Make Your Expensive {Or Inexpensive} Mascara Last Longer!

longer-lasting mascara


This might possibly be the simplest post I will ever write. But just because there’s not much to it, doesn’t mean it’s not an amazing idea! :-)

Well OK, maybe not amazing, but I did get pretty excited about it! Of course I’m easily excitable, so that’s not much of an endorsement either. hmmmm.  I guess you’ll just have to be the judge as to whether you think this idea is as awesome as I did!

Last week I came to end of my expensive tube of MAC Opulash Mascara that I bought right after Thanksgiving. That’s a pretty decent amount of time for mascara to last I think. But I was still bummed because…. a) it was expensive!; b) I was getting ready to go out of town and didn’t have time to run to Macy’s to buy another one; and c) it really IS good mascara!


longer-lasting mascara


I have been buying Maybelline mascara in the pink tube from the drugstore for years and have always loved it.


longer-lasting mascara


But after Thanksgiving I treated myself to some new makeup and this mascara was part of my splurge. I hadn’t expected to like it so much.

So when it got to the point of being unusable last week…dried out, clumpy, wouldn’t go on smoothly…I was THIS CLOSE to tossing it when the little light bulb in my head went off! (We all have one of those, right?)


longer-lasting mascara


I seemed to recall seeing somewhere (no doubt it was Pinterest!) that you could add a few drops of saline solution to your mascara to make it last longer. I hadn’t pinned it and I didn’t even take time to do a search for it, I just tried it. I mean what did I have to lose? It was going in the trash anyway!

Luckily I had some saline solution my eye doctor had given me a few months ago when I started sporting my one contact lens.


longer-lasting mascara


I had no idea how many drops to try so I guessed and started with 10 (it’s a pretty big tube of mascara). After putting in the 10 drops, I put the wand back in the tube and kind of swished it around inside a few times and then tried applying.

It was like the tube was brand new. No clumps, not dried out. I applied a couple of coats to my lashes and I couldn’t tell any difference from when I first bought it!

That was over a week ago and it’s still going strong!  I have no idea how much LONGER it will last…but at least I bought myself some time (and money!) in the process, and didn’t end up WASTING all that perfectly good mascara! :-)


Do you have a beauty trick that saves time and/or money?

I would LOVE to hear it!

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  1. Mary says

    Aren’t you supposed to throw mascara out after three months of use because of bacteria? Or does this trick also help to keep that bacteria at bay (since saline solution is typically used to clean contact lenses)? (:

    • StephanieJ says

      EEEKKK! NOT a good idea. You didn’t mention checking the saline solution expiration date, which I’m sure had expired, even for a commercial solution with preservatives. Homemade saline solutions can harbor all SORTS of bad things, including acanthamoebae. It’s FINE for neti pots and gargling, but NOT for the eye area.

      Most manufacturers say discard mascara after three months.

      I LOVE YOUR POSTS JILLEE. But there are safer ways to save money.

      • says

        Stephanie….I’m not sure why you would assume my saline had expired. I assure you it had not. And I did not suggest using homemade saline solution.

      • SHANNON says

        I think it’s a great idea. As long as you aren’t touching anything with your hands. I do think you should change out Mascara every 6 months. A great tip indeed. Don’t worry about the girls who complained – they probably don’t wash their hands after using the restroom!

      • Jnorth says

        Actually…it’s pretty obvious that she’s using contact solution, which is put directly on your eye every day. No need to overreact.

      • claire says

        you should never put contact solution in your eyes, just on your contacts when you clean them!

      • Monica Shaw says

        You obviously don’t wear contacts. There are TWO types of solution…one you soak them in overnight to clean them which you definitely don’t put in your eyes, however SALINE solution is made to keep your eyes and you contacts moisturized and to be used IN the eye throughout the day….get your facts straight before you start to assume someone doesn’t know what they are talking about

      • Tiffany says

        Kind of a jerk thing to say StephanieJ…why would you assume her saline solution had expired? She mentions she started wearing contacts a couple months ago…and saline solution lasts for quite some time! And since it is MADE for contact lenses, how is it NOT safe for the eye area????

        Personally, I’ve always just run water over my mascara wand and pumped it in the tube to refresh it. Done this for YEARS and I’ve never had any issues with infections or eye problems. I don’t doubt it COULD happen, but I see nothing wrong with the saline option.

