December 17, 2013 Sally Bjornsen


When do cosmetics expire?  A question I never really thought to ask.  Yes, I know to throw out my mascara once it gets globby, but I hadn’t thought about the shelf life of an eyeshadow or blush that only gets used for the annual Christmas party.  On a recent shopping trip to replace my favorite (but little used) lipstick, I realized my precious tube of “Jungle Red” was a decade old. “UGH!”

Throwing out your make-up is important to your health.  Bacteria breeds when products break-down causing skin irritations or infections (think pink eye).  Different types of products have different home use life spans.  For example, eye make-up and should be discarded after three to six months.  Powders can make it through a year before bacteria begins growing.  Lipstick can be kept for 18 months to two years, but make-up application sponges should be replaced weekly.  The list goes on

 So how do you keep track of yet another thing in your life?  Beauty Alertoffers everything you need to know about when your cosmetics go bad.  They even offer products and an app to keep track of when it’s time to toss the teal eyeshadow you bought for the 80’s themed birthday party. 

Here’s their take when cosmetics expire and why it matters:

Once cosmetics are opened, the spoilage process begins, reducing their effectiveness and allowing bacterial growth that can cause irritations or infections.  To ensure that your cosmetics are safe to use, bear in mind two important phases of the product’s life:

Shelf Life

Shelf life is the length of time a product can remain in a warehouse or in a retailer’s display case without spoiling or losing its effectiveness. Often a bar code on the packaging indicates the Shelf Life, which the wholesaler or retailer must be trusted to read and heed. Once the Shelf Life date has passed, preservatives in the product break down and bacteria can breed, even in an unopened container.  

Home Use Life Span

As long as a beauty product is not past its shelf life, the second phase of its life begins after the product’s seal is broken. Once cosmetics are exposed to air, the spoilage process begins to compromise the product’s effectiveness and weakens its defense against bacteria growth. The amount of time make-up or skin care products should last after they are opened is the product’s Home Use Life Span. Once its time is up, it’s time to throw it out!

Now, when I buy my Jungle Red lipstick, I key in the date I bought and presto! I will get a phone alert in 18 months letting me know to replace it.




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