Did you know that makeup has expiration dates? The shelf life of makeup and cosmetics is not indefinite, so here's how long you can keep the most common types of these items.
The reason these dates are important is because cosmetics and makeup are a breeding ground for bacteria, which can effect your health.
Bacteria laden products can cause eye irritations or infection, or acne outbreaks and rashes. Not good.
That means you should periodically declutter your makeup and toiletries, to both weed out the stuff you've decided you don't like, but also to make sure you're using fresh enough products.
You can read more about Makeup Organization here, which is one of the 52 Week Organized Home Challenges on the site.
In addition, learn more about decluttering cosmetics and other toiletries here, in the Declutter 365 mission article about this topic. This page that you're reading now is basically a supplement to that mission article, that helps you understand some of the criteria of when, and why you should get rid of certain beauty and personal care items.
Keep your makeup and cosmetics out of high temperatures and out of humid environments.
Instead keep them in cool, dry, dark areas. This will not only increase the lonegevity of your products, but such environments are also less conducive to bacterial growth.
Unopened products are not a ground for bacterial growth, so typically the clock begins to run on most of these products not when you buy them, but once you open it and begin using it, even once!
When did you open that tube of mascara? I bet you have no idea. I wouldn't know either. There are way too many things to remember for this to be something most people keep track of.
So the first step is to get in the habit of adding a piece of masking tape or other label to your makeup packaging when you open it, writing down the date you began using it.
If you do this then from now on there won't be any guess work when figuring out if something should be tossed for being too old.
I've shared general guidelines below, but I'll be honest. The guidelines suggested, even by experts in the industry, can vary widely although there is some general consensus.
Part of the reason for that is different makeup and cosmetic products contain different ingredients, and those recipe differences can make a difference in how long something will last.
While manufacturers are not required to put an expiration date on cosmetic packaging these days many do.
Look on the bottom or side of your package and often you'll see a little symbol that looks like an opened pot. Inside this symbol will be a number, such as 1, 2, 3, 6, 12, 18, or 24, and a letter. M stands for months, Y stands for years.
If inside the symbol it says 6M then you know, for example, that 6 months after the makeup is opened it will expire. Simple enough.
A reader, Erica, sent in the photo shown to the left, above, with an example of how this notification of expiration works.
Specific instructions for a product on the packaging trump the more general guidelines provided below.
Because of moisture and the oil often contained in liquid products they just don't last as long, typically, as powder products do.
You can make your liquids and creams last longer by not touching them directly. For example, foundations in a pump bottle, where you don't put your finger right in it, will typically last longer than pots of eye cream where you stick your finger in it before applying under your eyes.
If your cosmetics don't come in a dispenser like a pump you can get a small amount out by using a small baby spoon or something like that, instead of touching with your fingers to lengthen the amount of time you can safely use a product, at least based on bacterial growth. However, you stick your finger in there even once, while you're in a hurry, and the shorter guidelines will apply.
We may not consider it often, but the other products in our bathroom can also lose their effectiveness with time and exposure to bacteria from use.
Many of the same rules apply with toiletries as mentioned above with makeup.
Moisturizers should be tossed after a year. Shampoo and conditioner should be discarded after two years.
Toothpaste comes with an expiration date of usually two years. Deodorant can be good for up to 3 years, unless it becomes crumbly, in which case it should be discarded.
And, perhaps surprisingly, loofahs and bath sponges should be replaced every 3 - 6 weeks. They are kept in a warm, humid environment and have a lot of surface area for bacteria to live. Best to be safe and buy these items more often.
It can be difficult to remember all these various expiration dates and guidelines, so I've created a free printable cheat sheet for you that you can print out and place in your bathroom or in your makeup case and reference when you need it.
Click here to get printable
(opens into a new window, as PDF)
I would love to hear from you, sharing your thoughts, questions, or ideas about this topic, so leave me a comment below. I try to always respond back!