Time to spring clean your make-up bag
Take a look inside your make-up bag and, chances are, there’s at least one lipstick in there that hasn’t seen the light of day in the past 6 months. Perhaps you only used it once because the colour was perfect with your dress for that wedding, and since then, another shade caught your eye and it’s usurped all other colours in your make-up bag. Not to mention the fact that the packaging is so beautiful it’s a shame to throw it away, and you’re bound to use it again over the coming months...
Sounds familiar? With so many eye-catching colours, formulas and finishes in the beauty world, it’s incredibly easy to end up with a sponge bag that’s overflowing with creams, eyeliners and lipsticks. So it’s hardly surprising that some of them happily lay in there for years. But what might surprise you is that most cosmetics do in fact have a use-by date. And whilst that trusty eye shadow palette with the slightly worn case looks fine, it’s most likely teeming with harmful bacteria. And that shimmer powder you use for an extra glow on special occasions? It’s probably harbouring oil and grime from your skin too.
Deciphering the shelf life of a beauty product
Whilst products in the EU display the Period After Opening symbol (the line drawing of a little open pot, with a number inside it) which tells you how long a product will last once you’ve opened it, it’s worth remembering that how you store and use your products also impacts on their lifespan. Warm rooms, direct sunlight, using your fingers or dirty brushes are just some of the factors that can cause a product to deteriorate.
And just as different foodstuffs have differing use-by dates, so too do beauty products. The combination of ingredients means that a foundation from one brand might have a 6-month shelf life once opened, whereas another might be fine for 12 months, so do check the labels. If you use natural products, or anything formulated without preservatives, double check the use-by dates as they tend to have a shorter lifespan. I’d suggest you make a note on the bottles of the date you opened them, or pop a note into your diary to remind you to replace your products, because it’s really easy to forget exactly how long you’ve had an eyeliner or facial oil for.
Although there are guidelines on expiry dates, a good way to tell if your make-up is out of date is to see what it looks and smells like. If there’s a change in texture, colour or smell, that’s usually a sign that your product is past its expiry date. And don’t tamper with any of the formulas (adding water to a dried-up mascara won’t help!) to make them go a little further, you’ll just add more bacteria.
To help you decide when it’s time to replace your products, here’s a guideline of how long they’ll last:
Mascaras and liquid eyeliners: every 3 - 6 months
Try not to pump your mascara wand when you’re using it (twisting the brush works just as well) as this adds air, which makes the mascara dry out faster, and it can also push bacteria into the cylinder. If you have an eye infection, make sure you throw away your mascara and eyeliner, and only use new products when the infection has gone.
Liquid/cream foundations and concealers: 6 - 12 months
You’ll find that the ingredients separate after a while (there’s a clear line of oil in the bottle), the formula becomes lumpy and thick, rather than smooth, and the pleasant smell changes. If you use a pot formula, remember that the dirt and bacteria on your fingers can be added to the cream; formulas in an airtight pump often last longer because there’s less contamination.
Pencil eye/lip liners, lipsticks, lip glosses, cream eye shadows: 1 year
As with mascara, if you have an infection, the bacteria could be transferred to your eyeliner, so throw it away. The water content in lipsticks and lip glosses mean they can harbour bacteria, so don’t be tempted to hang onto them. If a lipstick is past its expiry date, it’ll taste rancid.
Loose/pressed powders, eye shadows, powder blushers: 2 years
Although powder cosmetics have a longer lifespan than their cream-based equivalents, the moisture and oil from your skin are transferred to the formulas, even if you do use a clean brush or sponge, so keep an eye on how long they’ve been in your make-up bag.
Make-up brushes/applicators: clean at least once per week
Cleaning your tools will help them to last longer and will also minimise the chance of you putting bacteria into your foundations/powder. Try a gentle soap or baby shampoo and rinse, then lay the brushes flat and allow them to dry. There's also this super new brush cleanser balm from Japonesque - it feels like a wax but isn't oily, and is made with goat's milk which is great for sensitive skin. Just add a little water to make a foam, and swirl your brushes inside. We have spray-on brush cleansers too.
And lastly, don’t forget to thoroughly clean your make-up bag and rid that of bacteria too! A clear plastic one like this one from Lulu Guiness is fun, perky and easy to clean. for a short city break, our travel set is a useful accessory.