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By Ernie McCraw

When Your Mascara Gives Up the Ghost

For Better or Worse: Ensure a healthier appearance by divorcing yourself from dated cosmetics and makeup tools.

Has your eyeshadow overstayed its welcome? How soon will your compact cover-up go belly up? Here are a few guidelines that will help put a smiley face on your cosmetic case.


Admit it. Deep down inside your cosmetic case lies a lipstick that you just can't seem to part with. It's not the best color on you and it wasn't especially pricey, but you just can't bring yourself to toss it. Not only will this lead to an unsightly accumulation of some very dated cosmetics, but also may expose you to enough bacteria to pose a serious health risk. Here are a few tips to remember to help keep you safe and your cosmetics beautiful.

Labels: Reading Between the Lines

The first step is finding the right cosmetic for you. This requires reading labels, and some can be a little difficult to decode. For example, hypoallergenic cosmetics are cosmetics that the manufacturer deems less likely to produce allergic reactions. "Hypo" simply put means "less."
There is no federal standard or universal definition that defines the use of this word. Likewise, dermatologist tested, sensitivity tested, allergy tested and nonirritating don't carry a guarantee. All cosmetics have the potential to produce an allergic reaction, because everybody's skin reacts differently to each ingredient; it is always a good idea to test the product on a small patch of skin before you commit it to your daily routine.
Fragrance is a leading irritant in most cosmetics. If you are prone to sensitive skin, let your nose lead you to a milder scented product. Products labeled "fragrance-free" can still contain a small amount of fragrance to mask any unpleasant odor from the ingredients.
Lanolin is a natural extract of sheep wool and has long been used as a moisturizer in soaps and creams. Lanolin is also one of the leading causes of allergic reaction; if your latest moisturizer is giving you grief, flip it over and check for this ingredient. A wide selection of moisturizers and soaps are lanolin-free, and finding a perfect substitution should be easy.

Something Old, Something Goo

Love your lipstick and it will love you back. There are some basic practices that will help keep your cosmetics in top shape.
Almost all cosmetics contain a preservative; however, preservatives degrade over time, and heat or light can accelerate the process. Keep your cosmetics cool and out of direct light to help the preservatives remain effective in fighting off bacteria. Sometimes the product can expire before you purchase it due to improper storage, but products stored under ideal circumstances can remain good long after the expiration date. When in doubt, use your common sense: If a product has a strange odor or the consistency isn't right, get rid of it.
It is recommended that you replace all cosmetics every three years; however, liquid cosmetics should be replaced at least every three to six months simply because, being a more bacteria-friendly environment, liquid cosmetics have a shorter shelf life. Never add water, or worse, saliva to a product that has dried. This will only introduce more bacteria to the mix.

Tool Time Cleaning Tips

Wash 'n' Wear: Using professional brush cleaner and disposables are two ways to cut down on bacteria.
Keep your brushes and sponges neat and clean. Good quality sponges, puffs, and brushes can last quite a while, and should receive a thorough scrubbing at least once a month. You can use a liquid antibacterial hand soap to lather up your sponges. Rinse them and place them on a paper towel until completely dry. Good brushes are an investment and should receive a little bit more attention. Never use hot water on your brushes and be careful not to wet the metal band that holds the bristles together, which can cause your brush to lose bristles. Use cleaners designed specifically for cosmetic brushes. Dip the brush into the cleaner and then let it dry flat on a paper towel. Smoothing the bristles between two fingers will help maintain the brush's shape. Using disposable applicators is another great way to extend the life of your cosmetics by limiting bacteria introduced into the container.
Beauty and your health go hand-in-hand. Being well-informed about makeup will help you look your best.
Ernie McCraw is director of beauty education for Sally Beauty Company, the world's largest distributor of professional beauty products. A licensed cosmetologist for more than 30 years, he is a frequent contributor of beauty advice to newspapers and national fashion and beauty magazines.
Click here to visit Sally Beauty Company's web site...
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