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Is Your Mascara Damaging your Eyelashes?

Is Your Mascara Damaging your Eyelashes?
January 15, 2020
long eyelashes

There are so many things we apply to our faces and bodies that have health benefits or that make us feel and look good. The positives always tend to win over the negatives and when it comes to beauty, there isn’t a risk that someone out there isn’t willing to take all in the name of looking great.

When you think about cosmetic or plastic surgery, the enhancements always come with some risk. There is always a percentage (although quite small) that the procedure could go wrong, that the body will react badly to it or that it may not last as long as hoped. But it doesn’t stop the industry from growing and booming each year with more and more people willing to participate in the hopes of achieving their dreams of looking the better than they ever have before.

But it isn’t just the invasive treatments and cosmetic surgeries that carry risk, day to day items come with all sorts of possibilities and even the most promising products that the beauty world releases can cause damage when not used properly.

Take mascara for example, it is a normal everyday item of makeup and has been around for years, but it is definitely one of the discreet ones that can cause damage to your eyes and eyelashes without proper care. And it really doesn’t take a lot, but somehow in our evolution, time to take care of ourselves seems to be one thing we are lacking.

So, lets start with the basics and see how the eyelash works and just why it requires so much care.

Eyelash Care 101

The human body is fascinating isn’t it? All these little parts that we take for granted and have no real idea of their reason for functioning. And eyelashes? Well, they are more than just an accessory to our eyes, and in fact they serve a greater purpose than we realise.

Consider them the protectors, or little army of bodyguards to our eyes and come wind, rain or shine, they stand firmly in the way of dust and dirt particles, preventing the majority of them from getting into places they don’t belong.

We all have eyelashes, some thick, some long, some full and some more widely spaced. Which means we should all be thinking about eyelash care in the same way. Ok, so not all eyelashes are the same or have the same strength but if we don’t take care of them, they can start to get weak and stop doing the job they were designed to do. Oh, and they stop looking good!

So, when it comes to mascara the purpose is to make our eyelashes look great, to stand out boldly and with strength that can make others wonder just how we got our lashes looking so good. But with great power, comes great responsibility! And if we want to behold the power of a mascara wand, we need to keep ourselves in check just to keep our eyelashes looking and feeling as healthy as they deserve.

How to Keep your Eyelashes Healthy

There are probably hundreds, no, more like thousands of different products that help our facial features out in some way or another. From anti-ageing creams to T-zone moisturisers, intensive care lip balms and blackhead removers, but these products only need to focus on what the product does, and not how it looks on the skin. They are designed to cleanse and hydrate our skin and lips all while being invisible to the naked eye.

But mascara is different, the purpose of mascara is to make your eyelashes look good, so the part where it keeps them cleansed, hydrated and moisturised can a lot of the time, be put to the back burner. Or at least, if it looks good then the healthy aspect doesn’t tend to mater so much to the consumer.

But keeping your eyelashes healthy enough before even applying mascara is where it’s at right now, and there are new and upcoming products that promise to deliver on eyelash health once and for all. Take Xlash Eyelash Serum for example, this one is relatively new to the market and has multiple functions in one mascara sixed tube.

First, it keeps your eyelashes clean, with natural botanical ingredients it keeps dirt and daily grime away from your eyelashes while you sleep. Second, it keeps them strong. Strength is really what counts when it comes to eyelash health as strong eyelashes mean less frequent loss of individual lashes if you are prone to this. And third, it promotes healthy eyelash growth from its high vitamin and hyaluronic acid content which encourages lashes to grow back in fuller and longer.

When it comes to eyelash growth, you can’t really go wrong with ingredients that help to keep them at full strength. And this stuff is one of the invisible ones too, no residue, no scent and no perfume. Winner!

There are other promoted ideas when it comes to eyelash health, some completely natural remedies and some more like oils and jellies. Coconut oil is supposed to be a good all-rounder when it comes to our bodies so it’s only natural that someone at some point thought to try it on their eyelashes. Coconut oil makes skin feel great, hair look shiny and keeps eyebrows in check, so of course it does wonders for lashes too.

Petroleum jelly is probably coconut oil’s predecessor and was used widely in terms of skin and hair care. The problem with using it on eyelashes is the coating can be too thick which if used liberally can limit the air and hydration that gets to them. But still, some people absolutely swear by the stuff so if it works for them…

The other key factor in eyelash health is water. I’m not saying if you drink water a couple of times a day your eyelashes will miraculously grow longer and stronger, but it certainly doesn’t hurt. Water is great for our bodies as a whole, and we should aim to consume a good few litres of it every day to keep healthy. Sugary drinks, salty foods and caffeine are all contributors to dry hair and lashes and the overall look of them can become dull. So, although it isn’t an instant cure to drink water, it’s best to keep drinking the good stuff for overall body health and a little more shine to your lashes.

Is Mascara good for your Eyelashes?

