We can all be guilty of keeping hold that one special lipstick for too long, or not wanting to toss out that super expensive foundation when it’s only half empty. How long can you expect your makeup to last? What is the worst that can happen?
One of the most common things that I see when I teach my makeup clients privately is sad, old expired makeup. They always seem embarrassed to show me their makeup bags of shame; like a deep dark secret that they have been trying hard to hide, but my classroom is a judgment-free zone – for many consumers, it is hard to know just how long they should be holding onto these products.
Some cosmetics do have the Period after Opening (PAO) symbol on the label. It looks like a jar with an open lid and contains a number which indicates the length of time from opening the product is good for in months. Unfortunately, this labeling is not mandatory in Canada or the US, so that leaves it up to consumers to be vigilant about how long to hold onto their makeup. Here are some hints and guidelines to help you make the right purging decisions when it comes to cleaning up your makeup bag.
Mascara and Gel Liners: 90 Days only!
It has been my experience that the number one item that most of my clients are holding onto for too long is their mascara. Mascara is only good for about 90 days once it has been opened and used. Gel liners or liquid liners falls into the same category, given that a brush is dipped into the product and touched to the eyes.
Once you put that wand or brush to your eyes, it has come in contact with the bacteria living on the skin, and that bacteria will thrive in the dark, moist tube or the creamy jar of gel once the wand or brush is put back into the product. You have also introduced air into the product, so this will begin to break it down and dry it out.
You may be tempted to add water or essential oil to your mascara tube to resuscitate it once it has become a bit dry, but this is just an eye infection waiting to happen. Introducing something into the tube that is not sterile is not a good idea. To keep your costs down, opt to buy a more reasonably priced mascara like Essence Lash Princess Mascara priced at $4.99 or one of their other mascara offerings that run at around the same price point (available locally at Shoppers Drug Mart) the line is cruelty-free and affordable.
Foundation and Face Creams: 6-12 months
Believe it or not, one of the first things that I look for in a foundation or cream is the packaging. If it comes in a pump top or squeeze tube, I am all in. The reason being is that a pump or squeeze tube is not only easier to work with, but the life of the product is much longer as there is less air exposure and little chance of bacterial contamination in these formats.
The best ways to tell whether your foundation or cream is ready for the trash is both visual and through smell. If the bottle is frosted glass or clear glass and you can see that the foundation is separating inside, and it has an “off” smell, it is time to say goodbye. Buying a vegan foundation also helps, as there will not be any animal derived ingredients in the product that can turn rancid. The only caveat here would be that more natural products do not contain preservatives; therefore their shelf life is usually a little shorter. Elate Cosmetics has an amazing pump top foundation in a brown glass bottle to help keep the foundation fresher as the tinted glass protects from UV rays breaking the product down.
Eye Shadows, Lipsticks, and Eye/Lip Pencils: 12- 18 months
We are all guilty of wanting to get all the goodness out of our little shadow pans, but there comes a time where you have to part ways. But when is it time to toss it?
Eye shadow collects the oils from your eyelid and eventually, these oils leave a film on top of the shadow, sealing the top of it and penetrating the shadow, making it compacted and impossible to use.
If you cannot get the pigment onto your brush, the consistency is chunky, or it will not blend it is time to say goodbye.
If cared for, shadows can last up to 18 months, and one way to extend the life of eye shadow is to use a clean brush to apply it each time so that less oil collects on the top – this would also apply to compact powders and blushes.
Lipstick – I know many people have old tubes of lipstick hanging around and usually well past their best before date. The number one way to tell if your lipstick has expired is by smell.
Lipstick will develop a rancid smell, and in some cases, a white film will appear on the lipstick. If this has happened, you will want to discard it as this white snowy-looking coating could be fungus; it could also be chemicals separating in the product. No matter how much you love that shade, you need to toss it; lipstick goes on your mouth, so would you want to risk it? If you want to extend a lipstick’s life, you can wipe it down after each use and store it in the fridge.
Eye and lip pencils in the traditional wooden pencil format are easy to revive with sharpening. Clean your sharpener regularly so that it remains sharp and germ-free. Pencils have a good shelf life and can be kept longer than a year, but if you notice that the wood pencil becomes brittle and splinters after being sharpened, it is drying out and should be discarded.
If you have had a cold sore or infection, get rid of your old lipstick, liners, etc. It is better to be safe than sorry, and for the sake of saving a few dollars, you would not want to run the risk of re-infecting yourself.
It is always hard to say goodbye to your trusty essentials, but in the end, it is best for your health to purge them at the end of their lifespan. By holding onto your makeup and using it past its best before date you will not only have a product that no longer looks great when it is applied, but you also run the risk of breakouts or rashes, or worse- possible skin infections.
Store your makeup in a cool, dark and dry environment (not your bathroom) as this will extend the shelf life of your beauty products, so you get every last ounce out of your makeup purchases.
And while this may seem like common sense, I cannot stress enough that you should never share makeup and do not use the samples out at the beauty counter unless you know they sterilize them.
I have seen numerous ladies applying lipsticks and creams directly to their faces right from the samples that are out; truly cringe worthy. As these samples have been touched by countless people that could have infections or other nasty things, you are putting your health at risk if you apply these contaminated samples to your body.
So grab your makeup bag and do a little spring cleaning if it’s long overdue and maybe treat yourself to some new products. A new lipstick shade or bronzer is always a fun thing you can do for yourself that will be easy on the wallet.
Peace, Love, and Lipstick!
Next Week: Cruelty-Free Makeup Brushes vs. Animal Hair Brushes– what are the differences?