Your Guide to Beauty Product Expiration Dates

4 min read
Your Guide to Beauty Product Expiration Dates

Are you guilty of being a beauty product hoarder?  It might be time to rethink your habits, because that stuff is no good for you… at all!

In fact, if you are hanging on to beauty products long after their expiry date and still using them, you might be gooping microbes and bacteria onto yourself and causing the skin problems that you are trying to get rid of! Like that moisturiser that you rarely ever use but cost you nearly $100 or that mascara that’s seen better days.

Using expired beauty products mean you run the risk of things like irritation, blemishes, rashes as well as skin and eye infections.

Your Guide to Beauty Product Expiration Dates | Stay At Home Mum

In 2013, the International Journal of Cosmetic Science carried out a study into the makeup routines and habits of 44 women and found some pretty gross stuff is going on. It found that 70% of women in the study use expired products mostly eye makeup (usually mascara, eyeliner and eye shadow). The makeup was tested for contamination and it was found 67% contained potentially harmful levels of microorganisms, including those that commonly cause bacterial skin infections!

So how do you know when you should junk your stuff?

Your Guide to Beauty Product Expiration Dates | Stay At Home Mum

All Beauty Products Expire

That’s right. ALL of them. The preservatives in your beauty products aren’t going to last forever, whether they have been opened or have been sitting on the shelf. Unfortunately only prescription drugs and things like sunscreens and anti-acne creams have expiration dates printed on them, by law, so for everything else you’re going to have to get educated.

When something will expire will depend on a number of factors, including what it is made of, when you first use it, how it’s been packaged and the way it has been stored.

What To Look For

Your Guide to Beauty Product Expiration Dates | Stay At Home Mum

  • A good rule of thumb is that if your products are looking discoloured, lumpy, runny, smell funny, have separated, or don’t feel the same way on your skin as they used to, chances are they’ve gone bad.
  • You really should throw away anything that is in packaging that has deteriorated, expanded or warped. It doesn’t have to be old to be off!
  • Water-based products tend to have the shortest shelf-life because the water is a breeding-ground for microbes and bacteria.
  • Cosmetics that contain plant extracts are susceptible to bacterial contamination through exposure to air.
  • If your cosmetics are described as being “preservative-free” you should be especially careful, as there is nothing added to the product to prevent bacteria thriving.
  • Products with almost no water, like powders, are among the safest to keep using.

When Is It Time To Junk The Gunk?

Depending on where you live (eg, if you are in a humid location vs a non humid one) and how you use the products, the useful life of them will vary, but this is a pretty good general guide of how long you have to use them.

Your Guide to Beauty Product Expiration Dates | Stay At Home Mum

Mascara and eyeliners (pencil, liquid or gel) 4 to 6 months
Liquid, cream or stick foundations and concealers 6 months to 1 year
Powder based products including mineral makeup 2 to 3 years
Lipsticks, lip pencils, lip gloss 2 to 3 years
Nail polish 1-2 years
Cleansers: 1 year
Toners 6 months to 1 year
Lip balms 1 year
Moisturisers and serums 6 months to 1 year
Sunscreen 6 months
Hair products 1 year
Perfumes 2 years or more

Your Guide to Beauty Product Expiration Dates | Stay At Home Mum

Look After Your Products

To get the most out of your products, it’s important to store them properly. Where you can, keep them in a cool, dark place like a bathroom drawer or a cupboard.

Sitting on top of the bathroom counter is generally not the best place for them if you want them to last! The heat and humidity in your bathroom is going to disagree with many of your products.

Perfumes should be kept away from light and heat, and did you know that nail polishes last longer if you keep them in the fridge??

Any products that are in a pump, spray or tube will generally last longer because it’s harder for air and therefore bacteria to get inside them. Products in bottles and jars are the worst, especially if you are dipping your fingers in to apply cream and so on. Always wash your hands otherwise you’re spreading bacteria into your products and reducing its shelf-life!

At the end of the day though, it’s all going to expire on you. Don’t hoard it and save it for a special occasion. You have it. Use it or lose it!

About Author

Caroline Duncan

Caroline Duncan is a freelance journalist and photographer with almost 20 years' media experience in radio, magazines and online. She is also a mother...Read More of three daughters, and when she's not writing or taking pictures, she's extremely busy operating a taxi service running them around to various activities. She can't sew and hates housework. Read Less

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