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Makeup Expiration Dates and Why They are Important

Makeup Expiration Dates and Why They are Important


How Do I Know If My Products Are Safe?

To begin with the obvious, if your products are being used within their expiration date, you shouldn't have any reason to be concerned. If a product is starting to show quality degradation before it expires, contact the beauty supply shop from which it was purchased, as well as the manufacturer. 

That said, when a product reaches its expiration date, it begins to degrade. The optimal shelf life of the product has ended, and the effectiveness and quality of the makeup can no longer be guaranteed. This doesn't mean that mascara that expires June 7th turns to dust on June 8th, but it does mean that any time after that, it's not wise to use it for a variety of reasons. If a product has just expired and has no change in texture, smell or color, you don't have to immediately ditch it and run out and buy a new one right away, but consider doing it within the week. If that seems drastic to you, you might want to read on to find out exactly what expired makeup can do to your skin. 

What Effects Can Expired Makeup Have On My Skin?

When makeup goes past its expiration date, the chemical compounds that create the product can begin to break down into other compounds that aren't as friendly for your skin, especially if you have sensitive skin. The compounds that the breakdown creates can inflame your skin, causing irritation most commonly known as contact dermatitis. This can take the form of red patches, scaly skin, tiny blisters, rashes, swelling, hives and other unsightly, painful conditions. Repeated applications of expired products only make the reactions worse, and can lead to a chronic skin condition if the application continues. Scratching and rubbing the irritated skin can even lead to long term scarring, making the use of an expired product an even scarier prospect.

Irritated skin isn't the only reason to avoid expired products, however. As you can imagine, when you use makeup for an extended period of time, your brushes, applicators and palettes are collecting the microbes that naturally exist on your skin and around your eyes and mouth. To add to that, we often wind up letting friends borrow makeup without a second thought when getting ready for a night out or hitting the ladies' room. This adds a whole new person's - or even multiple people's- microbes to the miasma forming inside your train case. Creeped out yet? The longer those microbes fester, the more likely they are to cause skin or eye infections, and even pinkeye. That means weeding out expired products for your lips and eyes is just as important as those pesky powders and foundations. 

My Product's Expiration Date Isn't Visible - What's The Protocol?

If you're reading this and wondering where in the world the expiration date is on your makeup, you're far from alone. Expiration dates on makeup aren't as broadly visible as they would be on, say, a gallon of milk. Another common issue is that makeup manufacturers are not required to publish expiration dates, so some products just don't have them. Look for dates near the seams of your products. They are often also written in tiny print near the UPC bar code of a product, sometimes making the dates easy to miss. One more problem with finding makeup expiration dates is that high-end products often come with external packaging that features the expiration date, while the product's main physical package does not also contain that info. Most people don't readily save the box or container their makeup was in unless it's a special edition, and once the container is in the trash, it's lost to the ages. Who really remembers the exact date they picked up that eyeliner?

Not being sure of the expiration date of your makeup doesn't mean you can't do quality control checks to be on the lookout for an expired product. Cracking, discoloration, texture changes and a change in smell, especially the new presence of a sour smell, mean it's time to get rid of a makeup product for your own safety. Unfortunately, though, some products have a very short recommended shelf life because of their predisposition to collect bacteria. Visible quality degradation doesn't take place with these products until they're long past their recommended dates of use. If you're wondering how long to keep your products, here's a handy guide.

  • Mascara, liquid liner, gel liner - 3 months
  • Lipstick, lip liner, oil free foundations - 1 year
  • Cream eyeshadow or blush, concealer - between a year and 18 months
  • Lip gloss - between 18 and 24 months
  • Powdered products like shadows, bronzer, blush, contouring powder and translucent powders), pencil eyeliners - 2 years

Staying Healthy With Your Makeup

It's no shock that the biggest bacteria collection culprits are mascara and eyeliner, and therefore, they should frequently be replaced. A lot of beauty lovers find this frustrating, but a beauty supply shop may have smaller sized tubes of your favorite mascaras and liners that can help you avoid wasting product and spending unnecessary money. 

Weeding out the bad apples in your makeup collection can feel painful, but it definitely hurts less than a red, irritated rash or a nasty case of pinkeye. Keeping a small list that details when you bought products can help you to stay on track with keeping your collection safe whether products explicitly state their expiration date or not.

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