Put a Stop to Makeup Contamination

Posted on January 5, 2017
Spraying water on makeup brush

You may be familiar with the rules of good cosmetic hygiene.  Don’t share your makeup, keep brushes and applicators clean, throw out old makeup, don’t double dip your brush; the list goes on. But what can you do if your makeup is contaminated with mold or bacteria before you even buy it? Find out what you need to know to protect yourself against this beauty nightmare.

How Is This Possible?

While drugs, biologics, and medical devices are all subject to FDA scrutiny, the agency’s legal authority is somewhat different when it comes to cosmetics. In the case of beauty products, the responsibility for the testing and insurance of the safety of the products and ingredients are left to the makeup companies. If there is a problem, the FDA is notified by reports from health care, experts, product surveys and consumers after it occurs.

What Can Be Done?

Currently, most cosmetics have preservatives, such as paragons and formaldehyde donor preservatives that kill spores and bacteria cells in cosmetics. However, as chemical chemist Perry Romanowski explains, “The trick is to use these compounds at levels that are not high enough to cause harm to human cells.”

Often, the cause of contaminants in makeup is caused by improper storage. Bacteria growth can be avoided by keeping beauty products out of hot humid places, like your bathroom, and holding on to products for an extensive amount of time can also increase contamination potential.

Stacya Silverman, Seattle esthetian, says that anything that goes near or on your eyes, such as creams and liquids, should be tossed out about every three months.  She also advises buying skin care products that come in a pump, rather than a jar, which is an easier target for contamination.

Romanowski adds, “the key is to never share personal care products with other people, and especially don’t share ones which require you to touch the product directly in the package.”

The FDA will be addressing concerns of testing cosmetics for contamination, the efficiency of preservatives and how packaging can affect the harboring of bacteria in a public meeting. Spokeswoman Stephanie Yao assures that the meeting is not being held due to an increase in reports of contamination in makeup, but rather to “start the conversation about microbiological safety issues in cosmetics.”

Have you had a run in with makeup contamination? We’d love to hear your stories.

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