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Let’s be honest, how many of us have heard this phrase from a well-meaning parent or bestie in our lives? “Don’t go to bed with your mascara on, or your eyelashes will fall out!”

While it is undeniably a good practice to remove all your makeup before you go to bed, does leaving mascara on really cause your eyelashes to fall out?

What happens if we aren’t able to remove all traces of mascara, despite our best efforts in the shower? Will our eyelashes have to suffer from our human errors then?

To protect those precious peepers, we’ve gone around to investigate what the general consensus is regarding mascara on the Internet and hopefully glean some tips on how to keep those lashes looking naturally voluminous.

1. Waterproof formulas may not be the best for lashes

Here in hot and humid Singapore where our skin never stops producing oil and sweat all day long, waterproof formulas of everything are godsent. Or are they?

Waterproof mascaras may indeed make your lashes look va-va-voom all day long, but they aren’t exactly the healthiest option for two reasons.

Firstly, waterproof mascaras can be a pain to remove – and naturally so, since longevity is their selling point, after all. They don’t dissolve as easily even with makeup removers, which means you’re more likely to be pulling and tugging at your eyelashes to clean them off thoroughly.

This overly vigorous treatment of your eyelashes can, in time, weaken your eyelashes and cause them to break.

Secondly, waterproof formulas also could tend to use harsher chemicals (they are waterproof, after all) so these might be irritating to the sensitive skin on your eyelids, or damaging to your lash hairs.

Instead, use non-waterproof mascaras but increase their longevity with some good mascara primers (don’t forget to check out their formulas first).

2. Watch out for potential irritants and allergens in your mascara

We’re usually pretty careful about what we apply on our faces, so our eyelashes should be no exception – after all, experiencing loss in eyelashes is something we’re sure almost nobody would want to go through.

The formulation and the ingredients of your mascara can impact your lash health by causing irritations to the skin around your eyes, especially if you are allergic to that ingredient.

If you have sensitive skin or are cautious about allergies, try testing the mascara formulation out on the back of your hand first. Although this isn’t 100% foolproof, it’s still a better-than-nothing test before you try the mascara out on your eyelashes.

Be careful of formulations that contain retinyl acetate, an ingredient that has been banned in Canada for its use in any cosmetic products because of studies that have linked it to adverse effects on the composition of your skin cells.

Those with sensitive skin may also want to stay away from additives like parabens, sulfates, and phthalates, which are common skin irritants.

Instead, use a hypoallergenic mascara and makeup remover if you can’t live without it (again, this is not 100% fool-proof, but it’d greatly lessen the chances of your developing an allergy to its formula). If this still doesn’t work, you may need to visit a dermatologist or keep away from mascara altogether.

DV tip: If your eyes are already sensitive to mascara, it’s not a good idea to rely on false eyelashes, eyelash extensions, eyelash perming, or eyelash tinting. All of these, especially when done frequently, can cause more harm than good to your natural lashes. You could approach your GP or dermatologist to ask about your suitability in using prescription medicines that have been proven to lengthen eyelashes instead!

3. You’re removing mascara way too roughly

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Now, we’re not telling you not to clean off your makeup. We all know that proper removal of makeup is as important as – if not more important than – proper application.

But, ‘fess up, how many of us have been guilty of rubbing our eyelashes over and over trying to get the mascara off them? Whether you’re using a cotton pad or using your fingers, all that rubbing can be damaging to your entire eye area, not just your eyelashes.

When it comes to sensitive skin areas like your eyes, you need to really take a lot of time and care to be very gentle with them. Use a cotton ball or cotton bud soaked in makeup remover to gently and slowly loosen the mascara on your lashes.

After dissolving and loosening the products, gently wipe them off with a soft cotton ball.

3. But please remove it thoroughly every day

Is Mascara Bad For Your Eyelashes 3 1

While you shouldn’t be aggressively rubbing off your makeup, you should still be making sure that every trace of mascara is completely cleaned off by the end of each day. Sleeping with the residue of mascara on your eyelashes is a huge no-no!

Some mascara formulas will make the eyelash stiffer, which also means that your lashes may become drier, more brittle, and break more easily in the long run. These formulas tend to occur more frequently with waterproof variants of mascaras.

Leaving it overnight will generally make mascaras become even stiffer, which not only makes it more difficult to remove the next day, but it’ll also weaken your eyelashes to the point of breakage. All in all, it’s a recipe for disaster!

