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How to Fix Clumpy Mascara and 7 More Answers to Common Mascara FAQs

A woman applying mascara to her lashes

Mascara is a classic, tried and true makeup staple that’s essentially foolproof, right? Not so fast. Though ubiquitous on beauty shelves and in makeup bags, wielding this wand requires a bit of prowess. Inspired by questions like “What’s up with my clumpy mascara?” and “Why is my mascara flaking and smudging?”, we’re tackling some mascara FAQs to set the record straight. Your mascara game is about to get a major upgrade!

Superhero Volumizing Waterproof Mascara
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Superhero Volumizing Waterproof Mascara


Old price New price $28.00
One size available for Superhero Volumizing Waterproof Mascara
0.3 US fl. oz. / 9 ml

How Do You Avoid Mascara Smudging?

Dealing with a case of raccoon eyes post-mascara application? You’re definitely not alone. Smudged mascara happens when the wand is too big, when the application is not precise, or when wet mascara comes into contact with your skin. It’s can also be more likely to occur depending on the type of mascara formula.

How to Prevent Mascara From Smudging

  1. Use a waterproof mascara, such as Superhero Volumizing Waterproof Mascara. Waterproof formulas are sweat, humidity, and waterproof which helps minimize smudging.
  2. With your face looking forward but eyes looking down, apply mascara to your top lashes first and allow it to dry for a few minutes. Then go back in to apply to your bottom lashes, this time with your eyes looking upward.
  3. Give your mascara some time to dry—15 to 30 seconds should be plenty.
  4. If you do get some smudging, use a cotton swab and micellar water to gently remove any transfer.

Did You Know? IT Cosmetics' Superhero Volumizing Waterproof Mascara delivers the same length, volume, and elastic stretch you love from the original—only now it’s available in a waterproof formula that makes it resistant to sweating, flaking, and smudging. It’ll stand up to whatever your day has in store while giving you a fabulous set of lashes.

How Do You Fix Clumpy Mascara?

We can all agree: Clumpy mascara is the absolute worst. After all, the goal is length and volume—not a gloppy mess. Ultimately, mascara clumps when you’re a bit overzealous with application. This can occur when there’s too much mascara on the wand, residual product on your lashes, or when you add too many layers.

How to Prevent Clumpy Mascara:

  1. Make sure all old mascara has been adequately removed from your lashes. Using an oil-based cleansing balm is one of the best ways to do this.
  2. Use a clean spoolie to gently comb through lashes in a straight upward motion from root to tip before applying mascara. This separates lashes and allows mascara to glide on easily.
  3. Wipe off excess mascara if you notice too much on the wand.
  4. Place the mascara wand at your eyelash roots and brush upward. Roll it forward like using a round brush on your hair to capture each lash. This helps keep lashes separated.
  5. Don’t apply too many layers of mascara. One or two (mayyyybe three!) is plenty. Each layer should be applied before the last coat has dried.
  6. If you do accidentally apply excess, simply comb your lashes with a spoolie to separate and remove clumps. This helps remove the excess product and any mascara clumps.

What Step Should You Apply Mascara?

So where, exactly, does mascara fall in your makeup routine? There are some debates on this one, but we argue that mascara should be applied after the rest of your eye makeup is complete, including eyeshadow and pencil or liquid eyeliner. This allows you to more easily access your eyelid and get closer to the lash root when applying eyeliner.

Some people prefer to swipe on mascara as the very final step of their routine following foundation and concealer, but others prefer to apply foundation afterward so they can easily clean up eyeshadow fallout and any mascara smudges. Experiment with both, then do what works best for you.

Pro Tip: If you’re using an eyelash curler, do so before applying your mascara! This prevents damage to your eyelashes and keeps your curler clean.

How Do You Remove Waterproof Mascara?

Once you're ready to remove your mascara, apply a dime-sized amount of eye makeup remover—such as Bye Bye Makeup Cleansing Balm—to a clean cotton pad and apply it to the eye area. Massage for a minute or two, then wipe or rinse away before gently patting dry. Check out our in-depth guide on how to remove waterproof mascara if you need more help.

Your Skin But Better Setting Spray+

Your Skin But Better Setting Spray+


Old price New price $32.00

What Causes Mascara Flaking?

Flaking mascara happens when there’s not enough moisture. Dry mascara is often the result of a mascara that’s past its prime, so make sure to replace yours every three to six months. Habits like pumping your mascara wand in and out can cause the formula to dry out faster since this lets air into the packaging.

If you notice that your mascara starts flaking a few hours after application, it could be dry air. Add some humidity to your home with a humidifier or personal mister, and consider spritzing a face mist, such as Your Skin But Better Setting Spray+, throughout the day for an extra boost of hydration.

Hello Lashes+ Volumizing Mascara with Lash Serum

Hello Lashes+ Volumizing Mascara with Lash Serum


Old price New price $27.00

What Is Tubing Mascara?

Many mascaras feature specialized formulations resistant to water, sweat, and air. Tubing mascara is an example of this. As the name implies, tubing mascara wraps around each lash individually, essentially creating a little tube, to create instant separation and definition in a single swipe.

Hello Lashes+ Volumizing Mascara with Lash Serum is a tubing mascara that does all the above while nourishing and conditioning lashes with ingredients such as lash-loving biotin, argan oil and jojoba oil. It’s also formulated specifically for gentle removal so you don’t put stress on your lashes.

Lash Blowout Mascara

Lash Blowout Mascara


Old price New price $27.00

How Long Does Mascara Last?

Brace yourself for this one... Mascara is good for about three months, and it’s super important to toss it and get a new one once it’s expired. Not only does old mascara end up clumping, flaking, and otherwise apply poorly, but it’s considered unhygienic.

The good news is that an expired mascara means you have a reason to go shopping. Plus, we can all probably agree it’s super satisfying to swipe on a freshly purchased mascara. If you’re in the market for a new mascara, one of our favorites is Lash Blowout Mascara. It was developed in partnership with Drybar and features a uniquely designed wand with microspheres that gently catch all of your lashes for gorgeous separation, lift, and volume.

Can You Wear Mascara With a Lash Lift?

Yes, you can wear mascara if you have a lash lift. In fact, it adds a nice bit of oomph and can make your lashes look even longer and fuller. The only caveat would be to wait to apply mascara within the first 24 hours following the lash lift treatment. You can also wear mascara with falsies. Doing so can create a more cohesive appearance between the false lashes and your real ones.

As for whether you can wear mascara with lash extensions, you can do so, but stick to non-waterproof formulas that are easier to remove. You’ll also want to avoid oil-based cleansers, which can break down the glue that holds lash extensions in place and ultimately shorten their lifespan.

Want to test your knowledge even more? See if you’re familiar with any of these old school makeup tips that are still popular today. And while you’re at it, make sure you review these common mascara mistakes.

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