Much like food or medicine, beauty products have an expiry date. However, because these expiry dates are not as clearly outlined, enforced or seemingly dangerous as the others mentioned, they tend to be treated pretty loosely or ignored altogether.
If you’re anything like me, you probably have a horde of products in your cabinets or makeup bags, have used a tester packet for more than one test (that’s a no-no by the way) or have continued using a beauty product even when you know it looks (or smells) a little funky – dry, claggy mascara, anyone?!
So, when is it really time to toss that product?
Make sure your mascara gets changed over about every three months or when it becomes claggy or dry. Never dilute the mascara tube with water. And never EVER pump the wand in and out of the tube; this increases the chance of bacteria being pumped inside and ending up on your eyes.
We all know you can get a better line with liquid, but pencils can last longer as continual sharpening helps shed bacteria and other nasties. Liquid eyeliner should be treated like mascara and be discarded after three to four months.
For the perfect (and safest) pout, experts suggest refreshing your lipstick every 12 months or when it no longer sticks, looks dry, begins to crumble or just isn’t preforming as well as it once did.
Powdered eye shadow can be kept for up to two years, as long as it hasn’t crumbled, dried out or lost pigment. If you can part with eye shadow sooner, it’s desirable.
Cream-based blushes could be used for up to six months, while powdered blushes can be used for 12 months after opening. Keep an eye out for a change in colour, cracks or odours as a sign for early retirement.
Once opened, a perfume usually lasts about three years if stored in optimal conditions. If you notice the fragrance colour darkening or the scent changing, it’s time to replace it.
Your favourite polish can last up to two years in the bottle if cared for correctly, but if it’s your favourite you’ll probably use it all by then. You’ll know to replace it if the colour has separated from the oils or the brushes have gone hard.
Bacteria favours wet conditions, so it’s best to use liquid foundations for six months or until you notice a separation or colour change in the liquid. This rule can also be used for liquid concealer.
Powdered foundation, on the other hand, can last much longer (up to 18 months). The lack of oil in the product makes it more resistant to breaking down or becoming a bacteria breeding ground.
You should be using brushes to apply all of your makeup (or sponges, both of which are way better than your hands) so it’s very important to keep an eye on their quality. If they’re not clean, the bristles are falling off or fraying, or are kept in a damp place, you’ll need to replace them often. However, if you buy good quality brushes, wash them after use and give them a gentle hair shampoo once every two or three weeks, you’re in the safe zone.
Where do you find the expiry dates?
Some products will be kind enough to supply the expiry date on the package, but most make you work for them. Many beauty products will print a batch code on the actual product or on the packaging the product comes in, which can then be searched on their website to find out more about when it was packaged and how long it should last.
The easiest thing to look for, however, is the little icon depicting a jar with the lid open with a number and an M or Y. This indicates the recommended duration of use after you’ve opened or broken the seal of the product, e.g. 6M means six months.
What are the risks of using expired products?
If it smells bad, looks off or has dried up, it’s not worth the risk of becoming friendly with the bacteria that has possibly taken up residence in your beauty products… and multiplied. Using beauty products beyond their best-before or use-by dates can cause skin irritation, rashes, blemishes and various skin or eye infections. Yuck!
But hey, just look at it as a way to limit your monthly makeup spend! Or buy smaller product sizes to ensure you get to use everything within the time frame.
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