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When to say goodbye to your old beauty products

I don’t know about you, but I used to be bit of a beauty product hoarder. I tended to keep products I rarely used, just in case I one day miraculously decided to switch up my mascara or swap moisturisers. I’m going to share with you the information that made me finally sort out of my product excess and crusty old mascaras.

Four simple words… all beauty products expire.

Whether it’s your moisturiser or mascara, the preservatives in products only last so long after opening. The average beauty product’s expiration date depends on when you first use them and how the product is packaged and stored. Using a product beyond its expiration date risks irritation, rashes, blemishes and various skin or eye infections. Not good.

Now, beauty products don’t have an expiration date stamped on them like your milk and eggs. Turn over your product and look for a little image of an open tub (usually next to the barcode). You’ll notice a number, followed by an ‘M’. They stand for how many months from opening the product should be replaced (see what they did there? M for months. Clever.). Remember though, this is a guide, if it starts to smell funky you might need to bring that date forward.

If a product appears discoloured, runny or lumpy, has separated or developed a strange smell, then throw it away.

Packaging that has expanded, warped, or has signs of deterioration is definitely a warning that something is wrong inside. A product doesn't have to be old to have gone bad or have been exposed to bacteria, so you should always pay attention to how your products are holding up every time you use them.

As a rule, products that contain water as one of the first ingredients have the shortest shelf life after opening because water encourages the growth of bacteria. Also susceptible are products that that contain plant extracts. Products made up of almost no water (such as powders) last the longest.

As a rule, use the below as a guide to keeping on top of your beauty product’s shelf life:

Makeup

* Mascara (regular or waterproof), liquid, pencil or gel eyeliners: 4 to 6 months (Top tip: don’t pump your mascara wand back and forth into the tube when using it as this will force air back into the product and make it dry out.)
* Cream, Liquid or Stick Foundations or Concealers: 6 months to 1 year
* Powder-based products (including mineral makeup): 2-3 years
* Lipsticks, Lip Gloss, & Lip Pencils: 2-3 years

Skincare

* Cleansers: 1 year
* Toners: 6 months to 1 year
* Exfoliators: 1 year
* Facial or Body Moisturizers and Serums: 6 months to 1 year
* Lip Balms: 1 year
* Sample Packets: 1 day (no, really, one day)

Golden rule; always use your common sense. If it smells wrong, looks wrong and feels wrong…you guessed it, throw it away. You wouldn’t eat gone off food, so stop putting gone off products on your face, body and hair! I beg you.

It’s not all doom and gloom. There are a few tips and tricks to prolong the life of your products while keeping your skin, body and hair as healthy as possible.

DO:

* DO store products in a cupboard or drawer
* DO wash your hands before using products
* DO tighten/secure the lid after each use
* DO consider how climate and humidity will shorten a product's shelf life
* DO write the date of purchase in permanent ink on the bottom or back of the package (a bit over the top I appreciate, but trust me, it helps)
* DO throw away all eye products after you've had an eye infection

DON’T:

* DON’T store your products in the refrigerator. Skincare formulas are designed to withstand the average fluctuations in temperature, but not long-term heat or cold storage—that means keeping your products in your fridge reduces their lifespan and stability. Nail varnish is the one exception to this rule.
* DON'T store products in direct sunlight
* DON'T share your products with others
* DON'T add water to thin out or remoisten products

So have a clear out and say goodbye to old, crusty and funky products, you’ll never look back and your skin, hair and body will thank you for it. Trust me.

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