Out With The Old. Did You Know Makeup Expires?
By Iona Brannon
We’ll soon be starting a new season, and MAED is utilizing this transitional time to reassess, revamp and explore ways to start the season fresh. We thought this would be the perfect time to throw out all that old product lying around and reduce your chances of growing bacteria in your makeup stash. Unlike the expiration date of most food items, the expiration date for beauty products is usually based on when you opened the product, not how long ago the product was made.
So what goes into determining the shelf life of a product? The product should look and act as expected. As the heat and moisture levels of your environment take their toll, preservatives and emulsions in the makeup are broken down. The quality of a product will decrease with time. This can change the consistency, smell and color, giving you a good indication that it’s time to toss. Determining whether the product is still safe to use is also a variable. Makeup can cause skin irritations and eye infections due to exposure to air, skin cells and bacteria through time and regular usage.
The best rule of thumb is— if you think your product looks questionable, throw it out.
How do you know exactly when to throw out your makeup? Look out for the POA (Period After Opening) symbol, which identifies how long a product can safely be used for before needing to be thrown away. The POA was initially introduced by the European Commission more than ten years ago. Most products, including skincare products, will have a POA, an actual expiration month and year, or both. If it doesn’t, you can check online by looking up the batch code.
Just in case, we’ve listed a few different categories and their typical lifespan below:
Of liquid-based products, mascara is the one with the shortest expiration date. Throw away mascara 2-4 months after the initial use. Why does mascara expire so quickly? There are bacteria around the eyes that can be easily picked up when applying mascara. With each use, new bacteria is introduced to the mascara. If it dries up before the expiration date, it’s recommended to throw it away too.
This product also has a short shelf life, usually around three months. Its short expiration date is due to the same reason as mascara, the chances of contamination are higher than most other products because it’s around the eyes.
Because these products, such as blushes and eyeshadows, are dry and powder-based, they can keep for around 18 months. Make sure your brushes are clean because oils from your skin or other products can break down your powders.
Liquids not applied to your eyes, such as liquid foundation, concealer, and tinted moisturizers, depending on their base. Oil based products will last longer at 18 months, and water-based products expire at around 12 months.
Unfortunately, that lipstick from years ago is probably no good. Typically, lipsticks can last between a 1-2 years before the consistency becomes compromised. Heat especially can break down lipsticks quickly.
Handy eyeliner and lipliner pencils can last for up to 2 years. The process of sharpening your makeup pencil helps cut down the chances of contamination. Just be sure to clean your sharpener frequently to ward off bacteria.
After a product cleanse, there are a few good rules for keeping bacteria at bay. Don’t leave your makeup in hot environments (i.e., your car), a breeding ground for nasty bacteria. Store your products in a cool, dry place and avoid humidity and high temperatures. Never share products, as that too can encourage bacteria growth and remember to wash your brushes at least every other week! The best rule of thumb is — if you think your product looks questionable, throw it out.
Iona Brannon is the editorial assistant and side-brain at MAED. With a background in journalism, she enjoys sitting in L.A. traffic and occasionally yelling at other drivers.