Expired Cosmetics: How to Tell When Makeup Has Gone Bad

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Has Your Makeup Expired?

Determining if Makeup Has Gone Bad and How to Make It Last

Makeup is a very personal journey for each individual and while trying products along the way, and sometimes there are products that don’t work out. The money-saver in me wants to hold onto all the mascaras, concealers, and powders that just didn’t work out for me “just in case I need it one day” so it gets tucked away into a drawer for months or maybe even years. But did you know that makeup actually expires?

As much as it may hurt your wallet to throw out makeup you paid for, it’s time for some spring cleaning and I’m sure every one of you has some cosmetic products that need to be tossed. Read on to find out how to tell if your product is expired, and how to make sure your products last longer!

PAO on Cosmetic Products
The Period After Opening date can range anywhere from 6 months to 3 years.

Makeup can go bad for many different reasons, the simplest being that some will just plain dry out and not perform the same way (like that tube of lipstick you’ve had since middle school that just draws chalky streaks now).The most dangerous reason being bacteria and mold growing in or on the product, which can lead to infections or other health complications if used on the skin.

Even haircare products like shampoo and styling products can go bad! Hair color and developer too, for those of you trying to stretch out your at-home hair dye supplies. Save the infographic below as a quick reference for general shelf life of cosmetics and other beauty products.

There’s a big difference in shelf life of different cosmetics, depending on the formula and the type of exposure the product has. Powder products will typically last much longer than cream or liquid products. Natural or organic cosmetic formulas typically won’t last as long since they aren’t made with preservatives that make other cosmetics last longer.

So, do you need to throw out your products as soon as the label says it expires? Not necessarily. Powder products would usually be fine to keep for longer than marked, as long as there are no detectable signs of change in the color, smell, consistency or performance of the product, however it will stop performing as well the more it dries out. Cream products and products used around the eyes (like mascara) should be strictly monitored, as they have a much higher chance of growing harmful bacteria.

If you’ve ever noticed this little symbol on any cosmetic products, that’s called the Period After Opening, or PAO. It represents how long that particular product lasts on average, after being opened. You should be able to find this on the label of any cosmetic, skincare, and even haircare products. It basically gives you a timeline of how long the product will last after the first time it’s opened and used.

Makeup Expiration Dates Infographic

Below are some of the tips to help your makeup last longer:

1. Store everything in a cool, dry place.

Don’t keep makeup in your bathroom, if possible. The humidity in the bathroom can cause bacteria to develop quicker. Also keep your makeup out of direct sunlight or heat, so, as summer starts to roll in, make sure to clear out the makeup that’s collected in your car.

2. Avoid touching products with your fingers.

Whenever possible, remove the amount of product needed from the container with a tool or applicator, and place the product on a mixing plate. Keeping the product that’s left in the bottle as clean as possible is the goal, and touching your fingers or brushes into the product is going to mean bacteria is more likely to be introduced to the product.

3. Clean your makeup brushes and tools frequently.

Using dirty brushes is a really easy way to introduce bacteria to your makeup products. Clean your brushes with a brush cleaner and make sure to scrub them well! If you have to use your fingers, make sure you wash hands thoroughly before touching your products.

4. Keep products sealed until you know you will use it.

While it may be tempting to try out a new product, if you now you won’t be using it for a few weeks or months, leave it unopened. Even better, try not to buy duplicates of products until you really need it. Of course, leave all cosmetic products closed between uses as well.

5. Keep a close eye on your cosmetics.

If the smell, consistency, or performance of the product changes, you should toss it out.

6. Write down the expiration date of new products.

It can be difficult to remember if you bought that mascara two months ago or ten months ago, so a great tip is to keep a note in your phone or even add a label to your products marking what date it needs to be thrown out by, before you forget.

Keeping a careful eye on your cosmetics and throwing them out when it’s time is important for the health of your skin and body, as well as the performance of your makeup. I hope you found these tips helpful, and if you have any questions or tips you’d like to share, leave me a comment below!


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