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Expiration Dates, Is Your Makeup Safe?

May 20, 2011

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Years ago, no one ever thought their makeup could be the host for all sorts of little bad bugs, but now we know better. We also know that makeup and skin care can “spoil” just like food in your fridge. So how do we know when it’s time to give up that favorite eyeshadow, or toss the mascara? Here’s a general guide:

  • Powers (foundation, eyeshadow, blush, etc): These actually keep for a while, sometimes up to 2 years. It just depends on the brand and how it’s made. If it starts to crumble easily, it’s probably time to get a new one.
  • Liquid Foundation: If you’re using a tube, then it’s better to get a new one after about a year. Since a pump allows less germs to get inside, you can keep those for 2 years.
  • Liquids that touch your eyes (mascara, liquid eyeliner, liquid eyeshadow, etc): The general rule of thumb is to replace after a few months, but you might have to get rid of it sooner if you come down with a case of pink-eye or a sty. Even though it might not have been your eyeliner that gave it to you, you were probably contagious for a day or two before you saw it, and it ended up in back in the bottle.
  • Lip products: Hmmm, this is a tough one. I’ve seen some studies say 1 year, some say 2 years, I’ve also seen articles that say it depends on how it’s applied. My opinion is that it doesn’t matter whether you’re using a wand from a gloss, or directly applying lipstick, the same germs are being transferred from your mouth to the product. I play it safe and toss after a year.
  • Pencils (eye, lip, etc.): Because sharpening eliminates some of the germs, you can keep these up to three years. Be sure to sharpen them if you haven’t used them in a while, even if it already has a point.
  • Skin care products: This one is a little tougher. In general, most products can be kept about 2 years. BUT, some of the anti-aging skin care products will need to be tossed sooner. You can get an extra few months if you choose one in a pump. But, if you haven’t used all of your cleanser or moisturizer in 4 -5 months, you’re probably not using it enough anyway 😉
  • Sunscreen: Sunscreens contain chemicals that react with your skin to absorb the UVA and UVB rays. These chemicals break down over time, so make sure to look for the expiration date on the can or tube. In general, they should probably be kept only about a year, maybe 2.
  • Sunblock: Sunblocks work a bit differently than sunscreens, they contain ingredients that literally block the UVA and UVB rays from entering your skin at all. I’ve heard that the ingredients in sunblock (titanium dioxide, zinc, etc) are more stable than the ones in sunscreen, so they might last up to 3 years. Again, go by the expiration date of your can or bottle.

Most cosmetics and skin care now come with either expiration dates or a PAO (Period After Opening) date. Make sure to check those before you open a new container, since the labels sometimes fall off or become illegible after regular use. And if sometimes doesn’t smell right, be sure to toss it right away. Better safe than sorry!


4 Comments leave one →
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