Health Beat with Dr. Alicia Arnold: Cosmetic health risks

(WEAU) - Cosmetics sales are a billion dollar industry and many of us have bathroom drawers filled with beauty products. Today we are going to be discussing health issues related to cosmetics.

CE: What kind of make-up usually has the shortest shelf-life?

AA: Eye make-up is usually the shortest lived for safety reasons. Since it can become contaminated during use, potentially resulting in eye infections, many experts recommend replacing your mascara within three months. If it becomes clumpy or dry, don't use water or saliva to thin it out, because this can introduce bacteria or dilute the preservative capability. If you have an eye infection, like pink eye, it's time to replace eye make-up that could potentially re-infect your eye.

CE: Since your eye is a sensitive area, are there other recommendations for the eye area?

AA: Some color additives aren't approved for eye use, even though they are approved for use on other parts of the face. Only use products on the portion of the face where they are intended to be used. Also, when putting on mascara, try to use a steady hand, as people have gotten scratches to the eye by accidentally jabbing themselves with the mascara wand.

CE: When it is time to think about throwing other products out?

AA: If a cosmetic changes in appearance, texture, color, or smell, throw it out. It's a good idea to keep in mind that many expiration dates aren't exact and a product might not be good anymore even before the expiration date, especially if it has been improperly stored. Also, many people prefer to buy natural products, but keep in mind that natural products may not contain preservatives, so they may have a shorter shelf-life.

CE: What are some tips to try to reduce contamination in our beauty products?

AA: Washing your hands before putting on make-up is a good idea. Products that come in tubes where you can squeeze out a small bit of product may be less likely to become contaminated than products that come in jars, where you are dipping your fingers into the container. Clean make-up brushes on a regular basis. Also, don't share cosmetics with others.

CE: What is the meaning of the term "hypoallergenic" that we sometimes see on packages?

AA: These are products that manufacturers claim produce fewer allergic reactions. These might be good choices if you have sensitive skin, although keep in mind that there are no federal standards to what these terms mean. Companies don't have to prove that these products are any gentler, so it is certainly still possible to have a reaction to them.

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