Acne · Beauty · Cosmetics · Skincare

What Could be Lurking in your Cosmetic Bag?


If you have accumulated cosmetic products over the years, it may be time to clean out that cosmetic bag. According to a survey conducted a few years ago, 68% of makeup wearing women said that they only throw out makeup products when they run out, no matter how long it takes. There are some women out there who have had the same makeup products in their bags for over fifteen years! In addition, a whopping 72% said that they NEVER clean their cosmetic sponges or brushes. This is pretty frightening considering how often these products and tools touch our skin. Just like spoiled food, expired cosmetics are a breeding ground for many types of fungi and bacteria that can cause irritation or even serious infections.

Expired mascara is probably the most concerning out of them all. Mascara that is over three months old can drastically increase your risk of eye infections, like pink eye. Researchers in Brazil conducted a study where they tested 40 mascara samples from real women and found that 79% were contaminated with staph bacteria. This is no surprise since the inside of a tube of mascara is the ideal breeding ground for bacteria, fungus and infectious viruses to develop since it’s a dark and moist environment. Cosmetics that are used close to the eye region such as mascara, eyeliner and eye shadows are the most alarming since our peepers are very sensitive to infection.  Also, using expired foundations, concealers and powders can often lead to clogged pores and acne breakouts.


Currently, the US does not have any requirements for cosmetic companies to print expiration dates on their products. Some companies print a recommended shelf life on their packaging; however, many people do not even know the information exists since it’s a very tiny symbol usually on the back of the product.

The chart below shows how often we should be cleaning our cosmetic tools and the average life spans of multiple cosmetic products:


In conclusion, there are several health hazards that could be lurking in your cosmetic bag from dirty applicators (brushes/sponges) to expired makeup products. Since cosmetic companies are not required by law to print expiration dates on products, it is our own responsibility to keep track of the life span of our cosmetics. If you are concerned about wasting product, especially mascara, one tip is to purchase travel-size tubes.  This way, you can avoid tossing a half full tube of your favorite mascara.

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