Monday, January 23, 2012

Mascara and shelf life

Most should know this by now but not everyone does: the shelf life of a tube of mascara once you open it is 3 months. That's it! And that's whether you use it every day or just once in a blue moon!

How come?
My B.Sc. is actually in microbiology so I know the details and will spare you those but suffice it to say that microorganisms grow in your mascara real easily. It's just a great environment for them. If you've ever put on your eye makeup and you had a tingling or burning sensation, there's a high likelihood that your mascara was past its prime.

So please, oh please, for the love of your eyes, don't use it past 3 months! And, no, the whole putting it in the fridge method won't help much.

I have 3 tricks to remember when to throw your mascara out:
  • I try to start using a new tube at the start of a quarter. My day job works in quarters so it's easier for me to remember. Or you could go for the last month in a quarter. Whatever mental note works for you.
  • You can make a note to yourself on the calendar. Make sure that it's prominent enough that you won't miss it.
  • Or you could put a sticker on your mascara tube with the date when to change (or the date when you opened it).

With that said, you want to carefully consider your investment in mascara.

Definitely, if you're one of those persons who only use mascara for special occasions or performances, you'll want to minimize your investment. You can purchase one of those pharmacy brands mascara. I really like the ones by Maybelline, personally. You can also find (in some places like Sephora) travel size or sample size mascaras. It minimizes your investment and you can still get good quality. The problem with sample size mascaras, though, is that the brush will be much smaller and may not give you the best application as the regular size would.

Another option is that you could simply put on false lashes... that would work well if your natural lash color isn't too pale. Mine are super pale so they'd totally show against the false lashes. But if yours are a dark enough brown, you could get away with not having any mascara but wearing false lashes because they would blend in well enough... at least well enough for stage.

I personally use a lot of mascara so purchasing a big tube is totally fine for me. By the end of the 3 months, I actually need a new tube because I'm getting to the bottom anyway. My current favorite mascara is called "They're Real" by Benefit. I've also loved the Mascara X by MAC for many years but they have stopped making it (at least for a while).

So when it comes to purchasing a mascara, it's really about trial and error and finding what YOU like. You'll need to find the best combination of brush and formulation that you like. Every year, Sephora has a sampler of mascaras that they put together right around the Holidays. That's one way that you can figure out which mascara you like best. But, again, sampler size means a smaller brush so it's not a perfect representation of the actual full size product.

The cool thing, though, is that, since you need a new mascara every 3 months anyway, that means that you can try at least 4 mascaras each year. ;)

One note on travel by plane: I have a belly dance student who used to work for MAC and she was telling me that, when you're flying, you don't want to take your good tube of mascara with you because "something" happens in the travel where it makes the mascara formulation go weird. And "weird" will vary on the exact mascara. I traveled enough by plane last year to have tested this multiple times. Before she told me this, I thought that it was just because my mascara was approaching the end of its shelf life (which it often would) but, no, she's right! Travel by plane will indeed mess up your mascara. So that's another time when you will want a cheaper mascara or a sample size one. And, hey, that means another time when you can try a new mascara. ;)

If you take only one thing from this blog post, at least make it this: THROW THE MASCARA AFTER 3 MONTHS!

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