Make-up expiry dates: How to tell if your cosmetics are past it

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  • I might be time to part with your favourite lipstick

    When it comes to make-up expiry dates, the majority of us will admit to not being all that clued up.

    Is it really okay that you’ve held on to the same lipstick for years for those rare occasions you need a bright orange lip? Pencil eyeliners don’t actually have to be chucked until you’ve sharpened it within an inch of its life, right? And what’s wrong with keeping a blusher forever?

    But keeping old products can expose us to harmful toxins and cause serious health problems, which is why we’ve pulled together a very handy and in-depth guide to when it’s time to bin your beauty buys.

    Read on for your comprehensive guide to the different make-up expiry dates, from powder to concealer, mascara and lipstick…

    Beauty Drawer

    When does foundation and concealer expire?

    When to toss

    The life of your foundation depends on its ingredients. A water-based product will last up to 12 months, while oil-based foundations will make it to 18 months because oil is a natural preservative.

    Expiry signs

    When the oils rise to the top and the consistency thickens, which means that your foundation will create an uneven, streaky and inconsistent finish.

    How to protect

    You can prevent your foundation from separating by stashing it somewhere cool and regularly shaking the liquid to mix the oils, purified water and make-up particles together. Keep your application tools clean too and avoid touching your foundation as much as possible to keep bacteria at bay.

    When does blusher, bronzer and face powder expire?

    When to toss

    Does powder make-up expire? Definitely yes, and the recommended time to keep it is 18 months. Powder products don’t contain water, so it’s harder to make bacteria grow. Cosmetic chemist Ni’Kita Wilson advises to look out for the ones with botanical extracts such as aloe, green tea extract and chamomile. Wilson explains that oils will cling to the bristles of your brush and transfer to your product when applying powder over liquid or cream face products, which causes a dull grey film on the product.

    Expiry signs

    Noticed a hard rim on your powder? This is due to minerals in your blush mixing with oils from your skin overtime.

    How to protect

    Always close your compact or twist the lid shut after use to avoid oxidation, which can change the colour of powders. Also, avoid using an emollient or greasy concealer before you apply. Plus, make sure your brush is always clean before each use to limit the amount of oil that ends up in your powder. Allow to dry and it’s as good as new.

    When does mascara expire?

    makeup expire

    When to toss

    Three months with everyday use and six months with occasional use. Wet environments harbour bacteria, which is why our most-loved beauty product has such a short expiration period. Bacteria also naturally exist on our eyelashes and these germs are transferred from our eyes to our wands and into the mascara tube. In fact, research from two Brazilian university studies found that 79% of mascara samples owned by women are contaminated with staph bacteria.

    Expiry signs

    If it smells funky, it’s gone off, but trust us, just toss it after three to six months. It might be heartbreaking to see your make-up expire, but binning that mascara now is better for you in the long run.

    How to protect

    Don’t pump the wand, as it pushes air into the tube, causing it to dry out. Instead, draw it out and twist against the tube’s interior to pick up product. If your mascara dries up,revive with a few drops of baby oil.

    When does eyeliner expire?

    When to toss

    Three months to three years. Liquid eyeliners have the same bacteria-prone formula and packaging as mascaras, whereas pencil eyeliners have greater lasting power because as you sharpen them you remove bacteria that you pick up from using it on your eyes.

    Expiry signs

    If a white film that can’t be sharpened off develops on your eyeliner, replace it with a brand new one.

    How to protect

    Limit germs in liquid eyeliner by cleaning the tip after each use. If you use a pencil,regularly sanitise your sharpener with cotton wool and rubbing alcohol to stop bacteria from dwelling on the razor and ending up on your eyeliner.

    When does lipstick and lipgloss expire?

    makeup expire

    When to toss: Lipstick doesn’t hold much bacteria, so it can last between 12 – 18 months. Although lipstick and gloss are packed with preservatives such as parabens, essential oils and vitamins to ward off germs, these naturally start to break down after a year.

    Expiry signs: Any beading of moisture, funky smells or chalky texture means it’s time to toss.

    How to protect: Store your summer hue in the fridge. Keeping lipstick and gloss away from heat slows the breakdown of ingredients. Also, don’t apply lipstick straight after eating – it cultivates bacteria.

    Do makeup brushes expire?

    When to toss: Brushes can last a long time if well looked after.

    Expiry signs: When the bristles start falling out, that’s when you know it’s time to replace it.

    How to protect: Brushes should be washed at least once every two weeks, and try to spot-clean your eye brushes after each use to avoid infections. All you need is warm water, mild soap and a dash of olive oil; give your brush a swirl (the olive oil breaks down the oil in make-up) and rinse thoroughly.

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