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Your favorite make-up: beauty product or dangerous product? March 3, 2010

Posted by Renee in Healthcare, Prevention, Wellness.

Millions of people get up everyday and put make-up on, varying amounts and varying products, but many do not leave the house without make-up.  Now personally I have never thought of make-up as a health risk, but it makes sense.  MSNBC published an article titled Your old mascara may spoil your looks: Out-of-date make-up can be a magnet for germs.  This caught my attention.  I don’t wear a lot of make-up and don’t necessarily wear it every day, but thought this was interesting. Keep reading to find out how long you should be keeping your favorite products.

The article discusses a study done in London in which they talked to women, ages 18-70, about the content of their make-up bags and their understanding of health considerations related to make-up.  Almost 90% of women were either unaware of an expiration date or didn’t know what the numbers meant.

The article tells us that many of ourFavorite beauty essentials such as foundation, concealer, blusher, eyeshadow, eyeliner, mascara, lipstick and perfume all include a “period after opening” indicator, denoted by an open pot with the number of months of safe use written inside.

Make-up, perfume and skincare products used after the expiration date can cause irritation and infection due to air and bacteria infiltrating the products.  The article continues to give statistics on women’s make-up usage habits which indicate many bad habits: 68% state they only replace make-up and skincare when they run out, 72% never wash their make-up sponges or brushes, and 81% of British women regularly (at least once a week) go to sleep without removing make-up.

This article gives important information in the fact that many of us are keeping our make-up too long, but it lacks information on what to do about this.  The article ends with a quote from Bevis Man of the British Skin Foundation

It is best to err on the side of caution and if a product looks or smells strange, it is worth throwing it away.

To me this advice seems pretty logical.  What may have been more useful are guidelines on how long of a shelf life different types of make-up have.  The article mentions that 4 years is too long, but at what point should make-up be thrown out?  The advice from Bevis Man is obvious, but what about make-up that doesn’t show it is too old to be used?

The article also doesn’t mention what type of infections can be caused due to expired make-up or what to do if you get an infection.  The article reported the study and gave facts, but did not do enough to inform women on how to protect themselves.

Marie Claire, a popular women’s magazine, printed a similar article, yet took the time to interview Dr. David Schlessinger, a board-certified oculoplastic surgeon and ophthalmologist, and gave the expiration dates of commonly used items.  Additionally he stated that  peri-oral dermatitis can develop from some old, expired makeup that might irritate the skin and cause little red bumps that look like acne.  According to Dr. Schlessinger, the shelf life of your cosmetics, beginning from the time you first open these products:

Powders and shadows: 2 years
Cream shadows: 12 to 18 months
Foundation: 1 year
Lipstick and lip liner: 1 year
Mascara and eyeliners: 3 months
Makeup brushes: Clean weekly using a mild detergent
Makeup sponges: Replace weekly, or when sponge becomes soiled

MSNBC’s article gives us facts, but doesn’t tell women the important things.  It is not enough to tell people that something is bad, which can cause unnecessary panic and misunderstanding.  The article could have added a few sentences or a paragraph and given readers the necessary information to go a long with the warnings.

In addition to the peri-oral dermatitis mentioned above by Dr. Schlessinger, old cosmetics can cause or contribute to acne, rashes, several types of eye infections, cysts on the face, or an irritation sty.  These are all unpleasant and most likely more costly than just replacing your make-up more frequently.

I am recommending all people who use make-up to think about how long you have had some of the items, I know I need to throw away a few things, and throw away items that are expired.  And remember that an article stating facts from a study do not necessarily give you the whole picture.



1. naj24 - March 9, 2010

I really appreciated learning that my make-up could be expired! Your article has some very useful information, and I’m sure applies to so many women. The statistic you gave about British women who sleep with their makeup on was pretty surprising because that is something I thought everyone naturally does. Thanks for such an on-point and impactful post!

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