A Look Good, Feel Better class is a must for any woman facing chemotherapy.
I'm grateful that my long-time friend and neighbor Shelley Tyler volunteered to go to one with me after my breast cancer surgery. It gave me some helpful tricks for perking up both my appearance and attitude during treatment, made it easier for Shelley to understand my plight and introduced us to a host of women in similar situations. I guess it's true that misery loves company because it was very comforting to know I wasn't alone.
To my surprise, the class insisted we toss out ALL our skincare and makeup products (at least those that had been opened). Why? Old creams, foundations, mascaras and similar items harbor bacteria that can be quite dangerous, especially if you have an immune system compromised by chemo.
So I had no choice but to ditch every last lotion and lip liner I owned (OUCH!). Thank goodness, Look Good, Feel Better sent me home with an assortment of freebies to ease the pain of starting over.
Since then, I try to keep my makeup bag free of suspicious stuff. After all, germy, old cosmetics can't be good for anyone. But how do you know when it's time for a change? We enlisted the help of beauty expert Susmta Patel to find the answer.
When Is It Time to Break Up with Your Makeup?
By Susmta Patel
Cosmetics aren't meant to grow old with you. They're usually developed to last a year or two. However, contamination can occur anytime, since makeup is always in contact with germ-prone areas like your eyes, mouth and fingers.
In general, always toss anything that has changed color or consistency or has a bad odor. Cosmetics - unlike food - aren't required to carry an expiration date on their packaging. Instead, most have a symbol similar to this one, in which the number signifies how many months you have until the item is no longer usable. That means you'll need to keep track of when you open products. Write down the dates and use these guidelines to help you know when to give your cosmetics the boot:
Sponges and brushes must be cleaned routinely. Wash sponges weekly and replace them monthly. Wash brushes every two to three months in a mild detergent.
Mascara expires faster than any other cosmetic because the tube is a breeding ground for bacteria. Replace it every three months without fail. Tip: Mascara will stay fresh longer if you don't pump the wand in and out exposing the product to drying air.
Cleansers and moisturizers often contain fatty acids, which can turn rancid quickly. Toss them after six months.
Multi-use products, such as 3-in-1 sticks and creams, can spread germs from lips to eyes and cheeks. Wipe the surface before switching areas, and discard or replace them after six months.
Nail polish will stay fresh up to a year.
Foundations will last longer if you keep your fingers away from the bottle and use a sponge to apply them. Check the ingredients. Anything water-based will keep about a year while oil-based foundations will last up to 18 months. Tip: If your water-based foundation dries out before its expiration date, simply add a few drops of alcohol-free toner and shake to mix.
Powders, concealers and lip balms are usually anhydrous (they don't contain water), so you can keep them a couple of years.
Pencils should be fine up to three years unless you wet the tip with saliva or water. To be safe, sharpen before each use. Tip: Skip push-up lip liners. They're expensive, tend to break and you never really know how much you have left until you run out.
Eyeshadow can be kept up to three years.
Lipstick lasts longer if you store it in the fridge. How long you can keep it depends on who you ask. Some experts say toss it after one to two years. Others say it's safe for up to four years. But, everyone agrees that if it smells rancid, it's spoiled and you should throw it out. Tip: Want your lipstick to last longer during the day? Shade in lips with lip liner before applying lipstick.
To help extend their lives, store your makeup and skincare products in a cool, dry place outside the bathroom.
If you take care of them, your cosmetics should serve you well. Follow the guidelines above and use common sense: If your gloss is goopy, your nail polish is separating or your lipstick has a funny smell, it's time to bid it adieu.
Susmta Patel is a licensed makeup artist, aesthetician, nail technician, hairstylist and waxing expert. As the founder and creative director of Studiosush, she has been a personal consultant to more than 900 brides. A multitalented "beauty machine," Susmta travels worldwide providing clients with one-stop makeup, hair and eyebrow threading services.