Reviving Old Mascara + 4 Other Lash Mistakes Experts See All The Time

(Last Used: 1/15/21)

January 18, 2021 — 0:25 AM

You’re doing all the right things: You coat your lashes in moisturizing, antioxidant-rich ingredients, you’ve dabbled with a lash serum, you wield only the cleanest, smoothest mascaras. But, alas, your lashes are finicky little flutters. One simple misstep can keep you from your Bambi-esque lash goals—especially the blunders you make everyday without knowing it.

Ahead, poke through the most common lash mistakes experts see on the regular. 

Mistake #1: You rub your eyes. 

The key to keeping the lashes you have long and healthy is avoiding physical stress—which includes pulling at the lids with your palms and/or harsh makeup removers. In fact, experts regard rubbing your lashes as one of the main culprits for eyelash loss, since constantly tugging on your eyes can damage the lid skin and pluck out those flutters. When you do touch your eyes—say, you have an itch or you’re washing your face—be sure to keep your touch featherlight. 

To a similar point, you also might want to try sleeping on your back, so your pillow doesn’t tug on your lid skin while you snooze. If you’re a stomach-sleeper through and through, you might want to invest in a silk or satin pillowcase at the very least—these are much gentler on your skin (and lash hairs), as they don’t cause as much friction.  

Mistake #2: You ignore internal care. 

Something people often forget is that lashes are actually tiny hairs. Make no mistake: Lashes are made of the same structural components as the hair on your head (namely, keratin), and you should treat them as such! Just as you might supplement with healthy nutrients to encourage hair growth from the get-go, you can use the same keratin-building blend to enhance your set of doll-like lashes.*

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Specifically, research points to collagen and biotin supplements for strengthening the hairs, as ingesting both can help support your natural levels of essential amino acids to help build keratin.* In fact, one small study showed that women with thinning hair had significant regrowth when supplementing with biotin as compared to those given a placebo.* Another double-blind, placebo-controlled study showed that taking both biotin and collagen supplements supported increased hair growth in women.*

Mistake #3: You clamp down with curlers. 

Lash curlers can transform flat, wilted lashes to fluffy and lifted in a snap, but you don’t have to grip the hairs too hard to achieve the perfect curl. In fact, clamping too hard can tug on the lashes and possibly pluck them right out. A gentle squeeze will do just fine.

Another tip worth mentioning: You should routinely clean the pads on your curler and swap out the pads every few months (or snag a new tool altogether) to avoid exposing your lashes to old mascara residue (more in a moment). 

Mistake #4: You forget to clean them. 

We repeat: Your lashes are tiny, wispy hairs. And just like how your scalp can accumulate buildup, the tiny follicles along your lash line can fill with gunk—typically eye makeup, mucus, and oil (sometimes eyelash glue, if you’re one to use extensions). Accrue too much buildup, and it can suffocate those delicate follicles and even cause an eyelash or two to fall out. 

Cleaning them doesn’t have to be too much of a hassle, though. Just make sure you lift all your eye makeup off with remover, then (gently!) massage the eyes with cleanser while washing your face. Remember not to drag or tug at the fragile lashes, lest you fall victim to mistake No. 1.  

Mistake #5: You use old mascara. 

“Old mascara can definitely give you an infection—the moistness and tube is a breeding ground for germs,” board-certified dermatologist Mona Gohara, M.D., previously shared with mbg. (Especially given the fact that you dip the wand in and out, increasing the chance of contamination.) That bacteria can contribute to dermatitis, which is particularly prevalent around the eyes since the skin is thinner. As a general rule of thumb, many experts recommend tossing your mascara every two months, just to be safe.

While you may hear of old tricks and tips to extend the shelf life of your trusty tube (example: Add eye drops to your mascara to re-moisten the formula), these hacks are a major no. “If a product is old and crusty and you add something to it, the amount of bacteria you could be creating is frightening,” says celebrity esthetician Joanna Vargas about how to make beauty products last longer. If it’s dried up, there’s a reason, and reviving it can do way more harm than good.

Lashes are delicate, precious little hairs—and just like the strands on your head, they’re vulnerable to a few collective errors. The bottom line: Be extra gentle on your flutters, condition them from the inside-out, and make sure to properly remove gunk. 

*If you are pregnant, breastfeeding, or taking medications, consult with your doctor before starting a supplement routine. It is always optimal to consult with a health care provider when considering what supplements are right for you.

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