Do you keep your beauty products in the bath-room? If so, you may want to rethink where you store them.
Whether it’s bacteria colonising your make-up sponges, damp rendering body scrub less effective, or daylight degrading serum, the environment could be playing havoc with your pricey purchases.
Here, we tell you how to stash your toiletries safely.
Storing your beauty products in the bathroom may be damaging them. From investing in a hand soap dish to stopping fake tan from turning green, these are the best ways to make sure you get the most from your potions and lotions
DISSOLVING SKIN SCRUBS
Hopefully you’ve dumped any skin scrubs which contain environmentally unfriendly plastic microbeads. But if you’re using natural alternatives such as sugar, salt, or bicarbonate of soda crystals, keep them out of the shower.
Water can get inside plastic packaging and dissolve the crystals, leaving less of a scrub, more of a useless paste.
They should be OK on a shelf that won’t get wet, unless you have a really steamy bathroom — in which case keep them in a sealed plastic container, ideally with some silica sachets to absorb any moisture.
SCUMMY MAKE-UP SPONGES
Sponges can become a breeding ground for bacteria, so keep them out of a damp environment like the bathroom
Sponges have made applying make-up so easy, but if left in a damp environment, they’re a breeding ground for bacteria.
A laboratory tested my make-up bag once, and the only item that didn’t pass was my foundation sponge. It had more than ten times the safe level of microbes.
‘Every time the sponge touches your skin, it can pick up bacteria,’ says consultant dermatologist Dr Susan Mayou.
‘At low levels, this can cause irritation. But in a worst-case scenario, your sponge could pick up staphylococcus aureus. If used on broken skin, you could get a really nasty skin infection.’
Ideally you should clean your sponge with antibacterial solution after each use. But failing that, don’t leave it in a steamy bathroom. Instead, store it somewhere cool and dry.
Exposure to light, heat or moisture can destroy vitamin A and C and other active ingredients in your serums and facial oils
They may be the powerhouse of your skincare regime, fighting the signs of ageing, but that’s exactly why your serums shouldn’t be left in your bathroom.
Cosmetic chemist Chris Smith of Chrysalis Health & Beauty, says: ‘Exposure to light, heat or moisture can destroy Vitamins A and C and other active ingredients, so storing products on a shelf near a sunny window could damage them irreversibly.’
They won’t harm your skin, but they will be ineffective.
He recommends products sold in pump dispensers — cosmetic dermatologist Dr Sam Bunting even suggests keeping serums in their cardboard box to shield them from light — and to store in a cool, dark environment, away from water.
Don’t think they’re safe in a bathroom cabinet. Many of these have downlighters, the heat from which can mean it reaches the temperature of a cool oven. A dressing table drawer is better.
Moisture in the air or from splashing can lead to the bristles in your make-up brush shedding
Do your make-up brushes sit in a pot by your sink? They probably won’t after you read this. Not only can moisture in the air or from splashing dissolve the glue holding them together, leading to bristles shedding, but you could also be buffing faecal matter into your face when using them.
Every time you flush the loo, particles of whatever you flush away are dispersed into the air —and will land on your brushes if they are kept nearby. This means you run the risk of bacterial infections.
Your toothbrush is also at risk. So either flush with the lid down, or keep your brush pot in the bathroom cabinet.
Keep your moisturiser away from the bathroom as bugs are less likely to thrive away from moist, warm environments
If your moisturiser is in a tub, air gets in each time you open it, affecting any active ingredients. But you’re also constantly dipping your (non-sterile) fingers in, meaning you’re more likely to contaminate the cream.
Bugs are less likely to thrive away from moist, warm environments. So, keep your moisturiser on your bedside table instead.
Cosmetic chemist Chris Smith suggests taking care with products that boast they are ‘natural’ or ‘free from conventional preservatives’. He says although legally products must pass tests to show they will be safe for a specific periods of time after opening, not all preservatives are equal.
‘Even with correct storage, I have seen natural preservative systems tail off in efficacy over time, meaning their ability to fight off bugs reduces. Conventional preservatives, however, have years of data on their stability, in a wide range of conditions, so we can have confidence in their performance.’
GREEN FAKE TAN
Keeping your fake tan in a hot bathroom decreases the percentage of DHA in fake tan – this is the ingredient that makes you go brown
DHA is the ingredient in fake tan that makes you go brown. Research suggests that the percentage of DHA in a product decreases if it’s stored at 40c and not at room temperature.
So will your fake tan be useless if you leave it in direct sunlight or in a hot bathroom? No, says St Tropez technology and innovation director Dr Paul Evans. ‘That’s true of neat DHA, but we use ingredients in self-tan to make the DHA more stable.
‘If you heat it, you won’t notice any difference in performance, but you might see a difference in the way it looks or smells.’
It can look green when first applied, and smell more strongly of biscuits, but it will still work.
PERFUME LOSES POWER
Sunlight and heat kills perfume, so it is advised to keep it off window sills, dressing tables next to the window or radiators
Fragrance expert Michael Donovan says: ‘The enemies of fragrance are sunlight and heat.’
So it’s essential to keep perfumes off window sills, or dressing tables next to radiators or that get full sunshine. In some perfume boutiques, scents are kept in a refrigerator at a constant 12c.’
However Michael says a normal fridge will be too cold. ‘I keep mine in a cooler bag in the wardrobe. This keeps them in the dark, and at a cool temperature.’
Pressed powders and eyeshadows can quickly become crumbly if exposed to too much moisture. Lipsticks and balms can also sweat in heat
Make-up is far better on a dressing table in the bedroom than in the bathroom. ‘Pressed powders and eyeshadows can become crumbly if exposed to too much moisture,’ explains Chris Smith. ‘Lipsticks and lip balms can “sweat” if hot. And UV exposure can interfere with colour.’
But there are more serious issues. ‘Mascara is easily contaminated,’ says Angela Davies, of Microbiological Solutions Ltd, which tests beauty products.
‘As it goes round the eyes the types and level of preservatives that can be used are limited. If you keep it for too long, or somewhere bacteria can breed easily, the bugs it picks up can multiply, causing a nasty eye infection.’
A RUSTY RAZOR
Don’t keep your razors by the sink as it will cause the blade to rust, as well as making it go blunt
After shaving your legs do not leave your razor on the side of the bath or shower. This is because water and air lead to rust, and a blunt blade. So keep it dry and upright in a holder instead.
And ditch your razor with the lubricating strips, which can give the bugs ‘somewhere to sit and multiply’, says Angela Davies.
… BUT DON’T WORRY ABOUT BARS OF SOAP
We’ve all seen bars of soap sitting in pools of slimy water, and nobody would blame you for thinking that using it would leave you with more bugs on your hands than you started with.
However a study in the Journal of Epidemiology and Infection found that although bacteria do breed in these conditions, they don’t seem to transfer to your hands. Keep bar soap in a dish with drainage holes to stop it dissolving — and your money being washed down the plughole.