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How Long Does Mascara Last?

If Your Mascara Has Reached This Point, You Should Have Tossed It Long Ago

Mascara is kind of like dairy in the sense that one day it seems perfectly fine, and then — poof! — all of a sudden it's crumbly and weird and definitely needs to be tossed. The truth is that if your mascara has reached this point, well, it's probably been bad for a while. Curious about just how long mascara lasts — and signs that it's time to let it retire — we hit up Georgi Sandev, a celebrity makeup artist who's worked the Victoria's Secret Fashion Show, and who's also worked with international brands such as Givenchy, Chanel, and Dior.

"The typical shelf life of mascara is six to eight months from opening it for the first time. If you are using all natural mascara, pay attention to the labels as that shelf life could be shorter," he said. "The easiest way to find out if your mascara is near the end of its life is when the product simply starts to under perform. For example, it feels dry, clumps too much, or just doesn't apply as easily any longer, or [if] the smell of it changes."

Sometimes your mascara may start to go bad before its expiration date, especially if you use it a ton or aren't using or storing it properly. Sandev shared a few tips for extending its life and keeping it in top notch condition.

  • Don't pump the mascara wand into the product when trying to pick it up from the tube. "This causes a lot of air to enter the tube and dries the mascara overtime. Instead try swirling the wand inside the tube," he noted.
  • Wash the wand once every couple of weeks with soap and hot water. He explained, "Overtime, the wand accumulates dry product and when that mixes with the fresh mascara inside the tube, it causes clumps on the lashes and little bits of product falling onto your skin."
  • For non-waterproof mascara, add a couple drops of generic eye drops, then close and shake. "This method works even better if you place the tube in hot water for four to five minutes before you add the drops. Make sure to wash the mascara wand with soap and hot water first."
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