Despite that fact that I’m make-up obsessed, I am definitely not a beauty hoarder. You wouldn’t eat oranges infiltrated with mould, from the fridge, right? (If you would, then please stop reading. This article probably wouldn’t apply to you). If so, you shouldn’t apply expired, old cosmetic products to your face, unless infections, irritation and conjunctivitis really are your thing.
All cosmetic products have a shelf-life or expiry date. This refers to the time period AFTER which the product has been opened. This is because once the seal is broken, bacteria and other nasties from the air, your fingers or brushes will enter the product. From then on, bacteria will replicate, increasing over time.
Some products are more susceptible than others. Liquid products, especially those with a cream or oil emulsions generally go bad faster, as the moisture encourages the bacteria make happy families at an accelerated rate. Eyeshadow, powder blush are dry, and tend to last longer for this reason.
Most products have an ‘expiry’ guildline after the product is opened. It’s shown in the form of a small symbol, resembling a jar with an open lid, and a number, e.g. 6M. The ‘M’ refers to the number of months that the product will be safe to use.
Here is a general guideline for products:
• FACE POWDER, POWDER BLUSH AND EYESHADOW: 24-30 months
These are generally safe to keep longer, as they are dry and inhibit the growth of bacteria.
• CREAM EYESHADOW AND BLUSH: 12-18 months
Often oils/silicones/waxes are incorporated into the product to give a slick feel, hence the shorter shelf-life.
• FOUNDATION AND PRIMER: 12 months.
Avoid sticking your greasy, crumb-laden fingers into the lip of the bottle to grab product. Pour the product onto your palm/foundation brush, or use a cotton bud. If you’ve got the Seriously Lazy Gene like me, only buy a foundation with a pump.
• LIPSTICK: 16-24 months
• LIPLINERS AND EYELINERS: 24 months
Don’t forget to sharpen these regularly, this will remove the surface bacteria and expose fresh product.
• LIQUID AND GEL EYELINER: 12 months
• LIPGLOSS: 12 months
I prefer to buy lipgloss in the squeezy tubes for hygiene reasons. Though the ones with applicators are particularly snazzy looking – hello, Chanel Glossimers, every time you apply the lipgloss from the wand, you also scrape all sorts of stuff off your lips, and straight back into the tube. This could include old lipgloss and ipstick, skin, bread crumbs, cornflakes or dried barbeque sauce. Yum. Not!
• MASCARA: 3-4 months
The ultra-super-dooper important one! Mascara is one cosmetic you simply cannot keep for more than 4 months. It has a moist, dark environment, and simply perfect for germs.
Every time you apply the product, you are also transferring bacteria back into the tube. And since you apply it particularly close to your eyeballs, the likelihood of nasties leaping from the old mascara/mascara brush into your poor eyes is highly likely, leaving you with infections such as conjunctivitis.
Don’t even think about adding water to your dried-out mascara, that’s like feeding the bacteria an a-la-carte banquet. And I’ve heard the excuses before: ‘‘But, my mascara isn’t finished yet! I only use my mascara once a month. I buy expensive mascara! It’s limited edition!’’ If this is the case, try to buy more budget-friendly mascaras or purchase sample/trial size tubes from the more expensive brands.
You only have two eyeballs, and they’re pretty hard to replace.
• MAKEUP BRUSHES: Wash every 1-2 weeks with baby shampoo.
• MAKEUP SPONGES AND FINGERS: Replace weekly, or when sponge or fingers become soiled. Just kidding, this only refers to the sponges.
These are JUST ESTIMATES, read your labels and packaging, and use common sense! If your products look different, smell different or have an altered texture, don’t be afraid to bin it.
Don’t forget to store your products in a clean, dry, and dark environment. Avoid the bathroom at all costs, as steam = moisture and temperate changes.