When Bad Germs Happen to Good Skin Care Products

cabinet_fullThere are things that get better with age, like fine wine and cheese. However, skin care products and makeup do not have that advantage. Aging skin care products can pose performance issues and potential germ contamination.

Most of us have medicine cabinets that look something like the one you see on your left.  Almost all of us don’t buy all these products at once; they just build up over time.

Items you use on a regular basis such as medicine, tooth paste, and mouth wash are easy: you just use them until they’re gone.  Skin care products, however, are ones most people use more sparingly, making their stay more extended and your medicine cabinet more cluttered.

So, are you supposed to toss your old skin care products and start fresh with new ones?  When you realize that germs can develop in several skin care products over an extended period of time, the answer is pretty obvious.

Germs in any skin care product from makeup to facial cleanser depend on two possible sources: where the product is stored, and how it is applied. Most people keep skin care products in their bathrooms, but bathrooms often become humid and increase the likelihood of bacteria growth.

sticky fingersAlso, germs can make their way into skin care products when we dip our fingers into jars and then apply them to our skin.  For exactly this reason, people should never share skincare products with others.

An easy way to avoid cross-contamination is to use makeup sponges. Since makeup sponges are generally very cheap and are easy to use, they can be disposed of easily, thereby frequently limiting germ contamination.  However, do not use loofahs or other porous sponges used for exfoliation as they may trap even more germs.

In general, it is also better to use skin care products that come in pumps or squeezable tubes because they minimize finger contact with material. Any skin care product you own should be sealed tightly after use to limit moisture, especially if applied in the bathroom.  The less air to which the skin products are exposed, the less likely the product will go out of date.

Since most good skin care products are fairly expensive, hopefully these tips will allow you to get the maximum usage out of these important products and keep you looking better and healthy in the long term.  Also remember that if you see a product you haven’t used for a while that’s past its expiration date, there is nothing wrong with throwing it out.

About Dr. John Burke

John Burke M.D. has practiced medicine for over 25 years, and is the founding partner of MidMaine Internal Medicine. He established Maine Laser Skin Care in 2004 after devoting years to learning the latest in laser and dermatologic technology. Dr. Burke has treated patients from all over the United States. He is one of Maine's busiest practitioners in laser treatments, and in the use of Botox for upper facial lines and excessive sweating.
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