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Old Products, New Infection Risks: The Dangers of Expired Makeup

The following is a guest post contributed to Organic Makeup and Skincare by Tisha Dotson. This article discusses the whys and hows of special care required for your organic products. It’s not as simple as buying and putting things on the shelf. So read on to learn some valuable tips that might save you from some very unpleasant bacteria encounters.

When we consider purchasing the best makeup, we often take into account several different factors like price, ingredients, whether or not the product is tested on animals, packaging, and skin type designation. However, once the purchase has been made, just as with other products, we have a tendency to think that the decision-making is over. What many do not consider is that taking care of our products is just as important in maximizing their effectiveness as is purchasing the right kind of products.

When it comes to makeup, proper care is absolutely critical. This is especially true of organic makeup. Why? Simply because organic products do not contain the fillers and preservatives that synthetic makeup products do. As a result, organic makeup products do not have a very long shelf life, and since most manufacturers do not print expiration dates, we must be ever-vigilant about the product’s state on our own.

An article in the Green Beauty Guide outlines the problems with expired makeup. Perhaps because of the lack of an expiration date on makeup, it is very common for women to store cosmetic products for years and years. And of course, makeup, whether or not it’s organic, is expensive. As such tossing products away unnecessarily can hit our pocketbooks pretty hard. But the dangers posed by expired makeup are far more damaging than the economic cost of keeping cosmetics products up-to-date.

According to the article, old makeup can harbor dangerous bacteria. With foundations, expired makeup can cause what is called peri-oral dermatitis, which is manifested by little red bumps that look like acne. Expired mascara can cause conjunctivitis, an eye infection that is also known as pink eye. What’s more, women should be particular vigilant when it comes to lipsticks and lip balms, especially if there’s the possibility that it could have been used by others. In many cases, women can get cold sores through a herpes virus that can easily be absorbed by lip products.

Experts say that when it comes to cosmetics products, go with the smell test. Even if it has only been three months since purchasing, if the product smells strange, then it probably contains bacteria and should be thrown out. It’s also very important to consistently change makeup applicators, which are also breeding grounds for bacteria. While it may be difficult to justify throwing out expensive cosmetics products, the cost will be significantly less than having to deal with a potential infection.

This guest post is contributed by Tisha Dotson, who writes on the topics of medical coding certification.  She welcomes your comments at her email: tishadotson86 @gmail . com.

August 22, 2010   2 Comments

Packaging Organic Cosmetics

In the world of organic cosmetics, packaging can be a headache. Whereas the regular products tend to be scrutinized by consumers primarily from aesthetic and convenience point of view, organic products have to answer to much higher standards.

The manufacturers do have to content with the looks and user-friendliness as well. Naturally. If the product is not packaged attractively, no one will pick it of the shelf. Or so the rumor goes. And if you can’t get that product out – you aren’t likely to buy it again.

But in the natural skin care and makeup field there are two other serious considerations:

First, the natural consumers demand that a packaging is as earth-friendly as possible. It better be recyclable, or else ;)

Secondly, it is also important that the packaging contributes to the longer shelf life of the product. Because organic skin care usually (ideally) does not contain harsh synthetic preservatives, packaging has to help in protecting the ingredients from contamination.

One of the most popular packaging materials for natural cosmetics is glass. Glass is non-porous and inert material, which is good for the lifespan of the formulations.  And it is recyclable, making it a popular “green” choice.

Aluminum tubes (with protective resin) are also popular because they are recyclable, and because they squeeze the product out and don’t refill with air — thus minimizing contamination. They are used by Dr. Haushka, Weleda and many others.

Incidentally, the worst packaging from preservation point of view are the open jars where you have to put your finger in to get the cream out. You effectively transfer the bacteria from your hands into the jar. Not to mention continuous air exposure.  If you have such a product, try to use it as quickly as possible, store it in the fridge and always wash your hands! Or consider getting it out with a stainless steel spoon – but don’t double dip…

My recent excursion around the web has found a couple of other interesting packaging ideas:

I found a company called Megaplast (, which is a packaging manufacturer used by the likes of L’Oreal, Biotherm and Yves Rosher among others. They have recently patented a new type of dispenser, aimed specifically at bio-cosmetics and natural products. The Self-Sealing Actuator system “protects products from impurities and contamination through a membrane in the pump’s orifice that automatically seals once the formula has been dispensed. This prevents the product from coming into contact with oxygen, thereby reducing contamination, discoloration and product dry-out, and ultimately, increasing shelf life and effectiveness.”

This sounds promising. Preservation of natural products is a key concern when turning away from synthetics. But I think plastic is a bit of a drawback. Recyclable as it is, as Beth never tires to point out – we have too much plastic to deal with already.

And then there are companies like The Packaging Company (TPC), who introduced Biodigradable Cosmetic Packaging last year. They look like regular plastic products, but will biodegrade in a landfill after 5 years. Called PLA (polyactic acid or polyctide) the material resembles regular plastic in every way. But it is corn based. TPC presently makes compacts and lipstick cases from this material, and just by looking at it you’d never suspect anything unusual about them.

Hopefully the trend towards recyclable/biodegradable and preserving packaging will continue and leak into the mainstream as well. I think in the ideal world the job of preserving a product lies in the package – then we don’t have to ingest it. But this only works long term if the package is not the kind that will preserve itself in a landfill for thousands of years to come. Pretty or not.

April 12, 2009   16 Comments