9 out of 10 women are using make-up past its use-by-date
Nine out of ten women are putting their health - and looks - at risk by applying make-up past its use-by date, a survey shows.
Most are unaware that their lipstick or mascara can be a "hothouse" for bacteria which can cause infections when the make-up is applied.
Others deliberately hang on to their favourite cosmetic products longer than they should because, for example, the line has been withdrawn from sale. Experts from the College of Optometrists found that despite recommendations to throw away mascara after three to six months, 92 per cent of women admit to keeping it for longer.
Experts from the College of Optometrists found that despite recommendations to throw away mascara after three to six months, 92 per cent of women admit to keeping it for longer.
Nearly two-thirds questioned were using eye make-up that was more than two years old.
The worst offenders were those in their late 30s and early 40s, of whom one in five uses eye makeup that is more than five years old.
For women who don't have much time in front of the mirror before leaving home in the morning, applying a quick coat of mascara on the train or bus can be most dangerous of all.
Scratching the eye with a mascara wand is the most common injury from make-up and can lead to eye infections.
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The risk of infection is heightened by the tendency to share make-up.
Over a third of women under 24 admitted to sharing mascara with friends, for example, on a night out.
Dr Susan Blakeney, optometric adviser to the college, believes women don't realise the danger in their make-up bags.
"Mascara can be a breeding ground for bacteria, so it's not surprising we've found nearly half of women suffer from itchy, watery and red eyes when they are holding onto their eye maketheirup for so long and sharing it among their friends," she said.
"The irony is that eye infections are not a pretty sight.
"Most women are either unaware of or simply ignoring manufacturers' recommended use-by-dates.
"The good news is that by taking a little bit more care with your make-up and beauty regime it's easy to reduce the risk of eye infections."
It's not as if British women need any extra incentive to keep make-up bags updated with the latest ranges.
Cosmetics sales in the UK are on course to hit £1billion a year, up 40 per cent from five years ago, and British women spend more on beauty products than any of their European counterparts.
Those over the age of 14 were estimated to have spent an average of £36 on make-up last year, £4 more than those in secondplaced France.
Industry analysts say style icons such as Kate Moss are leading a trend for glitz and glamour.
Manufacturers have also raised the appeal of toiletries and cosmetics by combining them with moisturisers and anti-ageing creams.
"Perhaps it is because women are now constantly topping up their make-up bags with new products that they never actually finish any older products," said Dr Blakeney.
"These older cosmetics lie around for years, each one a little hothouse for bacteria."
EU legislation requires makeup to be labelled with a date of minimum durability but there is no statutory definition of how long a product remains usable.
However, cosmetics experts say that smell, appearance and even taste can be good signs of when a product is past its prime. Keeping lids firmly screwed on and storing make-up away from sunlight is also advised.
Beth Hale : The Daily Femail