5 Common Mascara Mistakes & Tips


The other day I was giving my friend a fast makeover. It was her birthday and her boyfriend was going to pick her up for a night of surprise and romance. She already had foundation and some light eyeliner on (her every day look) but for this special occasion I wanted to pump up the oomph a little more.

While I was curling her lashes, she asked with wide-eyed wonder

“Shouldn’t we use mascara first then the curler?”

After recovering from shock I screamed at her “NO!! Never curl your lashes AFTER mascara has been applied!”

“But it’s easier to curl coz the lashes are wet”


I then told her the acts she should not subject a mascara to and the reason for each. It dawned on me that there still are people who do exactly the many NO-NOs of mascara application. So I thought I might as well share it on my blog. Give your mascara some TLC and it will love you and your eyelashes back! <3

Here are 5 common mascara mistakes and tips on how to care for your mascara:

1. Don’t pump the wand in and out of the tube

Pumping the wand in and out of the tube will overload the bristles with product and have you ending up with clumpy eyelashes – imagine globs of product sticking on to your lashes. Like burnt meat kebabs. =S Instead, pull out the wand while twisting it slightly on the way out. If you see excess mascara on your wand, gently swipe the bristles at the opening of the tube or use a kitchen towel if available. I personally don’t advocate swiping the excess on a tissue as the fibres tend to stick to the wand. Be really gentle if you must use a tissue. Pumping the wand in and out of the tube also introduces air and bacteria into the tube, causing your mascara to dry out faster. I almost went berserk when a friend once took my mascara and asked “New mascara?” *pump pump pump pump pump*


2. Don’t use it for more than 6 months (even if the label says 12M)

Mascaras have a shelf-life of up to 6 months (MAX!) and anything beyond that will only do harm to the eye. Because mascaras are moist products, the tubes they live in are the perfect breeding ground for bacteria. Modern mascara formulas have anti-bacterial agents that help to minimize bacteria, but they are formulated to last for only a few months. The longer you keep it, the longer you risk an eye infection. There was a mascara I used for more than a year. I had forgotten the date of purchase and because it looked pretty okie, with its bristles still wet, I used it. Its lengthening effect even worked fine. But every time I applied it, there was a stinging sensation around the eye, especially the lashline. I went to check my records (yes, I keep records of the things I buy to feed my cosmetics obsession) and realized that this tube of Bourjois Lengthening & Curving Mascara had been in my vanity cupboard for a year! I quickly threw it out before I absent-mindedly use it again. Fortunately I only had some stinging sensation when I used it. A person with a more sensitive eye area would probably have suffered more severe consequences.

Bourjois Lengthening & Curving Mascara – 41 Nour Fusele (Black)

3. Don’t wash the wand with water

Most mascaras can last you well up to 6 months and after that your mascara will probably have issues like clumping, drying, and just not working the way it used to. Really, there is no point in washing the wand thinking that the mascara will be restored to its former glory by doing so. It was good while it lasted, now let it retire.

If you REEEEAAALLY need to clean the wand (like if you dropped it in mud or something), use a cotton cloth to remove what you possibly can, then use an oil-based makeup remover to remove all traces of mascara. Rinse it well and let it dry thoroughly. Putting a wet brush back into the mascara tube will add even more bacteria to it. But seriously, just throw it away. If the particular mascara wand really holds some sentimental value for you, use it as a spoolie for removing clumps out of lashes and separating individual lashes, or to shape the eyebrows.

GloMinerals – Spoolie Brush

4. Don’t apply on oily or day-old eyelashes

The best time to apply mascara is after you’ve washed your face, when all traces of oil and dirt have been removed. If you’ve already lived through half of the day and need to apply mascara only then, blot the eye area with blotting paper and then dust loose powder with a full, soft brush over the lids to help prevent smearing.

Palladio Rice Paper Blotting Tissues Natural

5. Don’t crimp lashes after mascara

Never. Crimp. After. Mascara. Simple as that. When your eyelashes are coated with mascara, they will stick to the curler, and being wet from mascara, they are more brittle and vulnerable to even slight tugging. So when you put 2 and 2 together, WET + WEAK + SLIGHT TUG = ALL EYELASHES PULLED OUT! Even if they don’t get all pulled out, crimping after mascara application results in eyelashes that have an awkward and unnatural kink. Always crimp your lashes first (I highly recommend the Shu Uemua Eyelash Curler for Asian lashes), then apply mascara.

