GENERIC SKINCARE PRODUCTS
Although they contain the same exact ingredients, generic skincare products are NOT necessarily the same as "brand" products.
According to the FDA's Cosmetic Labeling Guide and the cosmetic labeling regulations themselves (21 CFR parts 701 and 740), all over-the-counter (OTC) skincare products must have a listing of the ingredients contained in that product in descending order of predominance. And although the ingredients themselves are listed, the exact recipe or formulation is not. The information that is not listed includes:
- The order that ingredients are added to the product.
- The pH of the product.
- The amount of each ingredient.
- The temperature of the product or of the ingredient when that particular ingredient is added.
This formulary information is considered proprietary and is often patented. Generic products, such as those sold by major pharmacy chains like CVS and Walgreens, may use the same ingredients as the branded products but do NOT necessarily use the same patented formulation.
Fragrance is one of the most frequent causes of contact allergic reactions; therefore, fragrance-free skincare products are recommended over scented products.
The "NATURAL" INGREDIENT MYTH
MYTH: Skincare products containing "Natural" ingredients are safer and more effective.
TRUTH: No, they are not. "Natural" ingredients include herbs, oils, roots, and flowers from plants. These botanically derived ingredients are not incorporated into skincare products in their natural state. Neither crushed up leaves nor pressed mushrooms can dissolve adequately into a skincare product. To be formulated into moisturizers they must be processed and chemically modified thereby losing their "natural" form. There is little scientific evidence that applying products containing plant extracts is beneficial.
WHAT ARE "ANTI-AGING" SKINCARE PRODUCTS?
Moisturizers specifically designed to address the signs of aging are marketed as "anti-aging" products. Simply stated, anti-aging products ARE moisturizers that CLAIM to improve skin tone, texture, and radiance, while reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. Unfortunately, science has yet to discover a single ingredient or product that reverses or slows the aging process.
SKINCARE PRODUCT SHELF LIFE & EXPIRATION
Under current United States law, there are no regulations or requirements that mandate cosmetic manufacturers to print expiration dates on the labels of cosmetic products. It is the manufacturer's responsibility to determine shelf life for products as part of their responsibility to substantiate product safety.
The Expiration Date is the date after which the cosmetic product will be expired and should not be used anymore. To clarify how long you can use a product once it is opened, the Period After Opening (PAO) sign is more frequently being utilized by American cosmetic companies. An open jar sign is followed by a number and the letter M, where the number indicates the number of months the product can be safely used after opening. For example, 12M would indicate that the product is safe for use for 12 months after opening. If a product does not show an expiration date or a PAO sign, the user may contact the customer care department of the company that produced the product and ask for it.
Shelf life guidelines developed by the cosmetic industry varies depending on the product and its intended use. The shelf life for eye-area cosmetics is usually more limited than for other products. Due to repeated microbial exposure during use by the consumer and the possible risk of eye infections, manufacturers usually recommend discarding mascara three to four months after purchase. When mascara dries out, discard it. Do not add water or, even worse, saliva to moisten it, as that may introduce bacteria into the product.
Other cosmetics that may have unusually shorter shelf lives include "all natural" products that often contain plant-derived substances conducive to microbial growth. In addition, products that contain non-traditional preservatives or no preservatives at all may have an increased risk of contamination.
Expiration dates are simply "rules of thumb," and a product's safety may expire long before the expiration date. Cosmetics exposed to high temperatures or sunlight, or opened and examined by consumers prior to being purchased may deteriorate substantially before the expiration date.
Sharing makeup increases the risk of contamination. "Testers" commonly found at department store cosmetic counters are more likely to become contaminated than the same products purchased for individaul use. To test a cosmetic before purchasing it, apply it with a new, unused applicator, such as a fresh cotton swab.
Makeup Longevity Industry Recommendations (approximate)
- Lipstick: 1 year
- Foundation: 1 year
- Mascara: 4 months
- Powders and Eye Shadows: 2 years
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Hello, and welcome to FryFace!
I've been a New York based dermatologist for over 25 years. I love music. I love triathlons. I love chemistry. (I love Petrolatum jelly.) I study skincare ingredients and product formulation. I listen to skincare "advice" from self-proclaimed ......Read More