What Moms Need to Know about Keeping Cosmetics Germ-Free
Look inside just about any bathroom, and you'll find dozens of personal care products, ranging from shampoos and soaps to blushes and bronzers. Some are liquid; some are powders. Regardless of the product type, moms can take simple steps to keep personal care products from becoming breeding grounds for germs.
The first thing moms need to know is cosmetic and personal care products are much like food; they have a limited shelf life and can become contaminated with germs if not used or stored properly. This article lays out three tips moms can use to keep their family's products safe and prolong their shelf life.
A bit of scientific background: Most personal care products are essentially a mix of biodegradable ingredients. To a microbiologist, "biodegradable" means “edible to germs.”
To keep germs from growing and multiplying in products, manufacturers mix in germ-fighting chemicals called preservatives. The preservative helps ensure the product is germ-free when made and that it will stand up to normal use. The key to keeping cosmetic and personal care products safe – and even extending their usable life – is to use them in such a way that germs can't get a toehold.
Tip 1: Never try to put a product back into the packaging once it has been taken out or used. Liquid products are most likely to breed microorganisms and putting product back into the bottle or packaging is a surefire way to introduce germs. This also applies to disposable towelettes.
Tip 2: Avoid adding water or other foreign material to personal care products. Although it might seem like a great way to get the last bit of product out of packaging, adding water dilutes the preservatives. Mixing products together can sometimes neutralize the preservatives and active ingredients, so make sure to keep products in their original packaging.
Tip 3: Keep personal care products stored in cool, dark places as much as possible. Germs love humid environments and thrive when temperatures are warm. Also, many thrive when sunlight is available.
Luckily, most ordinary germs lack the ability to do us harm. However, certain disease-causing microorganisms do contaminate and grow in personal care products. In that event, the risk to users is considerable, since personal care products are designed to go straight onto the body.
By incorporating these simple tips into the way that their family uses personal care products, moms will take a great step toward keeping their families safe and extending the life of products like soaps, shampoos, and lotions.
Benjamin Tanner holds a Ph.D. in microbiology and immunology and is the president of Cosmetic Test Labs, a cosmetic testing laboratory near Austin, Texas.