There’s no easy answer to this one as it can be when used properly and if you invest in a good mascara that has ingredients that think about your eyelash health. It may be easier said than done but there are a few rules that you should follow to make sure you aren’t damaging your lashes with daily mascara use.

First pick the right mascara. There are so many options out there these days, from lengthening to strengthening, volumizing or tinting, waterproof or crazy colours. A lot of people have one brand they worship and stick to each time they replenish, but if you’re like me, you like to see what different brands and types can do for your eyelashes and aren’t afraid to try something new every now and then.

There’s no right or wrong with changing it up or sticking to what you know but at least spare time to look at the ingredients of your mascara before committing full time. So, mascara has already come a long way since the beginnings of its arrival to makeup counters, where it used to use lead-containing kohl and other dangerous ingredients that could cause blindness, the risks these days are a lot lower as the health & safety committees of the makeup world got involved. These ingredients were scrapped in favour of pigmented carbons and thickening wax that are no where near as harmful. Sure, it doesn’t mean it’s pleasant getting mascara in your eye (come on, we’ve all been there) but at least the result doesn’t end with potential loss of sight!

But when you are choosing a mascara, try and make sure that the ingredients contained aren’t anything that cause irritation and that you don’t have any specific allergies and you should be good to go.

Waterproof mascara is a whole different ball game. When it comes to eyelash health, waterproof mascara is low on the list of makeup products. This is because the ingredients are designed to keep your mascara firmly in place and can end up drying out your lashes with extended use. It is also harder to remove so when you think that cleansing it is doing a good job it could actually be causing more damage than good, but we’ll get onto that later.

As tempting as it may be to use waterproof mascara daily, try and keep it to the odd occasion that calls for it – weddings, if you’re up for a good cry watching your bestie tie the knot, or a summer boat trip where you need to look your absolute best at all times.

When Mascara Causes Damage

I could preach about this all day, but still fail to follow my own rules as strictly as I would like, but old mascara is one of the top causes of damage to the eyelashes and surrounding area of the eyes. Most mascara has a three-month life, meaning from the time it has been opened until it needs to be thrown away. The reason that mascara comes in such a small tube is that it is meant to last you until the end of that duration as a maximum timescale. If it was any bigger then we’d all be wasting tonnes of mascara each year. Or would we?

Can you honestly say that you follow this rule and if you haven’t got to the end of your tube yet that you throw it away and have a new one ready every time? I’d say I’m about 75% compliant but it should be 100% at all times.

Think about it – this might not be pleasant – but every day you pump that mascara wand into the tube and swipe it across your lashes and then back into the tube it goes ready for the next go. Dust particles in the air or tiny microscopic mites that live on your eyelashes are being unknowingly placed back into your mascara tube to thrive and wait for their next turn in getting back onto those lovely lashes.

Doesn’t sound great does it? After a long time doing this, the bacteria can start to grow, and it gets transferred back to your eyelashes when you next grab your favourite tube of mascara. So, do yourself a big favour, save yourself the pain of follicle infections and red eyes by replenishing your mascara stock after three months OR when you start to notice changes in the texture and consistency. If it gets gunky and starts smelling funky, it is long past due that you throw the stuff out! Stick to this rule and keep those lashes as clean as possible.

Which brings me onto my next point! Cleansing. Mascara causes damage when it is not removed properly. I know, I know, it isn’t always easy to do depending on where you are or what cleansing products you have to hand. But try and make it a priority to invest in a good eye makeup cleanser that isn’t harsh on the skin or lashes and use it nightly or as early as you can remove your mascara.

Mascara is a coating that sticks to each individual lash and leaving it on overnight will eventually catch up with you. It stops the eyelashes and follicles receiving the necessary hydration and oxygen that will keep them healthy and strong. After a while the mascara dries out the eyelashes and can stunt their growth as well as becoming a key reason in them falling out more often than they should.

Also, sleeping in mascara can be damaging due to the way we sleep. We aren’t all like Sleeping Beauty, resting peacefully on her back with a perfect face of makeup ready for Prince Charming to wake her up with love’s sweet kiss. I personally am a side-sleeper and am in a less than glamourous state when I wake up in the morning, with creases on the side of my face, hair forming a shape that I couldn’t replicate if I tried and eyes that look like they are in desperate need of hydration.

Now, imagine waking up like that but with mascara on! You tend to sleep at angles that cause your eyelashes to sit at weird positions and the only thing mascara does is hold them in that position ready for you to inspect in the mirror when you wake up. Then you have the task of removing it with cleanser and it already feels dry and gunky and your eyelashes are in a position that doesn’t feel or look good.

As far as having healthy eyelashes go, sleeping in mascara or not removing it, is up there with the worst things you can do to your poor lashes.

Ready to Use Mascara the Healthy Way?

So, you hopefully see now that wearing mascara isn’t all doom and gloom for your eyelashes and when you keep your tools clean, your eyelashes cleansed and hydrated and don’t get lazy by sleeping it, mascara can be your eyelashes best friend once again.