We're all guilty of it -- hanging on to that beauty product (or twenty) that's seen two presidential terms, yet still remains in our stash. If you love beauty products as much as we do, you probably have some you use regularly and others you keep for special occasions. If they're part of your daily routine, they're used up quickly, and the chance of expiration is likely low. On the other hand, that jar of glitter eye shadow may only see annual use, if that.
The beginning of the year is a great time to take an inventory of what beauty products you need to replace and what can stay. Try to be objective -- even if you bought that amazing face mask in Paris three years ago, remember that replacing it with a fresh one will be far better for the health of your skin.
When to Chuck It
Sometimes it's difficult to tell at first glance if something in your collection has gone over the edge. In other cases, the appearance alone tells you all is not right with a product's freshness. Regardless, it's important to be aware of the risks of using outdated products. Products with chemical ingredients can break down into different (and unfortunate) compounds or create the perfect environment for bacteria that can lead to irritation and infection. Here are a few tips for deciding what to toss and what to keep:
- Check the expiration date. In most cases, you should heed the expiration date printed on a beauty product. Many use ingredients that only remain stable for a finite amount of time. After the expiry date, not only may they not work as well, but sometimes they could actually pose a risk to your health. Follow the old adage if you're just not sure: "When in doubt, throw it out!"
- Discard old mascara and liquid liner. We're talking anything over two or three months old. Mascara, in particular, is a breeding ground for bacteria, which could lead to some pretty unsightly (and dangerous) infections.
- Check lipstick and lip gloss. The applicators for your favorite lip colors come in contact with your skin over and over again, then are put back into their containers. Six months after opening should be the limit on lip color or lip moisturizing products.
- Sunscreen and moisturizers can lose their "oomph." Get rid of sunscreen or moisturizer that is past its date or has taken on an odd smell or consistency. It's likely that the benefits are now null, and it could even cause irritation or infection.
- Deep-six old serums. Many serums contain active ingredients that are incredibly delicate and susceptible to changes. For instance, as soon as you open a bottle of serum or moisturizer containing Vitamin C, the active ingredient starts to oxidize and loses efficacy. Make sure you follow the directions on the bottle and try to keep up a daily beauty routine to maximize the benefits of the serum.
- Face the (mask) facts. Face masks can be tricky in that most of them won't show outward signs of degradation. If it's out of date, it's probably wisest to get rid of it. You will be able to tell if the formula has expired if it feels dry, has separated, or smells a bit off.
Making Your Products Last
Here are a few things you can do to get the most life out of your beauty products:
- Store at room temperature or slightly below to help preserve the stability of the ingredients. Some may even require refrigeration. Heed the label's recommendations on storage. It's an absolute no-no to place your products in full sun.
- Only use clean brushes and applicators. Introducing bacteria into products can make them go bad sooner.
- Make sure lids are tightly closed. Exposure to air and moisture can cause makeup and beauty products to go off more quickly.
Although it's tempting to stock up on all the latest, greatest beauty products, you may just be throwing money away if they aren't used up. Only buy products that will benefit your skin and that are made of natural ingredients. Check them all frequently, and replace those that are no longer good. You'll notice a change in your skin and your bank account when you do!