If You Can’t Detox the World, Tackle Your Beauty Cabinet First

Glambox Makeup Organizer

Money Can Buy Lipstick

I’m noticing a trend. The last few years, right around this time, my Facebook wall has had a steady trickle of comments banishing the closing year and pleading for the next to come fast. As 2016 winds down—let’s just say friends have been pretty vocal about their discord over the emotional roller-coaster ride we’ve all been on.

So with so many items to focus on in 2017, what should you start with? I say self-care. Hear me out—I’m not trying to say skin care should take priority over addressing the big-ticket issues that have plagued us all this year. (In fact, I’ve been imploring everyone to do what they can to raise awareness and engage in direct action for the issues they care about, and, not to sound all Kumbaya, but brace for a better world.)

But in the midst of all that, you need to take care of No. 1. Especially if you had a particularly visceral reaction to the current political and social climate. Pick yourselves up, my loves. If it seems overwhelming to try to cleanse society of the atrocities that have temporarily prevailed, take a baby step and grab a moment to keep your side of the street (or the inside of your beauty cabinet) clean.

Here are a few simple things you can do to detox your beauty routine this month. Come January 1, you’ll be ready to face anything.  

Makeup Bag

Photo by Society 19

Deep clean your makeup bag

If you’re anything like me, you have a stash of used makeup you’re clinging to in case you decide to rock an orange lip or blue mascara one day. But here’s the thing: The moment you open up a compact, lipstick or foundation, it starts to oxidize (the same reason why your sliced apples turn brown when you leave them out). After a certain period, the color, texture and effectiveness become compromised.

But the worst part is that certain products can be breeding grounds for bacteria. In a study published in the Journal of Cosmetic Science, 98 percent of the participants said they used expired makeup—and when their personal tubes of mascara were tested, 79 percent of them contained staph bacteria. Eww!  What is the point of buying an eye balm if your crusty mascara wand is a cavity for germs?

So yeah. If you don’t remember when you bought your current makeup products, you might want to toss it ASAP. While you’re at it, go ahead and take a close look at what other items need to go. According to various experts, here’s a general guide to the shelf life of cosmetics:

Mascara: 3 months

Liquid eyeliner: 3 months

Powder eye shadow: 2 years

Pencil eyeliner: 2 years

Lipstick: 18 months to 2 years

Blush: 18 months

Concealer: 12 to 18 months

Powder: 18 months to 2 years

Cream-based foundation: 1 to 2 years

Nail polish: 1 year

As for makeup brushes… who actually  washes them every week or two? (I know I don’t!) It’s probably time for a deep clean to remove any buildup of makeup residue, oil and dead skin cells. You don’t want those making a comeback on your face. As painstaking as it seems, resolve to wash your brushes at least once a month. That’s only 12 times in one year—put it on your calendar and just do it. Bonus points if you make it habit to at least sanitize your tools with an alcohol-based brush cleaner once a week.

Finally, don’t forget to wash your actual makeup bag! Those black specks and foundation smears need to go.

Photo by Jessica Doll

Audit your skin care

There may be some toxic stuff going on in the world that’s beyond your control, but nastiness doesn’t have to leach into your skincare routine. Chemicals like parabens, phthalates, petrolatum and sodium laureth sulfate lurk in tons of beauty products, and they can cause nightmare issues like irritation, hormone disruption, neurological problems and even cancer.

Don’t be afraid to purge any skincare products that you believe can endanger your overall health, even if they’re just controversial. The Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep Cosmetics Database can help you figure out which of your goods—and which chemicals in them—are hazardous.

There’s a fun side to this, too. It’s time to stock up on new treatments! Look out for natural, active ingredients. Botanicals like plant oils and extracts are a personal fave because they’re easy enough to spot (e.g. rosehip seed oil, argan oil, green tea extract, etc.). Plus, they’re loaded with essential fatty acids and antioxidants like vitamins A and C that are proven to neutralize free radical damage and fight against signs of aging.

Also, a trip to the spa could be just what you need to hit the reset button. Do some research to find a local esthetician with an organic ethos, if possible. They can address prominent issues like dryness, clogged pores or pigmentation to recalibrate your skin and help you figure out if it’s time to overhaul your regimen. Because sometimes, the established way of doing things doesn’t work for us anymore.

 Anti-inflammatory foods for clear skin

Photo by Martha Stewart

Adopt a “perfect complexion” diet

Changing your diet in the new year to drop a few pounds is almost like a cultural tradition now. But many people don’t even consider how much what you eat and drink affect your skin, too—not just your waistline. In fact, I distinctly remember a dermatologist telling my 13-year-old self that foods don’t cause acne. Boy, was she lying to me.

From my personal experience, adopting a vegan diet was transformational for my skin. I discovered over a year ago that dairy was the culprit for my chronic cystic acne. And I’ve read countless stories of other women whose skin completely changed for the better when they ditched inflammatory foods like dairy, red meat, refined sugar and simple carbs.  

Your triggers might be different, so pay attention to what you’re eating and notice if any particular foods seem to cause flare-ups in your skin. As for which foods have anti-inflammatory power, fruits, vegetables, whole grains, herbs, spices, fermented foods and healthy fats from nuts, seeds and certain oils (think avocado, olive, and coconut) are generally a good bet.
We may not be able to fix everything that went wrong this year right away, but we can clean up our own acts. Now, what to do about that hazardous spewing zit of a president-elect?


  1. Very smart blog great job. Personally I wish I could afford quantum cosmetics line up but for now time to deep clean my makeup bag 🙂

  2. Makes me heart sad to know this about my makeup… i think its time to let go and look after my face better with new makeup.

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