By Erica Rae Chong
Chances are that liquid eyeliner or mascara your used this morning was expired. But if it’s any consolation, you’re likely not alone.
A recent study from Stowaway Cosmetics and Poshly revealed that more than 80 per cent of makeup users know that cosmetics have an expiration date but have difficulties parting with old makeup because they forget, feel guilty about wasting money or worry that they may need it later.
If you’re a makeup hoarder and find it hard to keep track of each product’s expiration, simply use a Sharpie to write the date you opened a product on its lid or packaging.
Now there’s no excuse for your array of discontinued lipsticks that you hang on to “just in case.”
Are you a makeup hoarder?
Just like food, makeup has an expiry — yup, it’s that little jar icon on the back of the packaging with a number on it, representing the number of months you can keep it once the product is opened. And just as eating expired food is potentially dangerous and downright gross, so is applying expired makeup on your eyes and face, which can lead to irritation, rashes or even infection.
Mascara and liquid eyeliner
How long it can last: Between three to six months. According to the study from Stowaway and Poshly, eye makeup like mascara and liquid eyeliner are the likeliest products to linger in makeup bags beyond their expiry. In fact, fewer than one in five consumers discard their mascara within the recommended time frame. “Mascara has the shortest lifespan as it is emollient and you are pumping air into the product, which can lead to bacteria growth,” says Grace Lee, lead makeup artist for Maybelline New York Canada.
Time to toss: Check for an unpleasant smell and changes in texture, says Lee, that’s a sign it’s time get a new tube. If ignored, contaminated mascara may lead to nasty eye infections like conjunctivitis – more commonly known as pink eye. “You’ll often see a thick yellow, sometime green, pus discharge from the eye. It’s not a pretty sight,” says Dr. Lisa Kellett, a dermatologist at DLK on Avenue in Toronto. “If you have an eye infection, I recommend using disposable brushes to always ensure that only a clean wand touches the mascara.”
Pencil eyeliners/brow liners/lip liners
How long it can last: Pencil liners tend to last longer than most makeup — up to two years if you keep them in a clean, dry area. To prolong its shelf life, Lee recommends wiping them down with alcohol and sharpening them regularly. Time to toss: “If it’s been kept too long, the pencil will develop a white coating on the tip and may develop a funny odour,” Lee says. Unlike mascaras and liquid eyeliners where you can use a disposable brush or wand, pencil liners have to make direct contact with your skin and hence are harder to decontaminate, says Kellett. If you have an eye infection and use eyeliner, she recommends throwing out the contaminated liner and getting a fresh one once the infection has cleared.
How long it can last: Whether it’s CoverGirl or Christian Dior, lipsticks should be replaced every year. Time to toss: One telltale sign that your lipstick has gone bad is if it’s drier or has a change in texture. However, some formulas are simply not as moisturizing or creamy as others which is why Lee suggests to also take note of its smell. Any bad odour is a signal that your lipstick is past its prime.
Liquid/cream foundations and primers
How long it can last: About a year. You can extend its use by minimizing direct contact with it and avoiding contamination. “Avoid double dipping!” says Lee. “If you can, disperse the foundation onto a clean surface, like the back of your hand or a palette, this way you don’t distribute germs back into bottle.”
Time to toss: Look out for a bad odour, says Lee. If you notice a smell developing, throw it out. One common culprit for bacterial contamination lies in the packaging itself. “Don’t use the sponge that comes with the compact, throw that sponge away,” says Kellett. “I would never use the sponge because it holds bacteria and it just sits inside the compact.”
Eye shadow, blush and powder foundations
How long it can last: Up to three years. “Powders tends to last the longest as there is no moisture for bacteria to grow,” says Lee. You can minimize contamination by always ensuring you use a clean brush. Lee recommends washing them once or twice a week depending on how often you use them. “Rinse well and reshape, then lay on a counter flat to dry,” she says. “For a quick fix, you can spray your brush with alcohol if you need a quick disinfectant.”
Time to toss: If your pressed powder is dry and cracked or flaky, or if it develops a greyish film over it, get rid of it.