Do you share your lip gloss with your friends? Maybe you are still using a favourite lipstick from 10 years ago?? Never take the time to wash your makeup brushes??? As a professional hair and makeup artist with over 20 years experience, cosmetic hygiene is something I have learnt not to take lightly. Many diseases, viruses and bacterial infections have the potential to be spread and shared by doing the above.
What I have listed above are just some of faux pas made by cosmetics users. In this article I will show you how to avoid potential health risks associated with unhygienic makeup practices. Just as you wouldn't like a dentist to use the same equipment from his previous patient on you without sterilizing, or
you would be anything but happy if your beautician used old wax to wax your legs? Then you shouldn't be happy, or do the following unhygienic practices when it comes to using and trying makeup products.
Makeup Hygiene Rules - to prevent cross contamination of bacteria, viruses and even some life threatening diseases
Health Dangers of Cosmetic Testers - Did you know that in a recent study that was done over a 2 year period the E-Coli virus was found present in "every" cosmetic tester that was actually tested. Frightening stuff hey? Most people don't associate a stomach bug with the fact they may have used a lipstick tester. The study also found that the staphylococcus and streptococcus bacteria's were also both commonly found in cosmetic testers read here !
This is personally my stock standard golden rule "NEVER USE COSMETIC TESTERS ON YOUR LIPS OR EYES AND I MEAN NEVER!" If you have to try them out, first look for a spot on the tester that has yet to be used, not always possible, but with lipstick you can role them up high and take from the base, sneaky I know, but safer. The best and safest place is on the back of your hand and then as soon as you finished trying them out, go and wash your hands, or use a hand sanitizer, (try to ensure your hand gel is a safe & natural one read here why). If you have to try out a foundation on your face, pick a spot as far away from your eyes and lips as possible and again wash or sanitizer the area as soon as possible. This may sound extreme, but cosmetic testers are public property and you wouldn't wipe you hand across a toilet seat and then onto your lips would you?
*Note - Never apply a tester to broken skin, this is very dangerous and a possible way to contract Hep C.
It is always best to go to try cosmetic testers at a reputible salon or cosmetic counter that uses disposable applicators to let you try out their products.
- Never Share Your Makeup Products - Especially never share your mascara, eyeliner, lipstick, lip-gloss or lip balms , it can be embarrassing to say no to a friend, but there are non offensive ways to do it. Read these tips by the Safe Beauty Association, which is for professional makeup artists. Unless you are living under the same roof you really don't know enough to ensure that even your friends are free of diseases, you simply cannot tell by just looking at someone whether they are healthy or not or whether they are carriers of an STD e.g oral herpes (cold sores) tends to be most contagious before the sore erupts and hepatitis C is blood transmitted, so think cracked lips. When you share your makeup you are at risk of catching and also spreading to others, common viruses like gastro, conjunctivitis, eye stye's, colds and flu's. You can also catch and spread nasty, skin infections e.g staph infections etc. For teenagers who find it hard to say no to sharing their makeup with their friends, I found this helpful article Infection Protection.
- Old Cosmetics Are Breeding Grounds for Bacteria & Mould - Throw out your makeup products when the use-by date says to and if there is no use by-date on the products then many dermatologist recommend throwing and replacing your cosmetics after 3 months read here. This is especially l the case when it comes to liquid cosmetics, or anything in a cream base or moist base e.g mascara, eye and lip pencils, liquid eyeliner, lip products, cream blushes, foundations and eye-shadows. A moist environment is a breeding ground for bacteria, they absolutely love it. The chances of getting eye infections, acne breakouts and dermatitis are much higher when using old makeup. The preservatives in makeup products can only preserve the product for so long.
- Mineral Makeup Safety - The dangers of old makeup are even more prevalent when it comes to Mineral Makeup. I personally am a huge advocate for changing over to 100% natural Mineral Makeup, read our article Mineral Cosmetics vs Conventional Cosmetics, but one thing to remember is that pure mineral cosmetic manufacturers are dedicated to using safer, natural ingredients and this means 100% natural preservatives too. These all natural preservatives do not have the same preserving strength as chemical, synthetic cosmetic preservatives. So the rule of thumb with Mineral Makeup is - always throw the product when it reaches it expiry date, or throw out according to the instructions on the packaging e.g many mineral cosmetic products have listed on the packaging when to throw once opened, which is often a lot sooner than the actual use by date. *Note - Dry, loose, mineral powders can last for years if kept completely dry. The best way to do this is to tip out the desired amount you need into the lid and toss out the left over product in the lid once finished. Make sure the lid is perfectly dry before putting it back on. Alternatively you can use a spare lid or a little plate or palette tip your powder into for use.
- Makeup Tools Keep Them Clean - How to Wash Your Makeup Brushes - Just as makeup can harbor bacteria so too can makeup brushes and your cosmetic sponges. A weekly shampoo is highly advised and if you suffer from acne, it is best to wash more often. The way to wash a brush is to find a gentle, cruelty free, natural shampoo. First rinse the brush in warm water, then lather thoroughly and rinse well. Repeat and rinse well again, then gently squeeze out excess water. Shake the brush to further remove water, then shape the brush back into place and lie flat on a towel to dry completely before using. The same goes for your washing your latex or natural sea sponges. If you let someone borrow your brushes or sponges, wash them thoroughly and let dry before using yourself.