Your Old Mascara May Not Be As Harmful As You Think

We’re told to toss our cosmetics after a certain time frame with the belief that the older they are (and the more we use them), the more contaminated they become with bacteria that can spread and cause infections. But a new post on Reddit shows a limited-edition Maybelline Great Lash Blink of Blue mascara, which debuted about five years ago, swabbed on a petri dish with very little bacteria growth.

Swab of VERY old mascara on LB Agar from MakeupAddiction

While the comments on the post garnered up feedback from members that claim to be microbiologists, the majority of them replied saying that the small amount of growth on the dish was minimal considering the age of the mascara—some even said they were expecting it to be much worse considering the fact that the petri dish was left out for three days with no incubation.

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We asked cosmetic chemist Ni’Kita Wilson for her take on the experiment, and here is what she had to say: “I'm not surprised by this at all. Mascara has a very low water content, and what water does exist is preserved.”

Even though your mascara may not "go bad" after six months or so, we still say to follow the rule of tossing it after that time period. If nothing else, chances are the formula will start to dry out and become flaky. Plus, who doesn’t love a fresh, new tube of mascara?

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