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You might have felt a thrill when applying that forbidden lipstick at the age of 12. Or experimented with kiss-proof lipstick on a date. Or used a foundation to cover up those blemishes, crows feet and wrinkles.

Make-up can be a woman's best friend. However, if used incorrectly it can also be your skin's worst enemy. Some women use up to 12 cosmetic products per day, exposing themselves to about 175 different chemicals!

Here are some dos and don'ts on how to buy, use and maintain your make-up, so it does not spoil your skin.


Hold on to old cosmetics

Throw out everything that's been on your shelf for more than two years. Cosmetics have a shelf life of one or two years and after that the chemicals start to degenerate, the oils become rancid and the emulsions start to separate making them potentially harmful. So it makes sense to buy one or two lipsticks every six months rather than buying a dozen in one go and hording them for years.

Share make-up that's directly applied onto skin

These include lipsticks, eyeliners, mascara etc. You'd be sharing your skin's bacteria and spreading infections, too.

Add water to dilute caked or thickened mascara and eyeliner

You're adding a potential source of infection -- water -- which contains micro-organisms. Increased water content in a product creates an optimum environment for bacterial multiplication. You can get styes, conjunctivitis or deadlier fungal eye infections.

Use make-up with these ingredients

Watch out for two potential irritants in your make-up.

Parabens: A group of chemicals used as preservatives in cosmetics. The solution is to use paraben free products.

Sodium lauryl sulphate: A chemical used in cosmetics for the basic purpose of increasing the spreadability of products like cream. This chemical is proven to be allergic to many skin types.

Sleep with make-up on

No matter how tired you are -- always remove makeup before you go to bed. Your skin will thank you for it.

Scrub off long lasting make-up with tissues/ peel off waterproof liners or mascara with your nails

These make-up products contain special chemicals to make them more adherent and you could end up damaging your skin. Use recommended cleansing pads or lotions to remove them gently.

Layer on evening make-up over your daytime make-up

It's worth spending a little extra time removing your day make-up. Give your skin some time to breathe, rub an ice cube all over and then apply fresh make-up. Stale make-up trapped under a fresh coat can clog up your pores and have a deleterious/harmful effect.


Buy makeup that suits your skin type

For instance you must use souffl�s for oily skin, a moisturising foundation for dry skin, hypoallergenic cream for sensitive skin, non-comedogenic make-up for acne prone skin (non-comedogenic products help to prevent blackheads) etc.

Invest in quality brands

Buy one lipstick instead of four cheaper ones. It's worth the money.

A test patch of any product you're trying out on the inside of your arm

If after 24 hours no redness or reaction develops, go ahead and buy it.

Clean your make-up tools
This includes lip brushes, sponges, rouge brushes, powder puffs regularly, or replace them every few months. Leftover cosmetic residue is greasy and sticky, and breeds bacteria. You can use mild liquid detergents meant for wool and silks, to wash your tools.

Apply moisturiser on your skin a few minutes before your make-up

It hydrates your skin and forms a protective barrier, which shields your skin from excess contact with chemicals.

Choose makeup with a sun-protective factor.