DIY beauty can be risky business. Whether it’s attempting to dye your hair at home, giving yourself bangs, or even doing an at-home peel, the results can be unpredictable. Hell, most of our trust issues stem from the fact that putting toothpaste on your pimples is actually really bad for your skin (no matter what Pinterest claims).
Similarly, a new hack is making the rounds on TikTok where people can be seen using Vaseline, Aquaphor, or petroleum jelly as makeshift mascara. While the results look impressive, we couldn’t help but wonder: is it safe to put that ointment so close to your eyes?
For the unfamiliar, Vaseline, Aquaphor, and petroleum jelly are all occlusives, which act as physical barriers to lock moisture and hydration into skin, but does that make them good mascara alternatives? To find out, we reached out to a handful of ophthalmologists and an oculoplastic surgeon to understand the safety of — or lack thereof — the viral lash hack. Keep reading to find out more.
What is TikTok’s Vaseline Mascara Hack?
There are a few different mascara hacks making the rounds on TikTok. The first is where people are coating their lashes with Vaseline, then going over them with an eyelash curler for a makeshift lash lift. Those who have tested the hack say that it keeps their eyelashes curled all day and makes it look like they’re wearing “invisible mascara.”
Others are mixing their mascara with Vaseline, Aquaphor, or petroleum jelly, and then applying it directly to their lashes, which they say gives them added length and helps the product last longer without flaking throughout the day.
“The reason people like to use it on their lashes is because it coats them, which makes them appear shiny,” Ashley Brissette, ophthalmologist and creator of Daily Practice, tells POPSUGAR. “However, it can be goopy and cause the lashes to be weighed down.”
Is TikTok’s Vaseline Mascara Hack Safe?
All three experts we reached out to all agree: it’s safe to use said occlusives around the eyes, but can become problematic if you get the ointment in the eye itself. “[These have] preservatives and alcohol in it, which can be damaging to the corneal epithelial cells and ocular surface,” says Diane Hilal-Campo, board-certified ophthalmologist and founder of Twenty/Twenty Beauty. Both Dr. Hilal-Campo and Dr. Brissette also note that the Vaseline that comes in the form of a tub isn’t sterile and can introduce bacteria into the eye.
Additionally, too much of any occlusive product near the delicate skin of the eyes can cause milia, a skin condition that looks like raised white bumps, to appear. Also, oculoplastic surgeon Kami Parsa notes that, for contact lens wearers, it’s best to skip trying this hack altogether because if you get any of the occlusive on your lens it will stick and become difficult to wash off.
If you do still want to test out the hack (luscious lashes are worth their weight in gold, we know), Dr. Hilal-Campo recommends using a product that comes in a tube, which she says is safer from a hygiene standpoint since you aren’t re-dipping into a tub that may have bacteria in it from previous use.
The takeaway? While this hack does have the potential to save time and money, make sure you’re being extra careful not to get any occlusive products into your actual eye if you do decide to use it. If you’re worried about getting it right, it’s best to stick with plain old mascara. But with an endless supply of stellar new options dropping every day, that’s hardly a chore.
— Additional reporting by Alaina Demopoulos