A friend of mine recently switched from buying mascara brands sold at drug stores and department stores to a “natural” brand of product sold at Whole Foods. She told me that she was doing this because she read that your average tube of mascara is dangerous — loaded with toxic chemicals. This friend was trying to care for me, of course. I have a really sensitive system: I break out in rashes and hives all the time, so I try to avoid products that are toxic in any way. But the thing is… I LOVE MASCARA. My mascara is my most prized piece of makeup. Honestly, I would happily give you all my shadows, eyeliners and lip glosses. Just don’t take my Maybelline Great Lash!
As far as I’m concerned, mascara is a god — a king of kings or queen of queens — and the top of the makeup food chain. Mascara is a two-second solution to the appearance of exhaustion: It takes me from drab to divine with little to no effort. It is my bestie. So I wasn’t going to just take my friend’s word as bond. NO! So what if we’ve been friends since kindergarten, and I know her to be well researched and rarely rash? NO! I needed to do the research about the dangers of mascara for myself, and while I was at it, I figured I’d do the research for you, too.
In order to get the scoop on the dangers of mascara, I did some serious Googling and spoke to Dr. Jody Krukowski of the University of Kansas Medical Center’s Department of Integrative Medicine. Unfortunately, what I found wasn’t all that joyful….
To be clear, your mascara is not crawling with potential infection when you buy it — but I’m willing to bet that the mascara in your medicine cabinet is ripe with all kinds of microscopic goodies. “The moist, dark environment inside of the mascara tube combined with normal daily eye secretions that get transferred from the mascara wand to the tube creates the perfect place for bacteria to grow,” says Dr. Krukowski. And because there are “many pores where eyelashes come out of the eyelids as well as glands and tear ducts, our eyes become very vulnerable to infection.”
Dr. Krukowski went on to explain that a study done by the International Journal of Cosmetic Science that looked at 40 mascara samples taken from real women “found that 79 percent of these samples were contaminated with staph bacteria.” Um… what? There might be staph infection in my mascara. Staph infection? Like boils and quite possibly death, staph infection? That’s crazy. Crazy gross. Crazy scary and a crazy good reason to throw out your mascara every three months, which is the “best way to avoid bacterial overgrowth.”