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The Truth about Makeup Expiration Dates

We know that cosmetics aren’t cheap, and the last thing anyone wants to do is toss out even a single application’s worth of their favorite products. So when your makeup reaches its expiration date, you might be tempted to hang onto it for as long as you can. So is it okay to keep your products for longer than marked? Or do you have to toss them right away? Well, here’s the truth.

What the Date Means

The truth is, the date on your makeup is important, but you might not have to toss it out right on that day. Cosmetics tend to retain bacteria more easily than most other kinds of products, which is why the expiration date is so important. You don’t want to be putting bacteria-laden products around your eyes or lips, do you?

But the date on the packaging is based on the assumption that you’re going to be opening and using the product right away. So if you store the makeup for a while before the first use, then you likely don’t need to dispose of it on the expiration date. So, how long can you actually keep your products?

Product Shelf Life

Here are the general guidelines for how long you can keep various cosmetic products, measuring from the time that you first use it:

  • Foundation: 6 months to 1 year
  • Lipstick, liner, and gloss: 1 year
  • Brow pencils and eyeliner: 1 year
  • Mascara: 3 months
  • Liquid eyeliner: 3 to 4 months
  • Blushes and other powder: 2 years
  • Cream blushes: 12 to 18 months
  • Eye shadow: 3 to 6 months

Generally speaking, the more moisture a product contains, and the closer it is applied to your eyes, the sooner it needs to be thrown out. Moisture-laden products will retain more bacteria, and of course, you don’t want a bacteria-filled mascara wand or eyeliner pencil to be right next to your eye.

Signs It’s Time to Toss It

Of course, you probably don’t write down the date that you opened your current cosmetic products. So how do you know when to toss them out? Just keep an eye out for signs of change in the product’s composition. Changes in color, texture, or smell are sure signs it’s time to toss it. If it’s drying out, starting to separate, or getting goopy, you need to throw it out--not just because it’s probably getting bacteria in it, but because you’re no longer going to get good application out of it.

How to Help It Last Longer

If you want to help your cosmetics to last longer, there are a few things you can do. First, always apply your makeup with clean hands (for the sake of your products and your face). This will help keep bacteria and germs off the packaging and out of the product. Second, whenever possible, don’t touch your fingers directly to the opening or the product. For example, when applying liquid foundation, squirt a small amount onto the back of your hand instead of wiping the opening with your fingertip.

And finally, never share liquid cosmetics with anyone, especially the products that you apply around your eyes. Not only can the germs from other people make your products go bad more quickly, but they can lead to eye infections and other problems. So do yourself and your products a favor, and be a little selfish in this regard.

By treating your products properly and ensuring you don’t use expired products, you’ll get a better application and a more flawless look from your makeup.

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