Like food, most beauty products are perishable and have an expiration date. While many of us may resist throwing out our favorite shades of lipstick, eyeshadow palette pans, or half-filled tubes of mascara, the truth is that most cosmetics need replacement regularly.
Bradley S. Rosen, M.D., a consulting ophthalmologist for Izzy Zero Waste Beauty, highlights the need for regular replacement of your mascara. “Bacterial buildup over time is common in mascara products,” explains Dr. Rosen. “Replacing your mascara every three months reduces bacterial growth and can help with dryness, allergic responses, redness, and irritation."
Additionally, Dr. Rosen points out that regularly replacing your mascara "may also reduce the impact of environmental stressors from air pollution and other irritants, and prevents the formula from drying out and becoming flaky."
Quick Facts About Mascara
Available in liquid, cream or powder form, mascara is a cosmetic used to enhance the length and volume of eyelashes. A combination of waxes, oils, pigments, preservatives, and pigments (usually brown or black) are common ingredients found in most mascara brands.
To use this beauty product, you dip a small application brush—or wand—into a tube of mascara. You remove the wand from the tube, brush the mascara through your eyelashes, and then return the wand to the tube.
Old mascara starts to dry out due to regular exposure of the wand to the air. This dryness leads to flaking and clumping, all of which compromise your mascara’s performance. Old mascara also accumulates dirt, dust and germs—including harmful bacteria.
Over time, this buildup of harmful bacteria can lead to your lashes breaking off or falling out, along with burning, redness and irritation. Continuing to use mascara that’s past its prime can also cause inflammatory eye infections such as conjunctivitis, or pink eye.
When in doubt, it's always a good call to replace that crusty old mascara with a fresh tube.
“Bacterial buildup over time is common in mascara products,” explains Dr. Rosen. “Replacing your mascara every three months reduces bacterial growth and can help with dryness, allergic responses, redness, and irritation."
Signs It's Time to Replace Your Mascara
A general rule of thumb for optimal hygiene and healthy eyes is to replace your mascara every three months. You know it's time to replace your mascara when:
- You can't remember when you purchased your mascara
- You shared your mascara with one or more of your friends
- Your mascara is starting to clump, cake, flake, or dry out
- Your mascara has a noticeably unpleasant odor
But the number one reason to replace your mascara is the development of redness, burning or irritation in the eye area shortly after application.
How Long Does Mascara Last?
According to the FDA, there are currently no laws regulating the shelf life of cosmetics in the United States. This means cosmetic manufacturers aren't required to list an expiration date on their products.
As previously mentioned, expired eye makeup can cause redness, itching and other forms of eye irritation. So although you probably won't see an expiration date printed anywhere, you should get in the habit of replacing your mascara every three months.
After this 90-day period is up, most mascara formulas tend to dry out and clump up–a condition that provides less than ideal eyelash coverage. And every time you remove the wand from the tube, you expose the formula to a multitude of germs and environmental pollutants.
It’s also worth noting that high heat and humidity levels can adversely affect the stability and shelf life of most cosmetics. When you regularly leave your mascara in a hot car, for example, the formula will break down faster due to an accelerated rate of bacteria and fungi growth.
If you’re in the habit of storing your beauty products in extreme heat, you’ll need to replace them even more frequently.
Replacing Your Mascara Without Trashing the Planet
So when in doubt, throw that mascara out! But what about all the single-use plastic cosmetics that are rapidly filling up our oceans and landfills? Happily, the world’s first zero waste beauty line has a solution.
Izzy Zero Waste Beauty launched in 2020 with the world’s first zero waste, certified CarbonNeutral® mascara. The medical-grade stainless steel tubes can be reused over 10,000 times, and contain 94% less plastic than the industry standard for prestige mascaras. When you sign up for a quarterly or annual membership at yourizzy.com, you'll receive a sterilized, reusable tube of fresh mascara every three months. Sending your old mascara in for a refill is easy thanks to the reusable canvas mailers that Izzy provides.
Izzy Zero Waste Mascara is a serious win for you, your eye health, and the environment. Sign up today for a quarterly or annual zero waste membership, and enjoy fresh mascara every three months without trashing the planet.