ARE YOUR BEAUTY PRODUCTS PAST THEIR PRIME?
If that plate of leftovers in your fridge has been in there so long that it looks like a science project, you know it's time to toss it. Did you know that cosmetics can expire too — and should be trashed when they go bad? If the color, consistency, or smell of a product has changed, get rid of it. When in doubt, throw it out!
Cosmetics are formulated and tested to have a shelf life of one to three years (three if unopened) — IF you keep cosmetic containers tightly closed and away from light and extreme temperatures (like in a hot car), always make sure your hands and brushes are clean, and refrain from sharing.
Ditch Your Designer Mascara
Good-quality beauty products are an investment, and no one wants to part with that pricey eyeshadow palette or designer mascara. But if a product is past its prime, it can decompose. At best, its quality may have deteriorated; at worst, it's become a bacteria breeding ground that can cause irritation, infection, allergic reactions, even burns. (Yes, you have to ditch that $35 mascara — especially mascara, the product with the shortest shelf life — after three to six months to avoid contamination.)
As a rule, powders last longer than creams. Eye makeup doesn't last as long as other cosmetics because of repeated exposure to germs and the risk of infection. Never add water — or worse, saliva! — to dried-out mascara or it can become a veritable goulash of grossness! (Actually, you should never water down any cosmetics because it disrupts the balance of preservatives that keep them safe.)
Stash It or Trash It?
Sunscreen, acne products, and some beauty brands show expiration dates with a "PAO" ("period after opening") label on the package — an "M" followed by a number, usually on the back in the lower right-hand corner. The number indicates how many months the product will remain fresh. If there's no date, put a sticker on the product with the date you opened it.
Here are general expiration guidelines for cosmetics after opening:
cleanser: 1 year
scrub: 2 years
cream, lotion, serum, toner: up to 1 year
peels, masks: 3 months
foundation: 6 to 12 months
powders: 2 to 3 years
cream concealer, blush, eyeshadow: 12 to 18 months
liquid, gel, cake eyeliners: 3 to 6 months
pencil liners: 1 year
lip color: 2 to 3 years
nail polish: 1 to 2 years
shampoo, conditioner: 2 years
hairstyling products: 18 months
perfume: 8 to 10 years
"natural"/organic products with no preservatives: 3 to 6 months
Make It Last
- When possible, pick products with pump dispensers, which keep air and germs out.
- Use those teensy little spatulas that come with expensive creams to scoop out the product instead of dipping your fingers in and spreading germs. Clean spatulas often with hot water and detergent.
- Travel with cosmetics in your carry-on instead of in checked luggage to avoid exposing them to extreme temperatures in the plane's cargo area.
- When your favorite nail polish gets thick and gloppy, adding a few drops of polish thinner to the bottle will bring it back to life.
Doesn't it feel good to clear out all that cosmetic clutter? Now that you have extra space in your bathroom, it's time to check out your favorite beauty websites and see what's new!