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How To Tell If Your Cosmetics Are Still Safe To Use

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  • It might be time to clear out your make-up bag

    Be honest, when it comes to make-up expiry dates, are you as clued up as you should be?

    Is it really okay that you’ve held on to the same lipstick for years on the off chance you might require a bright orange lip? Pencil eyeliners surely don’t actually have to be chucked until you’ve sharpened them to within an inch of their lives? And what’s wrong with keeping an old-faithful blusher forever?

    We totally get it. If you’ve invested in the best mascara, or treated yourself to the best foundation, you want to hold on to them until you’ve used every last drop. But keeping old products past their prime can expose you to harmful toxins, causing serious health problems as a result. Don’t worry, it’s confusing and not always glaringly obvious.

    Which is why we’ve pulled together a need-to-know guide on when it’s time to bin your beauty buys. Keep scrolling for your comprehensive guide to make-up expiry dates – from powder and concealer, to mascara and lipstick…

    When do foundation and concealer expire?

    When to toss

    Even the best concealers and foundations in the biz have expiry dates. The lifecycle of your foundation and concealer will depend on its ingredients.  A water-based product will last up to 12 months, while oil-based foundations will make it to 18 months because oil is a natural preservative.

    Expiry signs

    When the oils rise to the top and the consistency thickens, which means that your foundation will create an uneven, streaky and inconsistent finish.

    How to protect

    You can prevent your foundation from separating by stashing it somewhere cool and regularly shaking the liquid to mix the oils, purified water and make-up particles together. Keep your application tools clean too and avoid touching your foundation as much as possible to keep bacteria at bay.

    When do blusher, bronzer and face powder expire?

    When to toss

    Do make-up expiry dates apply to powder? Definitely yes, and the recommended time to keep it is 18 months. Powder products don’t contain water, so it’s harder to make bacteria grow. Cosmetic chemist Ni’Kita Wilson advises to look out for the ones with botanical extracts such as aloe, green tea extract and chamomile. Wilson explains that oils will cling to the bristles of your brush and transfer to your product when applying powder over liquid or cream face products, which causes a dull grey film on the product.

    Expiry signs

    Noticed a hard rim on your powder? This is due to minerals in your blush mixing with oils from your skin overtime.

    How to protect

    Always close your compact or twist the lid shut after use to avoid oxidation, which can change the colour of powders. Also, avoid using an emollient or greasy concealer before you apply. Plus, make sure your brush is always clean before each use to limit the amount of oil that ends up in your powder. Allow to dry and it’s as good as new.

    When does mascara expire?

    When to toss

    Make-up expiry dates are arguably most important to keep in mind when it comes to mascara. Three months with everyday use and six months with occasional use. Wet environments harbour bacteria, which is why our most-loved beauty product has such a short expiration period. Bacteria also naturally exist on our eyelashes and these germs are transferred from our eyes to our wands and into the mascara tube. In fact, research from two Brazilian university studies found that 79% of mascara samples owned by women are contaminated with staph bacteria.

    Expiry signs

    If it smells funky, it’s gone off, but trust us, just toss it after three to six months. It might be heartbreaking to see your make-up expire, but binning that mascara now is better for you in the long run. Ideally, you want to hear a popping sound when you take your wand out of the tube. If you don’t hear that, chances are too much air has managed to get into the tube.

    How to protect

    Don’t pump the wand, as it pushes air into the tube, causing it to dry out. Instead, draw it out and twist against the tube’s interior to pick up product. If your mascara dries up, revive with a few drops of baby oil.

    When does eyeliner expire?

    When to toss

    So you’ve splurged on one of the best eyeliners that money can buy. Just how long can I get out of it, you ask? Luckily, eyeliners tend to last that bit longer than complexion make-up staples like foundation, and can last anywhere from three months to three years. Again, it’s all to do with the formula.

    The best liquid eyeliner will have the same bacteria-prone formula and packaging as mascara, whereas a pencil eyeliner will have greater lasting power because as you sharpen them you remove bacteria that you pick up from using it on your eyes.

    Expiry signs

    If a white film that can’t be sharpened off develops on your eyeliner, replace it with a brand new one.

    How to protect

    Limit germs in liquid eyeliner by cleaning the tip after each use. If you use a pencil, ensure to regularly sanitise your sharpener with cotton wool and rubbing alcohol to stop bacteria from dwelling on the razor and ending up on your eyeliner. (Shudder.)

    When do lipstick and lipgloss expire?

    When to toss

    A make-up look just isn’t finished without a swipe of one of the best lipsticks.

    Lipstick doesn’t hold much bacteria, so it can last between 12 – 18 months. Although lipstick and gloss are packed with preservatives such as parabens, essential oils and vitamins to ward off germs, these naturally start to break down after a year.

    Expiry signs: Any beading of moisture, funky smells or chalky texture means it’s time to toss.

    How to protect: Store your summer hue in the fridge. Keeping lipstick and gloss away from heat slows the breakdown of ingredients. Also, don’t apply lipstick straight after eating – it cultivates bacteria.

    Do makeup brushes expire?

    When to toss

    The best make-up brushes really are an investment that will go the distance, and the ones worth splurging on can last a long time if well cared for. But there are still some signature signs of expiry to watch out for.

    Expiry signs

    When the bristles start falling out, that’s when you know it’s time to replace it.

    How to protect: Brushes should be washed at least once every two weeks, and try to spot-clean your eye brushes after each use to avoid infections. All you need is warm water, mild soap and a dash of olive oil; give your brush a swirl (the olive oil breaks down the oil in make-up), rinse thoroughly, and voilà – good as new!

    Make-up expiry tips:

    • If your product looks or smells funny, chuck it out
    • Wash your hands every single time you go to apply or reapply your make-up. Avoiding getting any bacteria into any of the formulas will make them last longer
    • If you’ve had a cold sore, get rid of any lip products that would have come into contact with it
    • Write the date you bought a product on some masking tape and stick it on to remind you when you should throw it out
    • Wash your make-up bag regularly. We are all guilty of letting it get into a state, but cleaning it on the reg will keep bacteria at bay.

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