Tuesday, May 10, 2016

In defense of home ec 4: beauty edition

In my preteens, I discovered that I have extremely sensitive skin.  In an effort to understand what was happening and to regain control of my skin and my life*, I scoured the library bookshelves for anything that could help me.

In the era before the Environmental Working Group's Skin Deep database of cosmetics ingredients, there was Paula Begoun's Don't go to the Cosmetics Counter Without Me.

Begoun explained that some of the most irritating ingredients in cosmetics are the preservatives necessary to reduce bacterial and fungal growth in the moist and damp bathroom environment.  If we want to reduce the amount of preservatives in our cosmetics, we have several options:
  • package them in smaller jars so they get used up before bacteria can grow
  • package them in pump containers to reduce contamination (from fingers or the air)
  • ensure that the cosmetics are stored outside of the bathroom (manufacturers have no control over this so that is a nonstarter)
  • universal bathroom refrigerators to store cosmetics
She further explained that expensive products are often less irritating because they are packaged in smaller quantities.  Thus, their formulas can contain less preservatives.

Think about this next time you buy Costco-sized containers of cosmetics that lie around in your bathroom for a year before you finish them.

Last week, I opened up a bathroom drawer to reach for my face moisturizer and found black signs of fungal growth.  (Read In defense of home ec 2 for another example.)

This is not a big deal because I use a clean knife to transfer skin cream (wield like a spatula) from the container I keep in the refrigerator to smaller containers that I keep in each bathroom.  Because we go through moisturizer more slowly with me in Boulder part of the time, I opted to use a smaller container (bottom).

When the containers are empty, I wash them out with soap and water AND run them through the dishwasher to sterilize them.  I also use a knife directly out of the dishwasher to minimize germ transfer.

* Try to perform a complex task while your skin is on fire.  Tell me how long you can concentrate.

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