      • Bobbi says

        Yeah, I got bleach in my eye went to the ER and they rinsed it out with one quart of saline solution. Very painful on a burned eye!! Maybe I can go back and sue them for a couple million $$ since saline is so dangerous!!

    • says

      You are supposed to throw mascara out after three months. Sooner if you suffer from a cold or eye infection. The saline while in the bottle it comes in is sterile, but the second it hits air it picks up bacteria.

      While saline soution is mildly anti-septic I would not rely on it to get rid of all bacteria in my Mascara. Your best bet is to toss the mascara and eat the cost simply because it is not worth the risk to your eye sight and health.

      • Danielle says

        Please do not do this ladies!
        You are suppose the throw away a tube of mascara three months after you first use it for good reason. Sooner if you get an infection.
        Benzalkonium chloride while a bacteriocidal agent, has been shown to increase bacterial resistance to antibiotics and disinfectants. It can also trigger corneal irritation and damage in some individuals.
        Even if you have been doing this with no issues, doesn’t meant the bacterial count in you mascara is not high. It just means those present are not pathogenic.
        In a microbiology class last year, a classmate tested a used tube of mascara: Staphylococcus aureus, Staphylococcus epidermidis and fungi were the primary colonies isolated.
        I will never do this. I write the first date of use on a post it and hang it inside my medicine cabinet.

      • Jo says

        Those three cultures are also found on your eyelids, lips, etc etc etc… already present on your skin. Your demodex (teensy bugs that live in your eyelashes) eat dead skin and harmful bacteria, protecting you from infections. Yes, you can still get sick from using a tube of mascara too long, but also from breathing, blinking, and leaving your plastic bubble home. :P Sorry, as a microbiology minor, I’m also very interested in the bugs in our lives and on our bodies, but I don’t want anyone to turn phobic once they learn that STAPHYLOCOCCUS LIVE ALL OVER OUR BODIES ALL THE TIME AAAHHHHHH!!! Also streptococcus… in your mouth… and you can’t do anything about it muahahah!

      • Connie says

        Totally agree with you! Chill people! My mother used to spit on her old-fashioned mascara block (this was in the 50s and 60s) and rub the little brush around and apply it, and she NEVER got any eye infections. It was her own germs, for cripes sake! I’m all for extending the life of my mascara. I’ve used “artificial tears” and that works very well. All this germ phobia makes my skin crawl!

      • thexxxbunny says

        Do you and ALL the other persons on here know what IS disgusting???//
        eating at your fave eatery where your chef and kitchen staff go for a crap, pick their noses, sweat dripping all over and DON’T WASH THEIR HANDS…. and you are disgusted by OP. Nobody is putting a gun to your head, it is merely a post. Use it, don’t abuse it and definitely don’t slam it, if its not your cuppa.
        Keep going Jillee !!!

      • SHANNON says

        Hahahhaa! I couldn’t eat chicken soup for a year after nursing school! The culture broth! Oh the humanity!

      • Merryscottuk says

        Ha Ha, @Jo Says. your comment cracked me up! I hate how folk get all righteous about Staphlyloccus. Everyone has it on their skin! and as far as the mascara advice goes, you’d be far more likely to get an eye infection from sticking a finger in your eye – which I’m sure most of us do at some point. I don’t throw mascaras away before about month 4 at least. And i’ll def be trying this trick!

      • carlyfay says

        Don’t worry, Jillee! I’m with ya on this one:) I’m doing this today:) I would never throw out a mascara after just 3 months… there would be so much left!! And if you use a really nice mascara, that would be a huge waste of money. I don’t have $20 to drop for a new tube of Bad Gal every three months.. Plus, I have never gotten an eye infection or anything… and when I first started wearing make-up, I had one tube I used for a whole year:) Good thing I have some Baush and Lomb Bio True on hand:)

      • Selina says

        I have never…let me repeat: NEVER gotten an eye infection from mascara in the 40+ years I have been using mascara. I suspect all those germs may come from people not using their products in a safe and sanitary manner. I wouldn’t consider adding a few drops of sterile saline solution to a tube of mascara in an emergency a bad idea. I just wouldn’t recommend doing it on a regular basis, just to save money.

      • SHANNON says

        Where are you getting your information? Look up what our bodies are made of! Why do you think we use saline solution to put our contacts in with. Why do we clean wounds with Normal saline? Why do we rehydrate patients with saline IV’s? We aren’t cleaning them – it’s what our bodies are made up of. So quit talking about a simple mascara trick like someone’s going to get sick! Wash your hands and clean your kitchen sinks. Then Lettigo!

