Could Your Makeup and Skincare Products Be Hurting You?
Here are some tips to help you determine when you should replace your cosmetics.
We are just beginning a new year! Let’s start the new year right and clean out our makeup bags! The government does not require cosmetic manufacturers to put expiration dates on their products, but that does not mean they are good forever. Definitely, if you are still using makeup that is over two years old (or worse yet, from your high-school days!), then you should definitely stop using these products immediately and toss them!
There are three things to keep in mind if the product you buy does have an expiration date on the box:
1) This date is simply a guide to go by. The product’s safety may expire long before the expiration date on the box, especially if it is not stored properly;
2) The date noted on the box is the purchasing date expiration. If you purchase a product and leave it unopened for 6 months, it is probably still okay because air has not been able to reach the product to allow bacteria to grow. But, if you are anything like me, as soon as you get home you have to open the new product to see how a new color looks on you, or how a skincare product feels. I tend to use my purchases almost immediately; and
3) The date is on the box, not the actual product! Once you throw the box away, can you remember when you actually purchased the item?
Ultimately, it is left up to consumers to know when it is time to throw away products but I have some suggestions that may help you. The basics of determining when a product has expired are known somewhat intuitively. If the product smells or looks funny, such as discolored, or runny or lumpy, or if it has separated, it should definitely be thrown away. If the product has expanded, whether it has been opened or unopened, this is a sign that something is not right inside.
Sometimes a product can go bad even if it is not old and has not been exposed to bacteria, so you really always need to look at your products before you apply them to your skin.
It is common for cosmetics to have preservatives in them, but once you open the container, bacteria can enter and the safeness, as well as the effectiveness, of the product is decreased. Preservatives are added to the ingredients to help the products last longer, but not indefinitely. If you are using ‘preservative-free’ cosmetics, you have to be extra-cautious because without the preservatives, bacteria can grow quicker. Other products that are likely to have a shorter shelf life are “all natural” products. Many of these contain substances that are plant-derived and are very conducive to bacteria growth.
Here are some common sense, rule of thumb guides to help you lessen contamination and extend the shelf life of your cosmetics:
- Wash your hands and face before applying makeup.
- Try to use a makeup applicator or wedge instead of your finger. The applicators are disposable and you get a clean one each time you apply. Your fingers could transfer germs to the product.
- When purchasing products, make sure your new product has not been opened by other consumers. All cosmetics should have a safety seal on them. If another consumer has already opened your product to test it, or smell it, it has already been exposed to air, and therefore bacteria.
- Store your cosmetics in a cool, dry place. Keep your products out of direct sunlight. Products exposed to high temperatures can deteriorate significantly before the expiration date. On the other hand, if you store your products under the best conditions, they may be adequate long after the expiration date. Be aware to consider how climate and humidity will shorten shelf life on products.
- Don’t share your makeup with others. This also applies to the makeup counters in department stores. Use an applicator to apply the product to the back of your hand if you cannot tell how the color will look on you. Do not use your fingers and do not apply the product to your eyes or face. Wash your hands immediately after testing.
- Make sure you tightly close all makeup containers between uses.
- Your makeup brushes and sponges need to be kept clean. Brushes should be washed once a week in mild soap and water. Allow them to dry laying flat. Do not stand them up as the water will seep down into metal casing and break down the glue which could lead to bristle lose. Sponges should be washed after each use and tossed after one to two months, or when they show wear and tear.
- If you have had an eye infection, throw away any products you may have used while you had it.
Below is a general time frame of the shelf life of products:
Mascara: 3 months. This is probably the product with the shortest shelf life. You should toss mascara after three months. Additionally, do not keep pumping the wand in and out of the mascara container as this pushes air into the product with each push and increases the chance of bacteria. Also, do not add water to the tube to try to get more product. Water increases bacteria, too.
How you can tell: Mascara will start to smell funny after a few months.
- Liquid Foundation – 3-6 months
- Cream Foundation – 4-6 months
- Spray or Pump Foundation – 6-7 months (this can last a little longer as it is less exposed to air than jar foundation)
- Powder Foundation – 1 year
How you can tell: When the ingredients begin to separate (some will settle to the bottom of the bottle, if the texture thickens or thins, or the smell changes. As the foundation ages, the consistency thickens. It may go on unevenly, causing streaks. Powder foundations last longest because they do not contain water, where bacteria will grow. However, powders can become harder to blend and are more likely to crumble over time.
Concealers: 6-8 months
How you can tell: The product will smell different from when you first purchased it or it will become watery.
Eye shadows and Eyeliners:
- Liquid Eyeliners – 3 months
- Cream Eyeliners – 6 months
- Pencil Eyeliners and Powder Eye Shadows – 1 year
How you can tell: As in mascara, bacteria can flourish in an eyeliner tube and the product dries out. Pencil eyeliners have a longer shelf life because as you sharpen them, you are presented with a clean, fresh surface each time. Powder eye shadows have a longer shelf life, however, they tend to get packed down and it is harder to pick up the colors with your brush.
Lipstick, Lip Gloss and Lip liners: 1-2 years
How you can tell: The water content in these products make them ideal for bacteria to collect. They also dry out with age. They will not look creamy on the lips.
Skin Care: 6 months in jars – 1 year if in a pump bottle
How you can tell: Since these products are easily oxidized, you can look for a change in color or smell. Store these products correctly, try to get them in a pump bottle and discard after 6 months.
Acne creams and over-the-counter products that contain drugs: These products are FDA regulated and have expiration dates. You should always abide by the expiration dates.
Sunscreen: These are FDA regulated, but you should not use them after 6 months. Some products may have an expiration date of one year, but this date indicates the purchasing time frame. Once you open the container, water in the product will begin to evaporate, causing the formula to become unstable. The product may not go on evenly, and may not last as long. Always remember to store your tube out of the sun.
Body Lotions: 2 years, unless it is in a pump container
Bath Oil: 1 year
Hair Products: 1 year
How you can tell: You can’t tell very easily, but make sure you always close the caps on shampoos, conditioners and styling products tightly. Water and air can break down the formula and cause them to separate. Hair sprays in aerosol cans are the best to protect the product, so sprays should last longer.
Nail Polish: 1-2 years
How you can tell: When the consistency of the nail polish is stringy or gooey, it’s time to toss.
Nail polishes are also sensitive to humidity and extremes in temperature. Store them in a cool place. The bathroom is usually not a good place to store nail polishes.
Fragrances: 2 years
How you can tell: Humidity and sunlight can affect the overall scent so you should watch where these products are stored. Fragrances like cool, dry places.
Deodorants: Up to 2 years
Shaving cream: 2 years
Bar Soap: 3 years
Cut out the timeline below and use it as your When-To-Toss guide:
Every season: Toss your mascara and liquid liners Every six months: Toss your skin-care regimen, sunscreens and liquid foundations Every year: Toss your hair products (except hairspray) Every two years: Toss your powder-based cosmetics, like foundation and shadows, lipsticks and nail polishes
Remember, when in doubt, throw it out!
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