Cosmetics are part of our everyday life. How we store them matters as much as how long we keep them. If you didn’t know your cosmetics have an expiration date, you are not alone. Not many people are aware of this and don’t realise how much they are potentially harming their skin and eyes by using expired products.
Look out for product best before date
When you look at most cosmetic jars they have what’s called a period after opening (POA). This is usually a jar on the back label with a number followed by ‘M’ as shown in the image below. What this indicates is how long you can use a product before you need to get rid of it. Other products have a specific expiration date.
Under European regulations, if a product has a shelf life of less than 30 months, an expiration or POA date should be clearly displayed on its packaging. If you get your products from Europe you may want to make a note of this.
Some countries have no regulations on expiration dates but how you store cosmetics determines their longevity and their safety for continued use.
Why discard expired products?
Now that you have an idea of what to look out for when checking for expiration dates, here are reasons you may want to avoid using your cosmetics past these guide dates.
1. Your products will become less effective
Keeping products for as long as possible is always tempting especially if you don’t want to waste. However, going beyond their life span may mean they become less effective rendering them useless.
2. Expired products can cause skin irritation.
Liquid or creams usually have a shorter shelf life because they can easily facilitate bacterial growth. This is very possible especially when you leave cosmetic jars open after use. A lot of us do this and bacteria is easily introduced this way. This results in undesired breakouts, dermatitis or acne.
3. Expired eye products can lead to eye infections
Mascara is the biggest culprit and you should aim to replace it every 3 months. Use of expired eyeliner and mascara can lead to eye infections such as sties, conjuctivitus or pink eye. It’s unpleasant and is best avoided.
4. Expired lip products such as lipstick and lipliner can cause swelling
Lipstick usually has a shelf life of 18 to 24 months. Using it past this period can become problematic. Many of us are guilty of keeping lipstick we acquired more than 2 years ago. It’s time to change that.
5. Fragrances may lose their scent
Fragrance has the longest shelf life: up to 5 years. But depending on how you store it, perfume won’t smell as good as before after it hits is use by date.
All cosmetic products have a shelf life regardless of whether it’s stated on the packaging or not. Some cosmetics have preservatives and after some time, these start to break down. The result? A product that’s not as effective as it used to be which poses more problems than solutions.
When do your cosmetics expire?
What happens if you discard the packaging of your cosmetics before finding out the expiry or period after opening date? There are apps and websites that you can use to find out the expiry dates of cosmetics from certain brands if you have the batch or serial number.
One popular app is the Beauty Keeper. This app not only tells you when your beauty products expire, but also allows you to set reminders for when to replace them.
Below is a quick reference guide to how long you can keep some of the common products found in your makeup and cosmetics collection.
Has this article got you thinking about how long you keep your beauty products? Comment below and let me know. Don’t forget to check out other beauty related posts in the beauty section.