Using Cosmetics Safely
Ah…the wonders of makeup. Even as an adult, that rush you feel when you find the perfect tube of lipstick is hard to describe. But makeup, like so many things, must be used safely.
If you use makeup, the following are some safety tips to help you avoid injury and infection:
- Follow the instructions on the label. Always read the label and use the cosmetic according to the manufacturer's instructions.
- Never drive and apply makeup. If you are applying makeup while driving, you are not watching the road. This can lead to a serious accident. You could also injure your skin or eyes if you hit a bump or pothole.
- Watch for allergic reactions. If you have allergies or sensitive skin then you are more likely to have an allergic reaction. You may be allergic to fragrances or other ingredients in the cosmetics, such as rosin (a substance from trees), nickel, or lanolin. You may have tearing, itching, or red eyes, as well as swelling and flaking of the eyelids. Nail polish can also cause eyelid reactions. Stop using the makeup if you have these problems. If the symptoms do not go away, call your doctor.
- Do not share makeup. Stay away from shared-use "tester" cosmetics found at cosmetic counters in many stores. Sharing lipstick, for example, could spread ]]>cold sores]]>.
- Throw away old makeup. Although old makeup will probably not cause any harm, replace cosmetics every six months (more often if you wear contact lenses). This is to avoid excess contamination with skin bacteria. Also, if makeup changes consistency or smells bad, throw it out.
- Do not use eye makeup if you have an eye infection. Also, throw away any eye makeup you were using when the infection started. You could get frequent ]]>conjunctivitis]]> (infection of the outer part of the eyeball) due to contamination.
- Natural does not necessarily mean safe, pure, or clean. In addition, the terms hypoallergenic, fragrance-free, and noncomedogenic have no official government definitions. Claims that a product is "dermatologist-tested," "sensitivity-tested," "allergy-tested," or "non-irritating" carry no guarantee that it will not cause reactions.
- Keep makeup out of sunlight and heat. Light and heat can break down the preservatives in makeup.
- Keep makeup containers tightly closed. This will help keep out contaminants. Plus, your makeup will stay fresh and last longer.
- Never use an aerosol spray near heat or while smoking. Aerosol can catch on fire.
- Do not inhale hairspray or powders. Intentionally inhaling products like these can lead to lung damage and even death.
For information on how to report an adverse reaction to a cosmetic, visit the Food and Drug Administration.
American Academy of Dermatology
US Food and Drug Administration
Canadian Dermatology Association
Cosmetics and your health. The National Women's Health Information Center website. Available at: http://www.womenshealth.gov/faq/cosmetics.htm. Updated 2004. Accessed July 1, 2008.
How to report problems with products regulated by FDA. US Food and Drug Administration website. Available at: http://www.fda.gov/opacom/backgrounders/problem.html. Updated 2006. Accessed July 1, 2008.
Safe use of cosmetics. University of Illinois Eye Center. Available at http://www.uic.edu/com/eye/LearningAboutVision/EyeFacts/Cosmetics.shtml. Published 1994. Accessed July 1, 2008.
Last reviewed June 2010 by ]]>Brian P. Randall, MD]]>
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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