Taking the lid off your lipstick only to find out it has a layer of what looks like mold growing on it does not make for the best start to a big night out.
Whilst mold growing on lipstick is a rare occurrence, it certainly can happen. So, why did it grow in the first place, is it dangerous, does the lipstick need to be thrown away and how can you stop mold from ruining your lipstick again?
In this article, we answer all these questions and more, so, for all you need to know about mold on lipstick, keep reading.
Mold can grow on lipstick as long as there is a source of nutrients (which can come from dust and other organic materials), adequate moisture levels, (which comes from being stored in humid environments, such as bathrooms), and an ambient temperature between 60-80 degrees Fahrenheit.
Can mold grow on lipstick?
It certainly can, although it is fairly rare. You see, mold can grow on almost anything as long as it has what it needs to survive, which is:
- A source of nutrients
- A source of moisture
- A lack of natural sunlight
- An ambient temperature between 60-80 degrees Fahrenheit
Mold will be unlikely to gain many nutrients from within the lipstick itself (however some lipsticks may contain fats that could be used as a source of food), so it is more likely to use any dust or dead skin cells from your own lips that have been transferred onto the lipstick for its “food”.
Moisture is by far the easiest resource on mold’s list to obtain, as lipsticks and other cosmetics are often kept in the bathroom, one of the most humid and high-moisture rooms in the house.
Any room of the house that has a humidity level greater than 55% is the perfect place for mold to grow, and a bathroom certainly ticks that box.
Many cosmetics sets are stored in a closet or drawer where they see no direct sunlight, and whilst this may protect the makeup and increase its shelf-life, it also protects mold and its spores, as the sun’s UV rays will kill it on contact. This is why you often see mold forming in darker areas of the home.
Finally, the temperature needs to be just right for mold to thrive in a home, and although it can still grow at cooler or warmer temperatures, an ambient temperature of between 60-80 degrees Fahrenheit is the sweet point for it to begin to grow at a rapid pace.
Unfortunately, 60-80 degrees Fahrenheit also happens to be the most common setting that most American homes have their thermostats set to, so the temperature is often just right.
How to identify mold on lipstick
Mold can come in many strains and variations, however, the three most commonly seen strains that grow within properties are:
Cladosporium strains appear in clusters of small spots that can be black, dark brown, yellow, or green in color, with a powdery texture.
Aspergillus can begin white in color, turning black, brown, or green (depending on the strain), with a cotton-like or velvety texture.
Penicillium mold appears in slightly larger, circular patterns of blueish-green, dark green, or even turquoise, and has a velvety/powdery texture.
Despite these being the common traits of the most commonly found molds in the home, you may still struggle to identify which mold is growing on your lipstick. The reason for this is that the amount growing may be so small that it is hard to see any specific detail, such as color, shape, or textures.
This is why you may be better off using your sense of smell to detect whether your lipstick has mold growing on it.
Upon removing the lid, see if you notice any unusual smells. If mold is present, you are likely to smell a musty scent similar to an old basement. If the lipstick has become rancid, you will be able to smell an unpleasant bitter or metallic smell.
In either case, if the smell is anything like mentioned above, it is best to throw the lipstick away.
Are the molds dangerous?
If you do indeed have mold growing on your lipstick, there is the possibility that it could be harmful to your health.
Certain strains of mold (including those mentioned above), are able to produce mycotoxins as a defense mechanism if they feel threatened.
In most cases, limited exposure to mycotoxins causes little issue, but in individuals that are sensitive to them or have suppressed immune systems, they can cause serious health complaints, including asthma attacks, breathlessness, skin irritation, and so on.
As you would be applying the lipstick directly to the skin, the most likely reaction would be skin irritation. The symptoms of which could include:
- Reddening or swelling of the lips
- Bumpy texture
Is it definitely mold?
Before you panic about any of the above-mentioned symptoms of mold exposure from your lipstick, you need to make sure you are actually dealing with mold in the first place.
As I said, it may be tough to identify which type of mold is growing on lipstick, but you should be able to tell the difference between mold and something called wax bloom.
Take a close look at the lipstick you believe is growing mold. If the texture is powdery or velvety (as mentioned above), you may indeed be dealing with mold. However, if the texture resembles a more solid texture, you may be simply looking at wax bloom.
What is wax bloom?
Wax bloom occurs when oils contained in the lipstick move to the surface and over time, crystallize. These crystals can give the impression of a white powdery substance, which is often mistaken for mold.
One way to test if you are dealing with mild or wax bloom is to wipe the lipstick with alcohol. Place the lipstick in the refrigerator and check back in a few days. After cleaning with alcohol and refrigerating, mold has neither the nutrients nor the correct temperature to form. If the white substance reappears, you can be certain you are dealing with wax bloom.
Can you still use lipstick with mold?
It is not advised that you use lipstick that you think may have been contaminated with mold. As explained above, there is a good possibility that if the lipstick does have mold on it, it could be passed onto the skin and cause skin irritation, rashes, and allergic reactions.
If you were to find any mold or what you think could be mold, you should throw the lipstick away.
How to remove mold from lipstick
The most effective way to remove mold from lipstick is to use an alcohol wipe. Take one of the wipes and gently wipe the entirety of the lipstick, this includes the plastic casing it comes in too (known as the bullet).
If you want to be certain that the mold will be killed, you can spray the lipstick with rubbing alcohol and leave it to dry, the alcohol will kill any mold and remaining spores.
Don’t be tempted to try to scrape any mold from the surface of lipstick in order to use it again. When scraping mold off the surface, it is highly likely that you will end up driving both the mold and spores deeper into the lipstick where it will continue to grow.
How to prevent mold from growing on lipstick
The most effective way you can prevent mold from growing on lipstick is to store it correctly.
Keeping your lipsticks in the bathroom is certainly a bad idea, as the high humidity and frequent warm temperatures provide exactly the kind of environment mold needs to thrive. Instead, make sure you store your lipsticks in a cool place with low humidity levels, such as a bedroom drawer.
If possible, store the lipstick in a cooler part of the room, such as a closet away from any direct sources of heat, such as radiators. The warmer the area, the faster the lipstick will deteriorate and become more likely to grow molds and bacteria.
As stated, keeping your lipstick bacteria and mold-free can be achieved by spraying rubbing alcohol on it and leaving it to dry. This should be done every few weeks to ensure bacteria or molds have not begun to establish colonies.
Mold growing on lipstick is a fairly rare occurrence, however, it can happen as long as the circumstances are correct. Storing your lipsticks in a dry, cool area of your property is the best way to prevent mold from growing in the first place, but if mold should occur, it can be killed and removed by spraying rubbing alcohol on it and gently removing the mold with a tissue.