The Good, the Bad and the… Ew, What’s that smell?

Wednesday, May 12th, 2010

Have you ever noticed that the color, smell or texture of your makeup has changed since you bought it?  And to add to the confusion, you can’t remember when you bought it in the first place.  Don’t feel embarrassed!  You are probably one of many people who has expired or old makeup and skin care products in your possession.

While many makeup products do not have a PAO (period after opening) symbol on them , this definitely does not mean that they are meant to last forever in your makeup bag or on your bathroom counter.  Many skincare products bear the above logo on the bottom of the product container, which shows the length of time and unit used to measure that time, ie: 12M = 12 months.

$152.00 of Make-up
Attribution-NonCommercial License by aldinegirl87

Chances are, you have never made note in any memorable way of when you opened a new bottle or jar, nor have you cared all that much if the PAO date has come and gone.  While there will probably never be any earth shattering repercussions for using a lipstick that is three or more years old, there are a few concerns that are worth mentioning.

The most obvious reasons for getting rid of products that are far past their “best before” dates include the possibility of bacteria and risk of infection, especially in products used on or around the eyes.  Other reasons include a reduced quality of the products themselves.  Chances are that the active ingredients in your night cream, for example, may have a reduced effect if it’s been in use for several years.  And that foundation that used to create a flawless face may be less than flawless when applied after being in summer/fall rotation for multiple seasons.

Very much like labeling your Ziploc food items meant for the freezer with a Sharpie or label, you should also be finding a way to visibly note the open date of your product.  Generally, cream and liquid based products are the most susceptible to going bad sooner than later and the tell tale signs could be a variety of things.  From a variance in actual color, to an odd odor, change in texture, or (GASP) even traces of mold, you can quickly determine when “Something is rotten in the State of Denmark”.

L'Oreal Double Extension Beauty Tubes Mascara
Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License by miss604

If you take nothing else away from what I’ve written in this article, please remember this one important thing!  The most time sensitive product to purge and replace on a consistent basis is your mascara; 4 months is an absolute maximum.  To help prolong the use of your mascara, avoid pushing the wand into and out of the tube repeatedly before application.  Doing this pushes in air that will dry out the product more quickly and contributes to an increase in bacteria entering the tube.

Water based foundation, concealer, cream blush and cream eye shadow all fall into the 12-18 month expiration category.  Oil based foundation (which can be shaken if separated) can last at least 18 months and powders for the face, such as setting powder, blush or bronzer can easily make it to 24 months.  Lip glosses and lipsticks generally last up to 2 years as well.  Powder eye shadows, pencil eye liner and lip liners all go the distance for 3 years’ time (sharpen your pencils frequently to reduce bacteria).  Generally, if you’re not sure, it’s better to be safe by throwing it out than sorry.

Similar to fragrances, your beauty products should be stored in a cool and dry place out of the sun and wherever lids or snap closures are involved, take care to close the container tightly.  Leaving your makeup products in a place like your car where they could freeze or melt, is definitely not recommended.  The majority of women store their beauty booty on the counter in the bathroom, but you should consider an alternate option such as a removable basket or a tightly closed drawer to help preserve what you’ve spent your hard earned money on!




Contributor: Chrissy Lambert

Chrissy Lambert is a freelance Makeup Artist and owner of Makeup Infusion. She is a proud Auntie of two adorable nieces and loves a night out “on the town” as much as a quiet night at home.



5 Responses to “The Good, the Bad and the… Ew, What’s that smell?”

  1. E Bessel says:

    Congratulations Chrissy on your first article with FVP!!! It was great! We love you and your writings!

  2. Sherry says:

    Good to know, have always been curious about the shelf life of makeup.Great article and thanks for the great tips. Can’t wait to see your future writings!

  3. Patty Wix says:

    Very informative and well written, Congats!

  4. Sonya Klatt says:

    Great job Chrissy, Can’t wait for the next article!

  5. Christine B says:

    Yes, a great reminder for us on the shelf life! Thanks for your info!!

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