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What's in Your Makeup?

We deconstruct the five essentials you use every day. Plus how to apply it and when to throw it away.

4. Mascara

What's in it:

Here's what it takes to lengthen and fatten your fringe: iron oxide, a metallic pigment that darkens lashes; triethanolamine, an emulsifier that allows the mascara to stick to lashes; waxes and polymers that form a film to thicken lashes; and a preservative, such as phenoxyethanol, to prevent contamination by pesky microbes. Waterproof formulas swap water for a silicone ingredient, such as cyclopentasiloxane, which repels moisture. It's also the ingredient that makes waterproof mascara so tough to remove.

Use an oil-based eye makeup remover -- or, in a pinch, a cotton pad soaked in baby oil, says Ahnert. Gently press the pad against your lashes for a few seconds, then wipe the pad across your eyelid.

How to apply it:

If you always end up with a clumpy fringe no matter what brand of mascara you try, that's likely because your lashes grow close together, says makeup artist Freedman. Wipe extra product off the mascara brush by swiping it across a tissue. "That way you'll darken and lengthen lashes without the danger of ending up with a glop of product gluing your lashes together," Freedman says.

Still got clumps? Clean them up by running a spooly brush -- you can find disposable ones at beauty stores -- through your lashes while they're still wet.

Some new mascaras promise to deliver thicker, longer lashes and also to stimulate lash growth with so-called lash-enhancing botanicals and other ingredients. That claim is a stretch, says Wilson. "For lash enhancers to work, they need to be applied to the base of your lashes, not the actual lashes themselves," she says. "Unless you're lining your eyes with mascara, you should purchase a lash-enhancing product separately."

When to ditch it:

Protect the health of your eyes by replacing your mascara every four months, Friedman says.

5. Eye Shadow

What's in it:

Whether you're doing a full-on Kim Kardashian smoky eye or simply sweeping a veil of taupe along your lids, the eye shadow you apply will likely contain talc and mica, both fillers, as the two main ingredients. Binders, such as zinc stearate or kaolin clay, hold the formula together and help the shadow stick to your skin. Ingredients such as bismuth oxychloride and dimethicone also improve "slip" and adhesion, so the powder glides over your skin and stays where you put it. Iron oxides, which show up on labels as Colour Index 77510 or Blue 1 Lake, are what give shadows their hue.

Cream shadows add waxes and oils to the base. Shadows in stick form are the trickiest, Wilson says. "You don't want shadow to crumble as you apply it, but you also want to eliminate drag," she says, "so it's extremely important to have the right balance of waxes, binders, pigment, and emollients."

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