Let’s face it. All good things have a shelf life, and that includes makeup, hair, and skincare products. When their time is over they simply stop working. Or worse.
WHEN MAKEUP TURNS INTO TRASH
FIVE WAYS TO PROTECT YOURSELF FROM PERSONAL CARE PRODUCTS GONE BAD
1. Read product labels. If there’s an expiration date listed, toss after that date. No expiration date?
Look for the PAO (Period After Opening)—it’s a small jar-like symbol with a number inside. The number (6M, 12M, etc.) indicates the safety/effective time (in months) of the product once the package has been opened for the first time. Lack of effectiveness is annoying, but bear in mind that expired cosmetics can cause skin irritations and eye infections, as well.
2. Type of packaging matters. Air-tight canisters, sprayers and pump-style jars for creams and lotions can stay fresh longer than dip-style jars because of less exposure to air or bacteria from your fingers.
3. Organic or preservative-free products may have shorter shelf life. Lack of preservatives and the use of raw ingredients—pulps, barks, pure extracts—are often the very reason why these products are bought by people looking for a more natural or non-chemical way of life. However, these same preservatives do provide longer shelf life. When you eliminate them, you can expect shelf life to be shortened.
4. Where the product lives in your home can affect its efficacy and/or be a danger to health. For example, some serums come in amber and/or UV treated glass to protect them from potentially damaging sun exposure. Nail polish and perfume should be stored away from sunlight for best results. Items that live in the humid shower area—shampoos, conditioners, hair masks—need to be checked periodically for the molds and mildews which can pose health hazards, as well as reduced efficacy.
5. No original package? There are apps to help you get the info via the item’s batch code —a small number that tells you when the item was produced. Once you have that information, you can apply industry rules of thumb about when it’s time to discard them.
PERSONAL CARE SHELF LIFE AVERAGES
2 to 3 months
Mascara, nail files, loofahs, masks, peels
6 to 12 months
Concealer, liquid liner, foundation, face wash, serums
12 to 24 months
Lip gloss, lipstick, face cream, body soaps, sunscreen
Pencils, powders, lotions, nail polish, hair products