Lifestyle

From mascara to makeup brushes, here’s when to throw old beauty products away


Learn to let go (Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto)

The sad fact is that nothing in your makeup bag will last forever.

It can be hard to let go of your favourite products, but when their expiration date comes along it’s really for the best.

Sometimes, after months and years knocking around in your purses, pockets and drawers, the labels can wear off and become unreadable.

Saffron Hughes, makeup artist at FalseEyelashes.co.uk, has put together some rough guidelines for when you should throw different types of makeup away – so you can never use that as excuse to keep something that’s past its best ever again.

Really, it’s for the best.

Make up brushes – five years 

Hate to break it to you, but even make up brushes need replacing once in a while.

Saffron explained: ‘Makeup brushes have a longer life span because we can wash them – something we should be doing once a week. This deep clean of brushes will help avoid a build-up of bacteria that could result in acne and skin irritation.’

She added: ‘Always dry your brushes upside down, so the water does not seep into the brush and loosen the bristles over time. Pay attention to the makeup brush quality, and whether it is still efficient before deciding to part ways with your favourite tool.’

False eyelashes – four years

False eyelashes can last up to four years as long as you clean them properly.

‘It’s easy to keep collecting lashes in different designs, styles and lengths.’ said Saffron. ‘If you store them in a cool, dry place and do not open the lashes until you plan on using them, they can last up to four years. Once you wear your lashes, clean and dry them in between uses to prevent bacteria from growing.

‘If they don’t stay on or if they have clumps of mascara attached, it is time to let them go. Otherwise, they can acquire dirt and debris which can cause eye infections. Note that the expiration date for your false eyelashes will be different to the expiration date for the lash adhesive, which typically has a maximum lifespan of three months.’

Hygiene is especially important when it comes to beauty products (Picture: Getty)

Sunscreen – three years

SPF is an essential daily skincare step that shouldn’t be skipped – just be careful of sunscreen that’s too old, since age can make it less effective.

Saffron said: ‘Sunscreen should be part of your everyday regimen, and if you’re using it enough, you shouldn’t have to worry about the expiration date. Unfortunately, many of us forget to apply sunscreen daily and are left with old bottles lying around from previous purchases or holidays. If the bottle is unopened and kept in a cool area, sunscreen can last three years.

‘However, if it has been opened or kept in a warm area, throw it out after one year. The easiest way to tell if your sunscreen has expired is to check if the formula has separated or if there are any changes to its colour. Remember that expired sunscreen has a significantly reduced SPF efficiency, so invest in a new bottle!’

Lipstick – two years

Saffron says there are ways to keep your favourite lipstick clean, but liquid lipsticks have a shorter shelf life.

‘Lipstick doesn’t hold much bacteria,’ explains Saffron, ‘So it can last up to two years. However, if left opened or taken to the bathroom frequently for top-ups, bacteria can come into contact with your skin and lips. To avoid this, clean the top of your lipstick with a makeup wipe to prevent bacteria growth. If you are sick or have a cold sore, spray and sanitize the lipstick with alcohol after use before letting it dry.

‘Liquid lipsticks hold a much shorter lifespan of one year, as dipping the wand in and out can lead to more frequent bacteria contamination. If you notice any changes to the lipsticks texture, smell or if it dries out, it’s time to throw it away.’

Saffron said liquid foundation has about a year in it (Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Foundation – one year

Letting go of your favourite foundation can be particularly painful, but your skin will thank you for not subjecting it to expired product.

‘After the seal has been broken, liquid foundation should last up to a year,’ said Saffron.

‘Using an expired foundation can cause the product to oxidise, which will change the pigments. After oxidisation, the foundation may appear a shade or two darker (or more orange) on the skin.

‘Skin infections, rashes, eczema flare-ups and acne may also occur. For powder foundation, if the product dries out and crumbles, it has expired and should no longer be used. For liquids, the product won’t apply well anymore and will separate.’

Brow gel and eyeliner – six months

We need to be especially vigilant with eye makeup, since our eyes are so sensitive to bacteria.

Saffron said: ‘Anything that is dipped into a product, such as eyebrow or eyeliner gels, have a higher risk of bacterial contamination. If the colour changes, the gel dries out, or it smells different, don’t take your chances as this can lead to eye infections or breakouts around your brows.

‘Pencils last two years, which is much longer since they’re constantly being sharpened, and therefore the bacteria gets removed. With brow or eye makeup, ensure the cap is closed tightly to avoid your products drying out.’

Mascara – three months 

Mascaras should be replaced on the regular, again, thanks to the bacteria they can collect.

Saffron explained: ‘Three months may seem short, but with mascara the risk for bacterial infection is far greater than any other makeup product. The tubes can harbour bacteria, which can result in eye infections such as conjunctivitis, styes, or pink eye. As well as this, many beauty lovers pump the mascara to try and get more product out of it. Not only is this a myth, but it will introduce more air into the tube, forcing in bacteria which can then become trapped.

‘The inside of your mascara tube is the perfect habitat for bacteria to survive and reproduce, which is why it is essential to purchase a new mascara every three months. However, if your mascara dries out, clumps or changes in texture, replace it immediately.’

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