– Ed

Mascara can contribute so many things to your life, like Bambi eyelashes but, unfortunately also eye infections. OK, that isn’t exactly ideal, but it’s a possibility if you’re still using mascara you can’t even remember buying. Mascara can be pricey, so why would you toss a tube without using up every bit of pigment? Unfortunately, hanging on to old mascara can cause ocular infections. Best practice is to replace mascara every three months or so.

One of the most common types of bacteria associated with expired mascara is Staphylococcus epidermidis which can exist on all types of cosmetics including eyeliners, eyeshadow, and lipstick as well as mascara.

While pumping the mascara wand into the tube helps to use more product, it also drags more air and potential germs into the products. This causes it to dry out or go bad. If your mascara flakes, clumps, dries out, or smells, it’s time to toss it. There is no way to clean or preserve your mascara, so your best bet is to just replace it.

Most eye makeup, including mascara, is generally safe if you follow proper technique for application and maintenance. Here are a few important makeup tips:

  • Never share your eye makeup with others.
  • Remember to always wash your makeup brushes regularly.
  • Replace eye makeup every three months or immediately if you have an eye infection.
  • Pay attention to expiration dates. Mascara can promote the growth of bacteria and viruses.
  • If mascara or other eye makeup gets in your eye, don’t rub, rinse.

Another potential problem lurks when there is not an effective daily cleaning routine in place. The story of fifty-year old Theresa Lynch from Australia was widely reported in the press after it was published in the Journal of Ophthalmology.

For more than twenty-five years, she applied mascara almost daily, but failed to properly remove it or clean her lashes efficiently over the course of those years. Mascara can form particles that can become dislodged from the eyelashes and end up underneath the lids. The end result can be seen in the pictures on the right.
The lumps were embedded so deep that particles were building up on top of each other. Each time Lynch blinked, the bumps would rub the surface of her eye and pose a serious risk to her vision. Dr Dana Robaei, who published the study on Theresa’s injuries, said she had never seen anything like it, and if a scratch on Lynch’s eye were to get infected, the infection could have resulted in blindness. Lynch underwent an operation to have the hard lumps removed from inside her eyelid.

While this case is uncommon, it does demonstrate the serious implications of not having an effective cleaning regimen.

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