Not Sure When to Toss Your Cosmetics? Here’s A Complete Guide to Beauty Products’ Shelf Life

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Beauty products expiration

Hundreds of beauty products, so little time.

Really, it’s easy to get obsessed with that glossy lipstick from Fenty or that sleek container of Vitamin C promising you smooth, radiant skin.

But there’s a downside to having many beauty products – like food, skincare, and makeup don’t last forever.

A recent study found that over 90% of beauty items, especially makeup blenders, are riddled with toxic superbugs that can trigger breakouts, skin irritation, and blood poisoning, at worst.

And when you consider what your beauty products get into contact with – from your fingers to your face, eyes, pimples, and back to that tube of concealer, it’s easy to see why it’s essential to toss them out often.

That said, though, it can be discombobulating trying to figure out the expiration date of beauty items since they might not be as clear as it is for foods and other perishable goods.

So, to help figure out when to throw out your beauty stash, here’s a comprehensive guide to your cosmetics and their expiration dates.

Makeup & Skincare Products Expiration Dates You Need to Know

For various skincare products, there’s an easy way to determine their shelf life. Simply check for a tiny image of an opened jar on the container with a number on it.

It might be labeled six, 12, 2, 0r 36 – that refers to the amount of time you can use the product after you’ve started using it.

If your jar of product doesn’t have this symbol, 12 to 24 months is a good rule of thumb for its shelf life unless stated on the packaging.

You see, different types of beauty items last for various lengths of time, depending on how you store them.

For instance, dry cosmetics can last up to two years when stored in a dry place, while products like mascara and blenders last the shortest amount of time due to the consistent transfer of bacteria from your skin to the product.

Here’s a brief overview of the recommended shelf for popular beauty products (remember, this is all dependent on your storage methods):

Facial cleansers: Once opened, cleansers can last you up to a year.

Sunscreen: The FDA requires items like sunscreen to have an expiration date indicated on the packaging. However, most sunscreens last up to a year before losing their efficacy.

Serums: These mighty but potent drops on your face can last you up to a year. However, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) suggests beauty brands indicate the expiration dates of acne-tackling ingredients like salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide.

This is because acids might become more potent and potentially more irritating over time.

Moisturizers: Once opened, creams and moisturizers can last anywhere from six to 12 months

Liquid foundation: Oil-based foundation can anywhere from 12 to 18 months. Water-based formulas last up to a year

Mascara: It can last you up anywhere from three to six months. If you, however, notice changes in texture or smell, throw it out immediately

Lipstick: These can last you anywhere from one to two years

Lip gloss: Gloss and liquid lipsticks can last you anywhere from six to 12 months

Liquid eyeliner: It can last you from three to six months

Liners: Gel eyeliners, pencil liners, and lip liners can last up to a year. You should, however, sharpen your liners often to shave off bacteria-laden parts and avoid eye irritation

Powder-based products: Setting powder, bronzers, and blushes can last up to two years

Cream-based goods: Cream blushes, concealer, and highlighters can last from six to twelve months

Makeup blenders (sponge-based): These can last you up to a month

Makeup brushes: These can last indefinitely, but you’ll have to clean them every two months to get rid of bacteria and build-up

Nail polish: Bottles of nail polish can also last indefinitely when left unopened. Once opened, though, they can last you up to two years

Nail polish remover: It can last you indefinitely

How to Tell When Your Products Have Expired

While the FDA doesn’t require beauty brands to place expiration dates on their products, there are ways you can tell when these products have surpassed their shelf life:

• It gives off a peculiar odor

• Its texture feels different – a product like mascara clams up while powder-based products become exceptionally crumbly

• Its color is off – if you apply foundation or concealer and the color takes on a brassey hue, it’s most probably oxidized and should be tossed out

• It has blue, black, or green mold spots

How to Store Products, So They Last Longer

Unopened products that are sealed usually have a shelf life of three to six years.

Nonetheless, this timeframe can be reduced if you store the item in a hot, humid environment.

So, be sure to keep your products in a cool, dry place – like your hallway closet, not your bathroom.

Ensure you wash your hands before slathering any products to your face or body to avoid contamination.

You can use a clean spatula, brush, or spoon to keep the container free of bacteria.

It would be best to purchase beauty products placed in sealed containers like pumps rather than jars since they tend to have a longer shelf life.

How Often You Need to Replace Them

Don’t forget you need to sort out your toiletries too. Do you even remember how long you’ve been using that bottle of Chanel No.5 or your aloe vera-based shampoo?

This list will help you figure out when you need to do a complete bathroom cabinet overhaul:

Bar soap: 18 months to three years

Bath oil: 12 months

Body wash: two to three years

Body lotion: two years

Razors: every three to five shaves

Deodorant: one to two years

Perfume: one to two years

Hairbrush: one year

Hair gel: one to three years

Hair spray: two to three years

Shampoo and conditioner: one to two years

Toothbrush: three months

Teeth-whitening strips: 13 months

See what I mean? Go ahead and throw that mascara out, girl! 

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