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Have you heard of this company, Glambot? It’s a startup company that is apparently sells a million dollars a year of pre-owned makeup. The company, which was founded in 2013 by CEO Karen Horiuchi, buys used makeup and resells it online. They clean and sanitize every product before resale. (They use heat or alcohol to sterilize containers or in some cases to “remove layers of product to get down to a fresh one.”
Here are their guidelines:
- They only buy products on their “accepted brand” list which covers about 60 major brands. Glambot does not purchase drugstore brands such as Cover Girl, Rimmel, Revlon, and Wet & Wild.
- You have to have at least 20 used products to sell at one time qualify. (So most of her sellers are people in the industry, like beauty bloggers) who receive free samples.
- Items with reusable applicators (like mascara and lip gloss can’t be resold.) But things like lipstick, blush are.
- They do not resell nail polish or fragrances
- The products have to be at least 50% full (the price is based on how much remains)
- The products have to be clean and free from dirt, mold, or other foreign contaminants
- They do NOT accept “expired products.” Most cosmetics don’t have an expiration date so how does that work?
I can think of 2 advantages of this program:
- You can pick up some great products at a reasonable price.
You can make a few bucks on products that you’re never going to use.
I can think of 4 disadvantages:
- Staphylococcus aureus
- Pseudomonas Aeruginosa
- Escherichia coli (aka E. coli)
- Staphylococcus epidermidis
These are the 4 most common types of bacteria that are found in cosmetics and they cause anything from skin rash to eye infections to bloody diarrhea.
So, given the risk factor I’m curious to see how this business works out in the long term.
Old make-up contains meningitis bacteria
Researchers at the London Metropolitan University did a study on some make-up products and found that a number of samples of out-of date make-up tested positive for the Enterococcus Faecalis bacteria which is known to cause meningitis.
In the study they examined five products and found four of them tested positive for the bacteria. The products studied included a lip gloss, blush, lipstick, and mascara. Notably, the lip gloss which was a year old but still not expired tested positive for the meningitis bacteria.
So what does this mean? It’s probably not a good idea to keep using make-up that is more than a year old. I know there are a number of consumers who do this and you are taking a risk from exposure. Normally, cosmetics are tested for stability for one year so if the product is older than that, you probably don’t want to continue to use it. Also, I would avoid products that claim to be preservative free. There is a reason we put preservatives in cosmetics. Disease-causing microbes are not something you want with your lipstick.
Does this anti-wrinkle cream ingredient cause MORE wrinkles?
I read an article on Prevention.com that said some anti-aging ingredients, like preservatives, can cause skin irritation and allergy. They cited a study about the effect of methyl paraben (MP) on human skin.
The researchers measured concentrations of MP in human skin using Gas Chromatography-Mass Spec and found that MP remained unmetabolized and persisted slightly in the stratum corneum. They also found that long term exposure to “decreased the proliferating ability of keratinocytes” and reduced collagen and the expression of an enzyme that makes hyaluronic acid. Therefore they concluded that “MP might influence the aging and differentiation of keratinocytes.”
So how do you react to this information? First consider the evidence that the evidence extrapolates lab data to actual effects on humans which isn’t necessarily valid in this case. Second there’s no context for the effect that methylparaben may have on wrinkles. For example is it 100 times worse than being exposed to UV radiation? Is it 10 times worse than smoking a pack of cigarettes? Does it caused more wrinkles than the hydrating your skin from drinking alcohol? Before I would freak out about methylparaben containing products I’d like to get a sense of how strong the effect is.
Also, even if you do decide to err on the safe side and get rid of products containing methylparaben what do you go to? You could be going from the frying pan into the fire. At the very least you could be going from a well preserved product which protects you from bacterial contamination to a product that uses a preservative that is not proven to be as effective. So you may be trading off a very small long-term benefit of fewer wrinkles for a more serious short-term benefit of skin infection. Given the number of cases of contaminated products we’ve seen, it seems like the latter is a much greater risk.
One more thing, The article also says “By law, the ingredient is always included on the ingredient label, but it does go by some sneaky names.” Synonyms include Metaben, Methyl Chemosept, Moldex, Paridol, Preserval M, Tegosept M; and methylparahydroxybenzoate. This implies that companies are tricking you by hiding behind different names. But by law companies must use the official INCI name of “methylparaben” which means that only smaller, less informed companies are likely to get this wrong.
Is anti-bacterial soap a waste of money?
Here’s a story about research questioning the usefulness of antibacterial soaps. In a study published in the Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy researchers found that hand cleaners with antibiotic triclosan were no more effective at killing germs than regular soap.
The way they proved this is that they exposed 20 different strains of bacteria to a formulation of regular soap and a sample of regular soap with 0.3 percent tricolsan. Bacteria was exposed to these samples for 20 seconds which simulated hand washing. They found that there was no difference in terms of killing between the two treatments.
They did a second experiment in which they had people wash their hands with the different products and found that there was no difference in the number of bacteria that each removes.
So the bottom line of this research is that washing your hands with antibacterial soap provides no real benefit over using regular soap. And considering that we use our antibacterial agents like triclosan too frequently (Because it might develop resistant bacteria) it’s a good idea to avoid antibacterial soaps.
Can eating toothpaste kill your kid?
Here’s an analysis that our friend Colin Sanders did over at this blog, Colin’s Beauty Pages. He answered the question Can eating toothpaste kill a child?
Apparently this came up from in a tweet by a “celebrity dentist” who said “There is enough flouride in a standard tube of toothpaste that, if ingested, can be fatal to two small children.” That, as I like to say, is a testable proposition and so let’s look at the numbers to find out the truth.
First of all, it’s true that if you ingest enough fluoride it can make you sick. But in terms of toxicity we have to look at a value called the “lowest toxic dose” which is the lowest dose at which harmful effects can be detected. The lowest toxic dose for fluoride is 3mg/kg per day. So if we assume a toddler weighs 12.5Kg and we are talking about killing two of them we will need 2 x 3 x 12.5 mg of fluoride or 75mg. Again, this is not a lethal dose but just enough to cause some ill effects.
At the high end of the spectrum, the lowest dose that has ever been recorded for killing someone was 4000mg (that was an adult in Canada). So somewhere between 75 mg and 4000mg of fluoride can be fatal.
So how much fluoride is in a tube of toothpaste? Colin, being based in the UK, used the EU regulations but they’re almost identical to US regs which stipulate about 0.15%. Using that figure he calculates that a large tube of toothpaste contains 150mg of fluoride. That’s a LOT close to the lower limit of 75 mg that may or may not make you sick and quite a ways from the upper limit of 4000mg that can kill you.
The bottom line is you probably don’t need to worry about this (but call a poison control center if you have any concerns!)