We take care of what we put in our bodies, but do we stop to question what we are putting ON our bodies? Our largest organ—the skin—protects us from the elements. When we wear make-up, it is important we protect it in return. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has no involvement in regulating the ingredients in cosmetics, so it’s up to us as consumers to educate ourselves. Here are ten do’s and don’ts of make-up to get you started.
1. Do check the ingredients
The Environmental Working Group (EWG) has created SkinDeep, the largest searchable database of cosmetic products available online. Simply type in the name of any product and see a complete ingredient listing along with easily understandable safety ratings. A full explanation of any potentially harmful chemicals is also provided on the site. Remember that marketing terms like “all natural” are not legal descriptions. When in doubt, look it up.
2. Do your own expiration checks
Along with neglecting to approve and review ingredients, the FDA does not require expiration dates on make-up products. I know it’s hard, but you do need to get rid of that liquid liner that has been sitting around since… well, you probably can’ quite remember when. Water-based make-ups are breeding grounds for bacteria and should be tossed after two to three months. Further, if you’ve been sick or have had an eye infection, consider throwing out products you used during that time. When cosmetics have changed in color, texture or smell, it’s time for them to go!
3. Do let companies know you want the real deal
Advocate for yourself and let your favorite cosmetic companies know you want transparency. Seek out companies who clearly label their ingredients and are certified non-toxic. The greater the demand, the greater the supply.
4. Do clean your make-up brushes
The truth is I am not as vigilant about this one as I should be, and I think the same goes for many of us! However, our make-up brushes collect dead skin cells and bacteria which can lead to breakouts and eye infections. We should be cleaning them once a week. You can use basic soap to clean them—my favorite is olive oil soap. Set them over the sink and let them dry.
5. Do go without
Give your face a breather. The pollution and dirt built up throughout the day needs be rinsed away, so don’t skip washing your make-up off at night. If you’re often too tired, get a good make-up removing the cloth. It’s not as effective, but it’s better than not washing your face at all.
6. Do store make-up properly
Bacteria and molds can grow in make-up containers and do so even more rapidly when exposed to heat and humidity. Store your cosmetics in a cool, dry place. They can deteriorate in the heat, so keep them away from those steamy showers. You can also store new lip gloss in the refrigerator to preserve it longer. Just let it get to room temperature when you’re ready to use it.
7. Don’t use synthetic emollient products
They build up oil, sit in fine lines, aren’t biodegradable and suffocate the pores. They are linked to skin irritation, and because of the amount of heat used in their production, usually, contain no antioxidants (since the nutrients in the vegetable derivatives are destroyed).
8. Don’t forget the “Toxic Trio” at the nail salon
When it’s time for a mani/pedi, be sure your nail polishes don’t contain what is labeled as the “Toxic Trio”: dibutyl phthalate (DBP), formaldehyde and toluene. Formaldehyde is a known carcinogen which has been linked to lung cancer. Meanwhile, DBP is linked to reproductive issues and toluene is linked to nervous system disorders—bot is banned in Europe. Luckily, brands like OPI are offering safe nail polish options. If you’re in doubt, bring your own bottle with you!
9. Don’t rely on the industry to keep you safe
Since the FDA has no authority over recalls when it comes to the cosmetics industry, they leave it up to the manufacturer to conduct due diligence and make consumers aware of recalls or potentially harmful ingredients in their products. A simple Google search of ‘recalled make-up products’ won’t turn up much. Don’t rely on companies whose only mission is to make money from you.
10. Don’t be afraid to do it yourself
There are several resources for making your own make-up products at home. You can experiment with color and consistency variations, and you know exactly what’s going into your products. It also makes for an entertaining and educational time with friends! A Pinterest search will reveal plenty of fun options.