Saturday, March 15, 2008

Swapping Cosmetics....Is It Safe?

Looking back at those days in high school, I remember the years of self discovery and sharing everything with my best friends. Discovering the perfect outfit together then swapping with each other, trying on all the different bangles and earrings. Going to the salon together and getting that first perm. Sharing fragrances and searching for the perfect prom dress. And best of all, having fun in discovering those wild colors by trying on each others makeup as we modeled in front of the mirror creating the perfect glam look, sometimes coming out looking like the Bride of Frankenstein. Even cherishing the precious moment of my mother showing me how to use her lipstick the first time when I was a young girl. Always admiring the pretty pots of color on display at her vanity, almost too much to resist to dip in and try when she wasn't looking. Ahhh....yes those were the days. However, I have learned much since those days of innocence and naivety of which I would like to share with you.

Many of us women have been swapping items with each other for years and continue to do this through sharing cosmetics with friends and family, which this is still not ideal, but with complete strangers.....I don't get it.

I refer to women who are doing this by way of the internet. Some swear by it and in some way it is probably a lot of fun for the women who join in, and they may develop a rapport or gain a friendship in the process like it was back in our youth. This is still a scary concept for me and one that makes me cringe when I see this happening on various message boards or forums. Knowing what I know today I ask myself, "why anyone would wish to share in someone else’s cosmetics for sake of saving a dollar"? This also includes brushes.

I have also read from others, when swaps take place, one party does not reciprocate and they essentially had their products shoplifted by way of internet theft. I’m sure those that swapped thought this person was of impeccable integrity just through anonymous chat rooms and such. We really don’t know the people we meet on line, since they can pretend to be anyone. Examples: though off topic, pedophiles, scammers, con artists, abusers, underage children, and convicted criminals whom can hide behind the anonymity of the internet and impersonate anyone they wish to.

Never mind the loss of the product perpetrated by the unscrupulous but the fact you are doing this with a complete stranger. There is no measurable way of certainty to know that the products are not contaminated, how they were stored or handled, or how old the cosmetics actually are. The person that you swap with may promise you “they are new”, (but products can be tampered with) or even if they state they only used once; once is enough for contamination. I shudder to think about someone introducing something into the product deliberately for a good laugh as a sick joke or know for a fact they contaminated their product, and rather than throw it out, they pawn it off on some poor unsuspecting person to try and recoup some of the money in order to replace it with assurances it is barely used.

I wrote a similar article about "Cosmetic Counters, The Unseen Danger!" and this applies to using someone else’s individual cosmetics. Disease, infections, viruses, mold, yeast and bacteria can all be passed along in these shared pots of color. You only need one eye infection from mascara or an eye shadow, or a cold sore from a lipstick to question the safety of its’ use. Even if something smells alright or looks normal, it can have millions of microbes infecting the product. And without microscopic testing, you’ll never be the wiser.

For many of us, this may not even dawn on us in our otherwise busy lives, or some would choose to not think about such things, but we must when our health and safety are the issue. Always buy fresh and unopened products and do so from reputable sources. It is the only way you can protect yourself, totally.

Also, please don’t think you are safe if it is mineral makeup or a product with preservative in it. Even though mineral cosmetics are inert and don’t support growth of bacteria, when contaminated with moisture of some kind, then all bets are off and you could now be faced with mold, yeast or bacteria, or even with sebum or dirt, depending on the handling of the products. Bacteria are even in our water supply, so I always recommend throwing out minerals that have been infiltrated with contaminants, this includes collecting spills from your counter and placing them back into the jars.

I have been on the receiving end of contaminated cosmetics since I did the sharing thing in high school, (she was my best girlfriend, you know how that is). Unfortunately, I got pink eye from sharing her eye shadows. And I got infected cysts on my eyelids at the lash line from putting tap water into my own mascara to make it last longer (Well, I was only in high school and allowances weren't what they are today). Even with preservatives in products, they begin to break down from oxygen and repeated use of wand to lash and back into tube. Always discard used mascara within 3-6 months, depending on usage. The scary part about my mascara faux-pas was my doctor telling me contaminated mascaras that create certain types of infection to the eye, can cause blindness if they are not treated immediately.

Needless to say, I learned things the hard way as most of us do at that age, but I know better now and plead to those that wish to swap out cosmetics with strangers or even their friends. Just don’t do it, and don’t allow vanity or your pocketbook dictate what is acceptable in your mind. Play it safe and remain hygienic, always.

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