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Why Does Mascara Flake? Here Are 4 of the Reasons

That feeling when your Too Faced Better Than Sex mascara is less on your eyelashes than it is in flaky chunks all over your cheeks…

It’s the moment when you realize you need to learn more about mascara flaking.

Fear not! In this post, we’ll talk about four reasons why mascara flakes and discuss solutions to each problem.

Reason 1: Your Mascara Is Old and Dried Out

A picture of the coliseum
Could your mascara be the next UNESCO World Heritage site? Source: @benceboros on Unsplash

This is a little scary, but pretend your mascara is a temporary, eye-safe glue. You put a coat of wet glue on, and the compound dries stuck to your lashes and to all its own more substantive components, like fibers and pigments and such.

Now imagine the glue is getting old and just doesn’t have the same sticking power it did when you first bought it. Instead of going on wet and drying on your lashes, it’s going on drier and its substance is less likely to stay where it’s placed.


You could revive your mascara. (Check out my post on how to fix dry mascara for that.) But preferably, you’re going to buy a new tube to fix the dried-out problem. If your mascara is older than three months, it’s expired, and maybe this can be the motivation you need to toss it.

Reason 2: Your Mascara Has Fibers That Won’t Stick

A picture of Milk's Kush mascara
Milk’s Kush is a fiber mascara that a lot of people enjoy. Source.

There are a lot of mascaras with fibers out there—even ones that don’t advertise themselves as being fiber mascara. As I talked about in my post called “How Does Mascara Work,” if you have something called a copolymer in the ingredient list, you probably have fibers in your mascara.

Some examples of fiber mascaras are Maybelline’s Illegal Lengths, Milk Makeup’s Kush, and L’Oreal’s Voluminous X Fiber.

Fibers can be awesome for lengthening your lashes. But if your mascara formula doesn’t have enough stick or longevity, you may find these tiny blackened fibers all over your cheek.


If you love the look of your mascara but you’re having trouble with flaking, check the ingredient list for copolymers and the product marketing for the word “fibers.” It could be that fiber mascaras look fantastic on you but you need to try a different formula.

Reason 3: You Put on Too Many Coats

Eyelashes with a lot of mascara
This is going to flake in a few hours. No doubt in my mind. Source.

Pile on enough coats of mascara and eventually the product is going to have trouble holding onto itself. The added weight of too much product won’t do you any favors as far as flaking goes, either.


Chill on those coats, friend! Look for a mascara that adds massive amounts of volume on the first coat, like IT’s Superhero. Or else find you a mascara that does both—can handle how many coats you like to add and can hold up to flaking. (Ah, experimenting with mascara…an expensive endeavor, isn’t it?)

Reason 4: You Applied Mascara to Wet or Skincare-Dampended Lashes

Dropper filled with oil
Nice for your skin. Bad for your mascara staying in place. Source: @angelicaecheverry on Unsplash

Going back to the glue example, think about things that affect adherence. If you put glue on something oily or watery, its hold will be compromised.

That’s why, if you want to avoid flaking, you’ll always want to make sure your lashes are dry and clean.


Of course, you’ll want to wait long enough after you’ve showered or washed your face before applying mascara to ensure your lashes are dry. And you’ll want to avoid using eye creams and such in the morning, pre-makeup application. If you add serums, oils, or lotions to your whole face in the AM, avoid your lashes at all costs!

And with those precautionary measures taken, you should be good on this last reason mascara flakes.

Flake No More!

So, ready to go forth flake free? Just keep these four things in mind:

  1. Don’t use old, dry mascara.
  2. Don’t use fiber mascara if the fibers won’t stick.
  3. Don’t put on too many coats.
  4. Don’t apply on wet or skincare-doused lashes.

This should help you on your journey to having mascara stay exactly where you put it—on your lashes and nowhere else.