Chances are you probably have a pile of makeup in a drawer that you “sometimes” use or never use, but you refuse to throw it out “just in case.” Who knows, maybe that brick red eyeshadow may come in handy someday. But more than likely, that eyeshadow, along with that pile of makeup, have long been expired. Makeup is supposed to enhance our beauty, but bad makeup can sure turn ugly. Makeup can also be expensive and costly to throw out. So knowing how to maximize your makeup's shelf life and how to reduce your chances of cosmetic-related infection will make your spending worth while.
Because cosmetics are not legally required to have expiration dates, most manufacturers omit this information. There is also inconsistency between beauty professionals about when to toss out old makeup. All this together makes it difficult for consumers to determine when their makeup is too old or unsafe to keep and use. So, what is the shelf life of makeup?
What Is The Shelf Life Of Makeup?
Mascara is the worst of all cosmetics when it comes to cosmetic contamination. Once the wand is exposed from the manufacturer’s packaging, it is a bacteria-breeding ground. The wand picks up the bacteria from your lashes and inserts it back into the dark, moist environment of the container. So how long should you keep your mascara? Dermatologists recommend tossing mascara after two to three months. (See: What You Should Know About Mascara.)
Eyeliners, eye creams, and face creams have a longer life than mascara. These items should be replaced after six months. Liquid cosmetics such as foundations should be tossed annually; however, some experts recommend replacing products every four to six months. Lipsticks and pencils can last up to two years, while powdered products (eyeshadow, blush, face powder) may be kept up to three years. These guidelines are dependent on your neatness of use. If you sneeze into your foundation, perhaps you may not want keep it for the recommended 12 months.
What happens when you’ve forgotten when you purchased your lipstick and now can’t determine when to throw it out? The rule of thumb is to smell it. If it smells, that's a good indicator that you should not be using it. Likewise, if the product has changed color or consistency, toss it out. Note that some products such as makeup base may naturally change color due to oxidation.
What is the shelf life of makeup? - The Medical Risks
It is rare, but medical cases have been reported for cosmetic contamination causing irritations, infections, and in extreme cases, blindness (conjunctivitis, eye infection). If you suspect an eye infection, throw out the eye makeup that you’ve been using. Avoid eye makeup altogether for a week or two. If you noticed any change in eye vision, especially blurred vision, pain, or unusual discharge in the eye, consult a physician.
The preservatives used in most cosmetics should kill common-use bacteria. However, studies have shown that a small amount of bacteria is often present in makeup prior to purchase. Upon the makeup’s exposure to air, airborne bacteria are introduced. The concentration of bacteria is augmented with unsanitary practices such as unclean hands or an unclean applicator or brush. Don’t be alarmed; this is usually not a health hazard. If you are healthy with intact skin, a small amount of bacteria is not a problem. However, there is a higher risk for infection from contaminated products if your skin is non-intact (e.g., active eczema, acne, infection).
How To Reduce Cosmetic Contamination
Cooties! Don’t share your makeup. Sharing makeup spreads bacteria and will increase your risk of infection. This advice is essential for mascara. The same rule applies to the cosmetic counter at your local department store. These makeups are a breeding ground for bacteria. Tens, if not hundreds, of customers have sampled the same eyeshadow prior to you. Unless you know that it is a newly opened product and you’re the first to sample it, do not be tempted to try on makeup samples.
Have good hygiene. Before applying makeup, wash your face and hands with soap. Use a disposable applicator instead of sticking your finger into the product. Wash your brushes regularly. It is suggested that brushes are washed once or twice a month, with synthetic brushes washed more often. Use a gentle shampoo and lay them flat to dry. A powder puff can also be washed in the same manner. Store the puff with the used side away from the pressed powder. Following this advice will eliminate the majority of bacteria that may penetrate your skin.
Do not add water to your liquid cosmetics. Water usually contains bacteria and adding it to your cosmetic will only increase your risk for an infection. Also, the addition of water to your cosmetic may upset the chemical formula of the makeup. Your foundation may not work the same if you add water.
What is the shelf life of makeup? The rule of thumb is that if your makeup looks bad, throw it out. If you want to be more cautious toss it every three months.
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