Health threats in your makeup bag

By: Health Local Staff Apr 01, 2013
Cosmetic safety

Our favourite products and tools can become cesspools of bacteria.

Other than wondering whether or not you’ve remembered to pack your favourite liner or gloss, what thought do you really give to the contents of your makeup bag? Most of us mindlessly reach for our cosmetics every morning slicking on our lipsticks and slathering on our foundations with no concern other than whether or not it looks good. Turns out our concern should be about the dangers to our health that could be lurking inside our pretty little pouches!

Not to put you off of makeup, but it turns out that our favourite products and tools can become cesspools of bacteria or full of toxins that can be bad for our health if we don’t take some time to be a little more mindful. Here’s what to look out for.

Dirty Makeup Brushes
Constant use of makeup brushes leads to a buildup of dirt and bacteria that can cause breakouts and even infections. You can remedy this by washing your brushes at least once a month or by opting for disposable brushes.

It’s not the mascara itself that you need to be worried about but rather the amount of bacteria that goes from your eye to the wand and tube. This can be especially dangerous when you use the same mascara for more than 3 months. Some of these bacteria included the same stuff that causes strep infections and also fungi!

Dangerous Ingredients in Your Makeup
From lead in lipstick to glycol in moisturizers; harmful ingredients are aplenty in our makeup bags without us ever knowing. Lead is a contaminant that can cause hormonal issues, memory problems, and more. Parabens, found in everything from foundation to eye pencils, have been linked to breast cancer. And the propylene glycol found in mascara, deodorant and hair products that we use daily is the same chemical used for de-icing an aircraft!

Makeup between Friends
Whether it’s eyeliner or shadow that a friend passed onto you because she didn’t like the colour or a lip balm that you let your friend use when her lips felt chapped at the mall; makeup that’s been shared needs to come out of your bag pronto. Cold sores and eye infections are just some of the things that you can pick up if you’ve shared your makeup with someone else.

Germs, Germs, and More Germs
You dip your fingers into your moisturizers and lip balms, touch up your shadow and gloss with your fingers, and reach into your cosmetic bag with your hands several times a day. This wouldn’t be as big a deal if you thoroughly washed your hands beforehand each and every time, but since most of don’t, chances are that your makeup bag itself as well as its contents are full of germs.

To keep your makeup bag and yourself as healthy as you can; look for clear makeup bags that allow light in and are made of breathable materials since dark and moist places help germs and bacterial thrive. Also, remember to wash your makeup bags regularly along with your makeup brushes, tweezers and lash curlers, and anything else you can.

The Health Local Staff is a team of writers and experts dedicated to bringing you the latest health, nutrition and lifestyle information at