If you’re a beauty buff like me, chances are you have a cabinet (or counter top) crowded with different kinds of lotions, creams, serums, mascaras, lip gloss and more. But if you haven’t used some of those items in a while, it may be time to toss them out. While it’s true that some trends come back in style, your favorite beauty products won’t last forever.
Throwing out your beauty products may feel like throwing money away, but trust me, it’s better to toss it than risk exposing your skin to something harmful. Old or contaminated products can lose their color or texture, become less effective and grow harmful bacteria.
Here’s a handy guide to help you determine when to toss your products:
- Mascara: 3-4 months. Be sure to throw out that clumpy, dried up mascara, as it can contain bacteria and cause lash damage. To extend the life of your mascara, don’t pump the wand in and out — this exposes the product to oxygen which can shorten its shelf life.
- Liquid eye liner: 6-9 months. Liquid products are especially susceptible to bacterial growth, which is not what you want lining your eyes.
- Foundation: 6-12 months. The liquids and emollients in foundation can start to separate and degrade which doesn’t leave your complexion looking good. A foundation with a pump can last longer than an open bottle where you use your fingers to get the liquid out. Wash your hands before applying foundation and if using a brush or sponge clean or replace those regularly to reduce bacteria and prevent breakouts or clogged pores.
- Concealer: 1 year. Whether it comes in a tube, pot, stick or other applicator form, concealer tends to come in smaller sizes and therefore can dry out faster and become harder to work with and apply.
- Lip gloss and lipsticks: 1-2 years. You might go months in-between using certain lip colors, but as long as the product hasn’t become contaminated and you haven’t had a mouth or lip infection (cold sores/fever blisters), these items should last you several seasons. If the product has been contaminated or you have had infections, throw out immediately.
- Cleansers: 1-2 years. Creamy cleansers tend to last about a year before the oils and emollients start to separate. Gel cleansers last closer to the 2-year mark. Once a cleanser is past its shelf life, it can become less effective at removing impurities from the skin.
- Moisturizers: 1-2 years. Lotions, moisturizers and creams in jars and tubs tend to about a year, but make sure to wash your hands prior to dipping your fingers in the jar – or use a q-tip to scoop to avoid contamination. Creams in tubes or pump-bottles can last closer to the 2 year mark.
- Serums: 1-2 years. Serums in pumps last the longest while serums in droppers can degrade a bit faster. If it’s been a while, shake your skin serum before using to help restore it to the correct consistency.
- Toners/mists: 2 years. Toners and mists tend to be formulated with alcohol and have a stable, long shelf-life. The only exception is toning pads, which can dry out quickly.
- Nail polish: 2 years. Keep your lids on tight and your colorful collection of nail polish should last upwards of 2 years. Avoid exposing your polish to foot fungi or infection, which can quickly taint the product.
- Powders and eye shadows: 2 years. Powder-based eye shadows are less likely to be contaminated because they lack water. The only concerns with exposing these items to bacteria will be from your brushes and applicators – so be sure to keep those clean.
- Lip and eye pencils: 2+ years. Products that come in pencil form are easy to keep clean because you can sharpen them and remove trace organisms and germs. Keep the caps on them and these items should last you up to 2 years.
- Sunscreen and sunblock: do not use after expiration date. Most sun protection products are manufactured with a use by or expire by date. Using sunscreen after it is expired means it is less likely to protect the skin from harmful UV rays.
Always use good judgment when inspecting your products. If it looks strange, smells funky, has changed consistency, or causes a reaction, discontinue use immediately and toss the product.
My tips for keeping track of your collection:
- I date my products with a marker so I don’t have to guess or try and remember when I purchased or starting using a product.
- Every season, I try to take a quick inventory of my goods and throw out the old to make room for the new.
At MyChelle, we use Plantservative (Japanese Honeysuckle) an GeoGuard as our preservative system which is nontoxic, safe and internationally approved. We also use nature’s most effective ingredients, skillfully and scientifically combined to create unmatched visible results—ones you won’t get from anyone except MyChelle. (Seriously, we don’t mess around!) All of our products are made to last 24 months with proper care and storage.
Catie Wiggy is Innovative Programs Manager for MyChelle Dermaceuticals. She has been working in the skincare industry for over 10 years as a makeup artist and licensed esthetician. She holds several certifications in esthetics and has hands-on experience with chemical peels, microdermabrasions, acne management and anti-aging treatments.