by Melanie Yarborough

Makeup doesn't last forever. Like many Products, it can spoil, discolor, and lose its effectiveness over time. For many crossdressers who keep their makeup well hidden in hot stuffy places, or who only use it sporadically for Support Group Meetings or Shopping Trips, there's a serious danger of putting contaminated products on your skin.

Makeup is an excellent incubation place for bacteria which need moisture to grow. Makeup can harbor yeast, fungi, and mold if not checked regularly. The following products have a specific shelf life and warning signs:

FOUNDATION: Lasts a year or less. This is the most often used and thus the most exposed. When you apply it, use a sponge; avoid using germ-carrying fingers. Look for changes in consistency, like thickness or a clay-like smell.

LIPSTICK: Lasts two to three years; oil-based lipsticks are a little less prone to contamination. Consider storing them in the refrigerator. A sign of spoilage is color change or rancid smell. If it burns on application, throw it out.

EYE & LIP PENCILS: Last three years, as the wax keeps germs out. Remember to sharpen them and keep the cap on.

MASCARA: Has the shortest shelf life of all; 3-6 months! Remember, you're applying this to the most sensitve part of your face, your eyes. Never touch anything but lashes with the brush.

LOOSE POWDER: Lasts for years, but can deteriorate if overexposed to light or heat. Keep it tightly closed. If it looks lumpy, it's hit moisture and should be discarded.

NAIL POLISH: Lasts two years, and is sometimes stamped with an expiration date. Over time, pigments separate, so shaking is necessary. If a good shaking doesn't mix it, get rid of it.

Danger signs: thick, dried out, hard to apply smoothly.

POWDER COMPACTS-FACE/CHEEK/EYE COLOR: Lasts three years. Look for ghostly color, chalky texture, or cracking as signs of wear.

PERFUME: Lasts three years. Keep in original box, store in a cool dark place. Watch for a darkening color or a vinegary smell.

Some people recommend a "cooling off time" of an hour or more after shaving and before applying makeup. Freshly shaven skin is very sensitive, and immediate makeup application can clog pores and lead to pimples. The bathroom is a bad storage place, as it gets exposed to heat and steam. And above all, do not share your makeup with anyone-ever!

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