Looking after your skincare

5 min read

How to prevent skincare contamination

Skincare hygiene – not the sexiest topic in the world, we admit… but its an important one.

Since the pandemic began, the world has become more hygiene conscious, and rightly so, with face coverings and masks now being the new must-have fashion accessory. But skincare hygiene has always been vital for skin health, and is often overlooked by consumers and even brands. The design, use and storage of a skincare product (or any product that you put on your body, for that matter) is extremely important to ensure that we are using beauty products safely whilst getting the most out of them. Not to mention the fact that unclean products can cause a whole bunch of issues for your skin, (more on this later…).

It is super easy to be misinformed about hygiene best practice when it comes to using skincare. In recent years, in an effort to become more sustainable brands have introduced refill schemes and other methods to reduce plastic waste and their impact on the planet and its resources. But decanting and reusing beauty product packaging can be problematic.

No one is perfect. At some point we’ve all been guilty of poorly decanting, scooping and sharing products because let’s face it: the correct use information is not always available to us when we purchase beauty products.

Bolt to the rescue! We’ve compiled the most asked questions of skincare hygiene to present Bolt Beauty’s Skincare Hygiene Q+A.

There seems to be a lot of rules – but don’t be intimidated as it is quite simple really. Follow us, we’ll lead the way…

Bolt Beauty - Travel skincare

Why do we have best before dates on skincare?

We never thought you’d never ask…

Two reasons…

1) Active ingredients degrade and become ineffective. So when you’re applying your 10-step evening skincare routine with out of date products, (when all you reaaally want to do is get in bed), is actuallynot doing anything,apart from wasting your time.

2) Just like food, things can grow on, in and around skincare (especially if left in the wrong conditions and past its sell-by date).

Different best before dates apply to different things, depending on what it is and what ingredients it contains. For example, mascara should have a shorter life than a face cream. The shelf life for eye-area cosmetics is more limited because it is more susceptible to microbial infection during use and because of the risk of eye infections.

You should discard mascara 3-6 months after purchase or if it becomes dry. NEVER add water (or saliva, gross) in an attempt to try and revive it.Hello bacteria.🤮If you do get an eye infection, make sure you discard the products you were using at the time and contact your GP. Water-based products normally only have a shelf life of around 6 months, as water is a dream for bacteria and mould.

Top tip: Set a reminder or calendar date on your phone twice a year to prompt you to have a clear out of old products. Does it spark joy? v.s Is it out of date?


Are preservatives bad?  

NO. Preservatives are not bad, and are essential most of the time* for safe and effective cosmetics. Preservatives “preserve” the cosmetic product to keep products safe. For this reason, creams with preservatives should have a longer shelf life than ones without. An “unpreserved” product is highly likely to become contaminated very quickly after manufacturing.

*Preservatives are needed whenever we have water in the product. The type and level of preservative does depend on the nature of the product - e.g. mascara or eyeliner, due to how we apply them - and how it’s packaged - for example, aerosols have less contact with the consumer and air and so are lower risk.  

What about Parabens? Are they safe to use?

Parabens are preservatives that have been used since the 1950s, the ones most commonly in cosmetics are methylparaben, propylparaben, butylparaben, and ethylparaben.

Myth: Parabens are dangerous and cause breast cancer

Fact: Parabens are safe and effective, and are approved by the EU and the FDA (US).

A report was released several years ago that claimed that parabens were found in breast cancer tissue and that they were also estrogenic – when in reality, studies found that parabens have very little estrogen activity. These claims and concerns have since been denounced by the respective cosmetic associations (relying on scientific evidence and not opinion), who have found parabens to be safe to use in cosmetics.

(We don't actually use parabens in any of our products but we feel like this myth about parabens has created lots of confusion and so we wanted to point out the fact vs fiction.)

Why does packaging matter?

Packaging matters because contamination matters, so what houses your skincare products isextremely important.

What’s good?

  • Airless pump bottles minimise contact with people and air

What’s bad?

Tubs that you “scoop” the product out give us the creeps (too extra? We think not.) Each time your fingers go into the tub, your skincare gets contaminated. It just doesn’t make sense… avoid.

Some brands recommend that you use a clean spatula to get the product out of your skincare, on the one hand, for makeup and other products this makes sense. But if it can be avoided in skincare, do so. Remember: just because you wash something, doesn’t make itsterile.

What’s best?

Single-use fully sealed skincare in biodegradable seaweed capsules… like Bolt! ⚡️ Extremely low risk of contamination and zero waste = smart skincare.

Bolt Beauty - Eco friendly skincare

What can grow in skincare?

Bacteria, yeast, mould, fungi, virus, prions, protozoa and their toxins and by-products… (aaaand breathe). Safe to say – whatever can grow in there ain’t cute.

The impacts of this can be very scary, you can get infections, which in the worst cases can even lead to blindness (or worse). That’s enough horror stories for today, but you get the picture.


Why we should be careful when using and decanting skincare?

Scooping product into jars that have not beenproperly sterilised poses an extreme risk of contamination. We all want to do our bit for the environment,but there are much better ways of being green and also keeping yourself safe.

Our capsules are eco-friendly, cruelty-free, single-use AND you can refill your home jars with our biodegradable refill bags because they are individually encapsulated.Plus each capsule contains the perfect amount of product, so you don’t have to worry about waste and spending more on skincare than you need to.

How should we store our skincare products and what affects a product’s shelf life?

We all love a good#Shelfie,but while it might be tempting to store your skincare on a windowsill or bathroom cabinet, these areas are where your skincare can be most at risk.

Heat and humidity = ideal for the deterioration of skincare products.A cool and dry place is your best bet for longevity. Oxidization can happen once cosmetics have been exposed to air, which can make them harmful for our skin, so make sure you screw those lids on tightly after use.


How do I know when something needs throwing away?

If a product is discoloured, smells differently or the consistency has changed a product should not be used because it might not work properly and will almost definitely put your skin at risk.Chuck it.

They are some of our golden rules for skincare hygiene, it might not be sexy – but neither is infections… so look after your skincare and yourselves.😌

Kelly Washington

Kelly is a London-based freelance Fashion, Arts and Social Media journalist. She has an MA in Fashion Communication from Central Saint Martins and a BA in English Literature and Linguistics from the University of Manchester. She has written for Hunger Magazine, TANK, Miuse and Fashion Unfiltered covering a range of topics including fashion, music, youth culture and art. For copywriting and commissions email kelly.washington1@outlook.com.

Kelly Washington - Bolt Beauty

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