Does Mascara Ruin Eyelashes?

Go light on the mascara to protect the lashes.

Photo: Jupiterimages/Polka Dot/Getty Images

Your peepers are precious, so It's natural to wonder if all that goo you pile on your lashes may be doing some damage. While eyelashes are definitely tougher than they look, mascara can certainly take its toll if you're not careful. The key to protecting your lashes lies in dodging the health hazards and knowing how to choose the right products.

Mascara

While mascaras may make tons of different promises, the actual ingredients are fairly standard. Most mascaras contain a pigment for color, a polymer to bind the color to the lashes, some sort of wax or oil to thicken things up and a preservative to keep bacteria at bay, explains WebMD. So the ingredients alone won't hurt your lashes, but it is possible to develop an allergy to mascara. If that happens, you may find yourself rubbing your eyes, which could lead to some serious lash fallout. If your eyes become red or itchy after you apply mascara, switch to a hypoallergenic brand or see a doc to make sure there's not something else at play.

Waterproof

Whether you like to swim or just love a good cry, a waterproof mascara has the staying power to see you through. But there's a cost to going the bombproof route, and your lashes may be paying it. Waterproof mascara is low in water, which makes it incredibly difficult to remove. All that tugging and pulling that you do to get the goop off can lead to broken or damaged lashes. So if you're concerned about the health and well-being of your lashes, you're better off skipping the waterproof formulas and opting instead for a mascara that lists "water" as one of the top ingredients. And never try to remove mascara with water alone -- use a makeup remover to carefully wipe lashes clean.

A Light Touch

Weighing down your lashes with too much mascara can do damage, says doctor and bestselling author, Dr. Andrew Weil, on his website. So if you pile on the coats in an effort to achieve some smolder, you can wind up thinning out the flock. Better to not put so much pressure on these tiny hairs and try and stick to a single coat, or just coat the ends of the lashes if you've got enough natural pigment to pull it off.

Protecting Your Lashes

You could give up mascara in the interest of protecting your lashes, but that would qualify as a major hardship for most die-hard makeup lovers. The next best thing to going mascara-free is to add a conditioning step to your beauty regimen. Mascara can make eyelashes dry out, which can lead to breakage. To keep your lashes in tip-top condition, brush on some lash-protecting serum right before you get your shut-eye. It won't regrow your lashes, but it can keep the ones you have from blowing away.

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