Makeup Expiration Guide

You will find that most makeup comes with an expiration date after which it begins to break down and lose its potency. This is generally located somewhere on the exterior packaging or perhaps on a sticker if no packaging is present. But in most cases it is easily lost, leaving you with no indication of when your beauty products will lose their edge (so to speak). So here are a few tips that will help you to determine when you should toss your old makeup and spring for something new.

A good general rule of thumb is to change out your makeup every season, trading in the pastels of spring for the golden tones of summer, switching to the fiery shades that accompany fall, and finally the pale frosts that fare well in winter light. Since the warm tints of summer simply won't fly in winter and the icy tones that characterize the colder months promote a deathly pallor during a heat wave, you'll likely want to transform your look anyway. But that doesn't mean you can go back to the unused hues from last year! For one thing, color trends change from year to year, so you don't want to look out of date. But of course, most of your makeup will also have expired by this point (and items that have been sitting for months likely have some crazy bacteria colonies going on, even if you can't see them).

For women that stick to a basic, neutral palette year-round, however, it may not be necessary to replace makeup every three months. And since different types of makeup expire at varying rates you'd waste a lot of money tossing everything at the same time. Mascara will always expire first. In fact, a tube will really only last you 1-2 months. If you don't use it up in that time it starts to dry out, leading to unattractive clumping and flaking. So spend a few bucks to replace this essential eye-popper frequently. Pretty much everything else will last a lot longer.

makeup products

Liquid makeup like concealer and foundation will last about 6-8 months, as will cream blush (or cream versions of foundation and concealer). Since few women wear full makeup except on special occasions, it behoves you to keep track of when you bought your makeup so that you can toss it before it goes bad. This is especially important with these types of products since they are in direct contact with your skin. As for everything else, you can safely keep items for up to a year. This includes products you use daily, such as pressed or loose powder and lip balms and glosses, as well as items you may use less frequently, like eyeliner, eye shadow, brow corrector, lip liner, and lipstick. Powders especially tend to harbor bacteria that lead to breakouts, so it's important to swap them out on schedule (and change applicators often).

You might not want to throw out makeup that still looks perfectly usable, especially if you feel like you haven't yet gotten your money's worth, but like business signs that don't correctly advertise what their brand is selling, your makeup will fall short of flattering your features if you continue to use it after the expiration date. So if you find that there are items you must throw away before you get to use them, simply refrain from purchasing replacements. It's better than painting your face with products that will perform poorly and cause skin problems.

(Guest Post by Carol Montrose)

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