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Mascara + Air = Bacteria

Avid Bella readers may recall that mascara is the first makeup to spoil. But my ever curious (and frugal) side wondered . . . why does it have to be my pricey DiorShow that gets the curse of the short shelf life?! Since the idea of bacteria near my eye doesn't apply to the reasonable realist in me, I figured if I knew why it went bad, I'd better understand when to toss.

Turns out mascara is more prone to the harboring of bacteria because of the way it's used – first you pull the wand out, then you put it back in. Think about those of you who reapply, or never leave the house without at least three coats. (You know who you are.) Each time you do that air gets into the tube.

If I haven't scared you off yet, find out what happens next


Not only can "pumping" mascara cause it to dry out faster, that addition of air creates a veritable breeding ground. Each application introduces bacteria to the wand and pushes it into the tube. As you do so, both the (potential) bacteria and air inside are increased and trapped, and thus begins the reproduction. Gross already but then the relatively humid, closed environment becomes even more susceptible to bacterial growth (like closed toothbrush containers).

When pulling out the wand, make sure to do a twisting not pumping motion to minimize the trapped air for as long as possible. The good news is that mascara includes an antibacterial agent (commonly PVP or VP) to stave off this infection and keep you safe for a few months . . . after that, you may be sorry.


Join The Conversation
Autumns_Elegy Autumns_Elegy 8 years
I tend to run out of mascara before the recommended three month mark. If I've been getting every last dab out of the tube I'll ditch it as soon as it starts to get gluggy.
blackdresses88 blackdresses88 8 years
Did I just get bleeped out?! haha
blackdresses88 blackdresses88 8 years
That's why I would never spend a shit ton of money on mascara. That definitely goes on the list of make-up items NOT to splurge on. Sorry Dior show. I love you, but I love my wallet more.
soapbox soapbox 8 years
Same here. My mascara is out in three months flat.
sidra5397 sidra5397 8 years
Yeesh... Okay, twist don't pump. Got it!
chiquita29 chiquita29 8 years
Good thing I toss mine out after three months! I'll have to remember to start twisting it out intstead.
emalove emalove 8 years
Pumping the wand is definitely bad--I learned that a long time ago. And I'm pretty good about tossing my mascara after the recommended 3 months. I don't want any kind of eye infection, that's for sure.
tglynn tglynn 8 years
I always twist instead of pump, and I wash the wand off before I put it back in the tube, especially with the more expensive ones! lol
skigurl skigurl 8 years
i love love love covergirl lashblast but i find i need to replace it often to keep it working at top performance, so i don't worry about this the good thing is, it's only 8$ so i don't feel bad replacing it every 2 months like i would with a 35$ option
momma-tikita momma-tikita 8 years
Damn that is scary..twisting it is! I pump..a few times and I always re-apply! yuck... This article came in good timing though because I just bought B.E.'s Buxom mascara so lets see how long it lasts!
almostloli almostloli 8 years
but my mascara always stays in my room.. haha (does it make any difference?)
miss-malone miss-malone 8 years
Eww... I hardly ever wear mascara though, so I'm not too worried. I never "pump" the wand when I do though, always twist it out.
EduHeather EduHeather 8 years
This is something I never would have thought of. I usually pump the wand, but twisting, it is! Here's a great article about "When Good Makeup Goes Bad," too.
aimeeb aimeeb 8 years
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