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How To Fix Dry Mascara: 9 Easy Hacks & Methods

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Dried-out mascara is something none of us want, but sadly it happens to even the best mascaras on the market. Fortunately there are several options when it comes to how to fix dry mascara. 

There’s nothing more annoying when it comes to makeup than to realize your favorite mascara has suddenly become dry and difficult to use. 

Mascara, like most makeup products, has a shelf life which means it will start to dry out once you start using it. 

Dry mascara can be problematic due to several reasons: 

  • it tends to clump together, resulting in an uneven and unnatural application that can make your lashes look spidery
  • dry mascara may not adhere well to your lashes, leading to patchy areas with insufficient product
  • dried out mascara is more likely to flake when you wear it, causing the mascara to crumble and fall off, leaving specks on your skin
  • removing dry mascara can be difficult as it clings stubbornly to your lashes, potentially causing mascara residue buildup
  • using mascara beyond its expiration date, when it has dried out, can pose health risks and decrease its effectiveness. 

So it’s not good to use a dried-out tube of mascara. 

But what do you do if you really need to use your current mascara because you haven’t gotten round to buying a new one yet?

I’ve had this issue several times, and the good news is that there are some really good dry mascara hacks you can use to get a few more days out of your old mascara. 

These will temporarily fix the problem of dried-up mascara and give it a new lease of life, allowing you to use it (and have it look good) while you make plans to get a new tube. 

Here are the best easy tricks for how to fix dry mascara:

woman using mascara

Use eye drops

This is one of the easiest ways to revive an old mascara, and many of us have a little tube of eye drops laying around.

This simple trick to revive old mascara is to add just 2-4 droplets of eye drop solution directly in to the mascara tube. Use the wand to mix them in to the mascara formula inside the tube. 

You’ll find that your mascara returns to being slightly runnier and much easier to apply, so you can use it a handful more times before tossing it away. 

Soak it in warm water

The hot water trick to breathe new life into your dried up mascara works really well for a temporary quick fix. 

Simply drop the entire mascara tube in to a mug of hot water and leave it in there for around 5 minutes. 

Make sure the water is not boiling hot as that may alter the formula of the mascara itself and affect its performance. The water just needs to feel hot to the touch. 

The warmth will soften the dried solution inside the tube, making the mascara much easier to apply. 

dried out mascara wand

Add a makeup mixing liquid

Some brands offer specially formulated mascara revitalizing drops. These drops contain ingredients that help restore moisture to the mascara and make it more fluid. 

Add a couple of drops to the mascara tube, give it a good shake, and check if the consistency improves. You may need to add a drop more to get the consistency you want. 

You can also buy makeup mixing liquids which turn powder products into creams. These are also a great way to fix dried-out product in your mascara tube. 

Add oil to the tube

This is one of the dry mascara tricks that is a little fiddly but really effective. 

All you have to do is add a small amount of any kind of natural oil directly in to the mascara tube. 

Be really light-handed when doing this as you don’t want too much oil to go in to the tube. The best way is to start with only one drop and then you can add another if you want your mascara to be a little runnier. 

castor oil dropper

Oils you can use to fix dry mascara include:

  • olive oil
  • coconut oil
  • castor oil
  • sweet almond oil

You can also use a little drop of baby oil instead. 

Make sure to mix the oil thoroughly with the mascara formula, using either the wand itself or a toothpick or small spatula. 

Use contacts len solution

If you wear contact lenses you can also use the lenses solution to fix dry mascara. 

Adding a drop or two of sterile contact lens solution into the mascara tube can help moisten the formula and make it easier to apply. Give it a thorough shake afterward to distribute the solution evenly.

It’s one of the most well-known dry mascara hacks and will ensure a smooth application next time you apply your mascara. Contact solution is of course safe for the eyes. 

woman with clumpy mascara

If you don’t have lens solution then just a few drops of saline solution or a safe medi wash will also do the trick. 

Add aloe vera gel

Good old aloe vera gel is a beauty product that seems to have a million and one uses. It’s awesome for treating so many things, from sunburn to dry skin. It has natural antibacterial properties too. 

Add two to three drops of aloe vera gel directly inside the mascara bottle.

Use the mascara brush itself to mix the aloe vera with the formula by rubbing it around the sides of the tube. It will give your dry mascara a little slip and make it much easier to apply. 

Add oil directly to your lashes

This is one of the dry mascara tips that has extra benefits for the condition of your lashes too. 

Sweet almond oil, olive oil, castor oil and coconut oil are all natural ingredients that contain fatty acids. 

Fatty acids in oils moisturize, strengthen, protect, enhance flexibility, and condition lashes. This makes them healthier, helps to prevent breakage, and gives lashes a lovely natural shine. In fact lots of people add castor oil to their lashes and brows anyway to help them look their best. 

dior mascara

Using a clean mascara wand, simple brush a very light layer of coconut oil or any of the other natural oils on to your lashes. Be very careful not too add too much product as it will make your mascara run. Just a tiny little bit will do. 

Then brush your dried up mascara over your lashes. You’ll find that the oil mixes with the thick formula of the mascara, and it will become thinner. No more clumpy mascara! 

Use a mascara primer

Applying a mascara primer before using a very dry mascara can help smooth out its application and make it look better. 

The primer acts as a base and a lubricant, making it easier for the mascara itself to adhere to your lashes. It will also make dry mascara look less clumpy. 

It’s not the best method for thinning out dried mascara but it will work if you’re in a pinch and have a primer with you. 

Add Vaseline

Vaseline, a petroleum jelly product, can be used to thin out mascara. 

By adding a small amount of Vaseline to a dried-out or thick mascara formula, it becomes smoother and easier to apply. You can also try topical use with mascara; that is, apply a tiny amount directly to your lashes first and then brush the dry mascara over it. This will work in the same way as adding oil to your lashes first. 

Make sure you use Vaseline sparingly and mix it thoroughly with the mascara. 

girl applying mascara

These are all really effective ways when it comes to how to fix dry mascara and get a few more uses out of an old tube. They are all short-term fixes though, and if your mascara does dry out it’s definitely time to buy a new mascara as soon as possible. 

Frequently asked questions

Is it normal for mascara to dry out? 

Yes, it is normal for mascara to dry out over time. Mascara contains a combination of waxes, pigments, and solvents, and these ingredients can evaporate or break down over extended periods. Exposure to air, frequent use, and the passage of time can contribute to the drying out of mascara, making it harder to apply. 

Does mascara dry out if unopened?

Mascara can still dry out even if it remains unopened. While unopened mascara may have a longer shelf life compared to opened mascara, it is not completely immune to drying out. Over time, the solvents and other volatile ingredients in the formula can still evaporate gradually, leading to a drier consistency. Always check the expiration date and replace unopened mascara if it has exceeded the recommended shelf life, typically around three to six months.

Does mascara actually expire? 

Yes, mascara does have an expiration date and can expire. Like many cosmetic products, mascara has a limited shelf life due to the risk of bacterial growth and changes in formula effectiveness over time. The expiration date is typically printed on the mascara packaging.

Why does my mascara dry out so quickly?

The causes of dry mascara are too much air exposure when the tube is not tightly closed, pumping the wand excessively which lets more air in, or the natural evaporation of solvents over time. Living in a dry climate can also dry it out faster. To prevent quick drying, ensure the mascara cap is tightly closed, avoid excessive pumping, and store your mascara in a dark place out of direct sunlight.

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Melissa Jane Lee
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