A cosmetic is defined as a ‘ beautifying substance or preparation’ or a ‘ substance tending to preserve, restore or confer comeliness’ (Dorland Medical Dictionary).

This article aims at inculcating a rudimentary understanding of the types of cosmetics, their use, their storage & their possible side effects.

What is the shelf life of cosmetics ?
Under normal conditions of storage & use , most cosmetic formulations have a shelf life of between 2 to 3 years. Expiry dates are very often Not printed on cosmetic preparations, but ‘rule of the thumb ‘ is – use the same cosmetic pot for upto a max. of 2 years. If any of your make up is exposed to sunlight or highly variable temperature fluctuation then it is better to discard them. Never try to be stingy where your Skin is concerned. It is better to be Pound wise & penny Foolish, rather than the other way round ! Water based cosmetics like Mascaras, foundations , skin tone correctors, toners etc normally have a shorter shelf life…………6 to 12 months only !

Organizing ones cosmetic collections.
It is very important to organize your make up & skincare , as much as if not more than your wardrobe ! In today’s times more than 90% women posses a wide collection of skincare products, most of them happen to be decorating the back of a drawer or on top of a shelf……forgotten about for eons. This is a specialty of today’s aggressive advertising & sampling !

Basic guidelines for organizing your Make up are :-
– Get rid of all the free samples you have & have never used.
– Throw away anything that you are sure you will never use.
– Anything that smells ‘FUNNY’ or ‘RANCID’ should be ruthlessly thrown out.
– Next, get rid of any colors or products that don’t work…… a blusher or foundation that makes you look over made up, a lipstick that looked good in the store when buying but looks awful at home etc etc.
– Also throw out anything that you just don’t like.
– You can increase the life of your skincare products by keeping your hands out . Using your fingers to apply creams etc can cause contamination & degradation of the products.
– It is better to use plastic spatulas to scoop out the products or else make sure you have clean hands ! It is recommended that you wash your makeup brushes at least once a week.
– Also it is advisable to use a product right away on opening it. Most skincare products have a shelf life of a year after opening them.

General principles of use of Facial cosmetics, soaps shampoo’s etc.
– Always use just he right amount of make up & skincare products which suit your routine.
– Do not get carried away by what sales people or your friends say. It is a question of common sense , the more products you posses …..Where is the time to put on each one in a span of 24 hrs ! Think not once but atleast 10 times before buying a product & when you do buy , buy one that is of very good quality expense be dammed then !

What everyone essentially needs are:
– A good Soap…….can be a general purpose, non drying, deodorant or a luxury soap.
– A day cream or lotion depending on the type of skin. Make up can be used alone or in conjunction with it. Make up that you use should similarly be QUALITY conscious with additional titles of non comedogenic, non allergic & with sun protection factor where possible !
– A night cream or lotion …again depending upon the skin type. If skin is to dry use a heavy cream otherwise a lotion will suffice ,if necessary at all.
– A good scrub or masque which is to be used only once in 7 to 10 days only!

Proper use & possible side effects of Additives like AHA’s , Salicylic acid, retinol etc.
AHA’s or Alpha hydroxy acids are one of the most common additives found in a majority of Today’s skincare products. AHA’s are naturally occurring acids found commonly in Grapes, citrus fruits, sour milk, sugar cane, apples etc etc. The acids used in skincare products & in the dermatological field are formulated in higher concentrations than can be found in actual fruits. They act by gently exfoliating the dead surface layer of the skin thus, allowing a smoother , younger looking skin. It also causes a minimal regeneration of collagen thus improving the appearance of fine wrinkling. It is also helpful as an adjuvant therapy in the treatment of acne, superficial pigmentation . Alongside this are the negative points of which you should be aware. Firstly these products do not show as much of a satisfactory effect in darker skin types , as oppossed to the fairer skins! Because of the nature of the acids, sensitivity reactions are very common hence these products should initially be used in the nights only & that too preferably on alternate nights. You should not experience severe peeling with AHA’s, if this occurs, stop the use & combat it with moisturisers. If it does not subside consult a Dermatologist. AHA’s if used with proper instruction & care give super results, helping to tone & texturise your skin & really making it look ‘YOUNGER’.

Similarly, salicylic acids & Retinol are the other common exfoliating additives used in ‘Skin Rejuvenating programmes’. These too show marvelous results when used with care, more so in cases of RETINOL which shows a very strong interaction with sunlight & can cause intense irritation & peeling. On use of any skincare products you should not show a irritated or chapped skin !

Contents of common cosmetics & allergic reactions. There exists such a plethora of cosmetics & skincare products that it is not possible to go into the details of the contents of each & every cosmetic ,but it is a very important awareness which can help to point out the causative factor in many a reaction.

One important point to note is that no cosmetic is truly free of any chemical ,however ‘Natural’ the claim because for storage & preservatives we have to rely on chemicals. What the manufacturers & branded cosmetics differ in is the choice of the preservatives, color, perfumes etc wherein the famous Houses use as much of non allergic, non comedogenic, non irritant products. Hence the importance of using QUALITY cosmetics & skincare products. In general, foundations contain pigments suspended in an oil such as mineral oil or lanolin alcohol. In addition to this they can contain a myriad of substances like synthetic esters, isopropyl alcohol etc. Colouring agents commonly used are titanium dioxide, iron oxide, ultramarine blue etc. Talc, kaolin are additional additives. Similarly these contents with variations due to different cosmetic structures are used in other facial cosmetics. A special mention should be made of different pigments & colourants used in eye shadows, lipsticks & nail polishes( bismuth oxy chloride, mica, fish scale essence, copper, aluminum, silver etc etc )

The commonest cosmetic induced dermatitis is caused by facial cosmetics simply because they have the most prolonged contact with the skin. The causative factors more often than not are the added sunscreening agents like PABA, Cinnamate derivatives, Fragrances, Lanolin, emulsifiers, & preservatives. Hypoallergenic cosmetics are normally lanolin free, non perfumed & PABA free. Cosmetic acne or comedones are another frequently seen side effects of use of make up. Sometimes even ‘Non comedogenic’ make up may not suit you ! It is more often the occlusive effect of the cosmetic that gives rise to such conditions. Hence the importance of proper cleansing of skin & avoidance of excessive make up !

Eye cosmetics cause more of an irritant dermatitis & less of a allergic one. The allergic dermatitis seen in & around the eyes is due to contact of some other area cosmetic for e.g. nail enamel.

Nail polishes can cause allergic dermatitis along the nail folds & discolouration of the nail plate due to their contents(resins, solvents, colourants, plasticizers etc).

Shampoos & soaps should be taken care of & not just taken for ‘granted’. They may rarely, but they can cause reactions especially if they ‘spoil’ or get contaminated due to improper use. Fragrances, foaming agents, colourings, emulsifiers are used in these products so they too are prone to The same hazards as other skincare products.

This article is not aimed to belittle anyone , because we all know of the high product control standards maintained by almost all cosmetic houses, but to just present a broad overview to the readers. Use skin care & make up ,but rightly so & never compromise on QUALITY.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top