How Long Does Mascara Last If Opened?

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Mascara is one of the essential items in your makeup kit that you must always carry. I’m guilty of buying mascara and not using it for a while. Has this happened to you? If so, you may wonder if it’s still good. How long does mascara last if opened?

Mascara that has been opened lasts about 3 months if used on a daily basis or 6 months when used less often. The more often you use it, the quicker it will go bad.

This is because its slightly wet nature is a breeding ground for bacteria. So use mascara within 3 to 6 months to avoid the risk of irritation and infections. 

The factors that affect how long mascara will last if opened are as follows:

  1. Frequency of use
  2. Storage temperature
  3. Consistency
  4. Ingredients 
  5. Type of user

Also, you can contaminate the mascara tube in different ways when you use it daily.

Researchers have also found out that there are other major causes of this contamination.

Continue reading to learn more about how these factors can affect the length of time your mascara could last when opened.

Also, for an excellent hypoallergenic mascara for sensitive eyes, take a look at our top pick, the Fifth & Skin NATURLASH Natural Mascara (BLACK) – Hypoallergenic Mascara for Sensitive Eyes – Vegan & Cruelty-Free Mascara:

Click here to see it on Amazon.

How Long Does Mascara Last If Opened?

Typically, mascaras could last for 3 months when used daily. But when used less often, it could last for 6 months. However, you must also consider the expiration date of the product. Some products may indicate the expiration date, and some don’t. 

You will have to find out if the mascara you have purchased has an expiry date. Expiry dates for most skin care products are listed as an open jar with a number, e.g., 3M, 6M, etc.

For mascara, it will usually show 3M for 3 months or 6M for 6 months. If it doesn’t show an expiry date, the next time you buy, be sure that the expiration date is indicated, or you could make a note on a calendar.

how long can you keep mascara once opened

The reason why frequent use shortens the length of time is that the mascara has an increased risk of contamination when it’s exposed daily.

The microorganisms found in the air and on the skin of your eyes have an increased possibility of entering the tube of the mascara, where they can grow and multiply. 

When bacteria contaminate the mascara, it could destroy the effectiveness of the ingredients and hasten the deterioration of the product. 

On the other hand, the less frequently you use the mascara, the lesser will be the risk of contamination, as its exposure to the air or your skin is lesser.

Consequently, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has a similar guideline on how long mascara would last if opened. According to FDA, you should dispose of your mascara after 2 to 4 months. Therefore, 3 months is an ideal length of time for you to get rid of your mascara. 

Aside from the frequency of use, there are also other factors that can affect how long mascara will last if opened. 

Factors Affecting How Long Your Mascara Will Last If Opened 

1. Frequency of Use

As previously discussed, the more frequently you use the mascara, the shorter would be its shelf life, and vice versa. The frequent opening of the tube exposes it often to bacteria present in the air and the environment; thus, reducing its shelf life.

2. Storage Temperature

Mascara should be stored in an area away from the sun and rain. The recommended temperature is between 20 to 24 degrees Celsius. Heat can destroy its components, render it unusable, and expire faster.

Keep the mascara away from extremely cold and wet areas as these would have the same effects as hot temperatures.

3. Consistency

The more liquid the consistency of the mascara is, the faster it would deteriorate. Water and warmth facilitate the multiplication of microorganisms. Any type of make-up that has more moisture will have a shorter shelf life. 

4. Ingredients 

The ingredients of the mascara are a major factor that contributes to the length of time the mascara can last. Generally, mascaras contain preservatives to prolong their shelf lives. 

Beware, though, that there are harmful preservatives – such as parabens and formaldehyde-releasing chemicals – that can inflict damage to your eyes and skin. There are also other harmful substances included in some mascaras.

These harmful substances include:

  • Aluminum powder
  • Acetate
  • Mercury
  • Coal tar dyes
  • Propylene glycol

You can read the ingredients shown on the product to find out its ingredients. 

If you want safer mascaras that could also last longer, you can opt for organic ones. The ingredients of this type of mascaras are natural and usually come from oils and plants. Thus, they are not harmful to your eyes and your skin.

These products are plant-based, paraben-free, and are categorized as ‘cruelty-free products. If you’re interested, I have provided links to their complete product specifications.

Examples of these natural, safe, and non-toxic mascaras are:

Naturlash Mineral Mascara

Click here to see it on Amazon.

