Here’s a dirty little secret…
Did you know that most of your cosmetics and beauty tools come with expiration dates? If you’re wondering why your face is breaking out constantly, why you are prone to eye infections or why a certain cream, powder or gel irritates your face, old beauty products just might be the culprit.
This is a list of commonly used beauty products and their life expectancy:
MASCARA AND LIQUID, GEL OR CAKE EYELINER
These products are good for three months, tops- because the mascara or eyeliner is is wet and gets “contaminated” every time the brush goes into the tube then onto your eye and back into the tube, it literally becomes a breeding ground for bacteria! You wouldn’t put the contents of a Petri dish on your eyes, right? Well, that’s exactly what you’re doing every time you use an out-dated liquid, gel or cream eye product!
I date all of mine with a Sharpie and toss them after three months. Sure, it gets expensive….but eye doctor appointments are even more expensive!
And please don’t ever lend these products to anyone, even your bestie.
EYELASH GLUE AND ADHESIVE
If you keep the cap on tightly and store the glue in a cool, dark place, you could probably keep the glue up to six months… but again- this stuff goes on your eyes! You can never be too careful. If it smells fishy or like bleach, get rid of it pronto!
Yes, darling, they can be re-used! I’ve had some sets of lashes for months- they just need to be cared for properly. After each use, I pick the remaining glue off the band of the lash, then swab it with a Q-tip full of alcohol to kill any bugs or germs before storing the lashes in their original container, set into the tray they came in, so that they retain their shape.
EYE AND LIP PENCILS AND CRAYONS
Eye and lip pencils will last up to a year if you care for them correctly. Make sure to sharpen the pencils before every use- or at least once a week -to prevent transferring bacteria to your eyes or mouth. If you notice a textural or color change- particularly a weird white coloring at the tip of the pencil, get rid of it stat!
LIQUID OR CREAM FOUNDATION , CONCEALERS AND CREAM BLUSH
Three to six months, depending on whether you use your ( clean) fingers, or a disposeable sponge to apply it. Every time the sponge touches your face, it is transferring bacteria from your skin right back to the product. Make sure to keep all of these containers tightly sealed, and stored in a cool, dry place.
Definitely discard any liquid foundations that have separated, or any creamy make up item that smells funny.
POWDER EYESHADOW , FINISHING POWDER AND POWDER BLUSH
Generally speaking, these products have a “life expectancy” of two years. You could probably use them a little beyond that, but the texture will be different- older powders will be more flakey and dry, and the color may be a little off.
LIPSTICK AND LIP GLOSS
Lipstick can last up to two years, if you take care of it properly. Some gals like to store it in the refrigerator in the summer, to prevent melting and breakage. Throw your lipsticks away if they smell icky or become discolored. You can make an older lipstick “new” again by slicing off the tip with a knife. As for lip glosses, they will last up to a year- again, it’s the concept of liquid/gel as a breeding ground for bugs and bacteria.
SKIN CARE PRODUCTS AND FACE CREAMS
Most over the counter skin care products will last about six months to a year, though if you’re an anti-aging slut ( like me!) you’ll use them up way before there’s an expiration issue!
Any products that are organic, "all natural", or those containing antioxidants ( like Vitamin E or C ) or those with retinals should definitely be stored away from sunlight. Again, if your skin care creams smell funky or have gotten separated, lumpy or thinner, just to be safe... throw them away!
MAKE UP BRUSHES AND COSMETIC SPONGES
Bacteria and sebaceous oils can easily get trapped in make up sponges and brushes… which is bad for your tools and even worse for your skin!
I wash all my brushes at least once every two weeks in tepid water with mild soap or baby shampoo. To dry, lay brushes flat on a soft, clean towel so the bristles don't break or lose their shape. If you care for your brushes well, they can last for years!
Toss cosmetic sponges roughly once every month or so, or any time you notice them cracking or flaking. Better yet, invest in the disposable kind!
A good blow dryer ought to last at the very least one to seven years, depending on the make of the dryer, how often-or carelessly- you use it, if it is dropped, gets hair clogged in the vents, etc.
One to four years depending on use; the ceramic plates and heating elements on the flat iron are usually the first thing to go.
A good hairbrush can last for years- even a cheap one can- it just depends on how you maintain it. Make sure to clean your brush regularly, by removing the hair from it, and swishing it around in a bath of hot water and mild detergent, then letting it dry naturally, before using it.
MAKE UP REMOVERS
Usually, these products are used up too quickly to go bad- but if you’ve opened a product , had it for a few months and it smells odd, do a little patch test on your wrist or inner elbow to check for irritation before using it on your face!
As for make up wipes and towellettes, the liquid product in the package can tend to dry up rather quickly… say, two months. In order to keep mine fresh, every time I use a wipe, I put the package back on the shelf in a different position- right side up, upside down or on it’s side- this will ensure that the towellettes stay saturated with the remover product and easy-to-use.
HAND AND BODY LOTION
Since we tend to use an awful lot of these and they’re relatively inexpensive, expiration is not usually an issue. Sealed in the container, they will last about a year. After being opened, you’ll probably use the product up fairly quickly. But if you’ve had the lotion for about six months, or it begins to smell off, get rid of any unused portion.
Most sunscreens last for two to three years, and, unlike "regular" cosmetics, many have an expiration date printed right on the tube or bottle! This means that you can use them from one season into the next-yay! I always date my sunscreen with a sharpie pen, just to make sure I’m getting full coverage.
Though bacteria won’t really last -or reproduce-in nail polish because it’s a “hostile environment”, the polish itself may lose color, separate or become gummy and tacky over time. Most nail polishes have a shelf-life of about two years. They won’t harm you if they expire, but they may not go on well or look their best.