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Why You Should Throw Out Old Mascara - Health and Beauty Tips

Updated on November 4, 2011

We have no problem throwing away food when it gets old, so why should makeup be any different? I think women just don't think about throwing out old or expired makeup, myself included.

Let's think about this... how much makeup do you have rolling around in your bathroom drawers? I know I have lipstick, lip gloss, eye makeup, that I bought years ago. And I don't wear makeup all that much either. It may be time to clean out those makeup drawers, and throw out any old makeup or beauty products.

Let's start with mascara.

How long can I keep mascara?

I was surprised to find out that you should throw out your mascara every 3 months. I know I've kept mascara way longer than 3 months... the stuff never runs out! At least in my experience it never has.

After 3 months, mascara starts to get clumpy and powdery, and it won't go on evenly over your lashes like it's supposed to.

Mascara is also a primo bacteria breeding ground. The dark, wet interior of a mascara tube makes an ideal place for bacteria to grow.

I suppose I should take my own advice and throw mine out!

Also, if you notice it starting to smell before 3 months... throw it out!

How to prevent bacteria in your mascara

Here are some suggestions for ways to protect your mascara and eyes from bacteria that could grow in mascara:

  1. Purchase disposable mascara wands. These are used by makeup professionals, so that they don't contaminate the tube when they use the same mascara for different clients. Use a new wand every time you wear mascara, and make sure you don't double dip!
  2. Don't pump the wand. Pumping the wand will create more air bubbles inside the mascara tube, drying out the mascara faster. Instead of pumping the wand, try to twirl the wand as you bring it out of the tube. You might even get more mascara on the brush this way without introducing air bubbles into the tube.

3. Don't share mascara! Sharing mascara (or other beauty products, for that matter) increase the chances that eye bacteria will spread from person to person. This is a good time when those disposable mascara wands come in handy.

4. Don't add liquid to your mascara if it is starting to dry out. There could be germs in the tap water that could irritate your eyes. Adding water also dilutes the mascara, making it flakier and dull. If you're running out and there's no time to buy more, stick the tube of mascara in some hot water and let it sit for a while. The heat will help the mascara unstick from the walls inside the tube and become more liquid-like. It might also give you more usable mascara too!

5. Keep your mascara cool. Don't leave your mascara in hot places, because that encourages bacteria growth. It's best to keep your mascara in places where it doesn't get above 85 degrees. So, don't leave it in your car in the summertime.

What kind should I buy? What kind should I avoid?

Before I buy any makeup products, I make sure that the company is cruelty free (that is... they don't test on animals). Here are some companies I found through

Companies that do NOT test on animals:

  • Almay
  • Revlon
  • Clinique (Estee Lauder)
  • Urban Decay

Companies that DO test on animals:

  • Maybelline (L'Oreal)
  • Mary Kay
  • Neutrogena (Johnson & Johnson)
  • Avon

Clean out that makeup drawer!

Take a few minutes to go through your makeup bags and drawers, to throw away any old makeup and beauty products. And while you're at it, you might as well make sure your makeup products are animal friendly :)

What beauty product have you had the longest?

See results


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    • profile image

      jmcc9 5 years ago

      Avon does NOT test on animals. In fact Avon was the leader in the beauty industry in this regard. Very few, if any makeup companies have tested on animals since the early 1980's.

    • profile image

      kate 5 years ago

      how do you get air bubbles out of your mascara tube

    • profile image

      kelleyward 6 years ago

      thanks for this hub! I need to get rid of my mascara right now! Love how you listed which companies test on animals and which do not. Thanks again!

    • profile image

      gchicnotes 6 years ago

      Great beauty info! I had no idea Avon tested on animals. Nice that you included that info on there.

    • MemphisYankee profile image

      MemphisYankee 6 years ago from Tennessee

      Great hub! Very useful! Never thought about some of this stuff, and very interested to discover that Avon tests on animals. Definitely a reason for me to stop buying their stuff!

    • stephhicks68 profile image

      Stephanie Hicks 6 years ago from Bend, Oregon

      Super tips, information and more on makeup. I have a drawer and try to go through it at least 2x a year. Admittedly, I should replace the mascara more often than that though. Love the info re: companies that do or do not test on animals. Rated up!

    • u-doyle45 profile image

      u-doyle45 6 years ago from West Sussex

      The wands are a great idea. I worked in a beauty salon, health and safety, the issue of cross contamination could be a problem wherever products are used by multiple persons. We have used disposible wands for quite a while. You can purchase them from most large chemists or beauty suppliers.

    • cjcarter profile image

      cjcarter 6 years ago

      Emma Harvey - The 3 month rule was pretty new to me, but now that I know, I'll be tossing mine today. I thought the wands were a great idea too. Especially if you live in a house full of women!

    • Emma Harvey profile image

      Emma Kisby 6 years ago from Berkshire, UK

      I wear makeup everyday and mascara is my best friend. I am hot on throwing it away after 3 months and replacing it with a new, germ-free one. I have never heard of disposable wands and they look like a great idea. Fab hub.