Shu uemura Eyelash Curler

And remember to always end the day by making sure no makeup residue is left on the face. I reviewed the Biore Makeup Remover For Eye & Lip and Fancl Mild Cleansing Oil. Both very good face and eye makeup removers that cater to different budgets.

All the best to you and your lashes! =)

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About Bun Bun

Hello! My name is Juli and Bun Bun is my alter-ego. I blog to share my love for makeup, how to apply it, and what works or what doesn’t work, all from an Asian perspective.

My first makeup product was a shimmery light blue lipstick which I proudly wore all over my eyelids and lips. It cost $2.50, felt like $250, and made me feel like a million bucks.

Throughout this blog you will see Bun Bun in different poses.

Instead of using numbers (3/5, 4/5) or alphabets (B+, A+) to rate products, I put Bun Bun in different positions and expressions to represent the rating given to the product after a review.

In Bun-O-Meter, the first on the list would mean a 5/5 rating and the last one a 1/5 rating.

You can always refer to the sidebar any time you don’t understand what Bun Bun’s pose means.

I hope you enjoy reading my makeup and beauty posts as much as I did writing them.

Talk to you soon! =)


Juli & Bun Bun

  • Jm

    Oh no… I’m guilty of committing mistakes 1 and 5 numerous times! 😛 No wonder my eyelashes look so unnatural every time I put on mascara. This is a really useful article! Thanks so much for sharing!!! :)

    • Juli

      Hi Jm, glad you found it useful! The most important thing is to find a good eyelash curler though. It’s what makes or breaks the eventual look. A bad curler can pinch your lids and give you weird kinks, a good one that fits your eye shape will give you natural-looking lifted eyelashes. =)

  • glittergirley

    I’m Chinese and I always curl my lashes after mascara, but I wait for the mascara to completely dry. I have tried to do curl first and then mascara, but it never works. The moisture of the mascara straightens my curled lashes right back to regular …. I haven’t had much problem with lash fallout when I curl after the mascara is dried, but I do see the problem when I do it when its wet :)

    • Bun Bun

      That’s interesting, but won’t the wet lashes get stuck on the curler? When I tried to curl after mascara, the lashes stick onto the curler and I’m like neither here nor there – can’t pull too hard but if I don’t pull hard enough they’re stuck. Lol. Maybe I didn’t wait long enough for the mascara to completely dry. Too time consuming! I wanna just curl, apply and go.

      I get your point, however. I have a girl friend who has really short lashes and the curler can hardly get any of it. It is only after she gets mascara on, the lashes are lengthened, that the curler can get the lashes.

      One important thing is finding the right curler for your eye. My friend’s situation improved after she got the Shu Uemura eyelash curler! =D

  • glittergirley

    Oh yes, definitely wait until the lashes are dry … I used to use a shiseido curler that I loved but then my cousin bought me a random one from Taiwan that has been wonderful (it is also the traditional metal type). I always heat my curler with 5-10 seconds heat from my hair dryer (be sure to test the temperature on your hand or something before putting the curler to your eye!!! I made that mistake a few times because I was running late and OUCH.. burnt eyelid…)

    • Bun Bun

      Gah! I’ve never liked the hair dryer method. Haha. I’m such an impatient person and having to plug in the hair dryer, turn it on, heat up the curler, wait for it to cool a little… is simply too much chore! Lol. My lashes get curled without the heat method, that’s why I can do without it.

      And yes, even the best of us must have had experiences of getting our lids burnt with scorching hot eyelash curlers. XD

  • cmiw

    I almost cried when I saw num 2. Really? but you used to love anna sui (which is indeed quite pricey for a 15 yrs old) and you know it works well even if it’s used for a full year :'( I just can’t throw away a mascara before a full year, too bad for my poor student wallet :(

    • Bun Bun

      If it’s any comfort, I don’t throw them away, I just keep them around until….. One fine day when I decide to do some mass clearing up. Let it hurt once and for all! Heh heh.

  • jazzpollard

    Thanks for this post! I was just thinking this morning that I am in a mascara rut and need to find a good solid one. Think I will not try this mascara for times I need an extra punch…