How Safe Is Your Mascara?

We're sure you've heard the recent racket about mercury in face creams. And by now you must already know that many lipsticks contain lead levels above acceptable limits, but if you're not shaking in your metaphorical Manolos yet, wait until we talk about the scary levels of bacteria that could be living in your favorite tube of mascara.

How long do you keep your mascara? If you aren't tossing it after three months-the amount of time the formula prevents dangerous bacteria from breeding-your eyes could be in big trouble. According to a study in Optometry, the bacteria is not in the tube itself, but the wand, which collects the bacteria that is naturally present in your eyes. When the researchers tested mascaras, even some that were less than three months old, microbes like staphylococcus and fungi were found in 33 percent of them. With this in mind, here are a couple ways to keep your mascara at its prime:

- Never share your mascara with anyone.

- Don't wait three months, go ahead and give it the heave-ho after two.

- Never keep your mascara in your purse or your car. Heat quickly degrades the preservatives, which allows bacteria to multiply faster. If you're particularly paranoid about it, a makeup bag from Cool-It Caddy will keep all your makeup chilled and hopefully keep bacteria at bay.