If not used and stored properly, your skincare products are highly susceptible to the growth of bacteria, fungus, mold, and yeast. Do not freak out too badly just yet as most products use natural or chemical-based preservatives. These preservatives are designed to prevent dangerous microbe growth levels that could harm you or require you to replace your products more quickly. For your peace of mind, below you can learn the best ways to ward off nasty microbes as long as possible.
Loss of Effectiveness
Most skincare products are not regulated by any governing body pertaining to expiration dates; therefore, you must make the conscious effort to monitor, store, and replace your products before they lose effectiveness or become contaminated. Expiration dates exist more as a guide for the level of effectiveness rather than whether or not the product is likely to have developed microbes. An expired product will likely lose scent, cause skin irritations, change color, and become non-effective. Despite an expiration date, once your products are exposed to air, light, humidity, and changes in temperature, the same effects begin to take place. Even if you have never opened a product, humidity and heat can degrade a product so much that it is no longer effective or cause negative skin reactions.
Your skincare products can quite easily become contaminated, and some of the biggest offenders are your hands. Once pathogens are exposed to your cosmetics, they can cause a number of health concerns such as eye and skin infections. Chemicals are often used to fight against the dangers of microbes and pathogens which include ingredients such as formaldehyde, parabens, and triclosan. These ingredients have been linked to greater health concerns; therefore, most reputable brands, including natural and organic brands, will use alternative preservation ingredients as a way to keep their products safe.
To greatly reduce the risk of contamination, it is important to apply and store products safely, as well as to replace them within the recommended shelf life of the product. To keep your products safe, it is ideal to use an applicator such as a tiny spatula, tiny spoon, or cotton pad rather than your hands and fingers. If you do use your hands, wash them before you apply your products, particularly to your face. And, before you reach for a tester in a skincare shop, department store, etc., a 2004 research study showed that tester bottles can contain some disturbing ingredients not used in the production of skincare products such as E.coli, staph, and strep due to public exposure.
Replacement Tips and Prevention Suggestions
To prevent contamination and to make your products last longer, the FDA and skincare experts have established a number of best practices such as the following:
- Avoid adding saliva or water to your products, including makeup, as it water downs the preservatives that fight microbes.
- Store them in a cool, room temperature place out of direct sunlight and away from humidity.
- Clean the outside of each container regularly.
- Wash your hands before you apply products, particularly if you use your fingers to dip into a container
- Watch for product recalls.
- Do not leave caps and tops off products any longer than necessary.
- Use tubes and airless pumps whenever possible.
- Be mindful of expiration dates and period after opening dates.
- Clean, or sterilize, brushes, cloths, and sponges after each use.
- Throw out anything that changes in appearance, color, smell, or texture.
- Be aware that products with water as the first ingredient typically go bad much more quickly than others as water provides the perfect condition for bacteria growth.
The mold, yeast, bacteria, and fungus that grows in your skincare products at home are unlikely to harm you in a life-threatening manner, however it can cause severe reactions such as skin and eye infections. To be on the safe side, follow the best practices listed above and avoid the testers in public places if at all possible. Safety first!
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