It seems like every beauty article I’ve read lately is telling me when I need to dispose of my makeup. The problem for me, as with a lot of bloggers, is that we have a lot of makeup and some of it only makes it out of storage for the most special of special occasions. So, I thought it might be useful to explain what the makeup expiration time limits these articles give us are based on, the risks you run by using your products past these dates, and how can you extend the life of your products.
The first risk is of bacterial contamination. Bacteria loves to grow in warm, moist environments, so the biggest risks are in moist products (gels, liquids, tints or creams) that we use on moist areas (eyes and lips). The big offenders here are mascara, liquid eyeliner pens, lipsticks and lip glosses. Next up, are facial products, especially any that are touched repeatedly with fingers or swiped on the face. To minimise the risks and extend life on these products, here are a few easy tips:
- Make sure and store these in a non-warm/non-moist environment (Keep these stored out of the shower area!);
- Keep the lid on tightly when not in use to minimise airborne contaminants;
- Try to not touch the applicators, but drip the products onto an applicator that you can clean separately (like a brush);
- For products like gel eyeliners, use an applicator that can be cleaned and sterilised;
- For very rarely used items, you can sterilise them with rubbing alcohol after each use to minimise germs;
- Wash your hands before using any products where you have to touch the container.
The second risk is that the active ingredients can lose effectiveness or the formula can become less stable. This why you get suggestions like throwing out nail polish after a year (as if!). Powder-based pigments fall into this category, as do lotions, blush, brow pencils, fragrances and so on. It’s worth noting here that sunscreens (SPF) are particularly prone to expire so make sure to double up and not rely on the SPF given on an old product. This is one of the most common triggers of an expiry/PAO (period-after-opening). The risks associated can range from the product becoming less vibrant, the product separating or the product simply changing texture or fragrance; but if the active ingredients have changed, you may be more prone to skin irritation in some cases. To minimise the risks and extend life on these products here are a few easy tips:
- Keep out of direct sunlight as this will encourage degradation;
- Keep the lid on tightly when not in use to minimise the product drying out or losing texture;
- Temperature control will help these products maintain stability (Again, not stored in the shower area!);
- If you suddenly discover old eyeshadow or blush that you want to start using again, try testing the product on the back of your hand to test whether the product will irritate your skin, before swiping it across the face and potentially having a very bad reaction.
Essentially, most products are designed to last as long as it would reasonably take you to use them up and are tested presuming the worst about how you will store your makeup. With care, you can extend the life even further that suggested with really very little risk to your health.
About the Contributor
Rebecca is an Australian beauty blogger with a passion for data organizing! She has an extensive makeup collection (mainly nail polish), with a personal blog at lastcontrast.wordpress.com. She has 3 kids and 3 cats and keeps very busy on both fronts. She enjoys puns and silly jokes, and is always aiming to be more organized around the house, but is never as successful as she planned. She has a makeup organizing app on Apple and Android available via www.mymakeupcollection.com