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Cosmetic care

Lipsticks, creams, lotions and potions... You've got a drawer full of them, but do you know how to look after them?

26 JANUARY 2011

We're always talking about taking care of your health with exercise and diet, and about which products to use to look after your skin and your hair etc., but here we're going to turn the tables: do you know how to care for your cosmetics and other beauty products? By paying attention to where and how you store them, you can keep them in good condition for longer.

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A few years ago the labels on beauty products changed, and now, in simple terms, the packaging must carry either a best-before date or a small picture of an open pot with a figure showing how long the contents can be used once opened. So if it shows 6M, that's six months from opening, while 36M would be a full three years. During that expected lifespan, you can take steps to make sure the product remains in top condition by following a few simple guidelines.

All cosmetics will deteriorate if exposed to extreme temperatures or excess humidity.
Moisture is perhaps the worst risk, so keeping your cosmetics in the bathroom is not a good idea: powders will tend to go crumbly, while creams make even go mouldy and could become a health hazard. Let's take a quick look at the different products and what to watch out for:

  • Moisturiser. Make sure you replace the lid after use and don't leave in the sun or expose to heat.

  • Foundation and concealer. Again, try to avoid exposing to heat or direct sunlight.

  • Loose powder, blusher and eye shadow. It's not a good idea to carry these around in your makeup bag unless absolutely necessary.  Not only do the containers tend to become brittle and break, but the powder may become crumbly because of the temperature fluctuations. Only take the products with you that you really need – and you may find that clearing out your makeup bag leaves more room in you handbag, too!

  • Cream shadows. Like other creams, avoid exposing to heat and moisture.

  • Lipstick. This star of many women's beauty routine is another than can be damaged by excess heat: if your lippy reaches melting point, it isn't just a question of cooling it down again until it solidifies: melting may alter the chemical qualities and it'll probably never be quite the same again. 

  • Eye and lip liners. Liner pencils, whether for lips or eyes, should be sharpened using the special pencil sharpeners available at the cosmetics counter. Make sure you always replace the cap when not in use or they are liable to leave marks wherever you keep them, as well as drying out or becoming blunt, which will reduce their life.

  • Mascara. This is one of the products with the shortest lifespan, often lasting only around four months. You can try and make it last longer by removing the excess that clings to the brush after use.

  • Brushes. Of course it's not only the products themselves that need to be cared for, but the brushes and applicators, too. If your brushes are dirty, you won't ever get the best results from your make up, so make sure you wash them regularly with a neutral shampoo and let them dry naturally. One simple trick for storing brushes so their bristles are allowed to air, is to use a toothbrush mug.


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