The Ugly Side of Makeup

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Watch out!  Your old makeup can hurt you.

Cosmetics have a useful lifespan that varies depending on the product and environment.  Unlike most other items that we put in or on our bodies, makeup is not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), save for a few exceptions.   Federal law requires that the ingredients used in cosmetics be listed, but does not require expiration dates.  Some manufacturers police themselves and create their own expiration dates, but without regulation and enforcement of standards, there’s no way to guarantee accuracy.

Why does makeup need an expiration date?  Aside from the loss of quality, consistency or potency over time, the larger concern is bacterial and fungal growth.  The FDA has shown in studies that bacteria exists in cosmetic products even before you open the package.  These are minute amounts at that stage, but as soon as the package is opened it’s exposed to even more bacteria.  Then contact with our hands, fingers and faces introduce all kinds of nasty stuff back into the makeup pot, jar or tube.  Fortunately, most cosmetics have preservatives added which kill bacteria.  Unfortunately, those preservatives lose their effectiveness over the lifespan of the product.

Small quantities of bacteria in cosmetics shouldn’t concern a healthy immune system.  But for people with non-intact skin issues (broken or inflamed skin) like cold sores or eczema… this opens up new vulnerability to infection.  Bad reactions to old/contaminated makeup range from minor or major skin irritations to conjunctivitis (“pink eye”).

Environment can have a profound effect on the lifespan of a makeup product.  Warm, humid environments like your bathroom are a tropical paradise for promoting bacterial growth.  It’s always best to store your makeup elsewhere and to avoid humidity, heat and direct sunlight.

Some helpful tips:

Wash your face and hands before applying makeup.

Do NOT share your makeup with others.

Try using disposable applicators instead of using your fingers.

Wash your brushes regularly ( more info about this at www.beautylookmagazine.com/2012/07/28/clean-brushes-for-fresh-faces-2/ )

Don’t add water to liquid-based cosmetics.  This introduces bacteria and dilutes the preservatives.

Store powder puffs with the used side away from the powder.

And remember this rhyme:  “When in doubt, toss it out!”

Article & images:  Jim Jurica, BeautyLook Editor