With beauty brands launching new products everywhere you look, it’s hard to fight the temptation of buying a new lipstick or eyeliner every time you go (window) shopping. And over time, it’s only natural for you to have amassed a large amount of beauty products.
Before you know it, you can hardly keep track of when you bought what, let alone when to throw what out. But before you start lining your eyes with an eye pencil you found at the bottom of your favourite handbag last season, or start moisturising your skin with a face cream that resurfaced while you were clearing out an old travel kit, here’s what you need to know about the lifespan of your skincare and makeup products.
Generally, there are five ways to tell if a beauty product should be tossed:
#1 Perform a sniff test
It’s pretty obvious that when something smells rancid, it should be thrown away whether or not you bought it last month or if it has been sitting on your shelf for a year. The sniff test works best for liquid or cream based products, so if it smells “off”, it’s a pretty good indication that it has gone bad and should not go on your face.
#2 Do a visual check
If there’s visible mold on your cosmetics, throw them out or risk getting an infection. Sometimes, you can’t really tell if it has gone moldy especially when the product comes in a tube, but practice the habit of squeezing the product out onto the back of your hand first before applying them on your face.
Another visual test is to check if the colour of the product has changed. It is normal for some foundations to separate when it has been left untouched for some time, but if you notice a change in the colour, it’s best to stop using it.
#3 Check the labels, too
Printed on the back of each product is a logo of an open jar, with a numeral indicating the number of months the product stays fresh and viable for after it’s open.
A good practice is to write the month and year on the label with a fine marker or ball-point pen so that you’ll know when it was opened. No more guessing when you bought the product!
Beyond the fact that products might start to degrade and not be as effective as they were meant to be if you use them past this date, there’s also the risk that these products might be contaminated. In that case, you’re wasting all that effort it takes to layer on multiple products, and perhaps even risk the possibility of getting an allergic reaction or inflammation should the products really be contaminated.
#4 Was it sealed properly?
Any product that hasn’t been closed tightly, i.e. has been exposed to the air (and more importantly, the moisture in our air), should be tossed. This is especially so for products that have a high water content because, as we all know it, moisture provides the perfect breeding ground for bacteria. On the other hand, products that are in powder form tend to be able to last longer than those in a liquid form.
#5 Keep track of “paraben-free products”
Another thing to look out for is if the products you have are “paraben-free”. Often used as a preservative to prolong the freshness of the product, parabens have racked up a bad rep for itself amongst the clean beauty advocates as they have the potential to cause skin irritation for some people.
As such, many beauty companies have jumped on the clean beauty bandwagon, eliminating parabens from their formulas, which can affect on how long their products can stay fresh. So if you support the clean beauty movement, be sure to keep track of your beauty products so as to make sure you use them up before they start getting contaminated.
That said, here’s a rough guide of how long you should be using certain beauty products before you toss them out: