Do Cosmetics Expire?
So I have worked from home for the past few years and because of that I don’t use many of the cosmetics I have in my arsenal. It got me thinking about expiration dates on cosmetics and how long they really last, which I’d never really thought about before so I started doing my research and I hope what I have here is more informative than what I found on other websites that pretty much have the same information from one website to the other.
Although some cosmetic labeling is required, did you know there are no current regulations that require cosmetic companies (in the US) to put expiration dates on most of their products? Have you even thought much about it or looked to see if there is any expiration date on any of your cosmetics?
Companies can voluntarily provide consumers with expiration date information, some may choose not to while other companies will label with the “Period After Opening” symbol (it’s the open jar with a number followed by the letter “M”). This symbol tells you the expiration date a cosmetic company has deemed the product fresh and usable after opening.
Some cosmetic companies that do provide expiration and other cosmetic labeling will do so in plain sight while others put some information behind a “Peel Here” or “Lift” area on the label. Peel it back and you’ll find cosmetic labeling information.
If you don’t see any product information on your cosmetics, visit the manufacturers website, call or email the company and they should be able to help you determine when a product expires.
Where Do You Store Your Makeup?
Most cosmetics should be stored at room temperature, at least that is what I have always heard and that many should not be exposed to a large light source like perfumes, which I store perfumes on a shelf in my bedroom out of the light and away from the humidity of the bathroom.
We know that high heat and humidity from showers can be a breeding place for mold, mildew and bacteria in the bathroom so can it have an effect on your makeup? Many of you most likely store your makeup in the bathroom; I keep mine in a makeup bag I keep in my office which is where I typically put my makeup on. Is there a reason I do this? Well, I happen to spend most of my day in the office so it’s convenient for me. But – should you store your cosmetics in the bathroom?
The experts say many cosmetics contain preservatives that will help keep mold and bacteria from damaging your products and given proper storage and adequate ventilation in the bathroom some products should do fine. But most will recommend storing outside the bathroom to protect them from degrading, especially when you buy organic and natural makeup. High heat, humidity and bright lights can also damage key ingredients and make some products less effective.
If you’re not sure where you could store you cosmetics outside the bathroom, think about a decorative box that would look nice sitting on a dresser and easy to bring in and out of the bathroom.
When to Toss the Cosmetics
When cosmetics are unopened, many manufacturers state they can last years when stored under the right conditions.
But what about when you’ve opened them, what then?
Facial Creams and Moisturizers
After opening facial creams and moisturizers, most products are good up to one year. It could possibly last a little longer but can be less hydrating.
If you are using a cream from a jar, something to consider is using a little makeup spatula to get the cream out instead of your finger. As there could be bacteria or other contaminants on your hand this will help the product last.
If you are using anti-aging or Vitamin C serums and the product has begun to go from a creamy white to a light brown color, it’s possible it is starting to oxidize. I’ve used these kinds of products and not long ago I found one in the back of a drawer, which was a year beyond the expiration date, opened it and sure enough it had turned brown. Needless to say that went in the garbage.
I don’t use acne treatments but I’m guessing they could possibly become discolored when expired due to the unique ingredients and because of those unique ingredients; they may possibly expire in half the time.
Facial Toners and Sprays
Toners, depending on the ingredients, will last six months up to one year. I make my own toner; you can find a link to the recipe below. There are no preservatives in this recipe and it will last 30 to 60 days.
Facial sprays can be left in the refrigerator which I love to do as it feels so refreshing.
You will notice if a toner is old as it will probably have a different smell to it and it could cause skin irritation.
Here is my recipe if you're interested in making your own face spray, it will open in a new window so you can continue to read this article: Aloe Vera Face Spray
Depending on how you get your foundation from jar to face will depend on how long your product lasts which can be 6 months to 1 year.
So maybe you’re wondering what will determine the longevity of the product – well proper storage for one thing, the other – your hands.
Your hands can have many, many different types of bacteria and germs on them. I know your thinking that you just got out of the shower and your hands are clean, right. Well think again. After a shower you're depositing dead skin cells on the towel and the towel is wet which can start the growth of bacteria.
Many of us reuse our bath towels which if you hang the towel to dry properly it can be reused two maybe three times as proper drying will slow the bacteria growth but you're still leaving behind dead skin cells. If the bath towel is left bunched up they can't dry out as well and bacteria and germs will grow more quickly.
Hand towels are a different story, we dry our hands, leaving behind dead skin cells, we remove makeup that also leaves behind dead skin cells and residue of old makeup and hand towels are reused by some more than a bath towel. Hand towels are quite often left bunched up on the counter where they are not drying out as well allowing bacteria to grow more quickly.
And not only the towels but before you start putting your liquid foundation on, I’m sure you’ve touched a surface or two like the bathroom counter, maybe the toilet and other things that can also harbor bacteria.
All that being said you shouldn’t put your hands on the bottle to get foundation as you can leave whatever bacteria and germs from your hands on the jar which will get in the bottle. You can always pour some out onto the back of your hand or find a pump foundation or use a single use makeup wedge.
Powders, Blush, Bronzers
The general rule of thumb is 1 to 2 years. But take into consideration other factors as well like repeatedly dipping your makeup brush on the power then onto your face.
Our skin can get bacteria on it throughout the day, if you apply powders, blush or bronzers during the day when you have been exposed to the environment, touched your face with your hands – hands that have touched other surfaces that probably have germs on them, if you have an acne breakout – you are transferring this from the brush to the product.
Most of us will go through a container of one of these powders well before the expiration date even if you’re using a natural or organic product which should be used within six months.
To help your product and brushes last longer and stay as clean as possible, think about cleaning your brushes once a week, maybe every two weeks depending on how much you use them. And don’t share your brushes; they should be for your own personal use.
Most every website you look at will tell you to replace your mascara every three months and I think this is an accurate estimate based my usage. I wear mascara everyday and have found right around three to four months my mascara is visibly drying out and I need to buy a new one or it doesn’t go on as smoothly.
If you’re not pumping the wand in and out of your mascara tube on a daily basis, you can get a little more usage out of it as you’re not letting as much air in.
If you use a liquid eyeliner, it should be replaced 6 months to 1 year. Pencil eyeliners can last a little bit longer as we sharpen these on a fairly regular basis but rarely do I ever have either one of these last a half a year after opening.
If you’ve had any kind of eye infection and used eye liner, toss it out as it could be harboring bacteria.
Powder Eye Shadow
Eye shadow can last up to 2 years as long as you haven’t used it with any type of eye infection. As is the case with many of the other expiration dates listed, you’ll probably go through your eye shadow before the suggested expiration date.
Have you ever purchased an eye shadow because it was the color that was “In” and then after a time it was no longer the color to have? I’m sure there are many of us guilty of this. If this is you and that color is still in your vanity go ahead and toss it. Yea, it may come back “In” again but probably long after the expiration date.
Lip Gloss, Lip Stick and Chapstick
If you see a Period After Opening symbol on your tube of lipstick, gloss or chapstick, you will probably see the number 12, 18 or 24 inside which indicates how long the product will be good after opening.
Of course there are certain factors to consider that may shorten the life of these products.
- Did you use any of these when you had a cold sore? If yes, you should toss what you used and buy a new one.
- Did you leave these in a hot car? If you did, some lipsticks and chapstick may end up as a melted blob of ingredients.
- Do you share with others? If you do, reconsider and buy a new one.
- When you apply lip gloss and you put your lips together – if it feels a little sticky when your lips part, your lip gloss is probably getting a little old or the process was accelerated due to improper storage.
If stored properly, perfumes can last quite a long time. Keep them out of the warm environment of the bathroom and keep them in the bedroom area displayed nicely on a vanity, dresser or shelf somewhere where they are out of a direct light source.
Tips for Keeping Your Cosmetics as Long as Possible
- Don’t leave your cosmetics open. When you’re done, put the lid back on and make sure it’s screwed on all the way.
- Don’t leave your products in the car. Warm to hot temperatures will melt or change the consistency of the product.
- If you buy natural products, some moisturizers and toners, you can leave them in the refrigerator to help keep them fresh. I say “fresh”. This does not mean it will extend the life of your product.
- Don’t leave your cosmetics in a warm, humid environment.
If you are interested in cleaning makeup brushes, you might like this article: