beauty

I Tried 3 Methods To Refresh My Old Mascara — Here’s What Worked Best

by Kim Wong-Shing

According to makeup experts, mascara has one of the shortest shelf lives of any makeup product. After a few months, your mascara will become clumpy, dry, and less effective, not to mention full of germs. For that reason, experts recommend replacing mascara every two to three months.

Raise your hand if you follow that rule. (*tumbleweeds roll*)

While there must be some conscientious makeup lovers who actually replace their products on time, I’ve honestly never met one. Most of us can barely remember when we bought a makeup product, let alone remember to buy a new one on time. We don’t really think about it until we end up with… gunky, dried-out, less-effective mascara.

Luckily, there are hacks to transform your old mascara into a new one again. These tricks supposedly turn your old, dry mascara into smooth, liquidy mascara again. It’s like the fountain of youth, but for mascara. (There’s no way to clean mascara, so if you’re worried about germs, just buy a new tube, or do what I do and try not to think about it!)

As for my own mascara collection, it would probably cause makeup experts to break out into hives. I’ve had my favorite tube for approximately two years. I know, I know. That’s way too long! There’s no excuse!

I’m definitely not advocating my disgusting lifestyle, but I am saying that I’m the perfect person to test out those mascara hacks.

The timing is perfect for this experiment: My trusty two-year-old mascara is finally showing its age. It’s clumpy and dry, so it doesn’t apply evenly anymore. My backup mascara is, unfortunately, also really dried out.

I tried three methods for reviving old mascara to see if any of them actually work. If it can work on my years-old mascara, it’ll definitely work on whatever dried-out mascara you have around.

Meet the Mascaras

Meet the Mascaras
Kim Wong-Shing for LittleThings

I used two mascaras to test out these hacks. First, an old dollar-store mascara. This mascara is OK but not great, so I don’t often use it. Still, it’s somehow incredibly dried out already.

Kim Wong-Shing for LittleThings

And second, my trusty two-year-old mascara, which is finally becoming gunky and dry and useless. This mascara is so old that the label has rubbed off, but I’m pretty sure it’s Maybelline Colossal Volum’ Express.

It has served me well over the years (!), but it’s just not doing the trick anymore. Shocking, I know.

Onto the hacks!

Method 1: Hot Water

Method 1: Hot Water
Kim Wong-Shing for LittleThings

The first method was simple and straightforward. You just heat up some water, then dip your mascara tubes into it, making sure that they’re tightly closed so the water doesn’t get in.

Some people on the internet will tell you that this method kills germs, but that’s absolutely not the case. It’s impossible to sanitize mascara without also destroying the formula and/or harming your eyeballs.

Kim Wong-Shing for LittleThings

So. Here’s how it worked on my dollar-store mascara.

Kim Wong-Shing for LittleThings

And here’s how it worked on my Maybelline.

Kim Wong-Shing for LittleThings

The product definitely shows up more than in the “before” photo, so the hot water seems to have loosened it a bit, but the mascaras still aren’t really applying properly.

Onto the next hack.

Method 2: Contact Solution or Eye Drops

Method 2: Contact Solution or Eye Drops
Kim Wong-Shing for LittleThings

Another common mascara hack is to add a few drops of saline, contact solution, or eye drops to the tube, then swirl it around. This method supposedly makes the formula into a nice, smooth liquid again, while also being safe for your eyes.

If you happen to wear contacts, this one is easy peasy. Just pour a few drops in — about five drops should do it — and then swirl with the mascara wand to the best of your abilities.

Kim Wong-Shing for LittleThings

Here’s the dollar-store mascara with contact solution added in.

Kim Wong-Shing for LittleThings

And here’s the Maybelline with contact solution.

Kim Wong-Shing for LittleThings

This hack worked! Well, sort of. It worked really well on the dollar-store mascara, which is interesting because that one was so dried out that it barely showed up at first. It’s a pretty new mascara with plenty of product left in it still. The saline didn’t make much of a difference for the Maybelline, which is both gunky and closer to empty.

My theory: This hack is best for mascara tubes that are dried out but still plenty full of product.

Method 3: Oil

Method 3: Oil
Kim Wong-Shing for LittleThings

The third method involves adding a few drops of oil into the tube. Again, this supposedly makes the formula into a liquid again without harming your eyes. Some people use olive oil or other types of vegetable oil. As long as it has a similar consistency to olive oil and is skin-safe, you should be good to go.

Pour a few drops in; I used about five to eight drops. Then swirl.

I put more in the Maybelline, since nothing seemed to be working for it so far. Last-ditch effort!

Kim Wong-Shing for LittleThings

Here’s the dollar-store mascara with oil. It applied the exact same as when I had only added saline.

Kim Wong-Shing for LittleThings

And here’s the Maybelline with oil.

More product came off the wand, but on the other hand, it was incredibly oily.

Kim Wong-Shing for LittleThings

This hack didn’t make enough of a difference for it to be worth it, and it left my mascaras feeling oily, which for me is a deal breaker.

Which Hack Wins?

Which Hack Wins?
Kim Wong-Shing for LittleThings

The contact solution! It made a big difference in my dollar-store mascara, and there were no real cons — it changed the formula only in a positive way.

The oil method wasn’t as effective, and it left the product greasy. Meanwhile, the hot water made only a small difference.

However, none of these methods really revived my two-year-old Maybelline mascara, which is totally fair. It’s probably time to buy a new one, anyway.