The claim: that an old, clean mascara brush can work as a nail brush. Specifically, that the unexpected substitution — in tandem with cuticle remover — is an effective way to remove dead skin around your nail beds, plus buff your nail beds so that your polish will go on smoother and more evenly.


This, in theory, sounds totally legit — it’s a tip that comes from one of the most sought-after nail boutiques in the country — yet at the same time totally bonkers, so we were excited to put this to the test in our Beauty Mythbuster series. I personally do not have a lot of experience with DIY manicures (I avoided that in beauty school at all costs!), so this is all new to me. Could my favorite mascara applicator double as a nail-buffing, cuticle-removing magic wand? We’ll use the bristle-y mascara wand on Juliette’s left hand and a soft cotton swab on her right hand to see if we can spot a difference. Read on to see how it went!

  1. Step 1: Wash Your Wand


    Grab one of your mascaras that is dried up and no longer usable. Take out the wand, discard the tube, then use dish soap to clean off all the mascara residue. Keep washing until all makeup is removed from your wand.

  2. Step 2: Apply Cuticle Remover


    Grab a cuticle remover like Sally Hansen Instant Cuticle Remover ($7) and apply a small drop to the tops of your nail beds where your cuticles are.

  3. Step 3: Bust Out That Mascara Wand


  4. Fill a small bowl with warm water and set it aside for now. Before you rinse off your cuticle remover, use your mascara wand to scrub the tops of your nail beds and along your cuticles. Then, dunk your nails into the water bowl and rinse off the remover using the same scrubbing technique.
  5. Step 4: Apply Base Coat


    It is always best to apply a base coat before painting your nails for two reasons: 1) so your polish does not stain your nail beds and 2) so that your polish goes on more evenly. At this point, there was no noticeable difference in application from the hand that was scrubbed vs. the hand that was not.

  6. Step 5: Apply First Coat Of Polish


    Juliette applied a gray taupe polish to her nails, and we have to admit: the polish *did* appear slightly more even on the hand on which the mascara wand was used. But it didn’t really show on camera, which left us unimpressed.

  7. Step 6: Apply Second Coat of Polish + Top Coat


    Most nail polishes require at least two coats. Apply your second coat and finish with a top coat (one that helps your nails dry faster is clutch, like Seche Vite Dry Fast Top Coat ($8).

  8. Reveal: Can You See A Difference?


    For the final results, we couldn’t really spot a difference between the mascara wand manicure and the cotton swab manicure, which made us feel like this was sort of a bust. Maybe our mascara wand was just too soft and had we used a different one, the results would have been more obvious. Even if that is the case, the busy girl in us would  rather just buy a legit nail scrubbing brush for around $2 and not spend time cleaning the goop out of an old mascara bottle.

  9. mb5Remember, we only used the coarse mascara wand on Juliette’s left hand — we used a cotton swab on her right hand. So far, the different textures don’t seem to matter — the results don’t look very different.
  10. Would We Actually Do This IRL?


    After testing it out, we would not use a mascara wand for DIY manicures. All in all, it doesn’t seem worth the time. If you’ve already soaped up your old mascara wand, *do* keep it close by — we’ll follow up with some tricks and tips for how to use it for OTHER beauty hacks :)

What other beauty hacks can we test out for you? Share ideas in the comments below!!