We know we probably shouldn’t eat foods once they’re a certain point past the suggested expiration date, but what about makeup? Using expired products may not be the best habit, but whether it’s that bad for you really depends on the individual product.
Image by somegeekintn.
The worst-case scenario is that some expired products can cause unwanted breakouts, redness, swelling, infections and other grossness. In most cases, the product’s consistency changes so they won’t work well anyway. Things like foundations and lipsticks dry up, mascara can get clumpy, and creams lose that homogeneous texture.
Expiration dates can sometimes be hard to find on cosmetics though. Wise Bread notes that if you don’t see it anywhere on the package or container, check if there’s an image of the container with a number followed by an “M”, which indicates the number of months the product is good for.
So in the picture above, “18M” means 18 months. If you’re not sure, most products change colour and consistency over time, simply don’t apply as smoothly, or worse, smell funky. As Refinery29 teases out, here are some guidelines on when to toss some of your common products:
- Lipstick: That waxy layer on lipstick stays good up to a year before it starts to dry out. If it smells rancid, it’s definitely time to toss it. The lipstick’s hard wax also has a tendency to trap and keep bacteria, so it’s not a good idea to share your or someone else’s old lipstick.
- Lip gloss: If you clean your lip gloss daily, you can keep it around longer, up to a year some experts say. When your lip gloss looks cloudy or smells, ditch it.
- Mascara: You generally want to avoid keeping mascara for more than three months because the dark container is prime breeding ground for bacteria. Any longer than that and the risk of an eye infection such as blepharitis and pink eye (which is super contagious) is greater. Plus, if you did try to use it, it gets clumpy anyway.
- Eye shadow: Similar to mascara, the longer you have eye shadow, the more likely you can give yourself a nasty eye infection. To play it safe, we suggest keeping your eye shadow for no longer than six months.
- Blush & foundation: Cream-based products don’t last as long as powders. Usually, six months versus a year. The usual signs are when it starts to smell funny, it cracks, or its colour has changed.
It’s good hygiene to use clean brushes and sponges to apply your make up, and to shampoo your brushes every week. Also, avoid using your fingers to get the product from the container. And even though you might be tempted to share make up with a friend or family member, it’s better to keep it to yourself to avoid contamination.