Keep or Toss? Beauty Item Expiration Dates to Know.Blog ▸ Beauty Tips | September 5, 2018
When do good things go bad, as they often seem to? And yes, this means you, beloved beauty products! That’s right, unfortunately, there’s a time when skin creams, makeup and hair products will lose their luster. Sometimes you can tell by the smell, sometimes by the performance- you stop having good hair days and your poppy pink lipstick fades to a boring shadow of its former vibrant self. But how do we really know when to toss out the bad stuff and head to Sephora for some fun new items? Inquiring beauty minds want to know.
I never gave expiration times much thought, and instead just made sure to get my money’s worth. Beauty can be expensive! I’ll pat my powder compact until the metal bottom peeks out from fragments of neutral beige. And mascara? I say build those lashes until the wand runs dry! And who among us isn’t guilty of turning a Moroccan oil bottle upside down to squeeze out every drop of its golden goodness? My hand is raised…but should it be?
The answer is maybe. Unfortunately, expiration dates aren’t printed on most beauty items, as cosmetic and hair product ingredients don’t require FDA approval before going on the market. But just like food and medicine, there is a shelf-life to be mindful of. If left to linger too long, especially after being opened, these chemical glamour makers stop doing their job. Worst case scenario, it can lead to eye or skin infections, and breakouts.
So…what to keep, what to toss?
Here’s what experts recommend as suggested time frames to hold on to our beauty bounty.
• Eyeliner and mascara: 3-4 months
• Liquid or cream foundation, concealer: 1 year (longer if unopened)
• Powder foundation, concealers: 2 years
• Powder blush: 2 years; Cream blush: 1 year
• Powder eye shadow: 2 years; Cream 3-6 months
• Face powder: 2 years
• Lipstick, lip gloss: 2-3 years
• Nail polish: 2 years (sooner if it separates)
• Shampoo and conditioner: 2 years
• Hair dyes: Unopened, up to 3 years; opened, less than a week*
• Hair spray, non-aerosol: 3 years, unused; 18 months, once used
• Hair spray, aerosol: 3+ years
• Texturizers, pomades, gels: spray, 2 years; creams, 1 year
• Acne products: 6-12 months
• Sunscreen: 1 year*
• Loofahs and body sponges: 1-2 months
• Body lotions and creams: 1-2 years
• Face and eye creams: 6-12 months*
*Exposure to air, heat, light, humidity, and moisture will rapidly decrease the shelf life. Toss if unsure.
Here’s a tip...
Look for what’s called a Period After Opening (PAO) date if there’s no expiration date on a package. It’s a small symbol that looks like an opened jar, and inside it will be a letter (M=month, Y=year) and a number (1-24 in most cases). So then, an item with a PAO symbol of 12M means that it lasts 12 months after opening.
Technology helps out too, with an app called Beauty Keeper, and the website CheckCosmetic.net. Surely, there’s more. Readers, can you help us out?
When in doubt, let your nose and eyes be your guide. Check with your cosmetologist or esthetician for their expert opinion. And if your favorite hair and skin items are collecting dust after a year or so, maybe they really weren’t your favorites after all. Time to update and splurge!
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For important consumer info, please visit www.empire.edu/ge