to reduce the risk of reoccurring infections.
2. Sharing Mascara
Perhaps it is girls’ night out and a friend has a new and amazing mascara to show everyone or maybe someone in the group forgot their mascara and wants to borrow yours. Sounds alright, right? False! Dr. Jessica Weiser, a board-certified dermatologist in New York, says that a mascara tube is the perfect breeding ground for not only bacteria and viruses but fungus as well. Even if you and your friend practice excellent hygiene habits, sharing mascara or any makeup with anyone can lead to irritation and infections. Just because a strain of microorganisms doesn’t affect the owner of the mascara, it may irritate and cause problems for another person.
There is something else to consider that may make you think twice before sharing mascara again—eyelash mites. According to Consumer Health Digest, over 80% of Americans have eyelash mites. They are microscopic and most people do not even realize they are there. However, do you really want to run the risk of transferring them?
So, if you are used to sharing makeup, especially mascara—stop!
3. Pumping the Mascara
Some people will take the wand of the mascara and pump it into the tube with an up and down motion. This is a mascara mistake that not only ruins the integrity of the product but will put your mascara at a greater risk of bacteria growth. First, by pumping the wand in the tube, you allow more air to enter the tube. This can quickly dry out the mascara and cause a clumping effect. Secondly, bacteria are all around us, including airborne bacteria. Bacteria thrive in moist places. Put the two together and you have a greater risk for eye infections.
4. Not Curling the Lashes
Another common mistake most women make is not curling their lashes. By curling your lashes, you will give an appearance of volume to your lashes. However, be sure to curl your lashes before you apply mascara. If you curl your lashes after applying mascara, you run the risk of damaging your lovely lashes.
5. Not Wiping the Brush
Most women don’t consider wiping the brush before applying it to the lashes. However, it is a good way to reduce clumping when applying mascara. The reason why you should wipe the mascara wand is that most of the time the wand exits the tube with more than enough mascara. There are three methods used for wiping the wand:
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- Use a clean tissue. Just a gentle swipe along all sides of the wand will suffice. This is the most sanitary way to wipe the mascara wand.
- The back of your hand. Not personally fond of this method because of how quickly our hands get dirty with microbes, but if you prefer this method, be sure to wash your hands thoroughly with soap and warm water beforehand.
- Use the top of the tube. Again, not fond of this method. Sure, we all want to save money but this method tends to expose the entire mascara tube to potential bacteria growth. You aren’t really saving money if you pay for a doctor's visit and eye medication for an infection.
6. Not Applying Mascara Properly
Most people simply pull out the mascara wand and with one or several swipes upward they apply the mascara. Many also become frustrated because they don’t have the glamorous lashes advertised and often deal with clumpy lashes. Here is how to apply mascara properly and reduce clumpy, not so glamorous, lashes.
- Windshield wiper effect. After wiping off the excess mascara from the wand, gently use a windshield wiper effect across the tips of the lashes.
- Wiggle, wiggle. Take the mascara wand and start at the base of the lashes. Now wiggle the wand side to side working your way up to the tips. Remember, if you dip the mascara wand back in the tube, be sure to wipe the excess mascara off the wand.
- Top of the lashes (optional). For added coverage and volume, some close their eye and use the same wiggle effect on the top of the lashes as well.
- Go verticle. For the bottom lashes, you should use the wand vertically to add just an accent of mascara. Do not overdo it on the bottom lashes.
7. "More Is More"
Some people seem to think the more mascara they use the more volume their lashes will have. Wrong! Continuing to add more and more coats of mascara can create a heavy clump effect that is quite the opposite of voluminous lashes.
8. Not Removing Mascara Before Sleeping
Always remove any traces of mascara before falling asleep. Falling asleep with mascara or any other eye makeup on can cause eye irritation and possibly infections. Mascara particles can clog glands and create red, irritated eyes along with painful eye infections. Even still, these particles can cause corneal abrasions, which are small cuts on the surface of the eye itself.
A great product to use to remove mascara, especially waterproof mascara and other eye makeup, is Avon’s True Color Moisturizing Eye Makeup Remover Lotion. Just dab a drop onto a cotton ball and gently wipe away the day or night’s makeup with minimal effort but maximum results.
These are just the most common mistakes people make when using mascara. There are much more makeup mistakes than makeup trends committed around the world, but to each their own when it comes to style. The primary things to consider with mascara use are the prevention of eye infections and knowing the basics of how to apply mascara correctly. The rest is just individual preference.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2017 Linda Sarhan
Jenn from Pennsylvania on April 16, 2018:
Very informative and helpful article. I didn't realize that pumping the mascara in the tube could dry it out faster.
Nadine May from Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa on September 16, 2017:
That was a very informative article and I'm guilty of keeping my mascara for as long as I can, a lot longer than 3 months! never heart of Eyelash mites...