Mad Lash Voluminous Mascara

Click here to see it on Amazon.

Waterproof Mascara

Click here to see it on Amazon.

5. Type of User

The type of mascara user can also affect how long it takes to expire. When the user is unhygienic and sloppy, the mascara would have a shorter shelf life.

It’s due to the fact that the mascara could get contaminated easily because of the unhygienic practices of the user. Bacterial contamination at any time would render the mascara unsafe to use.

You should be clean and careful when applying mascara to lessen your risk of acquiring eye infections or eye injuries. At the same time, being clean and careful means you are prolonging the shelf life of your mascara.

Hygienic Methods When Using Mascaras to Prevent Contamination and Eye Infections

It’s essential to prevent contamination coming from microorganisms as this is the primary cause of your mascara’s deterioration. So, if you want your mascara to last longer, you have to use it while observing the following methods.

  • Twirl the brush instead of pumping it into the mascara tube. This will minimize the introduction of air that could contain microorganisms (examples are fungi or staphylococcus).
  • Wash and dry thoroughly the mascara’s brush whenever necessary. And keep all your materials clean and dry. You can even sterilize them if you’re extra sensitive.
  • Wash your face first before applying mascara. Clean eyelashes would decrease the risk of contaminating your mascara.
  • Cover the mascara at all times to prevent entry of contaminating microbes. Take note that microbes are present on all types of surfaces. 
  • Store the mascara at room temperature. The storage area must be away from hot and wet places.
  • Always apply mascara only when your hands are steady. Applying mascara when you’re on the move may cause injury to your eyes. 
  • Don’t share or swap your mascara with other persons. You can acquire diseases this way. There are a few instances when blindness resulted due to an acquired infection from another person. 
  • Don’t use mascara if you have an eye disease, irritation, or infection. The infective agent may get transferred to the mascara’s tube, and you could re-infect yourself.
  • Replace your mascara every 3 months. To play safe, do this regularly. Don’t wait for your eyes to get infected. Prevention is still better than cure.

How Will You Know That the Mascara Has Expired and No Longer Safe to Use?

You will know that the mascara is no longer safe to use when it has an off smell and has completely dried up. 

There is also a difference in its texture, consistency, color, and odor. This means that it has been contaminated or has deteriorated.

A clumpy appearance indicates that it may have been unnecessarily exposed to air. Don’t attempt to add water as this may introduce bacteria. You just have to dispose of it and buy a new one.

Find out the expiry date, and discard it if it’s already expired – even when there is no apparent change in its texture, color, odor, or consistency.  

Remember to look up the ingredients to avoid harmful chemicals. Pick one with natural, safe and non-toxic components. 

Tips on Prolonging the Shelf Life of Your Mascara

  • Store it at the right temperature (20 to 24 degrees Celsius). Don’t refrigerate, or store it in hot and wet places.
  • Prevent it from drying and clumping. Drying and clumping will destroy its components. These can be caused by unnecessary exposure to air.
  • Avoid bacterial contamination. Again, bacterial contamination can cause damage to the mascara’s ingredients. (Keep in mind that it could cause eye diseases too).
  • Use it less frequently. This minimizes its exposure to air and contamination, so, it tends to last longer.
  • Don’t add water or liquids. Water or liquids would decrease its shelf-life.
  • Choose a mascara with a longer expiration date. Naturally, you have to select mascaras that could last longer.

To see more on how long mascara lasts, as well as other makeup products, see the below video:

Conclusion – How Long Does Mascara Last If Opened?

So, how long does mascara last if opened? It could last up to three months when used daily and 6 months when used less frequently. 

However, you must replace your mascara any time that it has dried up or has turned into a liquid – even when it’s not yet 3 months old. 

Also, I recommend replacing your mascara every 3 months – even when there’s no indication of deterioration or contamination. This is applicable if you have been using it daily. The most that you could use mascara is up to 6 months when used with less frequency.

It’s great to enhance your appearance with mascara and other makeup, but you should not do this at the expense of your health. 

Being beautiful is not as valuable as having clear and normal eyesight.

Related reading:

Does Shampoo Expire? Does Shampoo Go Bad?

How to Tell If Makeup Is Expired

What Happens If You Use Expired Face Products?

How Long Do Opened Skin Care Products Last?