Some strange but true facts about beauty that seem to defy common sense: You still need to wear sun protection on rainy days. Covering your face in acid is actually good for the skin. And your makeup can melt in the wintertime, too.
While you’ve probably accepted those first two as truth and rely on SPF and exfoliating acids in your daily skincare routine, many people still forget to protect their makeup from melting after the temperature dips for the season. But actually, makeup may be at the highest risk of melting in the winter, since products are often stored in electronically heated environments (or maybe even left out by the space heater. Guilty.)
“If you carry lip balms or other makeup products in your pocket close to your body, that might heat them up enough to melt as well,” Perry Romanowski, a cosmetic chemist and the founder of Chemists Corner, tells The Zoe Report. So, basically, the danger of melting makeup is real — but what does that mean for the stability and efficacy of your products?
To find out exactly how heat affects your foundation, powder eyeshadow, and lipstick — and how to avoid melting products in the first place — TZR consulted two cosmetic chemists, Romanowski and Ron Robinson of BeautyStat.com. Here, they give tips on how to care for your makeup products in the winter months.
What’s At Risk and What’s Not
“In fall and winter, some makeup products can melt if left near radiators,” Robinson tells us. “But the melting point really varies depending on the specific formula.”
Solid pressed powders, like highlighters and eyeshadows, aren’t an issue. “These products do not melt at temperatures you would ever experience,” Romanowski says. Other makeup products that aren’t affected by heat include anything with a liquid or gel consistency, because “they're already melted,” Romanowski points out.
“Lipstick has a melting point of at least 130 degrees Fahrenheit, so a good lipstick should not melt under normal circumstances,” he continues. “The only product you would realistically have to worry about is a lip balm — or anything with a wax or solid oil texture — which can have a melting point of about 90-100 degrees.” To note, Robison says that the main differences between a wax and a gel are in the ingredients: "A gel is not a chemical description but rather a subjective description of the look and texture of a product," he notes. "So a gel can contain wax ingredients. Gels are usually clear or translucent viscous types of products — but this is subjective."
And while your 16-pan palettes may be safe in the heat, anything in an aerosol can or a contained liquid may not be. Those products are prone to combust when placed atop heated surfaces, and should always be stored in cool, dry places to avoid that outcome, Robinson notes.
What Happens When Makeup Melts
Any chemist will tell you that heat has the power to change the chemical makeup of most substances. However, the temperatures that your makeup is likely to reach through exposure to electronic heat or the inside of your pocket won’t change their chemical composition in any real way.
“Anything with a flavor or fragrance that melts will probably taste or smell a little off,” Romanowski says. “But overall, makeup products that melt will still work once they are brought down to room temperature.”
Shade can be affected by heat, though — so while your favorite lipstick is still safe to use, you may find that the color isn't the same as what you originally bought.
The real red flag, though, is skincare: “Some skincare ingredients and sunscreen can be rendered less effective if kept in a hot environment for prolonged periods,” Robinson adds. To be on the safe side, toss any skincare or products that feature SPF or active ingredients (like retinol and vitamin C) after they’ve melted, as the ingredients can degrade in the heat.
Can You Salvage Melted Makeup?
That said, most makeup can actually be salvaged post-melting, with a few exceptions.
“Anything that separated into two layers should be tossed, because you don't really know what the composition of the layers are and the preservative may have been affected,” Romanowski says. “I'd also recommend discarding anything that got so hot the packaging melted.”
Robinson adds that melted mascara or eyeliner (which, again, probably won’t melt under normal circumstances) should be discarded, as well, on the off chance that heat contamination could irritate the sensitive eye area.
To prevent your products from melting this winter, make sure to store them in a cool, dark place when they’re not in use. (In other words... far, far away from the space heater under your vanity.)