When Should I Throw Out Makeup And Skin Care Products? Posted by Tiffany Amorosino on November 7, 2014 in

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Vintage looks may be hot in fashion, but old cosmetics aren't vintage; they're just stale. It may be tempting to keep that favorite lipstick or store last summer's sunscreen for next year, but you could be risking your skin's health by keeping older products.

Mascara

Your mascara has the shortest lifespan of anything in your beauty kit. It contains too little oil to act a preservative and just enough moisture to make it a good growth medium for bacteria. Replace it every four months to prevent eye irritation or infections. To extend its lifespan, avoid pumping the wand in the tube; this technique causes mascara to dry out quickly.

Eyeliner

Like mascara, some eyeliners have a relatively short shelf life once opened. Liquid eyeliners should be replaced annually because their high moisture content makes them a favorite watering hole for microbes. Pencil and gel liners have a much longer lifespan and can last for up to two years. Their waxier base is less prone to colonization, and you get a fresh working surface every time you sharpen the pencil.

Eyeshadow

Of all types of eye makeup, shadow lasts the longest. A loose or pressed eyeshadow can last up to three years. Like a tiny desert, a pan of eyeshadow is a hostile environment for microbes, but its texture and coverage can change over time. A once-creamy blend can become chalky or dull, and that's a sure sign that it's worn out its welcome.

Skin Enhancers

Research shows that concealers, foundation, BB creams and other skin enhancers last for two to four years, depending on their formulation. However, Bella Sante's own Nicole R. always recommends you toss your BB creams and foundations one to two years after opening. A powder-based formula has a longer shelf life than a liquid or cream base, but fluid formulas are better at letting you know when it's time to buy a new bottle before you apply them.

Lipstick

Lipsticks and glosses last a year or two, so don't be shy about applying that glamorous red. It's better to use up these products than throw them out when they've expired. As a rule, a dry lipstick with rich pigmentation lasts longer than a gloss with little pigment. Exposure to light can break down the pigments in lipsticks, so store them somewhere cool, dry and dark to maximize their lifespans.

Wrap Up

Cosmetics aren't generally stamped with expiration dates like cartons of milk, so how can you tell if it's time to toss a product? A sniff test is a good indicator of product quality. The oils in lipsticks, foundations and concealers can go rancid; when they do, they have the same distinctive sour smell an old bottle of cooking oil can develop. Cosmetics are meant to smell pleasant or neutral, so any scent that strikes you as unpleasant is probably a sign that it's time to replace the product. Changes in texture also indicate a product that's past its prime. A lipstick that's turned sticky or a liquid foundation that feels more like a cream is one you should dump.

If you aren't sure about a particular product you have in your makeup bag or on your bathroom shelf,  ask your esthetician and they'll be happy to offer their professional opinion.