What Does Mascara Do to Your Eyelashes

Mascara can give you long lashes!

Just what does mascara do to your eyelashes? Mascara is one of the most common cosmetic items, and many women use it daily. Find out how this popular type of makeup can affect your lashes and learn some healthy mascara-use tips.

Mascara: Then and Now

Mascara history extends back to the ancient Egyptian era. Early mascaras often took the form of pressed cakes, and later became available in lotion forms that came in tubes.

It wasn't until the nineteen sixties that the mascara applicator brushes we use today were invented. Even with questionable ingredients and early mascara mishaps, the lure of long, sexy lashes has proven to be as irresistible in the past as it is today.

What Mascara Does to Make Lashes Beautiful

What mascara does to your lashes from a beauty standpoint is make them look darker, longer, and thicker. This draws more attention to the eyes and can be used alone or to provide a polished look along with eyeliner and eye shadow.

The basic ingredients in a mascara are pigments for coloring, various waxes, and preservatives. Water-resistant mascaras include solvents to keep mascara from running in case of contact with water, sweat, or tears.

Mascara coats the lashes with the pigment and other ingredients to make the lashes stand out. Different formulas and different brush types can give different results; for example, lengthening mascaras may coat the lashes with polymers to create a smoother, longer look from root to tip; thickening formulas may include plumping agents to make each lash look fuller.

Clear mascaras are different from other mascaras because they lack the pigments or coloring agents. What does mascara do to your eyelashes without color? It provides definition, can give a cleaner, neater look, align lashes, and provide a bit natural-looking lash enhancement.

Mascara Ingredients and Lash Health

While early mascara formulas sometimes contained potentially dangerous ingredients, like turpentine, modern formulas are much more focused on lash health. Mercury, which was used in the past as an ant-bacterial agent, has been largely phased out in mascaras, and has even been banned in Minnesota for use in mascara or other cosmetics.

Many types of mascara today are created with ingredients designed to keep lashes healthy, such as protein and lash conditioning formulas. More and more companies are also creating natural or organic mascaras, with ingredients designed to be more earth-friendly and beneficial to the lashes.

Resources like Ethical Consumer.org or Planet Green list animal-based or non-earth friendly cosmetic ingredients that consumers may want to avoid.

Dry Lashes

Both regular and waterproof mascara formulas can be drying to eyelashes. Consider types that contain conditioners or moisturizers. Another popular way to keep your lashes healthy while wearing mascara is to use two-step mascaras that contain a base conditioner for the first step and a darkening mascara for the second step.

Waterproof Mascaras and Eyelashes

Waterproof or water-resistant mascaras work even when they come in contact with moisture because they typically contain a chemical called dimethicone copolyol that helps the product adhere to lashes even in wet or humid conditions. Beauty experts recommend they should not be used as everyday mascaras. Reserve waterproof formulas for special occasions, such as weddings, or activities such as swimming.

What Poor Application of Mascara Does to Lashes

Wearing mascara properly can result in longer, thicker, and more dramatic lashes poor application can result in a variety of issues:

  • Applying mascara too thick or without letting the mascara dry between coats may result in making eyelashes look clumpy and globby.
  • Not applying from root to tip may result in lashes that don't look uniform.
  • Starting with bottom lashes first may deposit too much product and make lower lashes too dark.
  • Using a mascara color that is too dark or too light for your coloring result in unnatural looking eyelashes.
  • Applying other makeup or blinking eyes too hard immediately after applying mascara can cause smudging and a raccoon eye effect.

What Does Mascara Do to Your Eyelashes with Improper Care?

Much of the damage mascara causes can be attributed not to the mascara itself, but the improper care if eyelashes when wearing mascara. Following are some tips to keep mascara from causing damaging to your lovely lashes:

  • If curling your lashes, always do so before applying mascara. Curling afterwards can cause eyelashes to become damaged and break off.
  • Always remove mascara at night. Wearing mascara overnight can be extremely drying, can crust and make lashes feel more brittle, and cause then to break off. The lashes can't breathe and the dried mascara can attract dirt and bacteria. You are also at greater risk for eye infections if you sleep with mascara on.
  • Use gentle motions and gentle, hypo-allergenic eye makeup removal formulas when removing mascara. Don't pull, tug, or rub excessively at lashes but use small gentle movements until the product is removed.
  • Don't share mascara, and toss it after three months. Old mascara or sharing tubes can cause bacteria to grow, and this can be damaging or cause infection to the lash bed.
  • Allowing eyelashes to have an occasional break from mascara. Even natural formulas are depositing a coating on the lashes. Giving the lashes a break from mascara can help strengthen them.

Wearing mascara can make your eyes stand out. If you take care to choose quality mascaras, apply correctly, remove nightly, and allow lashes an occasional 'rest' from the cosmetic, you can have beautiful and healthy lashes.

What Does Mascara Do to Your Eyelashes