From The Beauty Vault: Unwanted Visitors in your Beauty Box

31 Jan

I don’t know about you, but I am kinda a germaphobe. Thoughts of creepy, crawly bacteria make the hairs stand up on the back of my head and propel a desire to run for some bleach and boiling water! You may not possess the same fear of germs as I however, there are some important facts about bacteria and beauty products that you must know about. If unaware, these cantankerous creepers just may be lurking in your beauty boxes and wreaking havoc on your face.

Brush Strokes


You know those tools you use to paint your face every day? Those bristly brushes that help you achieve complexion perfection (well, almost perfection)? When was the last time you cleaned them? Think about it- these brushes touch your skin EVERY single day (or every time you apply makeup). Each time you use them, the brush picks up a little more oil and bacteria no matter how clean your face is. Multiply that by 365 if you haven’t cleaned your brushes in a year- GROSS! Cleaning your beauty tools on a regular basis will help anyone with acne or excessive oil. You will be amazed at how fast your skin clears once they are cleaned regularly. Storage is also important. It is best to keep your brushes in an enclosed container, protecting them from any bacteria in the air, or germs from your other makeup bottles.

Check out this site here: This girl shows us just how quickly the bacteria on your brushes can multiply- with a microscope no less.

How to Clean your brushes:

1. Boil some water

2. In a small cup (or two, if you have a lot of brushes), place one tablespoon of vinegar and top off with the boiling water. Stir together with a spoon.

3. Place your brushes in the cup and swish them around a little bit. Then, leave the brushes to soak for 20 minutes. Note: Clean larger foundation or blush brushes, such as a Kabuki brush in their own cup- especially if you are a mineral makeup user.

4. After soaking, rinse the brushes with hot water, then switch the temperature to cold and rinse again.

5. Pat dry with a clean towel. I always like to leave them to dry completely overnight laid out on a flat surface on yet another towel

** please repeat every other week if possible

Check the Date!


When was the last time you bought Mascara? Foundation? Eye shadow? Did you know that all makeup products have expiration dates? If you’re anything like me, you refuse to listen to those little dates. Makeup is so expensive now that I want to use every drop and get my money’s worth! So why shouldn’t we take the plunge and continue to use the blush we bought for 25 bucks four years ago?

  • The use of expired cosmetics may cause skin rashes, irritation and reddening.
  • In some cases individuals with sensitive skin develop allergic reactions.
  • The use of old mascara can lead to bacterial infection in the eye.
  • Expired lipsticks can cause swelling, itching and allergies in the lips.
  • The use of expired eye shadows leads to eye infections. At times an eye condition called the red eye can occur due to the use of old cosmetics.

True Story: When I was living in Paris, I refused to spend my money on something so trivial as new makeup (I think the mascara I used was over 6 months old). I wanted to travel, to eat really good food, and buy clothes I could brag about when I returned to the states (What was so wrong with that right?). Towards the end of my studies at the Sorbonne, I developed a huge bump on my eyelid. It felt like I had a constant grain of sand skimming my iris, causing my eyes to tear up 24/7. Needless to say, I had to see a weird french eye doctor who prescribed me some smelly yellow eyedrops to get rid of my lovely stye. Upon my return to the states, I went to see my eye doctor for a routine checkup before classes began. My eyes were still not in good shape. Dr. Renee ended up having to scrape the old makeup off my eyelids with a metal tool and pluck out a few of my eyelashes! My checkup ended with a strict lecture about makeup use and how irreplaceable my eyes are. Ouch….


(What a stye looks like)

Here’s a guide to how long you should use your products via

  • With the exception of perfume and nail polish, if you bought it more than two years ago, toss it. Most perfumes are made with a lot of alcohol so it’ll typically last quite a few years (which is good news since perfume is expensive).
  • Eye products like mascara and liquid eyeliner should not be used more than three months after the date of purchase. These products will grow bacteria. Your eyes are one of the most sensitive parts of your body so protect them and keep them clean. And definitely don’t put moldy makeup on them!
  • Cream foundation and concealers will only last 6 to 12 months. These can become toxic and cause rashes, irritation, and infections if used too long after opening.
  • Liquid foundations only last 3 to 6 months. If you notice that a liquid foundation has started to settle, separate, thicken, or thin then it has gone bad.
  • Powdered foundation can last up to two years if kept clean and dry.
  • Garbage your powdered eye shadows and blushes after about one year. I’ve read some sites that say they can last up to two years if they’re good quality and kept in ideal conditions. I would err on the side of caution – these tend to look the same for ages so it might be hard to tell if they did go bad after a year.
  • Lip glosses and lipsticks can last a full year, but only if you don’t let dirt and gunk get into them. Again, err on the side of caution because expired lip glosses and lipsticks can give you mouth sores. Nasty.
  • Pencil-like products including lip liner and eyeliner also last a solid year.  If you notice one of these products starting to dry out or crumble, then it’s no good. Ditch it.
  • Cleansers and moisturizers last about 6 months. These often have natural ingredients and decay faster as a result. Note that if you’re using a thin layer of Vaseline to moisturize before bed, this particular product lasts a very long time (it’s petroleum-based).

Confessions of the Lazy Lady


We’ve all done it. When I get home from a late night with my boyfriend or a girls night out THE LAST thing I want to do is wash my face. I’d much rather fall into bed, full clothed and sleep for the next ten hours. Unfortunately, One of the best things you can do to invite creepy, crawly bacteria into your life is to sleep in your makeup. For those of you with acne (Comme moi!) its the absolute worst thing you can do for your face. Think about it. You’ve already worn the makeup for 14 hours, and now you’re going to tack on another 8 or so? Throughout the day, your makeup picks up dirt, bacteria, and free radicals that, if left untouched, enter your skin and cause some harmful side effects! Not to mention the disgusting residue you are leaving on your pillow…

“Sleeping in your makeup can result in unnecessary exposure to the free radicals in the environment, which the makeup holds on to,” says Dr. Eric Schweiger. “Free radicals cause the breakdown of healthy collagen, which results in fine lines on the skin. Additionally, makeup can clog the pores while you sleep, resulting in the development of acne.” (

Your nightly routine should look like this:

1. Cleanse with a good makeup remover. Almay makes a great one- check it out at your local Wal-Mart.

2. Cleanse or Exfoliate Excess dirt (only exfoliate once a day or every other day- over exfoliation causes just as much damage to your skin). Check out Neutrogena’s line of exfoliators which range from extra gentle, sand-like formulas for sensitive skin to harsher acne-busting ones.

3. Use an astringent/toner (non-alcohol based unless your skin is really oily). I would also recommend you check out Neutrogena for this.

4. Moisturize! Even if you have acne, moisturizing before bed is important. Use an oil free formula to prevent breakouts. If you don’t, your face will generate even more oil to make up for the loss of moisture- and that means more clogged pores!


Lessons Learned Here:

  • Clean your makeup brushes on a regular basis
  • Don’t use expired makeup
  • Stop being lazy- wash your face every night, no matter how tired you are. Sleep in the ten minutes you will lose the next morning! The benefits of washing regularly completely outweigh the satisfaction of a nice flop into bed.

There you have it ladies, lessons from a true germaphobe!


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One Response to “From The Beauty Vault: Unwanted Visitors in your Beauty Box”

  1. makeuputopia February 9, 2013 at 1:23 am #

    Hi, thanks for linking back to me, and I’m glad you found the article helpful! X

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