We have all been guilty at some point or another of using expired makeup. And you might wonder if it really matters anyway. Just how important is the date printed on the bottom of the packaging? The recommended shelf life of individual makeup products can vary widely, but usually fall somewhere between 3 and 24 months. These dates are not chosen arbitrarily, nor are they a marketing scheme developed by cosmetic companies to increase revenue. Instead, expiration dates are tested and determined to protect the consumer. Look for an open cap printed somewhere on your cosmetics (usually on the bottom) that will have a number in the center of it. This is called a period-after-opening symbol or PAO symbol. This signifies the useful lifetime of a cosmetic once it has been opened. To determine the date, the product is sent off to a third party micro lab where it is injected with different microbes to see how it will last before growing bacteria, yeast, mold and more. Unfortunately, due to the high cost of these tests, not every company chooses to do them. At Mineralogie, we believe that makeup should be good for your skin and not just cover flaws, so we adhere to a strict testing policy to ensure that our products provide the benefits we say they will for as long as we say they will. Our line is often sold in Medical Spa’s and Dr. Offices, and recommended for many patients post procedure when skin is especially susceptible to harmful bacteria, so this is something we take very seriously.
Makeup often contains active ingredients like Hyaluronic acid, benficial for mature skin and those in a dry climate because it helps the skin retain moisture, Titanium Dioxide and Zinc (for sun protection), Vitamin E (an anti aging ingredient), and Tea Tree (for acne). These ingredients have a recommended shelf life to guarantee their effectiveness.
You might be wondering how to react if you have a product without a PAO symbol, or one that has rubbed off. Perhaps you have something that is good for 24 months after opening but you can’t remember when you started using it. Here are a few tips to help you determine the product’s safety.
Be conscious of a change in smell. A product could have a rancid odor, or might just not smell like it did when it was new. Watch for obvious separation in lip gloss or liquid foundation. You could also see a change in texture. Has your lipstick dried out? Pressed products like shadow or blush might become more chalky. Have you noticed any change in color? This is especially noticeable in Liquid Foundation, but also can happen with pressed eye shadow or blush.
You should try to do everything you can to ensure you reach the maximum amount of use recommended for a product. Remember that the PAO is a general guideline but individual circumstances can and do impact the shelf life. The most common mistake made here is keeping makeup in your bathroom. Known for being moist and warm, the bathroom can be a breeding ground for mold and bacteria. It is better to keep beauty products in a cool dry place, away from direct sunlight.
Some other things you can do to increase the longevity of your cosmetics are:
- Clean brushes regularly. Maintaining clean brushes is very important for sanitary reasons, and as a bonus you prolong the life of the brushes if you take care of them.
- Do not share makeup with anyone! Period.
- Keep temperature regulated. Don’t leave your lip gloss in your car in extreme heat or cold. Eye and Lip Liners are prone to melt or break off on the inside when exposed to extreme temperatures. This makes sharpening more difficult.
- Don’t pump mascara. This puts extra air into the container. If it dries out or gets clumpy, do not add water as it will encourage bacteria growth. Just toss it and purchase a new mascara. My personal favorite is the Lash Fusion Mascara. The same goes for Liquid Liner. The packaging and application methods of these products encourage bacteria growth. Because of this, you will often find these products taut the shortest shelf life of anything in your makeup bag.
- If you prefer liquid foundations then stick to ones that are sold in a pump. Otherwise bacteria from your finger is introduced to the product every time you apply.
- If pressed eye shadows are exposed to water then they are more prone to contamination. If you have been pulling double duty with yours and wetting it to apply as a liner then you should expect a shorter shelf life.
- You wouldn’t cook a meal without washing your hands first, and the ritual of applying makeup should begin the same way.
- Do not purchase makeup that has been opened or appears to be tampered with.
- Only purchase from an authorized retailer or directly from the source. Stay away from “good deals” on used makeup or ebay. Counterfeit makeup is increasingly becoming an issue, and some of the things found in the knock-off makeup can be pretty scary.
- If you have an eye infection, consult your doctor, but most will recommend to discontinue the use of eye makeup. If you decide not to dispose of it completely, at least stop wearing it while the infection is active.
- We all know its best not to pick at your skin, but if you do have an open blemish you do not want to spread the bacteria over the rest of your face. Clean application brushes well if you have active breakouts.
January is the perfect time to start fresh and take stock of your makeup arsenal. Pull out what doesn’t work for you, or needs replacing, and try a new formula or shade. If you have unopened products, consider donating to a women’s shelter or Dress for Success organization.
Comment below and let us know what products you will be replacing soon.