Ladies, its time to accept the fact that beauty products have a shelf life. Believe it or not, many of our must-haves should be tossed when they reach their expiration date (yes, beauty items have expiration dates like food does), regardless of how often we use them or how effective they seem. There isn’t a one-size-fits-all rule for all beauty products, which is why it’s important to understand which types need to get the boot and when. Scroll on for your guide to tossing products before the ball drops.
First things first: Take note of that expiration date! “You’ll often see a small visual of an open jar with a number followed by a letter M (for month), which denotes how many months they recommend using the product after opening,” explains New York City dermatologist Neal Schultz. That said, keep in mind that not all products are labeled. “Some products aren’t required to have an expiration date, so buy a pack of sticker labels and make a new habit of adding dates your products,” suggests celebrity makeup artist Kimara Ahnert, whose clients include Gwyneth Paltrow and Meryl Streep. Read on for specific product expiration recommendations from our experts.
June Jacobs, co-creator of June Jacobs Spa Collection, recommends throwing out mascara every four to six months — at least! If you start to notice any change in the formula, that should be a red flag. “If it smells funky compared to how it did when you first used it, it’s time to go,” she says. “The area around the eye is highly sensitive and the containers are susceptible to bacteria buildup.”
Swap out your lippes one year after your first swipe, according to Jacobs. Needless to say, you should immediately toss them out if you let someone sick borrow them (gross!). “Don’t forget to also look for changes in color, scent, or consistency,” Jacobs warns.
Get fresh options between one to two years after using foundation or concealer for the first time. “I recommend following a similar structure in thinking about makeup as you would for skincare since these products are being put on the entire face,” Jacobs tells us.
Schultz says it’s important to notice if your cream products, like cream blush, eyeshadows, or eyeliners, take on a different form. “If the cream changes color, consistency, or develops an off odor, then it’s time to throw out and replace,” he explains. These products should typically be thrown out after one year.
Your powders — including blush and bronzers — don’t contain oils and water, so you can count on them to stay fresher for longer than a creamy option — one to two years, to be specific. “While powder products are not as susceptible to bacteria build up, it’s important to wash your brushes frequently,” Jacobs says.
When it comes to skincare products — like face wash, moisturizer, and serum — anything you apply with your fingers has a shorter shelf life. “Moisturizer, face wash, and serum shouldn’t be kept for more than six months after they’ve been opened,” Jacobs recommends. “Airless pumps, on the other hand, should have no issues lasting up to a year as the product minimizes air exposure and it’s hygienically packaged.”
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