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Beauty Product Expiration Explained

I’m a beauty hoarder... well thats what I seem to have found when I had a little spring clean of my beauty collection at the weekend! Mascaras that where so old they had dried the lid shut, powders that I have completely forgotten about, not to mention the solid nail varnishes and brown clear eyebrow gel (I know Im not the only one!). Be honest, when was the last time you had a good clean out of your makeup bag and beauty stash? Keeping our favourite lipstick for too long isn’t a crime, but we all should be aware of how old a product is and face the reality that just like the contents of your fridge, our beauty products expire too. 

Beauty Product Expiration Explained

Firstly, let’s take it back to the basics. All beauty products from mascaras, to toner should have a symbol on it, that looks like an open pot with a number in, usually 3M, 6M, 12M or 24M - this tells you how many months you should keep the product after opening. 

Mascara | 2-3 months: 

Now this is something that I admit, I must get into the habit of doing - chucking my mascaras!  My excuse is that I like mascaras better, when they are a little dryer than they were when I initially bought them. However, redness, itchiness or even worse, conjunctivitis, is not attractive nor nice and lingering bacteria on your mascara wand can cause this. If your mascara is thick, dry, smelly or not lengthening your lashes like it used too = toss it! 

Tip: Don’t have more than two mascaras open at one time. Also, when using your mascara swirl the brush around in the tube, rather than pumping it - as pumping will invite air into the tube, which will dry out the mascara quicker. 

Liquid Foundation & Concealer | 24 months:

When it comes to liquid foundation and concealer use common sense, does it smell? And has the texture changed? If it has, then its time to say goodbye. If the product is in a pot you need to apply it with your fingers, bacteria from your fingers will contaminate the foundation (I feel like I’m teaching a biology class!). Anything you have to apply using your fingers, will need to be binned earlier than those with a pump. Concealer is to conceal blemishes - not to cause them! Also keeping your favourite foundation on the top of your cabinet in direct sunlight, is a big no no, as sunlight can shorten the products lifespan, so put them into a drawer - same goes for your perfume. 

Tip: Try to buy liquid products with a pump and keep them out of hot and bright areas as heat will encourage bacteria to grow and sunlight will shorten the products lifespan. 

Lipgloss & Lipstick | 12-18 months:

You’ll know when they have gone off, when they start to smell. Also look out for changes in texture - no one likes a gloopy lip gloss! 

Tip: Use a lip brush to apply your lipstick and scoop out the last of your lipstick into a container.  

Powder Products | 24 months: 

This includes blusher, bronzer, eyeshadow etc. Powder products last a lot longer than liquid formulations and cream blusher on the other hand, should be replaced after a year. Also, if your powder products get wet, you are basically inviting bacteria to party in your pan! Moisture can come in the form of residue from your foundation. Basically if you are applying powder products over foundation or your moisturiser, oil can cling to the brush and then transfer onto your blusher, or finishing powder. So wait a couple of minutes before you apply these products and keep your brushes clean. 

Tip: Wipe them regularly with a dry tissue to avoid the build up of oil and dirt at the surface - this goes for all cream and powder products. 

Eye Liners | 12-18 months:

Pencils last longer a little longer than liquid liners - especially if you sharpen them regularly. Have you ever got a white film on your favourite pencil that can’t be sharpened off? Or your liquid liner starts to smell a little odd? Well thats when it is time to buy another! 

Tip: Keep your pencil liners sharpened and ensure your liquid liners are shut properly. 

Nail Polish | 24-36 months: 

Nail Polish won’t go bad from bacteria, but unfortunately nail polish will eventually dry out and become thick and clumpy. If the formular has separated and you give it a good shake and it remains separated, its time to bin it. 

Tip: Pouring a teeny tiny amount of nail varnish remover, into your polish when it starts going a little dry and giving it a good shake, can give it the kiss of life it needs, but won’t make it last forever. 


Your makeup brushes need to be cleaned weekly. Im sure you have heard that many a time. When was the last time you cleaned your brushes? It isn’t just bacteria buildup you need to be aware of, but also dust - especially if you keep your brushes in pots. If you don’t clean them regularly, your effectively brushing bacteria onto your skin, which in turn will cause breakouts. So clean those brushes ladies! Also you wouldn’t share your toothbrush, so don’t share your makeup brushes. Don’t forget your shaver, eyelash curlers, hairbrush and tweezers too. Out with the old and in with the new! 
Tip: Baby shampoo is a cheaper alternative to professional brush cleaner. Im aware that in the US you can send of your Tweezerman tweezers to be sharpened for free!

Skin Products | 6-24 months: 

As with all products pumps are best, but unfortunately not all products are blessed with a pump, so make sure your hands are clean first - no one likes a dirty day cream! The biggest tell, tell sign, with skin products is the smell and separation either of these is a sign you need to re-buy! Eye creams normally last around 6m, whereas body butters last a lot longer. 

Tip: Make sure all your products are closed properly after use and try not to have too many of the same products open at once.

Have you had a spring clean yet?
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