Don’t sacrifice health and eco ideals to make makeup last

Don’t sacrifice health and eco ideals to make makeup last

This morning I stumbled upon a video of a Today show segment entitled “Is your makeup rotten?” that aired in late October. In it, Linda Wells, editor-in-chief of mainstream beauty magazine Allure, spoke with Today correspondent Ann Curry about the life expectancy of various types of cosmetics. Wells explained why makeup goes bad, how to tell if a product is past its prime, and how to prolong its lifespan.

Great info, seeing as though many people keep cosmetics for many months, even years, unaware that they do in fact expire. But some of the solutions Wells offered really struck me, because they certainly weren’t healthy for makeup users, nor were they kind to the planet.

Wells first addressed mascara, which typically gets old after about three months. At this point, the black goo will have begun to dry out and turn cakey. “It’s an argument for getting cheap mascara,” she said. “If you feel a little guilty about throwing it away too soon, just get a cheap one.”

Good point, if dollars were the only concern, but what about all the parabens, petroleum-based ingredients and harmful surfactants jammed into most conventional mascaras? And if the top-brand $30 tubes contain these health hazards, we know few $3 varieties are made with safer stuff.

Moving on to eyeshadow, which harbors bacteria and becomes old and unusable in part because people use the same applicator brush over and over, Wells said to make it last longer, “you can get disposable applicators … use them once and throw them away. Makeup artists do that a lot.” Maybe they do, but when one person reuses a brush and doesn’t share it with friends, it seems silly to fill the trash can with disposable applicators. I much preferred her tip of washing reusable applicators every two weeks or so with water and shampoo—as long as that’s natural shampoo, of course.

Now, I realize this segment’s focus was not on the safest or greenest options. Yet I’m always slightly surprised when I’m reminded that many people don’t consider these factors automatically when choosing and using products. Reminds me that even though the message has and continues to spread that PC ingredients can have startling adverse effects, there’s still a whole lotta work to be done.

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