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Girls wearing makeup.

Some girls think wearing makeup is creative and cool. Others think it’s just a big cover-up. You may be wondering whether makeup is right for you. If so, you can think about why you’d want to do it and what your makeup “look” might say about you. And don’t forget to talk to your parents and check out your school’s rules.

Whatever you decide about makeup, remember that real beauty comes from the true you inside! You can learn more about girls and body image.

If you do wear makeup, don’t just think about how it looks. It’s a good idea to think about what’s in it and how to use it safely. Here are some makeup issues worth a closer look:

  • Avoid infections. It’s easy for germs to get into makeup. If germs cause an infection, you could lose your eyelashes or have other nasty problems.
    • Make sure to wash your hands before putting on makeup.
    • Don’t share makeup, because you’ll also be sharing germs.
    • Remember that lots of people use the testers at department stores, so always use a new cotton swab or sponge.
    • Don’t put eyeliner on the inner side of your eyelashes, right next to your eye.
  • Be careful about mascara. If your mascara wand is dry, make it disappear into the trash! Don’t add spit or water, because they might add germs that can cause an infection. It’s also a good idea to toss your mascara after two to four months. And take off mascara before you go to bed at night. Otherwise, flakes can fall into your eyes while you sleep and — you guessed it — cause an infection.
  • Don’t apply makeup on the road. It’s easy for your hand to slip in a car or bus, for example. A wand or brush could scratch your eye or put germs into it. If you drive, never put makeup on while you are behind the wheel. It can be very dangerous and even illegal.
  • Make sure that your makeup does not have kohl in it. Look at the list of contents to make sure the color ingredient kohl is not listed. Kohl isn’t allowed in makeup in the United States because it can cause health problems. (It is okay, though, if the word “kohl” is in the name of a product or used to describe the color or shade.)
  • Remember that “hypoallergenic” makeup can still cause an allergic reaction. “Hypoallergenic” only means that the maker says the product is less likely to cause an allergic reaction. It’s also possible to have an allergic reaction to products that say “all natural,” “organic,” or “dermatologist tested.”
    • To figure out if you may be allergic, rub a small amount of the makeup on the inside of your elbow or behind your ear. Wait two days. If you get a rash, don’t use the product.
    • Sometimes, you can have an allergic reaction even if you’ve used a product before without any problems. If that happens, stop using makeup until you can get help from your doctor.
  • Don’t dye your eyebrows or eyelashes. If you want to jazz up your lashes and brows, use mascara or eyebrow pencils. Using dyes on your lashes or brows can really hurt your eyes — and even cause blindness.
  • Permanent makeup isn’t a great idea either. These tattoos that look like makeup are made by injecting inks or dyes into the skin. There’s always the risk of an infection or allergic reaction with a tattoo. Also, makeup styles change, so you may not want to be locked into a look you choose now.
  • If you’re concerned about acne, try makeup labeled “oil-free” or “non-acneogenic.” These products are made without some items that can clog pores, which means they may be less likely to cause acne. You might also skip foundation and use oil-free concealer to cover blemishes.
  • If you are worried about animal safety, check out labels. If a product says “cruelty-free,” though, the company just may not be testing on animals now. It’s possible that the ingredients may have been tested on animals in the past. You can always call the company to find out what their testing methods are.
  • Think about phthalates (say: THAL-ayts). These are chemicals that are sometimes found in nail polish, hairspray, perfume, lotion, and other beauty products. Scientists are studying these chemicals, and research suggests that they may act like the hormones in your body and may be connected to health problems. You can try to avoid phthalates by looking for names like di-n-butyl phthalate (DBP), diethyl phthalate (DEP), and butylbenzyl phthalate (BBP) on labels.


Content last reviewed April 15, 2014
Page last updated May 27, 2014