For the sake of your beautiful natural lashes, please take the time to gently, slowly, and thoroughly remove your mascara at the end of each day.

4. Curb your itchy fingers and don’t pick at your mascara


We’re sure that most people don’t actually remove mascara by plucking them off your lashes (the thought just makes us physically cringe), but we’re willing to bet that most of us are guilty of the occasional picking at the mascara, especially when we spot a clump in the mirror.

This is, as you might expect, not great for your lashes. It’s the same principle as to how tying your hair regularly will cause hair loss – tugging on your eyelashes regularly will also cause lash loss!

If your mascara is clumping up regularly, it might be a sign that it’s time to change your mascara. If it was clumping up right from the get-go, then you probably need to find a better formula that works for you. Aside from being uncomfortable to wear, clumpy mascara isn’t a cute look either.

5. Be really careful about expiry dates


Mascara, just like any other makeup product, can go bad too. Furthermore, as a product that you’re introducing very, very close to your eye, you need to be ultra-cautious about its shelf life.

As a general rule of thumb, replace your mascaras (also eyeliners) at least every three months. After this time, even if the mascara formula still goes on OK, it may already be starting to harbour a bacterial colony that you certainly don’t want anywhere near your precious peepers.

You want to avoid a bacterial infection on your eyelids or lash line at all costs. It’ll cause lash loss, inflammation, damage to your eyelids and perhaps even to your eyes, and all-around unpleasantness that nobody would wish upon their worst enemy.

DV tip: We’ve said this before but we’ll say it again: do not pump your mascara wand in the tube before you apply it. It does not increase the amount of mascara you manage to get on the wand by any significant amount, but instead introduces a whole load of air into the tube which will encourage bacterial growth in the product. Not cool!

6. Always curl your lashes before mascara

Although most people would curl their lashes before applying mascara, there are so-called “beauty hacks” floating around out there that encourage people to curl their lashes after applying mascara for better curl and stay.

Don’t do that!

Always curl your eyelashes before you apply mascara. Because mascara can be tacky and wet when first applied, clamping down on them may cause your lashes to stick to the edges of your eyelash curler, and you may inadvertently pull one or two lashes out.

Even if your mascara dries quickly, it usually feels stiffer and more brittle, so exerting pressure on them may also cause lashes to break more easily. In a nutshell? Just don’t do the post-mascara curl, period.

Eyelash curlers need to be properly used so that you aren’t unknowingly damaging your lashes and the skin on your eyelid. They should never be painful or uncomfortable to use, and it’s important to get one that fit the shape of your eye to minimise the chances of pinching the sensitive skin around your eyes.

One of the more popular methods of curling is to clamp down on the eyelashes at the lash line, the middle, and the tip of the lash to amplify the angle of the curl. In fact, using your eyelash curler too near the base of your eyelashes might be tugging on it too much, and may cause weaker lashes and lash loss in the long run.

8. Never share your mascaras


While this should be a no-brainer, we’ll just reiterate it just in case. There is some makeup that you can share with your besties, but there are those that are best kept to yourself.

The rule of thumb here is that if a makeup product touches your skin directly, it’s best not to share that with other people. Makeup products that you can share are those that come in pump bottles and tubes such as liquid foundation and primers, powder products like blushers and eye shadow (but not the unwashed brushes), and spray-on products.

Mascaras and eyeliners, as products that come into very close contact with your eyes, are a definite no-no when it comes to sharing. You simply never know what bacteria might be lurking on someone else’s mascara wand or your own, so you want to minimise transmission as much as possible!

Bonus: tips from an average Internet user

While doing research for this article, we found an article on the now-defunct beauty and fashion online magazine, Man Repeller, which discussed the issue of not removing mascara thoroughly before bedtime.

In the article, we spotted this comment by a user named “Sarah Bauer”, who shares her secret to naturally full, dark, and healthy eyelashes despite wearing mascara regularly.

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Source: Man Repeller

Sarah’s routine includes:

  • Daily face washing with warm water, simple soap, and cotton pads, which she soaks and leaves to sit gently on her eyelids every night without fail, even when she’s going bare-faced that day
  • Giving her eyelashes regular and frequent breaks from mascara (every Sunday to Tuesday)
  • Avoiding waterproof mascaras at all costs, which she likens to “swathing your eyelashes in individual pieces of plastic wrap”
  • Dedicating time, effort, and money to finding the best volumising and dramatic mascaras in the market which are also easy to wash off. Her favourites are from brands like Clinique, Benefit, and Lancome.