      • says

        Not to be nit picky but it’s not true that there’s millions of bacteria floating around our air. Or course if you sample air you just sneezed in, that’s a different story. I’ve taken Petri dishes and ran around my house, my school, and outside, with a Petri dish for each, cultured them, and let me tell you hardly anything grew on the indoor cultures, even after weeks. I just wanted to dispel that myth of our air being as dirty as people make it out to be, but you are absolutely correct in recommending mascara to be thrown out after 3 months, because better to be safe than sorry, right? I’ve felt with eye infections, and antibiotics are gross, and so is the pain and hassle of having a inflamed bloodshot eye. So don’t keep using mascara just to spite the system, put your health first and just spend that extra 5 (or 30) bucks on a new mascara, save your eyes!

  2. jamie lynn says

    awesome tip!! i am a mascara freak! my favorite from years has been the avon supershock, but i do have a pretty expensive one from urban decay that i love but only use occasionally. that will help tremendously when it’s getting empty – thanks Jillee!!

  3. Penny Hannah says

    Good one, Jillee! I’ve been ekeing out my mascara with pure Aloe Vera gel which seems to work pretty well too.
    Saline would be cheaper and probably easier to introduce into the tube. I can’t claim to be the originator, but I’ve also made my own with the gel and the addition of powdered , dark grey mineral eye shadow..- that works well too and the more adventurous could really go mad with different colours. It gives me such a kick to find practical, workable alternatives to expensive products!

  4. EJ says

    I was going to say exactly what Mary said. Longer-lasting mascara isn’t necessarily a good thing since you’re supposed to throw it out often due to bacteria. It’s a fun trick, though.

  5. Kimberly K. says

    It really is not a good thing to keep mascara for over 3 months due to excessive bacteria growth. However, saline is a great bacteria killer.

    • katy says

      It’s not antibacterial. Those “saline antibacterial washes” in the drugstore actually contain another chemical (benzethonium chloride) that inhibits (not kills) bacteria. I wouldn’t count on this trick to kill any bacteria growing in your tube, although it is a neat trick to have if you go through mascara quickly.

  6. Nancy O'Neil says

    Tried it loved the results of my even longer wearing mascara.




    • Nancy Bee says

      Hi, Nancy – this doesn’t stretch lipstick, but allows you to get the entire amount out of the tube. Use a q-tip to dip into the tube (when the lipstick is nearly gone), and twirl it around for a small amount, then apply to lips with the q-tip. This has extended some lipsticks for up to a month for me – just be sure to carry the q-tips in a baggie if you take them in your purse!

      • Prisilla says

        I have a small retractable lipstick brush that I got from the impulse buy bins at Sephora. I love it because it’s reusable. Same as your qtip idea but more sustainable.

      • Karen says

        A good lip brush with a bit of vaseline on it also works wonders at getting the last lil bit of your fav listick out of the tube.

    • Tina says

      to Nancy O’Neal what i did was put vasoline on my lips first (not alot) then my “not” so cream anymore lip stick, seem like more like a lip gloss, but at least i was still able to use it and not have to throw it away.

      • says

        Vasoline is petroleum, like gasoline, and it is toxic and is best NOT put on your lips, as you will eat it, and it absorbs into your skin anywhere you put it. Gratefully, there is Alba’s Un-petroleum Jelly and this is safe to use anywhere, and is healthy. Get it at healthfood stores, please!! I knew a plastic surgeon who said when he cut open women’s eye lids to tighten them he found pockets full of Vasoline concentrated in there. Yuck. Petroleum does not break down. Stay healthy, choose wisely.

  7. Joyce says

    What a great trick! I use the Mary Kay mascara and love the idea of being able to extend it. I used the pink Maybelline tube for years too – for inexpensive mascara it does the trick very nicely.

  8. Karen says

    I was thinking the same thing… ophthalmolgists everywhere are cringing at the thought..but if the saline kills bacteria, that takes care of it! Although I didn’t realize that saline was antibacterial…that is good to know!
    Thank you, Jillee!

    • katy says

      It’s not antibacterial. I wouldn’t count on this trick to kill any bacteria growing in your tube, although it is a neat trick to have if you go through mascara quickly.