Did You Know Your Beauty Products Have A Use By Date?
As a beauty and skincare junkie, I have become a bit of a hoarder when it comes to products in my apartment. And all the free samples we get sent - an awesome perk of this job - certainly doesn't help matters.
But wading through my ever growing collection of lotions and potions on a recent 'spring cleaning' exercise, i noticed something. Every product I own features this tiny little icon on the label:
And I had absolutely zero idea what it meant. Following a quick bit of googling and further inspection of every bottle or tube on my vanity I discovered that this minute hidden symbol actually represents a use by date for the product from the time of opening.
What now? Beauty products expire? They don't have a never ending shelf life?
Once I surpassed the horror of realizing that 80% of my product stash was needing to be retired to the dumpster, I became conscious of the fact that I have been using products that are waaaay past their suggested use by date on a regular basis.
Interestingly, I am not the only one. A quick poll of my mom, sister and the girls in the office revealed that none of us throw out beauty products after a specific time frame and almost all of us had no idea that our beauty buys were marked with a shelf life.
So what does this mean? Is using a product that is past its suggested use by date a problem?
Well, despite being still alive and toting a full head of hair, the short answer is YES, it is a problem.
Many makeup products begin to breakdown on a molecular level, over time, and putting this different product on your skin can cause irritation, inflammation or even contact dermatitis. Expired products can also be a breeding ground for bacteria leading to acne, irritation, skin infections and even pink eye - Eeeeew!
But different products have different rules. Here is a quick breakdown:
Skincare - most lotions, creams and sprays have a two year shelf-life, but sadly you have no idea how long the product was sitting in the store before you bought it. Throw out at 18 months or before if the product begins to change color or dry out. When it comes to SPF, it is likely to become inefficient at protecting your skin after the labeled date. Specialized acne or wrinkle creams with 'active' ingredients have an even shorter life span. Throw these after 12 months.
Makeup - It seems like common sense not to put anything on your face, or near your eyes, that might be moldy. But according to my 'research', most of us don't care. Makeup has the shortest shelf life of all beauty products with any cream-based products (foundation, cream eye shadow, liquid highlighters) lasting 6-8 months, powders (blush, eyeshadow etc) lasting 18 months, liquid eye products such as mascara or liquid liner lasting just 3 months and any pencils (eye or lip) and lipsticks lasting 2 years.
Nail polish - Lacquer will last up to 2 years under the right conditions but if it starts to separate or get thick, chuck it.
Hair products - Most hair products contain a preservative such as alcohol, so will last much longer than other beauty buys. But if they start to discolor, smells different or changes consistency definitely throw them out. Who wants their hair falling out?
You wouldn't eat food that has gone bad, so don't take the risk with what you put on your skin and hair.