Published on April 15th, 2013 | by Karin Jenkins0
When in Doubt, Throw It Out
This morning, I was opening the fridge to get a glass of milk. I checked the expiration date on the milk carton first and realized it had expired a few days before. It smelled “sketchy,” so I chose not to risk it and dumped it down the drain.
Then I went into the bedroom to start applying my makeup and getting ready for work. As I looked at all my pretty colorful stuff, it started me thinking about the expiration dates of my makeup products. I was trying to remember when I first opened my mascara. I think I bought it before my nephew’s wedding in February which would make it two months old. Since mascara is good for about three months, I have a little time to go, but how am I doing with everything else?
I started to take inventory of my own makeup and skin care products and realized that perhaps this should be the topic I discuss with my NSB Observer readers this month.
Some products do have an expiration date located on the bottle or jar somewhere, but unfortunately the U.S Food and Drug Administration, which oversees cosmetics, does not require that manufacturers set an expiration date for such products. On top of that, some types of makeup can expire faster than normal if they are stored incorrectly.
I don’t mind telling you that this rule or lack thereof for not informing us of cosmetic expiration dates is not only unfair, but can be extremely dangerous. There are so many very contagious infections you can pick up and continue to spread by the use of contaminated makeup products.
Conjunctivitis, more commonly known as “Pink Eye,” is just one of the highly contagious infections you can get from contaminated makeup. It affects the outermost layer of the eye and the inner surface of the eyelids. Your eyes become red and watery with a sticky secretion. Gross. Most commonly caused by viral or bacterial infection, it can be cleared up with eye drops from your physician, however, you are not permitted to wear makeup or contacts until the infection has completely cleared up – usually about two weeks.
If you catch this or any other eye, skin, or lip infection, seek medical attention for a proper diagnosis and promise me you will THROW OUT ALL OF YOUR MAKEUP and start new. If you don’t, you will continue to re-infect yourself and then eventually no one will want to be your friend.
So what can we all do to keep us safe from contaminated makeup and bacterial infectious diseases?
First, we need to realize that the makeup we purchase could be contaminated before we even use it through poor handling procedures during manufacturing or defects in the products’ “preservative capacities.”
You can do your part by being aware of your products. Make a note of when you purchased a product or opened it for the first time. Everything has a shelf life.
Be aware of your product’s scent and consistency. For example, if your foundation has taken on a funky smell or just looks “funny” or dried out - PITCH IT IMMEDIATELY.
Keep your beauty environment clean and sanitary. Where do you keep your beauty products? Are they in a cool, dry, dark environment or are they somewhere where they can get damp or too warm (like in your car which really helps bacteria to thrive)? I keep mine in my “makeup drawer.” I take everything out that goes on my face and then put it back after I use it. I make sure that my hands and face are clean before I touch my products and I clean my tools such as brushes or sponges before I put them away. I usually put a towel across my lap for quick cleaning on my brushes. I do a “deep clean” on my brushes with a sanitized cleanser and then air dry about once a month just to make sure they are completely sanitized and rid of any multi-colored makeup build up.
As for my eye and lip liners – I sharpen my pencils before or after each use which helps them to have a longer, safer shelf life. Depending on your pencils and your care of them, they can safely last two or three years. After I use my foundation and any other product that comes in a jar – I make sure the lid is put back on tight and secure. NEVER leave your product containers open and unprotected. No good will come from that – ever.
I know that you know that sharing your makeup with your friends or family is a bad idea, but you still may do it, especially if you have a daughter in the house. My own mother/daughter memories must have been on my mind when I went to bed last night because I dreamed that I was traveling to France with my daughter, Tara, and I forgot to pack my makeup and I thought “Oh well, I will just use Tara’s.” I also dreamed that a squirrel was chasing me through the airport terminal, biting at my hind end, which was really freaking me out, but that is clearly another story…
If you are one of the millions that try new products at the makeup stands in malls all over the country by dipping your finger in the tester, well, congratulations, you now share your makeup and diseases with total strangers as well. If you want to try a new product before you purchase, insist on a disposable applicator first.
Now let us discuss cosmetic expiration dates a little further. To make it not so confusing, I am going to put them into easy categories:
The Wet Stuff – This includes liquid or cream foundations, mascara, liquid liners, cream blush and any other product that is creamy or liquid, liquidy, liquid-ish. You get the idea. Mascara usually has the shortest life span. It has about three good months and then must be on its way to mascara heaven. The other products in this area are good from one to two years. It just depends on the product. Anything that is close to your eyes and is of a wet nature really needs to be watched and monitored carefully to prevent many types of eye infections and contaminations.
*Special note* Never add water to your makeup. It can cause germ growth in a previously clean environment and lessen the effects of any preservatives added to make the makeup more sanitary. Saliva is an even bigger no no! It can spread bacteria from your mouth, where they are harmless, to your eyes which are far more sensitive. In other words, “Don’t spit on your stuff”…none of the best people do.
The Natural Stuff – Among other cosmetics that are likely to have an unusually short shelf life are certain “all natural” products that may contain plant-derived substances conducive to microbial growth. It’s also important for consumers and manufacturers to consider the increased risk of contamination in products that contain non-traditional preservatives or no preservatives at all.
The Cakey Stuff – This includes lipstick and more cake-like foundations and concealers. Again, watch for consistency in color and smell. These products can survive anywhere from 1 ½ to 4 years or so. Please promise me you will never share your lipstick (or chapstick for that matter) with anyone. Sharing lipstick is a great way to give or receive herpes. Herpes are cold sores with small blister-like lesions which usually appear around the mouth. They are highly contagious and can easily be passed from person to person.
The Dry Stuff – This includes all powdery substances such as eye shadows, compact or loose powder, pencils and powder blushes or bronzers. These products, if handled properly, can last 3 to 5 years. Keep your powders out of sunlight because it can cause a change in color or texture.
*All the expiration dates are not set in stone. Sometimes your makeup will last a little longer and sometimes the shelf life ends abruptly. This is just a guideline to help you go in the right direction with your products and your personal health safety.
Remember, “When in doubt, throw it out.”