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Take Care Of Your Vanity Box
Using cosmetics that have been inappropriately preserved can lead to serious skin infections and can even cause blindness.
It's rare, but possible, that contaminated cosmetics can cause irritation and infection and even-in extremely rare cases of untreated eye infections-blindness. But you knew that. And you probably know when to throw cosmetics out, and why, and what you need to do to keep your daily routine safe-right?

Here are some questins that can help you preserve cosmetics in a better way:

How do I know if my cosmetics are still good? Cosmetics aren't required by law to have expiration dates, so you can't just look at the label to know when a product is iffy at best. Experts vary in their keep-it, toss-it guidelines, but they all agree that mascara lasts the shortest amount of time and is the likeliest to cause problems, including eye infections.

Hardly anything can be done to lessen the contamination of mascara once you use the wand on your lashes and shove it back into its dark, moist, bacteria-breeding container.
"Mascara is definitely the main offender," says Melissa Cable, who works as an ophthalmologist. She recommends tossing mascara after as little as three months. Others say toss it after two. If you have any change in vision, especially blurred vision, pain or a discharge in the eye, call your eye doctor immediately.

Other general guidelines:
Dump eyeliner, eye creams and faces creams after six months or so. Toss liquid cosmetics, such as foundations, every year (some advice after four to six months). Lipsticks and pencils? One to two years.

Powdered products, such as eye shadow, blush and face powder can last longer-up to three or more years. But those guidelines depend on how sloppily you use the products.

If you don't know when you bought a product, you can gauge its safety with a critical sniff 'n' look.

"If it smells, that's a huge tip-off that you should not be using that product," says one beautician.

Likewise, if the product has changed colour or consistency, is cakey or has separated, then it's time to toss it. Note however that some products, such as cosmetic base, darken a little naturally as you use them because of oxidation.

How can I lessen the contamination of my cosmetics (and extend their use)?
Use common sense-don't share your cosmetics with others (you don't want to share their bacteria) and (yuck!) don't spit in your cosmetics.

Also, don't add water to liquid cosmetics such as foundation for two reasons: The water has bacteria in it, and adding water can upset the chemical formula of the cosmetics.

Basic hygiene is key:
Before applying anything, wash your face and hands with soap.
Also, instead of directly touching your cosmetics, as in sticking your fingers into the product, pour a little out into your palm or scoop a little out with a disposable spoon or use a disposable applicator or something similar. If you use brushes, wash them regularly.

Another simple tip:
If you use a powder compact, store the puff with the used side away from the pressed powder. Refrigerating cosmetics is not necessary.

To prolong the life of your cosmetics, however, you should avoid exposing them to extreme temperatures. Cosmetics are formulated to stay in good shape. If you keep them well, they'll do just fine.
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Posted on : 14/1/2006
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