The regulatory requirements governing the sale of cosmetics are not as stringent as those that apply to other consumer products such as drugs. Cosmetics and their ingredients are not required to undergo approval before they are sold to the public. Manufacturers may use any ingredient or raw material, except for color additives and a few prohibited substances, to market a product. Some regulations do apply: an ingredient declaration is required on every cosmetic product sold to consumers. The ingredients must be listed in descending order of quantity. Water accounts for the bulk of most skin-care products, which is why it usually appears first on ingredient lists. Around 40% of manufacturers who want to project an image of responsible product development voluntarily register their products with the Food and Drug Administration. There are also no regulations requiring cosmetic manufacturers to indicate the shelf life -- the amount of time for which a product is good under normal conditions of storage and use, depending on the products composition, packaging, preservation -- on the labels of their product. Voluntary shelf-life guidelines developed by the cosmetic industry vary, depending on the product and its intended use. The shelf life for eye-area cosmetics is more limited than for other products. Because of repeated microbial exposure during use and the risk of eye infections, some industry experts recommend replacing mascara 3 months after purchase. If the mascara dries out, discard it. Do not add water or, even worse, saliva to moisten it, because that will introduce bacteria into the product. If you have an eye infection, consult a physician immediately, stop using all eye-area cosmetics, and discard those you were using when the infection occurred. Other cosmetics that are likely to have an unusually short shelf life are certain "all natural" products that may contain plant-derived substances conducive to microbial growth. It also is important for consumers and manufacturers to consider the increased risk of contamination in products that contain non-traditional preservatives or no preservatives at all. Expiration dates are only rules of thumb. A products safety may expire long before the expiration date if it has not been properly stored. Cosmetics that have been improperly stored - for example, exposed to high temperatures or sunlight, or opened and examined by consumers prior to final sale - may deteriorate substantially before the expiration date. On the other hand, products stored under ideal conditions may be acceptable long after the expiration date has been reached. Sharing makeup increases the risk of contamination. "Testers" commonly found at department store cosmetic counters are even more likely to become contaminated than the same products in an individuals home. At home, the preservatives usually have a whole day to kill the bacteria that is inevitably introduced after each use, but the brief times between uses of testers in stores do not allow the preservatives to kill the bacteria. If you test a cosmetic before purchasing it, apply it with a new, unused applicator, like a fresh cotton swab.
Cosmetic safety Precautions:
· Dont apply makeup while driving. This makes for dangerous driving, and hitting a bump in the road and scratching your eyeball can cause bacteria to contaminate the cut.
· Never share makeup. Use a new disposable applicator when testing products. Ask salespersons to clean container openings with alcohol before applying their contents to your skin.
· Never add water or another liquid to a product to bring back its original consistency. This could introduce bacteria that can easily grow out of control.
· Stop using any product that causes an allergic reaction. Almost all cosmetics can cause allergic reactions in certain individuals. The first sign may be mild redness and irritation. There is no list of ingredients guaranteed not to cause allergic reactions, so if you are prone to allergies pay careful attention to what you use.
· Throw away makeup if the color changes or an odor develops. Preservatives degrade over time and may no longer be able to fight bacteria.
· Do not use eye makeup if you have an eye infection. Throw away all products you were using when you discovered the infection.
· Keep makeup out of sunlight. Light and heat can degrade preservatives.
· Keep makeup containers tightly closed when not in use.
· Never use aerosol beauty products near heat or while smoking because they can ignite.
· Hairsprays and powders may cause lung damage if inhaled regularly.
· Apply eyeliner outside the lash line (away from the eye) to avoid direct contact of the cosmetic with the eye. There also will be less chance that the liner will flake off into the eye.
· Keep eyeliner pencils sharpened so that the rough wood casing wont scratch the eye or eyelid. As the pencil becomes old, the liner tip becomes stiff, requiring more pressure to apply. When this happens, replace the pencil with a new one.
· Replace cosmetics every six months (more often if you wear contact lenses) to avoid excess contamination with skin bacteria.
· Never use an old applicator in a fresh cosmetic product. The applicator will transfer bacteria to the new cosmetic.
· Even though eye makeup removers are designed for use around the eye, they can irritate the eye. Apply them carefully to the eyelid and avoid getting them in your eye.
· Never apply eye makeup while in a moving vehicle. You may accidentally poke the applicator into the eye during a sudden bump or stop.
· Never use saliva to thin old or clumped makeup or to wet a mascara wand. Your saliva contains bacteria from your mouth.
· Do not use a safety pin or other sharp instrument to tease apart clumped eyelashes.
· If you use an eyelash curler, make sure the rubber is soft, not stiff and cracking. Always use the curler before applying mascara. Persons allergic to nickel should not use an eyelash curler, as the metal frame contains pickle.
· Do not share your eye cosmetics with others. Each person has different skin bacteria. If you contaminate your cosmetics with another persons bacteria, you may get an infection.
· When at a store cosmetics counter, be sure the cosmetics demonstrator uses fresh applicators and does not let a used sample product come into direct contact with you.
· Check with your eye doctor if you think you have a cosmetic-related eye problem.
· Dont drive and apply makeup. Its easy to seriously injure your eyes if you make a sudden stop or hit a bump.
· Never share makeup. Use a disposable applicator when sampling testers in the cosmetics department.
· Never add liquid, especially saliva, to cosmetics. It can cause bacterial growth.
· Throw away any discolored or bad-smelling cosmetics. It could be a sign that the preservatives have degraded and bacteria is present.
· Dont use eye makeup when you have an eye infection. Throw out any products that you used at the time of the infection.
· Keep makeup out of sunlight. Light and heat can degrade preservatives.
Further Additional Tips
Weve come a long way since European ladies used to powder their faces with a lead-based, highly toxic white face powder. But how safe are the cosmetics you use today? Who has oversight of this $45 billion dollar industry? What should you watch out for, and how can you protect yourself? We brush, wash and groom ourselves everyday with an astounding collection of lotions and potions. We assume theyll make us cleaner and more attractive, not sick. And we rarely worry about the safety of the ingredients unless we suffer an adverse reaction or hear a negative report in the news.
Cosmetics are not required to undergo FDA testing or approval before they are sold on the market; FDA regulates them only after they are made available. But there are certain substances that manufacturers are prohibited from using.
Perhaps no industry makes more extravagant claims for its products than the cosmetics industry. John Bailey, director of the FDAs Office of Cosmetics and Colors, warns consumers that the cosmetics industry sells an image, and consumers can choose to believe those claims or not. The problem is, the claims are in no way uniform.
The descriptive terms you see on cosmetics, like "hypoallergenic," sound official, but in fact they have no regulated definition. Consider the legal definitions of the following claims, and how some manufacturers amplify the claims to their advantage:
Contains ingredients that are extracted directly from plants or animal products and not produced synthetically. Tests have yet to prove that natural ingredients are good (or any better) for the skin.
Suggests that the product is less likely to cause allergic reactions; however no scientific studies are required to back up this claim. Other untested terms in this category are "dermatologist-tested," sensitivity-tested," "allergy tested," or "nonirritating."
Generally means that a product doesnt contain ethyl alcohol (grain alcohol) but may contain fatty alcohols such as cetyl, stearyl, cetearyl or lanolin.
Contains no pore-clogging ingredients that may cause acne; manufacturers dont have to meet any set criteria to make this claim.
The length of time a product can be used under normal storage and use conditions; a product may expire earlier if it has not been stored or used according to instruction