Is It Ever Safe To Buy Used Makeup And Skincare Products?

This year has been difficult for consumers all across the world, with inflation increasing ruthlessly on the heels of skyrocketing prices for fuel, food, and everything else. When inflation rises, and borrowing costs go up, most people's initial instinct is to put money into savings and spend less on unessential items and services. As many consumers are tightening their budgets, peer-to-peer resale apps and websites have been flourishing during the recent inflationary period to help people find more affordable options without sacrificing comfort. Interestingly, beauty goods have recently joined the ranks of well-known commodities in the resale market, alongside clothing and home appliances. Reddit, Glambot, and Depop are some popular marketplaces where people exchange used cosmetics.

While skincare and makeup items are essential to one's appearance, they are not considered life necessities and can be quite pricey. For this reason, it makes sense to buy pre-loved cosmetics at a fraction of their original prices. A 2020 Ipsos poll found that 49% of beauty fans were keen to purchase used cosmetics because it allowed them to get greater value for their money. Unlike many products, however, cosmetics have long been advised to be kept for personal use, and most dermatologists would warn against sharing them. So, can used makeup and skincare products really give you a good bang for your buck?

Buying half-used makeup and skincare products is risky business

There are numerous perks to trading have-been cosmetics. On the sellers' side, it's such a relief to have a market for your half-used or barely-used skincare and makeup products. Besides, who can say no to decluttering your vanity table and earning some good money? For buyers, it's hard not to get a kick out of bagging a bargain from a luxury label or getting your hands on an elusive or discontinued product. However, buying used cosmetics also comes with numerous caveats.

It's a universal truth that used cosmetics are a hotbed for potential bacterial growth as your makeup tools pick up dirt and dead skin cells through frequent use. Per a study in the Journal of Applied Microbiology, between 70% and 90% of all used makeup products were contaminated with germs. For this reason, most dermatologists advise against sharing cosmetics, citing health concerns. According to Rachit Gupta, CEO of OxyGlow Cosmetics (via The Indian Express), sharing eyeliner and mascara can give you styes, pink eye, and other eye infections. The same goes for using the same lipsticks, which can transfer bacteria from one lip to another and put you at risk of getting cold sores. For used foundation or skincare products that have been exposed to oxygen, the ingredients inside have begun to decay, and bacteria may settle in. Seller guidelines intended to protect buyers are in place, but there's no guarantee that what you pay for is worth it.

Experts don't stan for used makeup and skincare products

Since you don't know how the previous owner of the product you're buying stored the item or how many hands have dipped into it, there's no surefire way to tell if it will play out well on your skin or give you an infection. Even when a product is from a well-known brand like L'Oréal and Estée Lauder and formulated with bacteria-fighting and life-extending preservatives, it can still be contaminated with bacteria after usage. Preservative-free products pose a greater risk of spelling trouble for your skin.

Meanwhile, aesthetic nurse practitioner Madeline Calfas gives a categorical "no" to any product that's been used or is open. "You don't know who has done what to the product," she says (via The House of Wellness). Besides, sanitizing used beauty products in sterilizing machines so it feels safer to use isn't a viable solution either. To comprehensively sanitize a product, you'll need to put it in an autoclave at high temperatures, which would discolor the makeup and wreak havoc on other ingredients of the product. Generally speaking, safety seals are placed on products for a reason. For your peace of mind, refrain from using beauty products with an unknown history, and don't sacrifice your health for a buck.