Unlike with sunscreens, there’s no requirement for skin care or makeup products to show a use-by date on the packaging, but these products most certainly do have a shelf life.
A study in the International Journal of Cosmetic Science found that 70 percent of women were using some type of expired product, mostly eye makeup, and 67 percent of the products were contaminated.
Using old cosmetics can even – shock, horror – make you look older, as when water evaporates and their consistency often becomes thick and pasty on the skin.
How long should you hang on to that makeup before you chuck it?
3-6 months: mascara, eyeliner
6 months – 1 year: lip balm and gloss, cleanser, toner, serum, moisturizer, foundation
2 years: lipstick, lip liner, powder-based blusher.
Use a fine-point Sharpie to write the date you opened each product – a surefire way to remember when it’s time to chuck them.
Clean brushes regularly (ideally once a week) to keep them from becoming a breeding ground for bacteria. Massage a mild shampoo or cleanser into the base of each brush and rinse thoroughly. There are also more high-tech options like the Sigma Spa Brush Cleaning Mat ($32).
Instead of wasting time rummaging around a Mary Poppins bag of cosmetics, keep them organized and clutter-free in a rotating caddy or clear acrylic organizers. You could even mount products on a magnetic board: hang a metal sheet and glue small round magnets to the bottom of your blushes, bronzers, palettes and shadows. Stash brushes upright in a canister or jar.
Keep all beauty products out of UV light (e.g. do not store on a sunny windowsill) – something to be particuarly aware of in the Caribbean.
Paint the tops of nail polish bottles with a swatch of each color on a white label, then stash neatly in a box – it’ll make shade selections a lot easier.
Put your lipstick in the freezer overnight to kill germs and bacteria. Just make sure you bring it back to room temperature before applying it.
For more beauty and fashion tips, see this month’s edition of What’s Hot magazine, out on newsstands March 7.