Ditch Your Mascara!

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Well, the title may sound provocative but relax, it doesn’t mean that you are not allowed to wear mascara, but instead you should ditch your mascara after 3 months of usage! Wow, why so sudden? This is due to the risk of eye infection which is originated from the usage of old make up, specifically mascara. I have experienced it before and I do not want it to happen again for sure! 

First thing first, we know that make up also has expiration date or shelf life. The range of shelf life for each type of make-up is different from one another. You can check their shelf life on the packaging. Look for this logo which is usually located on the back or below the packaging:

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The logo that you should look for is in a shape of opened jar with number written on it. The number indicates how long you should keep this product, for instance 12M means 12 months or 1 year, 6M means 6 months, 3M means 3 months, 24M means 24 months or 2 years, and so on. Well, now that we know how to determine the expiration date for a make up product, we should always watch out for this logo every time we buy a new make up. To make you easier, here is the make up expiration dates reminder that you can print out or put it in your laptop, iPad, iPhone, or your cell phone as a reminder: 

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Courtesy of Michele Eng. (http://www.micheleng.com/freebies/makeupexpirationdates-micheleng.jpg) She made this picture to be printed out for free as a reminder. How helpful! 🙂 P.S: She also made the calendar reminder so in case you are too lazy to count or forget when should you ditch your make up, just look at the months below (too bad it is only for 3 and 6 months reminder…)!

As you can see on the picture above, the expiration date for mascara is very short compared to other make up, only 3 months!!!! This is due to the fact that eye make up has higher chance for repeated microbial exposure during usage and since the eye area is prone to infection, some industry experts recommend replacing mascara 3 months after purchase. According to a study conducted by FDA (Food and Drug Administration, some kind of BPOM – Badan Pengawas Obat dan Makanan in Indonesia), every year, many women end up with eye infections from cosmetics and in rare cases, women have been temporarily or permanently blinded by an eye cosmetic. So scary right! Obviously we don’t want that to happen! 

Why mascara is the main culprit for eye infection? Well, this is due to the fact that eyelashes naturally have bacteria on them. We call it normal flora or in simple words, good bacteria which is actually beneficial for our body. However, as any normal flora in our body, if the amount of normal flora or good bacteria gets higher and higher that the normal or initial amount, the normal flora will become pathogenic or more infectious, therefore causing disease! To make it easier, look at this cartoon below: 

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The yellow creatures are actually normal flora or good bacteria which are beneficial for our body, but they can become pathogen or infectious if they multiply, thus causing an increase in the number of bacteria. The multiplication can happen due to many factors, such as imbalance in our body system and unhygienic condition (credit:

As soon as you use a makeup brush on the eyelash or eyelid, the brush is contaminated with the bacteria. As the time goes by, the contaminated brush leads to an increase amount of bacteria or the buildup of bacteria in the cosmetics container, therefore increasing the chance for an eye infection or an allergic reaction with the use of the product. The reason why mascara is the main concern is because we keep the brush inside the container, different with other eye make up such as eye shadow or eye liner. The brush, which has been contaminated with bacteria, is kept inside the tube, therefore the inside of the tube will also be contaminated with bacteria. In addition, remember before applying the mascara, we usually stir the brush to enhance the thickening effect? Because of that, the bacteria in the brush will be spread around the entire tube and causing increased risk of infection when we apply the mascara to our eyelashes 😦 When we use mascara over the expiration date, the bacteria will keep growing and growing, thus increasing the risk of infection. Scary, right? 

There are several eye infections which are resulted from the usage of contaminated mascara: 

  • Conjunctivitis or pink eye: this can happen when you accidentally stroke or scratch your eyes with the brush when you want to apply the mascara on your eyelashes. This can happen if you are in a hurry or when you apply the mascara in your car. The most obvious sign is the pink to reddish colour of the eye due to inflammation of the conjunctiva (the thin mucous membrane that covers the front of the eye and lines the inside of the eyelids). Other signs include irritation, itchiness, and tearing to relieve discomfort. 

  • Blepharitis: infection of the eyelids, usually in the place where the eyelashes hair follicles are located. The signs include reddish eyes, burning sensation in the eye, sensitivity to light, blurry vision, and you will also feel that there is something in your eyes

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    Comparison between normal eye and eye with blepharitis (credit: http://torontoeyeclinic.com/pics/Blepharitis.jpg)

  • Hordeolum: small infection of the glands in the eye, which is located in the eyelids. The infection causes a small red bump on the eyelids that at a glance look like a small pimple. There are two types of hordeolum, internal and external. As the name implies, external hordeolum means that the bump is located outside the lash line, while internal hordeolum means that the bump is located inside the lash line. This can occur due to a blockage in the small glands located in the eyelid margin. The glands act to produce oil and hordeolum can result in the blockage of the glands. The blockage is caused by the bacteria which are trapped in the gland, therefore causing the area to become red and inflamed. I had experience with this condition before in early 2013. Because I was in a rush, I wore my expired mascara in my car two days in a row. On the third day, I felt a stinging sensation in my eyes and since I was wearing contact lenses, I tried to remove my contact lenses, cleaned it up, and put my contact lenses back because I thought the problem was in my lenses. However, there were no change on the stinging sensation and my eyes became reddish and there was also tearing. When I looked to the mirror, there was a small red bump which looks like a small pimple inside my lash line on the lower eyelid. I quickly disposed my old mascara and purchased a new one instead. Hordeolum may be painful, but it can resolve by itself within days.

We never thought that mascara, an essential eye make-up for us, can cause such things! Here are several things we can do to make our eyes look beautiful while wearing mascara without having to experience eye infections: 

  • Dispose your mascara after 3 months of usage! This is a must to prevent build-up of bacteria inside the tube and the brush. I know that mascara comes in a big size and for those who do not wear mascara on a daily basis, this is such a waste of money because you just purchased a mascara and then you wore it several times, and suddenly it has been 3 months so that you have to throw away your mascara. However, this is for the sake of your eyes and my suggestion is if you don’t wear much mascara, buy the less pricey one or buy the small one/travel size/sample size instead of buying the expensive and big one. Therefore you won’t feel guilty when you throw your mascara after 3 months 🙂 
  • If the mascara becomes dry, quickly throw it away. Dry mascara can be resulted if we do not close the cap properly. This condition can also allow introduction of new bacteria to the container and the brush. Do not add water or saliva to moisten it or liquify the mascara because it will also introduce new bacteria to the container and the brush. 
  • Avoid sharing your mascara because another person’s bacteria in your make up can be dangerous to you and can result in introduction of new bacteria and also build up of the bacteria. 
  • Be careful not to scratch the eyeball when applying and also removing mascara. We tend to accidentally scratch the eyeball when we are in a hurry or when we are in a car or moving vehicle. My suggestion is wear mascara at home, but in case you wake up very late and in a total hurry, at least wear mascara when your car stops, not when your car is moving, for example during traffic or traffic lights so you won’t accidentally stroke your eyeballs.
  • Make sure you that you remove and clean your mascara before sleeping because uncleaned mascara can leave residue, which can also block the glands, thus causing infection. Uncleaned mascara can also induce increased growth of bacteria, therefore also causing infection. 

In conclusion, ditch your mascara after 3 months of usage and also before going to bed if you do not want to have eye infection! 

Sources: 

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