How often should you replace your mascara?

It’s a beauty staple that’s loved by many! Mascara has been used for centuries to lengthen the eyelashes and add definition to the eye area. Easy to apply and available in lots of different colours and consistencies, it’s one of the most common cosmetics used by both women and men to enhance their look in seconds.

Like every product, however, mascara needs to be well looked after to ensure it performs well and doesn’t harm your skin.

If you’ve ever wondered how often you should change your mascara and how you can keep your existing formula performing at its best for longer, read on for our top tips.

Understanding mascara's shelf life

How long does mascara last, and how long should you use it for before replacing it? Well, unlike many other popular cosmetics, mascara doesn’t have a particularly long shelf life.

In fact, professionals recommend changing your mascara as often as every three months – so, much more regularly than other makeup such as eyeliner or eyebrow pencils, for example.

Signs you need a new mascara

If you notice a change in the colour, texture, or smell of your regular mascara, it’s likely that the product is trying to tell you it is beyond its best. Particularly thick, dry, flaky, or clumpy mascara is difficult to use and will not deliver the smooth, even results you’re looking for, so there’s a practical case for throwing it away and investing in a new tube.

However, by far the most important indicator that it’s time to replace your mascara is that the formula is irritating your eyelashes and eyelids (and you can’t put this irritation down to anything else). Bad reactions usually indicate that your mascara contains lots of microscopic pathogens and should be disposed of right away.

The risks of using old mascara

It’s no secret that cosmetics can accumulate dirt and dust if they are not cleaned properly. This is why it’s always important to clean your makeup regularly. However, it’s not possible to clean and sanitise most mascara brushes. Plus, due to the moist environment created by mascara’s liquid-based formula, mascara tubes are particularly good breeding grounds for bacteria such as Staphylococcus epidermidis. These microorganisms occur on your skin naturally – but when they build up to excessive levels, they can start to cause problems with the delicate tissue in and around your eyes.

Using your mascara frequently will constantly transfer these nasties from your skin and eyes into the brush and vice versa, leaving you more susceptible to soreness and irritation. In some cases, such bacteria could cause inflammatory eye infections such as conjunctivitis (pink eye) and styes (small painful lumps inside or on the edge of the eyelid).

If you are concerned about excessive irritation or are dealing with unusual symptoms after using mascara, always consultant your doctor for advice.

Making your mascara last

There are a few things you can do to reduce the build-up of bacteria on the brush and in the tube and get more wear from your mascara.

  • First, make sure you store your mascara upright, away from excessive heat and moisture. Despite the urban myth, it’s not a good idea to keep your mascara in the fridge, as this can actually increase bacteria production. Place it in a cool, dark place instead.
  • Instead of pumping the wand to coat the brush evenly, twist the brush inside the tube. This will reduce the amount of contact the product has with the air, which in turn will prevent it from drying out too quickly.
  • Don’t share your mascara with your friends. This will increase the spread of pathogens and put you at greater risk of getting an infection from the germs that have accumulated on the applicator.
  • Finally, label your mascara with its original purchase date. That way, you’ll know when it’s time to replace it!

NVS Pharmacy's mascara selection

If your mascara is reaching the end of its three-month shelf life, take a look at the high-quality mascara products available from NVS Pharmacy.

Whether you’re looking for a formula that will take good care of damaged lashes, or you’re after a product that will deliver a super dramatic look and stay put all day (and night) long, you’re bound to find something in our collection to meet your needs. Our favourites include Clarins’ Lash & Brow Double Fix Mascara and Supra Volume Mascara, the latter of which will improve the volume of your lashes over time.