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To Toss or Not to Toss: All About Cosmetic Safety

To Toss or Not to Toss:
All About Cosmetic Safety

Makeup, Bacteria, and Your Eyes
Time to Get Rid of It!
Do's and Don'ts for Using Makeup Safely

Chances are, you have a drawer in the bathroom or in your bedroom that's jam-packed with lipsticks, eye shadows, blush, and just about every other kind of makeup under the sun. Here's an incentive to clean it out: Old makeup can be full of germs and bacteria, which can make it smell or look funny. Worse, they can cause skin problems. Some cosmetic companies mark their products with expiration dates, making it easy to know when to throw them away. But lots of products, including makeup, don't have expiration dates or a specific shelf-life. back to top

Makeup, Bacteria, and Your Eyes
Eye makeup may very well be a girl's best friend. But it can also be your eyes' worst enemy. Here's the deal: eye makeup is bacteria-free when you buy it. But once you open it up and expose it to the air, germs and other yucky stuff can get into it. The big problem with eye makeup is where you apply it—on or near your eyes. That makes it very easy for those germs to cause a problem like an infection. To avoid problems, follow these tips:
  • Be extra careful with your eye makeup. Don't share it with your friends. Keep it clean. Don't let anything that touches your eyes touch a surface like a sink.
  • Pay attention to how long you keep eye makeup. If you haven't used something for several months, throw it out.
  • Toss out mascara that's dry or more than three or four months old. Don't add water or worse, spit, to mascara (or any makeup). Harmful bacteria can get into your makeup that way.
  • If you have an eye infection, don't use eye makeup until the infection is gone. Be sure to toss the makeup you were using when you got the infection. Chances are, it's contaminated. back to top
Time to Get Rid of It!
So how do you know it's time to part with your favorite lip-gloss or eyeliner? Well, here's a hint: if you don't remember buying it—or you find yourself saying, "Where did that come from?"—it's time to let go. Here are some other signs that it's time for a trip to the garbage.
  • The color has changed.
  • You notice a weird smell.
  • The container is cracked or the cap no longer fits tightly, which means bacteria can get in and do damage.
  • The consistency has changed; for example, a liquid foundation gets thicker. back to top
Do's and Don'ts for Using Makeup Safely
  • Do wash your hands before putting on makeup, especially eye makeup. Your hands have lots of germs and bacteria that could get in your eyes.
  • Do store cosmetics at room temperature and away from direct sunlight. Heat and sunlight can spoil products.
  • Do keep your makeup clean and dust-free on the outside. Instead of keeping it in a messy drawer, put the five or six items you always use in a makeup bag or on a vanity table. That way, they will stay clean.
  • Do use makeup on the part of the face it's made for. Some cosmetics meant for the cheeks, for example, contain ingredients that shouldn't be used on the eyes or the lips.
  • Don't share makeup with your friends, especially eye makeup. You could get an infection.
  • Don't use testers at department stores. If you really want to see how a color looks, use a clean cotton swab to apply it to your hand. Your best bet is to ask for an individual sample.
  • Don't buy cosmetics that have been opened. They could already be contaminated.
  • Don't apply eye makeup in a car or on the bus. An unexpected pothole could result in a scratched eyeball or worse. back to top
Last Modified Date: 3/16/2001
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