Expired Makeup Products: Bad For Beauty and Health

Eye makeup can enhance your eyes’ natural beauty, but hanging onto that eyeshadow from five years ago or even that mascara from six months ago could cause infection and irritation that will ruin your look and damage your eyes. Makeup can be expensive, so it’s understandable that you want to get your money’s worth. But hanging onto old, expired makeup products past their prime is a bad idea.

Are There Expiration Dates?

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) says U.S. law does not require makeup manufacturers to print expiration dates on cosmetic labels. So how do you know how long to keep a product or how old it is when you buy it? Manufacturers do denote shelf life for cosmetics to ensure product safety. If this date is not visible on product packaging, you can often ask cosmetics department employees for further information. Some makeup manufacturers provide stores with additional printed information on shelf life that can be referenced upon request. Unopened cosmetics often remain viable and unexpired for several years after the manufacture date, but the clock starts ticking once any product is opened and exposed to the air, temperature and humidity and bacteria. Because products are susceptible to these changes, the bathroom often is the worst place to keep your makeup. High temperatures, humidity and steam from showers can shorten shelf life and lead to expired makeup products. It can also break down the consistency of lipsticks, creams and gels. A better option may be to keep your makeup on a dresser or in a cool, dry linen closet.

How Long Should I Keep Eye Makeup?

Eye makeup often has a shorter shelf life than other facial products simply because of the way we apply it. Opening a tube of mascara or an eyeshadow compact and touching the applicator to our eyes automatically transfers bacteria and germs onto it then back into the tube or compact. Mascara and some other eye products are formulated with preservatives to act against these microbes but they only last a short period. You can keep pencil eyeliners longer because sharpening them creates a clean, fresh surface—but be sure to clean your sharpener with rubbing alcohol. Wetting powder eyeshadow gives a great look but will shorten shelf life since water can cause contamination. How long should you keep eye makeup? Here are some recommendations from Good Housekeeping:

  • Mascara: Throw away three months after purchase (if opened) and sooner if it becomes dry or flaky. Do not add water or saliva to moisten it since that introduces bacteria to the product.
  • Liquid eyeliner: Three months

  • Pencil eyeliner: Two years

  • Cream eyeshadow: Six months

  • Powder eyeshadow: Two years if used dry (six months if used wet)

Wash your hands before applying makeup and wash makeup brushes regularly. If you develop an eye infection, throw away your eye makeup and brushes and consult an eye doctor.

For questions or comments, contact Woodhams Eye Clinic.

Image Source: Wikipedia Commons

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