I bet if you looked through your make-up collection there are a few products where you think "I might use it one day" or there are products you just can't let go of, like a discontinued lipstick. I didn't realise for a long time that make-up actually goes 'off', but unlike consumables, cosmetic companies aren't actually legally required to put an expiration date on their products, there is only a rough guide which from brand to brand and product to product can vary slightly. It is obvious that any products that have changed colour or are starting to smell should head straight for the bin, but if there are no changes, it can be hard to justify throwing it away.
Although there are rough guides in place, no-one really knows exact time frames to keep make-up for, the best way to preserve make-up is by keeping it clean and storing it correctly. Make-up and make-up applicators are a breeding ground for bacteria which can cause rashes and break-outs, so if you have a routine of cleaning your products and brushes they will last you a lot longer. Obviously, some products will naturally last longer than others, it is common knowledge that liquid environments are a mine field for bacteria, meaning your mascaras and liquid eye liners are going to be going in the bin before your powders.
These are the symbols to look for on your cosmetics, the number
indicates the number of months the product should last for
I have seen anything between 6 - 24 months for foundations, which is a ridiculously wide range. Personally, I would say after a year I would start thinking about throwing a foundation away. Obvious signs of foundation expiry are lumps in the product or the liquid actually separating. Depending on how the foundation is packaged will also have an effect on how long it lasts. Foundations in glass bottles will last a bit longer than those in plastic, due to chemicals in the plastic mixing with the product over time. Any foundation that involves you digging your hands into the pot to apply it is going to expire a lot faster than foundations in bottles or with pump dispensers as these are kept clean in the bottle with little or no air contact.
Again, for concealer I have seen similar expiry time-frames to foundation and again I would say that 12 months is a good time to start thinking about throwing a concealer away. Concealers come in so many different types and in various different packaging so you should judge depending on the type of concealer you have. If you have a concealer with a built in applicator then you have been gathering bacteria from the moment you starting using it, whereas a concealer in a pot with a separate brush can be easily cleaned and will last you longer.
Most powders I own at the moment have an expiry time of 24 months, which I think I agree with as long as you keep them clean. Powders can be easily cleaned by being wiped with a clean tissue, but you must make sure you are also cleaning your brushes as well, as any oil and bacteria on the brushes will be going straight back onto your clean palette.
I think this is the only product that most girls will agree on, mascara has a very short shelf life ranging somewhere between 3-4 months. As soon as it is dry and clumpy you should know that it is at the end of its shelf life, but you also shouldn't wait for this to happen! Although, I have never had any problems with eye infections due to old or shared mascaras (touch wood), it is not something I would like to happen. The biggest way to spread bacteria with mascara is by sharing and this is definitely something you should avoid, if you are going to share use a disposable applicator and do not double dip!
This seems to really depend on the brand, in my collection there is a range from 12 to 36 months. I believe that a lipstick could last for 36 months, as long as it was cleaned every now and then and it was stored well e.g. nowhere hot where it could melt. On the other hand, I would never keep a lip gloss for 36 months, that seems bizarre! Most lip glosses have the typical doe foot applicator which involves dipping any bacteria from your lips straight into the tube (imagine if you had a cold... yuck!). Using a similar mentality as I would with a mascara and taking into account the fact the moist environment is perfect for a germ build up, I would probably throw a lip gloss away anywhere between 6 - 12 months depending on how often I had used it!
It seems the average life for a pencil product is about 36 months, which I can understand. Sharpening the product helps to keep it clean and the whole product is generally encased in wood or plastic so has no exposure to air.
I think deciding whether a product has expired or not is mainly down to using your common sense, but remember no product will last forever, no matter how much you want it to! I am definitely going to have a clear out in time for Christmas and make way for some lovely new and clean products!
What make-up products are you hoarding?
What new products are on your wish list?