How Long Does Mascara Last?

I was born with thin, pointed eyelashes. I know the struggle of finding a good mascara that does its job without crumbling or transferring.

And when I do find a mascara like that, I want to keep using it forever! Until I notice something just slightly off about it. Has it gone bad? Has my beloved finally coated the last lash of its life? Or is it just being a little moody, feeling under the weather?

I swear, most of my life has been spent figuring out whether to throw out a mascara or not.

Have you faced the same dilemma? In fact, are you wondering about it right now? Because I have done some research and can help you figure out how long does mascara last!

How Long Does Mascara Last?

I will not make you wait any longer!

A mascara lasts for a year, depending on your frequency of use. After that, I would suggest that you replace it. But yes, if you do not use it quite often, it will last you over a year. But that is if you store it properly.

You can understand, the longevity of a tube mascara is dependent on a few factors, storage being one. There are some other factors too that can reduce the longevity of your mascara.

What Factors Affect a Mascara’s Longevity?

As I said, a few factors will decide if your mascara needs to be thrown out within months. Let me briefly discuss them.


How you store your mascara is immensely important. A cool, dry place away from direct sunlight is a must. You can either position them standing, or lying down in a bag. But changing that position frequently is what I will suggest.

Improper storage may cause the mascara to dry out beyond repair, or go bad.

Application Technique

Are you of those people who thrust the wand in a few times before taking it out? If you are, then I have some bad news for you. The thrusting motion usually lets in more air than necessary.

With each thrust, air is forced into the tube. The right technique is to open the mascara, take the wand out, apply, and repeat if needed.

Leaving the Tube Open

Did you find your mascara tube partially open after coming back home? Were you in a rush and forgot to ensure that the tube has been sealed?

This is one common mistake that makes mascara go bad. It allows air and moisture in, as well as more bacteria. Not only will your mascara dry out, it will be one unhygienic mess!

Does the Shelf Life of a Mascara Matter?

Firstly, shelf life is not entirely the same as the expiration date. A shelf life suggests the time after a product is opened beyond which it should not be used.

Shelf life is not the most important thing in the world, from my personal experience. If you store your mascara right, you can use it perfectly beyond its shelf life. That being ensured, there is no significant degradation in mascara quality past its shelf life.

Does that answer your question? Hope it did!

Is there a Recommended Time?

Yes, there is.

It is recommended that you do not use a mascara after 3 months of opening it. This is mainly suggested because bacteria can accumulate in the tube very fast.

I personally think that you can go using your mascara beyond this time if you maintain proper hygiene. Also, if you are the only person using it, then it should not be much of a problem.

Does the Expiration Date of Mascara Matter?

Remember, this is not the same as the shelf life!

Expiration date refers to the date after which a product should not be used. Even if it is left unopened, unlike shelf life.

The expiration date of a mascara matter. Because this date indicates that the product will not be safe to use after a certain period. Even if your mascara is perfectly fine, I would not suggest using it way past the expiration date.

So keep an eye out for the expiration date!

Can it go Bad if Left Unopened?

If the expiration date has passed, throw it away anyway. But if you have a mascara lying around intact with no promise of expiring anytime soon, hmm

A mascara will not go bad if left unopened. I personally have not seen any change in consistency, but some may thicken with time. Other than that an intact mascara does not show any degradation in quality prior to its expiration date.

I have said this before and I am saying this again, the expiry date is what matters! It determines the quality of the mascara prior and post expiry!

What happens if I use Bad Mascara?

Your eyes deserve utmost care. You should not even be thinking about using bad mascara!

A mascara that has gone bad can cause many issues. From a little irritation to people going blind- all are possible scenarios. Most people can get a bad infection, suffer burning or stinging. Many even complain their lashes are falling out!

So, be smart! Do not use bad mascara at any cost!

What are the Signs of Mascara Having Gone Bad?

There are several incidents of people using bad mascara and affecting their eyes. If you look out for a few signs, you may save your eyes!

Smell it!

One of the most telltale signs! I sniff all my products before application just to be safe. A bad mascara will smell off, oftentimes, funky. Just look out for a smell that is different than the usual!

Tell Me, Does it Cake?

A bad mascara will definitely cake! It is not the same as clumping. You will visibly notice your mascara looking cakey. This is much more terrible than a few of your eyelashes clumping together.

This is mostly caused by mascara drying out with time. A dried out mascara necessarily does not mean it has gone bad. It is the cakey-ness that indicates the quality.

Don’t Let it Sting & Burn!

The most important sign! If you want to give your mascara the benefit of doubt and apply it anyway, be careful. Take it off immediately if it irritates your eyes! Do not wait for it to become intolerable, sting or burn!

Is Dried Out Mascara Bad?

No! Dried out mascara is not the worst thing in the world. It can be difficult to use, but it is not bad. Unless it is cakey and smelly, then you know what it means!

Almost all mascaras dry out at some point due to exposure to air. That in itself is not a bad thing, so do not worry!

How Can I Fix Dried Out Mascara?

Fortunately, you can fix dried out mascara quite easily! It is not the end of the world, trust me.

A primary attempt to fix dried out mascara can be made with some warm water. Take a mug of warm water, and partially dip your mascara in it. The warmth should soften and dilute the formula again!

If that does not work, a drop of Inglot Duraline will do the magic! This little potion does an excellent job of softening any hardened makeup product.

Hope this helps!

How Can I Make my Mascara Last Longer?

There is no fixed theory or solution to this.

But proper storage and proper hygiene should do most of the work. The less exposure you allow the mascara to have with air while application, the better. Avoid using the wand for other purposes that can cause it to be in contact with more bacteria.

That is the most you can do on your part!


Our eyes are one of the most sensitive organs. It matters greatly that you take proper care of it and only use high quality products around it. How long does a mascara last is an important question for the safety of your eyes. So I hope this article helps you be more informed!

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