Jan 24, 2011

The Skinny on Cosmetic Expiry Dates

My boyfriend came home from work the other day and said, "babe, Angela wants you to do a post on expiry dates for beauty products." I thought about it for a bit, shocked that I hadn't written about this topic before, and said "that's a GREAT idea!" So, YAY for beauty questions from friends!! (Thanks Ang!)

I have a ton of cosmetics. These products, literally, fall out of drawers, bags, medicine cabinets, train cases, purses....I could go on and on and on. Do I ever get through all of my make-up? NO of course not, but as I tell Allan, that's not the point. The point is that I have that hard-to-find eyeshadow or discontinued liquid liner when I do want to use it. The problem is I almost NEVER use everything. So in other words, there comes a time when purging and "letting go" is a must because, remember, beauty products DO have a shelf life.

Most people never encounter an expired product because they've used the entire container before that date. But if you do have a tendancy of over-buying (like me) and using products occasionally (like me) then follow these guidelines.

Mascara - Expiry date of 3 months. This beauty tool gets so close to your eye that it can cause redness, irritation, flaking and other annoyances so sticking to this expiry date is mandatory. There are a lot of "experts" out there that say the shelf life can be extended if you don't pump the wand in and out, but to be honest, I don't agree. Stick to three months and you'll be fine. You'll now when the product is entering into it's third month because it starts getting dry. There will be less product showing up on the wand and it won't coat your lashes as nicely anymore.
Nail Polish - Expiry date of 12 months. Let's be honest, I can almost guarantee that EVERYONE has used an expired nail polish. (I know I have for sure.) Typically, a "smell test" is the way to examine the shelf life of a product but because nail polish has a fume-y odor naturally it can be difficult; so the easiest way to tell whether this product is off or not is to pull out the wand and look at the product itself. Typically a polish that's changed somehow will either be too thick (hard to spread on nails) or too runny.

Cleanser (non-organic) - Expiry date of 1 year. You can see that I put non-organic in brackets since organic products can sometimes have a shorter shelf life. The reason for this difference is organic products do not contain parabens. (A paraben is used in many cosmetics because of its bactericidal and fungicidal properties. In other words it acts as a barrier against bacteria and helps prevent mold.) The shelf life for a paraben-free cleanser can be about 6 months if stored in a cool area with limited moisture.

Moisture cream (non-organic) - Expiry date of 1-2 years. Facial moisturizers last for 1 year while a body cream can last for about 2 years. Also, ensure both products are kept in a cool area with limited moisture in the room. This is very important, especially, to paraben free products because more moisture in the room is PRIME breeding ground for mold. I, myself, use a paraben free moisture (face) and store it in the fridge. I remove little amounts at a time, put it in a separate container (you can pick them up from the dollar store) and store it on my vanity in the bedroom, not the bathroom.
Foundation (water based) - Expiry date of 1 year. I have water based in brackets because an oil based foundation has a shelf life of about 1.5 years. (You can see what type of foundation you have by looking at the ingredient list on the back. Water or oil will appear first and that will explain whether it's water based or oil based.) Sometimes water based foundations will dry out before the expiry date so I've read that you can add a little bit of toner to the product. However, I would personally take that to mean I need a new foundation. The smell of a "bad" foundation will be very potent as well, in case the expiry date is no longer visible on the bottle.

Lipstick - Expiry date of 2 years. This is just an estimate because you will, without a doubt, know when a tube of lipstick has gone bad. The smell is absolutely atrocious!!! Storing your lipstick in a cool, dry place is best for an increased shelf life, so a place like the fridge will work well. Quick note, if you store your lipstick in the car and it's summer, you'll notice the tube will be pretty gross by fall.
Eye liner (pencil) - Expiry date of 1 year. Just so you know, this is my personal time frame for pencil liners. I have heard people say 3 years and I've even heard 4 years but, for me, I give it one year. If you want to keep your pencils for longer, you must sharpen it regularly in a clean, disinfected sharpener and clean the top of the pencil. I used to wear contacts and, ever since then, I have become quite anal-retentive about eye related beauty products. Also, note to everyone, never ever ever share your liners, mascara or eye brushes with anyone else. I know it's hard to keep this rule as sharing is oh so fun BUT eye related infections are so easy to pass from one to the other. If you are going to share, like I do, keep a stack new mascara wands, eyeshadow brushes and lip brushes around for your friends. That way, they can still use your awesome colors and no one gets pink eye!!!

Eyeshadow (powder) - Expiry date of 2 years. Again, since it's an eye related product, I follow this timeline completely. However, if you're stumped as to when you purchased it or can't see the expiry date, just look at the product. You'll find that an "off" eyeshadow will be very crumbly and lack moisture which makes it very difficult to apply. It'll also lack pigment or color. If you are using a cream eyeshadow, the expiry date is about a year.
Concealer (water based) - Expiry date of 1 year. This one, again, is pretty easy to see and smell if it's turned. If you're using a stick concealer, then there will definitly be a pungent odor and the product itself will be dried out once it's turned. If you're using a pot concealer, like I do, then the product will be virtually impossible to spread on your face with a brush and it will also have a strong smell.
Make-up sponges - Expiry date of 1 month. Typically with a sponge, clean it once a week with some warm water and mild soap and discard them after a month. Sponges are very inexpensive which makes it easy to buy them often. Sponges, if used too long, grow bacteria very quickly and they can also promote skin irritation (acne, blemishes, etc.) So, if your skin starts to breakout and you haven't changed your sponge, good idea to toss it. I am also going to lump make-up brushes in with this category as it pertains to cleanliness. Ensure that you clean your brushes every two months. I remember, clearly, a time when I was breaking out and wondering what was going in. I was so busy with work that I forgot to clean my brushes. Once clean, the blemishes disappeared.

Thanks again, Angela, for the post idea. Ladies, any products I forgot about? Any weird experiences you had from an expired product? Share share share.....


  1. What an awesome post! I desperately need to go through all my cosmetics and toss a lot out! Thanks for the tips Christina!

  2. Great post, very informative



Thanks for the love!...XO Christina

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