There’s nothing more heartbreaking than finishing your fav highlighter or foundation, except throwing away products when there’s still some left. We’ll be honest, we have been known to hoard eyeshadows that are more than a few years old, but after writing this, we’re having a huge makeup draw clear out!
Hanging onto products past their expiry dates is a big no-no: It’s bad for you, and it doesn’t do much for the product either. Sadly, your beloved beauty products harbor bacteria (especially if you use them frequently), and these can lead to infections and irritations, not to mention, they don’t perform as well – we’re talking to you, gunky mascara! After a while, products can actually produce harmful toxins that can be dangerous to your health as well as your skin. As a general rule, if you can’t remember when you bought your foundation, mascara or eyeliner – get rid of it!
Seen this little symbol on the back of your beauty products? Each of your beauty products has the PAO (Period After Opening) symbol printed on their packaging, which tells you how long a product will last after you’ve opened it. To make sure you don’t forget, you can write on the product label the month you opened it, or write on a little sticker the month and stick it on the back, so you don’t forget.
As a general rule, here’s how long you should be using your beauty products for:
Liquid eye products are a playground for bacteria, which means mascaras and liquid liner should be thrown out after 3-6 months of use. Bacteria thrive in moist conditions and considering these are used on your eyes; you really don’t want to be messing with any nasties.
Natural beauty products are another one to be cautious with: Although we love natural products because they don’t contain any chemicals or preservatives, this means they don’t last as long. Natural products live just as long as food products because there is nothing in them to keep them going. You wouldn’t hang onto a smoothie for that long, would you?
6 months to 1 year
Foundations and concealers that have pumps generally last longer, because you’re not coming into contact with the actual product. Anything in jars means you’re dipping your bacteria-covered fingers (sorry, but true!) into the product every time you use it. Concealers with applicators are another product that is constantly going back and forth between your face and their containers and, if you’re using them to cover any spots, those icks are going right back into the product.
Creams, serums, and oils can oxidize when we use them, which means that when the ingredients combine with the oxygen in the air, they can change, which stops them from being as effective as they were. Creams with anti-aging properties (like retinol and vitamin C) tend to die a little sooner as well because all the ingredients that help turn back time on your skin evaporate within nine months.
Powders aren’t a good environment for bacteria to thrive as they’re too dry, which means powders, including eyeshadows, bronzers, blush and setting powders, have a longer life than liquid products. However, when you’re using sponges or brushes, oils from your face cling to the applicator and can go back into the powder. If you see a change in color, you know it’s time to get rid of it.
Lipsticks, lip gloss, and lip pencils are usually packed with essential oils and parabens that naturally help them live longer. Sharpening your lip liner before you use it will freshen the exposed end, and to keep lipsticks extra clean, give them a spritz of alcohol or wipe them down every month or so! If a liner starts to go off, it’s likely that a white layer will form around the end. Eye pencils also last up to three years but, if you’ve had an eye infection then don’t continue to use it!
Nail varnishes easily separate and go thick – if you’re struggling to get the lid off, or you haven’t used it for over two years, you may as well throw it.
The Dos and Don’ts
- Do clean your makeup brushes at least once a week.
- Do try to buy products with a pump dispenser as you won’t have to use your fingers to get the product out – plus you won’t get it all under your nails!
- Do invest in a spatula if you’re buying jars!
- Don’t forget when you bought a product. Keep a note or write the date on the bottle.
- Do keep your makeup out of the heat and humidity.
- Don’t hang onto products if you’ve had a reaction or infection (whether it’s related to the product or not).
- Do make sure you’ve got clean hands before you touch your face or start your makeup routine.
- Don’t add water to ‘drying-out’ products.
- Do get rid of anything that looks or smells funny, has changed texture or has any spots on it.
- Don’t buy tons of products all at once; it just means you’re more likely to have to throw them away.
- Do keep as many beauty products in the fridge as possible, to extend their shelf life.