Dry, clumpy mascara? Here's how to bring it back to life

If you’ve ever googled ‘how to fix clumpy mascara,’ you’re not alone. Call us thrifty, but we like to know we’re getting the most out of our wands. So if yours has gone a bit old and dry, here’s how to bring it back to life…

We’ve heard it a million times before: you should change your mascara every few months. But, let’s be honest – we’ve all been guilty of using a wand that’s perhaps past its best. Is it really necessary to chuck your mascara before it’s finished? And if you find yourself with a dry and clumpy formula, can you bring it back to life without contracting conjunctivitis? 

If you’ve ever found yourself debating the age-old mascara conundrums, we’ve got all the answers right here…

How frequently should you replace your mascara?

Okay so it’s a fact. Mascara really does have the shortest shelf-life of all your beauty products and should really be tossed two or three months after opening. 

This is down to a few factors: it’s a liquid formula, which tends to grow more bacteria than powder or solid variants. Plus, you apply it near your eyes – an extremely sensitive area of the face. And then to top it off, you double dip it, meaning every time you re-insert the mascara wand into the tube, you’re pumping air and potential bacteria into the formula. Esk. 

If you do continue using it after the three-month mark (guilty) – you could run the risk of contracting some pretty grim eye infections. But more about that later…

How do I know when I need new mascara?

If your mascara has been opened for longer than a few months, it’s probably time for a replacement tube. (Sorry).

Similarly, if you find that your mascara is dry, flaky and/or smelly – it’s time to bid adieu. 

How can you extend the life of your mascara?

It’s the million-pound question – if you’ve re-discovered an old tube that’s gone a bit dry and flaky – can you revive old mascara? 

Well… you can, but at your own risk. If the formula has dried out (but smells okay and hasn’t been stuck in a drawer since 2002) there are ways that you can loosen up the formula and get it back to its inky-best. 

Similarly, if you’ve bought a brand new tube but find the formula a bit too dry and clumpy for your liking, this is the perfect way to loosen up the consistency…

How to fix clumpy mascara in three simple steps:

1. Drop two or three drops of contact lens solution into your mascara, close the tube and shake to allow all of the solution to mix with the mascara.

2. Next, boil the kettle and pour hot water into a coffee cup. Pop your (closed) mascara into the hot water and leave for a minute or two. This will help any dry mascara liquefy and mix with the contact solution.

3. Finally, take your mascara out of the water. Dry it off, give it a final shake and voila, your mascara should be back to its best!  

    What infections could be spread from using an old mascara?

    Consider this your word of warning. If you think your mascara really is past its best, it might be better to bin it.

    ’Eyelashes naturally have bacteria on the surface’ explains Dr Jane Leonard. ‘This bacteria is then transferred into the mascara bottle each time you use it, where it then multiplies over time. Then, this new bacteria is reintroduced to the eye area where it can potentially cause eye infections, irritation or allergies.’

    The germs and bacteria harbouring in old mascara wands can lead to not-so-pleasant eye infections, including: 

    • Pink eye
    • Styes
    • Blepharitis – which can lead to the loss of eyelashes
    • Conjunctivitis 

    It’s also worth noting, if you do have any kind of eye infection – ditch mascara until your infection has cleared up and chuck any mascara you might’ve been using beforehand, as this could spread infection. 

    Stylist’s favourite clump-free formulas:

    Tired of your mascara losing its mojo before you’re finished with it? Try these clump-free formulas that never disappoint…

    • Milk Makeup Ubame Mascara

      This oomph-worthy mascara is enriched with ubame oak charcoal, which claims responsibility for its seriously creamy texture. The result = a formula that never dries out. 

      Milk Makeup Ubame Mascara, £20.50 

      buy now

    • Benefit Roller Lash Travel Size Mini

      If you find that you don’t manage to get through a whole mascara tube before it starts to dry out – try a mini size instead, like this dinky Roller Lash. 

      Benefit Roller Lash Travel Size Mini, £11 

      buy now

    • Hourglass Caution Extreme Lash Mascara

      This clever mascara is infused with conditioning panthenol – which helps to both care for your lashes and keep the formula in tip-top condition at all times. 

      Hourglass Caution Extreme Lash Mascara, £25 

      buy now

    • IT Cosmetics Superhero Mascara

      Not only is this mascara responsible for building the most doe-eyed, plumped-up lashes going… it very rarely dries out.

      IT Cosmetics Superhero Mascara, £20 

      buy now

    • NYX Doll Eye Mascara Volume

      This volumising mascara is packed full of jet black nylon fibres and conditioning vitamin E – to keep the formula from clumping or flaking.

      NYX Doll Eye Mascara Volume, £8 

      buy now

    Image credit: Getty

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