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12 Jun, 2011 Beauty Blog

How long should you keep makeup for?

This is a good question, as we are all guilty of having an overflowing makeup bag full of products that are often way past their use by date. Old foundations that bear no resemblance to their original colour, waxy lipsticks, dry eyeliners, cracked blushers & flaky mascaras… ‘Thats me’! I can hear you all saying…

In the past week I have done endless research on this subject as I have just filmed an informative segment about makeup expiry for the TV show Fair Go (Click to see the link). Upon chatting to friends that work at makeup companies I have become very well informed about use-by dates so I thought I would share the facts.

Firstly, all reputable makeup brands will have a five year shelf life if they are sealed & stored out of direct sunlight. Once you open up a product & start using it is when you should become concerned about how long it should be kept. If you look closely at your products packaging you will see a small symbol which shows a jar with an opened lid & a number inside. This will give the approximate time that your product will last for, eg 24m (two years) or 6m (six months). Its amazing how few people know this symbol exists!

Often you will end up keeping products much longer than the time indicated on the packaging, so if you think you may have had that foundation or moisturizer for donkeys years, the best way to know if its expired or not is a simple sniff test. Old lipsticks always smell nasty, as do ancient foundations & aged moisturizers. Elderly products may also change in colour or texture & if they are applied to the skin they may cause a rash, so if you are in doubt in regards to a dodgy product, simple throw it in the bin.

Eye shadows and blushers dont actually go off, but they are less effective over time. Every time you use a powder product, particularly with your finger, you instantly transfer oil onto the powdery surface, causing the eyeshadow to loose intensity. All the Mac stores insist you test their eyeshadows with a cotton bud for this specific reason, as well as for hygiene purposes.

All products that come in pots, like eye creams & moisturizers, have a shorter life than products that come in squeeze tubes & dispensers. The disadvantage with a pot is that every time you pop your finger into it, you are adding bacteria to the mix. Good creams (like La Mer) will come with an applicator to avoid the germ ridden finger problem.

If this all sounds a bit daunting, the best advice I can give you is to clean out your makeup bag/draw/cupboard regularly, as monthly maintenance is much easier than a yearly overhaul. When you go through your makeup, be ruthless & throw away anything that is broken or missing a lid. Chuck out colours that you never wear (or give them to a friend) & try not to hoard stuff you may have acquired in a goody bag or giveaway- you can guarantee there will be an orange lipstick in the mix!

Here are some indications on makeup expiry times.

  • Liquid & cream foundation- 2 years.
  • Powder- 2 years.
  • Mascara- 6 months, although most mascaras will be dry & flaky after 3 months if they are used every day.
  • Lipstick- 18 months to 2 years. Use the sniff test if you are unsure.
  • Lipgloss- 1 year. Glosses that come in a tube last longer than those in a pot.
  • Eye shadows & powder blushers- 2 years, or longer if they are looked after well!
  • Lip & eye pencils- 2 years
  • Moisturizer- 2 years
  • Sunscreen- one season
  • Perfume- 3 years if kept in a dark, cool place.

Keeping your makeup bag clean & concise will make a huge difference to your morning makeup routine. I have thrown out so much old makeup in the last week & I feel so much more organized because of it. As my Grandmother always said, if you are at a loose end, clean out a cupboard- so my suggestion is why not start with your bathroom !



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