COSMETICS are products for make-up, for the skin (creams, sunscreens, etc.) and for personal hygiene (soaps, shampoos, etc.). They are therefore used for personal care and hygiene, to improve appearance, to protect the skin and to keep it in good condition. Not being drugs, cosmetics do not have curative effects. During their daily use, often without knowing it, mistakes are made that may result in discomfort, starting for example with simple irritation of the skin.
1. Carefully read the label or case, which should indicate:
- Composition: list of ingredients.
- Duration of the product: this is the time limit within which the product maintains intact its effectiveness and remains safe. If the duration is longer than 30 months, it is mandatory by law to include on the container and on the case the symbol of an open jar on which is affixed the duration in months of the product (PAO = Period After Opening), i.e. the number of months within which the product, once opened and well preserved, can be safety used; this symbol is not required in single-dose products and aerosols.
- Warnings: any specific warnings for its use.
2. Cosmetics, as with all the commercial products, may also in rare cases, induce undesirable reactions. Keep the cases and the product to be able to show them to your doctor or pharmacist if it is necessary to identify the substance that has resulted in an undesirable effect.
3. Stop using the product with the appearance of redness, burning, itching or other symptoms.
- Always wash your hands well before you begin to apply cosmetics.
- Ensure that all applicators are clean before using them: it is good practice to wash and replace brushes and sponges at least once a week.
- Each cosmetic product is intended for personal use: sharing products may lead to the transmission of infections. In particular, in shops, clean applicators should always be used; test products on the back of your hand.
- Always close containers well immediately after use.
- Keep cosmetic products away from heat and from direct sunlight: light and heat can reduce the capacity of action of the preservatives.
- Do not leave cosmetics in the car as outside temperatures may compromise the integrity of the product.
- Do not use cosmetics in the case of conjunctivitis.
- Remove products from the skin when it is suspected that they have caused irritation of any kind.
- Never add water or other diluents to a cosmetic unless the label expressly states this. The addition of ingredients not shown could contaminate the product with possible bacteria and dilutes the preservatives decreasing the level of protection from bacteria.
- Do not add acetone or other solvents to nail polish because it can cause separation of the formulation or unknown reactions.
- Dispose of the products if the colour, texture or smell change.
- Avoid application to the eye area of products which are not intended for such use.
- Take care to avoid scratches to the cornea caused by the mascara stick. If this does happen, under no circumstances ignore this fact as the cornea could become infected and lead to corneal ulceration. Essentially, mascara should be applied at a quiet time avoiding doing this in the car, on a bus, train, plane...
There is a possibility that, during sleep, mascara and other products could enter the eye and cause ocular itching and redness. Therefore, always remove make-up before going to sleep.
- Always read the label: pay attention to precautions for use and storage of the product.
- Write on the container the date of opening of the product and respect the expiry date or the maximum period of safe use after opening.
- Do not leave cosmetics in direct sunlight, near heat sources or in excessively warm environments (car in summer): fresh places are advisable but not in the freezer.
- Do not store cosmetics in dirty and dusty environments.
- Only use sunscreen products for one season.
- Do not dilute or mix cosmetics with other products unless expressly stated in the instructions.
Although cosmetic products are developed in compliance with demanding and rigid international regulations, intolerance reactions may occur. According to recent dermatological statistics, 23% of women and 13.8% of men reported that within the space of one year they had experienced "adverse reaction to cosmetic products or to personal hygiene products". If with medical assistance the ingredients responsible for these reactions are identified, it is then easier to avoid them with careful reading of the label before purchasing.
OTC products can be bought without a prescription and without the supervision of a health care professional as they have been found to be safe and appropriate for use.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has the authority to regulate personal care products that contain active ingredients, therefore labelling them as OTC (Over-The-Counter) products. Among the OTC categories are sunscreens and acne medications.
For more details please visit the U.S. Food and Drug Administration website.