When Your Cosmetics Expire
Amy Thompson, defense attorney for William Balfour arrives at Cook County Criminal Court, Wednesday, May 9, 2012, in Chicago as closing arguments are set to begin in Balfour's murder trial. Balfour, is charged in the 2008 murder of Oscar and Grammy winning performer Jennifer Hudson's mother, brother and nephew. (AP Photo/M. Spencer Green) / M. Spencer Green
Cosmetics aren't required by law to have expiration dates, so you can't just look at the label to know when a product has expired. Experts vary in their guidelines, but all agree that mascara lasts the shortest amount of time and is the likeliest to cause infections, such as pink eye. Expiration dates are simply "rules of thumb" and a product's safety may expire long before the expiration date if a product hasn't been stored properly.
From the time you open it, the life and effectiveness of the product decreases and bacteria grows. Treat makeup products with care. Keep them in a dry, cool area and remember: Any cosmetic that changes texture, or smell, should be discarded immediately.
Makeup preservatives should kill common-use bacteria. But, as FDA studies show, a little bacteria is present in makeup before we buy it. As soon as you open your new product, airborne bacteria rushes in. Then you usually add bacteria by touching the product with unclean hands or with an unclean applicator or brush. At some point, aging cosmetics lose their effectiveness to fight bacteria no matter how careful you are when using it. But there are steps we can take to extend the shelf life of our cosmetics and protect ourselves from infections, like pink eye and skin breakouts.
The following tips lessen the contamination of makeup and extend its use:
Use common sense.
Basic hygiene is key: Before applying makeup, wash your face and hands with soap.
Instead of directly touching your makeup by placing your fingers in the product, pour a little into your palm or scoop a little out with a disposable spoon or applicator.
Don't share your makeup with others.
Keep makeup containers tightly closed when not in use.
Throw makeup away if the color changes or an odor develops (makeup has preservatives, similar to that in food, which can break down over time).
Don't use water or, even worse, saliva, which could introduce bacteria that could easily grow out of control. If makeup has lost its original texture or consistency, the preservatives have probably broken down.
Wondering when is it time to toss that product? Here are Dayle's suggestions:
Liquid Foundation, 3-6 months (Cream foundation can last 4-6 months)
Foundation in a bottle should last 3-6 months, but wide mouthed jars can expose the product to more air and should be tossed sooner. You'll know it's time to purchase a new bottle, when the ingredients begin to settle or separate, the texture thickens or thins, or the smell changes.
Concealer, 6-8 months
Powders, 1 year
Pressed powder, eye-shadows, blush
Mascara, 3 months
You should never keep mascara for any longer than 3 months (air pushes bacteria back into the tube). Never "pump" your mascara.
Lip gloss & Lipstick, 1 year
Eye/Lip Pencils, 1 year
Eye and lip pencils should last 1 year or more, but you should sharpen pencils at least once a week to prevent bacteria from being transferred to your eye area. You'll know the product has gone bad if it dries or crumbles.
Facial Cleansers & Moisturizers, 6 months
Facial Toners, 1 year
Natural Cosmetics, 6 months ("all-natural body washes", etc.)
Among other cosmetics that are likely to have an unusually short shelf life are "all natural" products that contain plant-derived ingredients (which are conducive to bacterial growth), or products with no preservatives.
Brushes And Tools
Oils and bacteria get trapped in the bristles of the brushes. Wash natural-bristled brushes once a month, and synthetic brushes three to four times a month. Lay the brushes flat to dry so that the bristles don't break, and to maintain the shape of the brushes. There are brush cleansers out there, but you can also use mild soap. You may also use baby shampoo to wash your brushes.
Cosmetic makeup sponges are disposable tools. Wash after every use. Toss within 1 month, or when the sponge begins to tear.
For more information, visit Dayle Haddon's site at dayle.com.