You can protect yourself using these guidelines for an average shelf life limit on your favorite makeup items.
Lipsticks are mixtures of oils, waxes and pigments that typically carry a maximum shelf life of two years. Just because lipsticks can last for years doesn’t mean you should use them for more than one, according Snyder. Sadly, a top-dollar tube of Chanel is no exception — the quality and safety of makeup decreases with time no matter how much it costs.
Each time you pump your mascara wand, you send a puff of germ-filled air inside the tube. Even in brands formulated with antibacterial agents, mascara should be swapped out every three months. Buy yourself a bulk four-pack at the beginning of the year and set a quarterly reminder for this beauty ritual.
In the worst-case scenario, contaminated mascara can cause pseudomonas aeruginosa, a corneal infection that causes permanent vision damage.
Pencils and eyeshadow should be replaced after six months.
Concealers and Foundation
Foundation expiration dates can vary as much by its formulation as its packaging. When capped and properly stored, a concealer can last as long as a year. Cream foundations maintain their quality for four to six months, while liquid is best used in three to six months. Foundation packaged in a wide-mouth jar is more exposed to airborne bacteria, so it may need to be replaced sooner.
According to celebrity makeup pro and healthy beauty expert Todra Payne, a little extra caution with your cosmetics can help you get more mileage from your products. Always apply makeup with clean hands, but never put your fingers directly into the jar — opt for items with pump dispenser lids, or use a cotton swab, spatula or brush to remove the product. Adopt a weekly cleaning routine for any non-disposable applicators if you use makeup daily. And never add any of your own ingredients to your makeup — not even water.
Watch out for changes in color, scent and texture. Foul smell? Ingredients separated? When in doubt, toss it out. There’s never been a better excuse to get to the beauty counter for a fresh look when the seasons change.
Identifying Expiration Dates
Most beauty products are embossed or labeled with a PAO symbol (period after opening) — a small icon that looks like a jar, which indicates the approximate number of months the item is valid after opening. For example, a product with a PAO of 3M opened in October should be tossed as you ring in the new year.
Tip: If you are concerned about animal testing, look for a leaping bunny label, which will help you find brands
that don’t test on animals.