This Is A Telltale Sign That Your Mascara Is Expired

Have you ever bought one of those seemingly endless mascara tubes that somehow lasts you for months? Then the idea that they can expire may be alarming. Using up mascara can be a slow process, even if you use it every day. What if you don't get through it all in time? And perhaps you're the type who switches between several mascaras for different looks and occasions, prioritizing a pop of color one day and the best extra volume the next. Does this mean that you'll end up using expired products by the time you hit the bottom of each?


Even so, you might be tempted to keep using the mascaras in your collection, especially if they're still half-full. After all, wasting product can be expensive. But using any expired makeup can be hazardous, and mascara, in particular, is considered one of the riskiest (via The Healthy). While we don't often think of mascara as a time-sensitive product, it turns out that this makeup staple has a particular shelf-life. And using it past its expiration date can not only mean sub-par performance and a sloppy finish — expired mascara may have ramifications for your eye health.

The risks of using expired mascara

You may have heard tips suggesting that you refresh old, dried-out mascara with eye drops, but if your makeup is past its expiration, it's just not worth it. Out-of-date products can suffer from degrading ingredients, not to mention bacterial overgrowth.


Have you ever been watching House or Grey's Anatomy and heard them reference Staph infections? Then you know they're no joke. But a 2013 study published in the International Journal of Cosmetic Science found that 79% of used, expired mascaras contained dangerous Staphylococcus aureus bacteria, which are the cause of those serious infections.

"The dark, moist tube is a breeding ground for bacteria," optometrist Robert Corry, O.D., says on the University of Utah's Health Feed Blog. "The longer you keep mascara, the more likely it will contain bacteria. The eyes are a sensitive area and vulnerable to infection."

Long story short, using expired mascara which is no longer fresh and pristine can lead to a whole myriad of issues like eye irritation, infections, pink eye, and painful styes. Wouldn't you rather just let that old mascara go? Of course, it's not always obvious or easy to remember when makeup is hitting its end date. So, how can you recognize the signs that your mascara is expired?


How to tell if your mascara is expired

Unfortunately, it's all too easy to expose yourself to expired mascara; the typical window to safely use your mascara is only a brief three months after opening (via Mayo Clinic Health System). If you think there's a chance your mascara has crossed the threshold into unusability, what signs will clue you in that it's expired?


First of all, if you notice a bad smell from your mascara, trash it immediately (via Good Housekeeping). Just as you'd trust your nose when it comes to food, makeup and skincare products with an unpleasant odor are usually unsafe for contact with your skin, especially the sensitive area around your eyes. In this case, a foul scent may be a sign of bacteria or other nasties growing in your mascara.

A dry, clumpy, or separated texture may also signal that your mascara is out of date. Using such products is risky, and you're probably not going to end up with the flawless makeup look you were hoping for. Dried-up mascara can lead to flaky, chunky spider lashes that distract from your beauty instead of complementing it.


Finally, a change in the color of your mascara is never a good sign. Fading, loss of vibrance, or a shift in hue may suggest that your makeup is oxidizing due to air in the container. It's better to start fresh with a new product that is safe for your eyes and able to deliver the intense color you're looking for.