How Long can you keep cosmetics?


Are you one of those people who has eight different mascaras in your make-up bag, six of which haven’t been used for as long as you can remember?   Do you have a lipstick that you brought around about the same time Christy Brinkley was in fashion?  Was that blush handed down from your mom?  Although this all sounds pretty disgusting, you’ll be surprised how many of us keep products way past their life spans, holding on for dear life just in case we may use it once more.

Make-up, like anything else we use, has a shelf life.  If you’re constantly dibbing in and out of a product, brushing it on your face and putting the applicator back in the pot again, then you’re spreading bacteria.  It’s this bacteria that can not only cause spot breakouts, blemishes and infections, but it can also cause more serious conditions such as conjunctivitis and even herpes.  Stay away from sharing make-up and even testing it in store too – never, ever apply to your face… who knows who has used it before you!

Here is a guideline of how long products should last for. Don’t take it as law though, use your judgement and if it smells, is discoloured or generally doesn’t look right… throw it away!

FOUNDATION:  Keep up to 2 years. Throw out sooner if the pigment has started to change or the consistency becomes clumpy.

LIPSTICK:   Keep 1.5 to 2 years. When the waxes eventually dry out, you’ll feel a loss of the slip that makes application easy.

MASCARA:  Keep 3 months. Because the process of applying involves moving the wand from lashes to bottle and back, the risk of introducing bacteria is high.

EYESHADOW:   Keep 2 years. If either powder or cream varieties exhibit an odor, color, or texture change, discard sooner.

LIP AND EYE PENCILS:   Keep 2 years. If the pencil starts to stick and get more difficult to use, it’s probably dried out. time to toss it.

BLUSH:   Keep 3 years. Despite a long shelf life, be alert to changes in color, smell or consistency.

MOISTURIZERS:   Keep 3 months to 1 year. Discard them sooner if you start to smell an off odor or the overall texture seems to have changes.

SUN PROTECTION:   Keep 1 season. When it’s time to discard, you’ll notice that the product starts to separate and may have an odor.

SELF-TANNERS:   Keep 6 months to 1 year.  Self-tanners take on a funny smell when they’re past their prime. They become less effective and you may get a lighter or inconsistent “tan.”

NAIL POLISH:   Keep 6 months to 4 years. The less it’s exposed to air and sunlight, the longer it will last; store in the refrigerator.

There you have it!  Now go look through all of your current cosmetics and throw out those that have exceeded their shelf lives.

Karen Whitney

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