Fashion Accessory can Cause Conjunctivitis

By Cynthia Dagenais

Old makeup can cause health problems.

Old makeup can cause health problems.

All the celebrities wear it.  Men and women on television news wear it to look professional while delivering the latest tragic news to viewers. Actors and actresses wear it to play a role in a movie.  On the Broadway stage, all the performers wear it to not only act like their character, but also look like them too.  Everyone worth knowing wears it.

It is not limited to the rich and famous, however.  Women of all ages wear it to accentuate certain features and cover up others.  Marist ladies dressing up to go out on a Saturday night wear it to grab the attention of young gentlemen at the club, or to at least make them think they are getting more attention.

Little do these people know, they are at a higher risk for conjunctivitis, bacterial infections, acne, and other eye and skin problems.

What are these people wearing? Makeup.

Makeup products have expiration dates that, when used past their shelf life, can cause various health problems. The eyes, nose and mouth are open passageways for bacteria to enter the body, as well as the most common areas makeup is applied.  Applying makeup contains risks, but those risks of catching viruses are increased when makeup products are applied incorrectly or too far past their shelf life.

Eye makeup is the cause for most concern.  Mascara brushes contain a lot of bacteria because the wand touches the eyelid and bacteria is pushed back into the bottle after each use.  Eyeshadows and eyeliners can also irritate the eye itself when applied.

Conjunctivitis, otherwise known as “pink eye,” is an inflammation of the thin, clear membrane (conjunctiva) that covers the white of the eye and the inside surface of the eyelids, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health. It is most commonly caused by a virus, bacterial infection or allergies.

Conjunctivitis can spread easily from person to person through hand-to-eye contact.  Makeup can cause this eye irritation as well because of the consistent contact with the eye.

Makeup distributors at the mall are a feeding ground for bacteria because of the number of people trying out makeup from the same jars.

“Sharing makeup is a sure way to spread germs,” Nicole Mlendow, makeup artist for Sephora in New Jersey, said.  “We use disposable mascara brushes, cotton eyeshadow applicators, and other one-time-use applicators to avoid sharing free trial makeup among customers.”

According to Wisegeek, older cosmetics may harbor bacteria that can lead to breakouts or infections.  Because the preservatives in makeup break down over time, the bacteria are more likely to dig into pores and cause pimples.

(Click here to view a video on CNN)

According to John Bailey, director of FDA’s Office of Cosmetics and Colors, serious injury from makeup is a rare occurrence.  However, there are simple ways to prevent health problems caused by makeup.

Out with the old, in with the new. Throw out old makeup and replace with new.  Mlendow suggests buying cheaper brands so that buying a new collection of makeup doesn’t cut too deeply into the bank account.

Dr. Peter Pugliese, a skin physiologist, gave simple guidelines to Fitness magazine readers.  He said that mascara lasts for 3 months, creams and moisturizers should be thrown away after 6 months, and powders and concealers can last for years if stored in a cool, dry place.

A clean face is a happy face. Wash your face at the end of the day and use makeup remover to make skin fresh and clean.  Cleaning the skin will kill bacteria and prevent breakouts.

Sharing is not caring. Do not share makeup or applicators. “If you go to a department store or makeup store to buy new products, make sure the artist uses clean applicators,” Mlendow said.  “No one wants someone else’s eye problems to become their own.”

Clean brushes monthly. Cosmopolitan magazine suggests cleaning brushes with a mild soap or shampoo and standing them upright to keep the bristles in the right shape.

See a doctor if symptoms develop. If you are diagnosed with conjunctivitis, throw out the makeup you used before diagnosis to prevent getting it again.



For more tips, visit these websites:


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