Here's How to Stop Your Mascara From Flaking Once and for All

The ideal mascara should lengthen, volumize, and define your lashes and make them really pop. I think that's what most of us are looking for, right? So when your mascara is prone to clumping, smudging, and flaking, it can be really frustrating, especially if you've splurged on the product! It's definitely happened to me more than once.

On the flaky-mascara front, I wondered if the cause of it could be the product itself, the application, or something else entirely. I decided to chat with some makeup artists to get their tips so I could solve the problem once and for all—and maybe it could help you, too. See what they had to say below.

What Causes Mascara to Flake?

So what's the main cause of flaking? It turns out it might be the product itself, especially if it's old or almost empty. "Most times I find the cause of this issue is the formula," makeup artist Maya René says. "Often if the product is running low and you're using a fairly empty tube, you'll start to experience flaking, which tells you it's time to replace the mascara altogether. Other times, mascara will start to flake due to reasons that the formula isn't one that is hydrating enough or it has been exposed to air, which dries it out."

But it also might be your application method. Makeup artist Renée Loiz adds that applying too many coats of mascara to the lashes before letting each coat dry could be a culprit.

How to Stop Mascara From Flaking

There are a couple of things you can do to prevent the dreaded flake. As we learned above, you'll want to make sure you're using a product that's not old or dried out. You'll also want to leave some drying time in between applications. And here are some other helpful pointers to keep in mind:

1. Make Sure Your Brush Is Clean: René recommends cleaning your mascara brush of any old gunk or dried-out product.

2. Try Hydrating Formulas: "When in the market for mascaras, look into brands that use ingredients such as hyaluronic acid that work to enrich dry or brittle lashes," René says.

3. Put the Cap Back On: "Remember to always put the top back on the mascara after using and even in between applying to lashes," Loiz says. "The more you leave the top off, the more air gets in causing mascara to dry out."

4. Make Sure Your Lashes Are Dry: This means that they're free of skincare or other makeup on them.

5. Try a Lash Primer: René recommends adding a lash primer, which can condition your lashes and create a longer-lasting lash lift with volume. Apply a coat, allow it to dry completely, and add mascara.

6. Don't Pump the Wand Too Much: "When applying mascara, it's easy to get carried away. We're all guilty of overpumping our wands into the tube in search of more product," René says. "However, keep in mind that method might actually be working against you. In doing so you're also pushing more air into the tube, which will prematurely dry the product out."

7. Don't Apply Too Many Coats: "I recommend only applying two to three coats," Loiz says. "If you're pressed for time, at least let the lashes become semi-dry (sticky) before applying the next coat and also then only applying two coats."

How to Fix Dried-Out Mascara

And if you find your mascara is dried out, there are ways that you can revive it, which can save you some bucks and a trip to the store. "What I've done since I was a young teenager is add a tiny drop of hot water to the dried-out mascara tube and shake it up, then put the wand back in and mix around," Loiz suggests. "Add one more drop of water and repeat the process if it's still dry. I think this works like a charm and adds a bit more longevity to your mascara!"

René also recommends submerging your closed tube of mascara into a cup of hot water for a few minutes, which will help any hardened product soften up.



Mascaras That Don't Flake

And if you're looking for the perfect no-flake mascara, try some of these recommended by the experts and editors.

Both Loiz and René recommend this formula. Loiz especially loves it for her clients who have sensitive eyes and says, "The best thing about this mascara is the double-sided brush: one side for application and the other (a comb) to go through lashes and perfectly separate them. The comb basically 'combs' out the clumps so there are no flakes."

"It's a long-lasting formula that doesn't flake or smudge. Great brush for a lash-lift!" René says.

"[It] curls and lengthens with a slimmer mascara wand and doesn't clump lashes together giving a super-natural and simple look," Loiz says. "You can build with this mascara, but you won't get dramatic lashes, just pretty curled, long, and inky black lashes."

René recommends this drugstore buy, saying it's a "lightweight formula with lash conditioning ingredients that nourishes and hydrates eyelashes."

"A makeup-artist-kit staple, it's affordable and builds on lashes beautifully," Loiz says. "It's also waterproof and won't budge at all. You really can't go wrong with this mascara. Comes in dark brown and black, and the non-waterproof formula is a keeper too!"

With over 260,000 ratings and 4.5 out of five stars on Amazon, this mascara is a best seller. It provides unbelievable volume but won't clump or flake.

This volumizing mascara does a good job of lifting and lengthening, making your lashes appear feathery soft, and not weighed down. And it has that effect on your eyes for up to 24 hours.

This one is completely buildable, so you can apply as many layers as you prefer (but maybe stick to two or three like our experts suggest) to customize the volume and length of your lashes.

This mascara is a Who What Wear–editor favorite because it leaves your lashes looking oh so long. It's also designed with Flake-Free Tubing Technology to resist any clumping, flaking, or smudging.

Not only does this mascara lift and curl your lashes, but it also does a good job of defining and separating them so you don't have to worry about clumping. The staggered bristles boost volume while the domed tip lifts, curls, and defines.

The cool thing about the brush here is that it's flexible and bendable so it can reach even the tiniest lashes. The formula contains bamboo extract and fibers to make your lashes appear longer and fuller.

Rare Beauty's long-wearing, curling mascara also contains castor oil to condition and nourish lashes.

This is one of my favorite everyday mascaras. It defines and lengthens my lashes but makes them look so natural.

The buildable formula here will lengthen and define your lashes—and keep them that way all day long. It also contains conditioning peptides and hydrating panthenol to give your lashes some TLC.

If you're looking for an intensely black hue, try this mascara from Nars. It pumps up the volume without any clumping or smudging. Plus, it comes with a "lash moisture complex" that adds softness to your lashes.