Dermatologist warns against using old makeup

Old makeup, dirty brushes can cause infections

Dermatologist warns against using old makeup
Dermatologist warns against using old makeup

With the pandemic keeping people home more than ever before, so many people took a break from wearing makeup -- and that might mean there is some old makeup lurking in a drawer or a makeup bag.

But it’s important not to just throw any old makeup onto your face, as it could cause an infection.

One local dermatologist says he is seeing patients getting infections from using old makeup.

“I saw three patients: One developed an infection in her eye, one got a horrible rash on her face, and the other one actually got a rash on her eyelids from old nail polish,” said Dr. Steven Grekin. “People rub their eyelids with polished nails and it hits the thinnest skin on the body, and it causes a reaction.”

Dr. Grekin, of the Grekin Institute, says that old mascara is one of the biggest troublemakers, and that users should throw the product away after three months of use.

“You’re using that wand, you’re touching your eye, you put it back in the tube, you take it out and you do it again,” Grekin said. “This can transfer bacteria that can grow inside the tube of the mascara, and it can give you a real problem with eyelid infections.”

Products like foundation and blush have a longer shelf life than mascara. Grekin says those products can be used safely for about six to nine months.

“There’s less chance of spreading the infections than what you can get from mucous membranes, like on your eyelid with the mascara,” Grekin said.

It’s important to keep in mind that old makeup isn’t the only issue -- old sponges and brushes can cause problems, too, if not cleaned frequently.

“Some (sponges) are single use devices. Others of them are multi-use,” Grekin said. “If they’re multi-use, wash them, leave them out to dry and get rid of the bacteria.

Related: Cleaning, sanitizing your makeup brushes has never been so important

“I recommend washing (face brushes) in shampoo, because typically they are made out of hair, synthetic or natural,” Grekin added. “I think if you wash them and you get these spinners -- you put (the brushes) on and it sort of spins them around and air dries them -- your brushes will last a lifetime, and you will not be transmitting bacteria to and from your face and your makeup product.”

Similar rules for makeup apply for nail polish: If you’ve had nail polish sitting around for a while, Grekin recommends just throwing it away.


Related: Make your beauty routine more eco-friendly


About the Author:

Hank Winchester is Local 4's Consumer Investigative Reporter and the head of WDIV's "Help Me Hank" Consumer Unit. He works to solve consumer complaints, reveal important recalls and track down thieves who have ripped off metro Detroiters.