Mascara ranks as one of the top ten products Cosmopolitan says you should never share with others and while you can get away with using disposable wands, this still leaves plenty of room for bacterial and particulate contamination inside a warm, dark place - your mascara tube.
In an industry where females desire attractiveness, and in a history where makeup has centered around the eyes for eons, having safe, reliable eye products is a must.
Today on the market, there are only a few eye makeup brands that produce mascaras that would be considered sanitary by ordinary means - inside sealable, closed containers where you aren’t dipping-and-sticking a used brush back into them every time.
These brands are:
Bésame Cosmetics, which produces historical mascara in a sealable needle nose tube that allows you to squeeze out your desired amount onto a washable brush every time, meaning the brush (or, object of contamination) never enters the tube. This is the most sanitary mascara currently available, however, it’s also a historical formula meaning it’s not waterproof or long-wearing. However, you can sometimes get around this by wearing a waterproof clear wax topcoat.
Neutrogena, which currently makes wax-based mascaras that include sealable caps, allowing one to store and wash the brush from the formula separately. Neutrogena makes these sealable cap formulas in waterproof and non-waterproof blends. This type of mascara, where the wand still dips into the formula with each use, is not the most ideal, but it is still better than storing a used brush in a dark, warm place, as with a separate cap, it allows you to dry, wash and store the accompanying brush elsewhere. Neutrogena makes several of its formulas this way.
Cake Mascaras, and while this third one isn’t a brand, it’s a formula, any mascara that dries down to a solid form is unlikely to be harboring as much bacteria as its moist, dark counterpart. There are many of these available on the market today, and the brand above, Bésame also makes one. They aren’t waterproof though, because cake formulas activate with water, they are essential watercolor formulas.
Besides these three packing types - tube, sealable apart from the wand, and cake, most other mascara containers on the market today would make even an average chemist squirm, which is a surprise since chemists make the formulas.
If you have a mascara but it doesn’t come in the above packaging, you can make it more sanitary by adapting to the circumstance and:
Cutting off the brush that comes with your mascara
Using a separate brush that you wash and dry in between use
Or by using a disposable brush every time
However, none of this is a perfect solution and until all brands create mascaras very similar to the paint tubes of yesteryear, like Bésame has done, the majority of mascaras on the market today need to be replaced after three months or sooner, once bacterial contamination starts to break down or the formula de-stabilizes from particulates, mites, etc., whichever comes earlier.
If you are currently using a standard dip and stick mascara, please don’t always wait until the three-month mark to replace your tube though - in my previous article on sweatproof mascaras, I also mention that hot, humid summers and bathrooms will lend to mascaras going bad sooner, rather than later. Temperature, humidity, and closed containers are all circumstances bacteria love.
So once you notice your mascara not performing as well as when you first got it, sticking to your lashes, breaking down earlier in the day, or itching your eyes - especially if not one of the above more sanitary containers, it’s better to replace it and protect those gorgeous eyes of yours than to risk a staph infection (research).
Eye makeup is an incredibly important part of self-expression, as the belief is, as it has been for centuries, the more one can see your eyes, the better they can see the beauty inside your soul, so it’s unlikely we’ll stop wearing it, we just need to advocate for better conditions and packaging. Until then, there are at least few options you can enjoy.
Have a mascara or eye product you like but the package isn’t appealing to you?
Send your thoughts to the brand, or buy only the brands that already make the packing you like, and we can change this together. For more articles like this, check out the posts below:
Amanda Linette Meder
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Photos by Amanda Linette Meder