Is your make-up making you sick?

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  • It's time to ditch that old lipstick

    Thinking about re-using that old eyeliner that you pushed to the bottom of the make-up bag round about two summers ago? Think again.

    If you’re holding onto an old lipstick or trying to get the last drops of mascara out of the tube by adding water, do yourself a favour and buy a new one. Because not only can it develop a funky aroma, a new study has found that expired make-up can put you at risk of everything from urine infections to meningitis.

    The research, conducted by London Metropolitan University scientists, found that out-of-date cosmetics can contain lethal bacteria, including – amongst other nasties – ubacterium (which causes bacterial vaginosis), Aeromonas (one of the causes of gastroenteritis and wound infections) and propionibacterium – one of the main causes for acne and other skin conditions.

    During the study, Dr Paul Matewele, senior lecturer in Biomedical Science at London Metropolitan University, tested five beauty products, which were near or past their use-by-date from high street and designer brands.

    ‘All the old make-up products of foundation, lip gloss and lipstick tested positive for Enterococcus faecalis under strict laboratory tests’, said Matewele. ‘Enterococcus faecalis is the potentially deadly strain of bacteria which causes meningitis and Septicaemia and is one of the biggest killers for newborn babies.’

    Scary stuff, especially considering one in five UK women hoard their make-up past the recommended expiration date.

    Always look out for the helpful little sign on the packaging which shows the outline of a pot and lid with a number in it – that number is how many months you should keep your opened product for.

    Need to update your make-up bag, pronto? Don’t hit the department store until you’ve got your own bespoke make-up recommendations from our sister site Powder. Start off by finding your perfect foundation here.

    But as a rule of thumb, check the used-by-dates below:

    Mascara: 3 months
    Liquid eyeliner: 3 months
    Pencil or Kohl eyeliner: 12 months
    Cream blush and multiple sticks: 12 months
    Liquid Foundation/Concealer:  12 – 18 months (a water-based foundation will last up to 12 months, while oil-based will last slightly longer – 18 months – due to its natural preservative system)
    Lipstick: 12 – 18 months
    Powders (blush, bronzer, foundation): 24 months
    Eyeshadow: 24 months
    Nail polish: 24 months
    Fragrance:  3 – 5 years

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