Do you know when all of your makeup and skincare products expire? Did you know that using past-it products can be just as bad as eating expired food?
Luckily Cosmopolitan put together this makeup and skincare expiration guide (in application order!).
So why don't all our skincare products come with a sell-by-date? Well, the difficult thing with makeup is that the shelf-life all depends on when a product is first opened, how it's stored and the type of packaging.
Meet the PAO Symbol:
Most products have a Period After Opening (PAO) symbol - as shown in the image above - which acts as a guideline for when you should throw out a product after you've opened it.
The symbol includes the letter 'm' which stands for month and a number before the letter 'm' (which stands for the amount of months), i.e. '6m' means that once you've opened a product you should realistically stop using this product after six months.
But what if you can't find a PAO symbol on your products? *Hint Hint* Continue reading our definitive guide of makeup and skincare expiration dates (in application order!), with some helpful tips on how to extend the shelf-life, as well as some tell-tale signs that your products could be out-of-date already:
1. Micellar water
If you look at the ingredients in micellar water you'll notice - surprise, surprise - that water is the first and main ingredient, which makes it one of the first products you'll have to part with if you don't use it quickly, as water encourages bacteria growth, bacterial contamination and breaks down with exposure to air which explains the shelf-life of six months - MAX!
Most cleansers should last you around one year but make sure you check your particular brand's PAO symbol first and look out for lumps, discolouration and warped packaging.
Like micellar water, toner is another water-based product and its shelf-life can range from six months up to one year - this is because toner often has added ingredients that can help increase shelf-life. Trust your eyes and nose with this one - if it starts to change colour, odour or thickness throw it away as it can cause skin irritation.
If your moisturiser is 'preservative-free' and uses natural ingredients as preservatives instead, take extra care as natural alternatives can't protect your product from bacterial contamination as well as synthetic alternatives. It's not a bad thing - it just reduces shelf life and the PAO should reflect this.
To get that smooth, silky and blendable texture, concealers use oils and hydrating agents such as shea butter. If your concealer dries out, changes texture, becomes cakey/ lumpy or starts to smell different – throw it out, immediately! Ironically, It'll just be making those breakouts that you're concealing even worse.
Right, do you use liquid, cream or powder? This will drastically change the PAO you'll see on the back of your product. Liquids and creams last between six to 12 months as they contain more water, oils and hydrating agents which shortens the shelf-life and has an increased risk of bacterial contamination. Powders can last up to two years as the dry texture doesn't allow bacteria to grow as easily – however we recommend washing your makeup tools regularly, wash hands before every use and lightly cleaning the top layer of your powder once every week to increase its shelf-life.
7. Powder and blusher
Powders can go bad too! Minimise the risk of bacterial contamination by cleaning your makeup tools regularly and never leaving the powder exposed to air – that means keeps lids closed tightly and throw away powders without lids or that are broken.
8. Brow pencil
To keep your brow pencil in good condition you should sharpen it frequently and keeping the cap closed tightly between uses – the sharpening will remove any bacterial growth on the top layer from contact with the air and your skin.
Creams will only last around six months due to the hydrating agents which provides moisture for bacteria to thrive on. Powders can last up to two years – yey – but remember to watch out for discolouration, waxy build up or a change in smell.
Stop pumping your mascara, immediately. This forces air into the tube, which dries out your beloved product and facilitates bacterial contamination. Instead, slowly move the wand in a circular motion whilst in the tube for full coverage. Throw out mascara once it dries out, changes texture, colour or scent and NEVER try to add water!
…Oh, and, don't share your mascara, this product is applied close to your eyes and can easily pick up and transfer bacteria, so if you've had any eye infections – never use that wand or mascara again, throw it out and buy a one.
Liquid or pencil? Liquid liner lasts around four to six months as it is another product susceptible to bacteria contamination. Throw it out if you've had an eye infection, notice any changes to texture, colour, smell or once it dries out. Pencil eyeliners can last up to two years and should be cared for in the same way as brow pencils and lipliners – sharpen regularly and keep that cap closed tightly.
These beauties can last two years if you… *repeat after us* sharpen them regularly and keep that cap closed firmly between usage!
Even though lipsticks contain water, moisturisers and hydrating agents they can last two years – as long as you look after them well. Never leave them sat without a lid on, use a lip brush when you can to prevent unnecessary contact with your skin and lips and occasionally clean them with makeup wipes to remove the top layer of bacteria growth.
Remember what we told you about pumping your mascara? The same applies with your lipgloss. Circular motions girls, circulation motions. Watch out for discolouration, changes in texture and thickness.
15. Lip balm
If your lip balm is in a pot or jar try and wash your hands before each use as this can easily transfer bacteria to your lip balm and reduce the shelf-life drastically. Lip balm tubes tend to last longer and we suggest you follow the same lipstick instructions for increasing shelf-life.
16. Nail polish
Once nail polish is opened ingredients can evapourate causing the polish to thicken and separate. Don't be hasty in throwing these out and instead look out for changes in colour, thickness and texture.
Well stored fragrances can keep for years and years as long as you avoid heat, bright light and keep the lid on securely between usage. If you want your fragrances to last as long as possible, keep them in a dark cupboard or draw and check for discoloration or a stale, different scent to the original one.