A few days ago, while watching my friend do her makeup, I witnessed her commit the gravest of mascara sins: She applied a layer of mascara, stuck the wand back into the tube to reload it, and then pumped it in and out a dozen times, completely unaware of the fact that she was destroying my beauty editor heart with each pump.
“What?” she asked, as I visibly cringed and asked her to stop. “You’re literally destroying your mascara right now,” I said, dead. Because she was, and still would be, sabotaging her own eyelashes if I hadn’t decided to write this story to publicly shame her/enlighten everyone else on the dos and don’ts of mascara.
Keep reading (and watching) to find out whether or not you're in the clear.
Listen—I’m not the makeup police. Everyone should apply (or not apply) the makeup they want, how they want, where they want, etc., etc. But I am the police of wasting money. And each time you pump your mascara wand, you’re pushing air into the tube, causing the formula to dry out faster. And a dried-out formula means more clumps and flakes for you—plus, you know, more frequent runs to the drugstore for a new tube.
Though most mascaras will stay fresh and creamy for three months after being opened, you’ll easily cut that shelf-life in half if you’re pushing air into the tube each time you use it. Worse, the pump method is fuel for bacteria growth. “Some bacteria species thrive in oxygen, so mascara should be an air-free zone,” explains dermatologist Mona Gohara, M.D., associate clinical professor at Yale.
Great. Now that you’re (hopefully) sufficiently scared of ever pumping your mascara again, how are you supposed to reload your brush for max formula coating? It’s ridiculously simple: Just “scrape” the edges of the tube. Take the wand and push it against the sides of the tube, gently swirling the brush around and around to essentially scoop up the formula.
The result? A wand loaded on all sides with mascara, and a tube that’s stayed relatively air-free and creamy. It’s an easy swap that hopefully everyone is already doing, but if you’re not, please feel free to take note immediately and save yourself from ever dealing with dry, crusty, flaky mascara ever again.
But if the damage is already done and you need a new mascara to start fresh with, try one of my four absolute favorite formulas, below, all of which are currently sitting in my makeup bag. Treat them kindly.