When and How to Get Rid of Old Beauty Products

When and How to Get Rid of Old Beauty Products

Do you still have that mascara you bought two years ago? What about the lipstick you forgot about in the cabinet? Don’t use them just yet!

If you haven’t opened the product before, you might safe. If you have, you might not want to take the chance. Old cosmetics can harm your skin and even cause infections. Before you apply them, check the date—even makeup expires!

How Do You Know When It’s Time to Toss?

If you’re used to using cosmetics past their prime, think again. All beauty products expire, so it’s important to know when to remove them from your routine.

The good news is that these products last longer if you haven’t opened them. So, if you’ve got still-sealed eye shadow from last year that you’ve recently fallen in love with again, it’s probably okay to use. But if you’ve opened it and let it sit in the cabinet for all that time, check the date.

Some products expire sooner than others, so you won’t find a universal best by date. Makeup almost always has a Period After Opening (PAO) date. You can find it on the box in the form of a number, the letter M, and an image of an open jar. Your mascara might say 6M alongside that picture, which tells you the product expires six months after you open it.

Using the product for a little while after the PAO date probably won’t hurt you. But when you have a 6M mascara you’ve kept for two years, it’s time to toss it.

How Old Is Too Old?

If you don’t keep the box (most people don’t), write the PAO on the container with a marker, so you remember it. If you’ve got a makeup bag full of cosmetics and don’t remember how old they are, look at them before you apply.

You might see the difference in the texture of your makeup. Look for these changes before you touch that brush to your face:
• Lumpiness
• Runny makeup
• Color changes
• Grainy or streaky feeling
• Smells off

Whether you can use the product also depends on its type. Liquid and emollient products get contaminated faster, so you can end up putting bacteria and other nasty things on your skin without realizing it until it’s too late. You have to be especially careful with mascara and liquid eyeliners—they only last about three to six months!

On the other hand, you can keep lipstick or powder products for two or three years before they lose their luster. Plus, pencil eyeliners and lipliners last longer, since you can sharpen them.

If you’re not sure when to put down the brush and get new cosmetics and creams, check these guidelines:

3-6 Months
• Mascara and liquid eyeliner

One Year
• Liquid foundation or concealer
• Skin and eye creams
• Sunscreen
• Moisturizers

Two Years
• Shampoo and conditioner
• Hair styling products
• Perfume and cologne
• Nail polish

Three Years
• Lipstick, lip gloss, and chapstick
• Lip and eyeliner pencils
• Powder cosmetics

Keep in mind that storing your makeup makes a difference, too. Certain conditions can damage it and shorten its life, like leaving it in your car or fridge where it gets exposed to extreme temperatures for long periods.

How Should You Dispose of Old Cosmetics?

If you’re like most people, you probably throw your old makeup in the trash. The problem is that some of it can hurt the environment and even contaminate your water. Toxic ingredients like lead and acrylates—yes, you can still find small amounts of lead in your cosmetics—can cause trouble if you don’t dispose of them properly.

If you’re not buying sustainable, natural products, your cosmetics might count as hazardous waste. Nail polish, for example, is always hazardous, and you should never just throw it in your trash. Instead, find a disposal center that accepts it.

Proper disposal means you help take care of the environment and lower the risk of contaminant-related health issues. Before you throw it out, check the ingredients.

Make sure you know your makeup before you apply it. When you do, you can create any look, from matte to mineral, without worrying about how it might hurt your skin.

Sarah Wood - December 8, 2020

“When to Toss Out Beauty Products.” Paula’s Choice Skincare. https://www.paulaschoice.com/expert-advice/skincare-advice/skin-care-how-tos/when-to-toss-out-beauty-products.html. Accessed 20 November 2020.

“The Right Way to Dispose of Toxic Beauty Products and Packaging.” Beauty Heroes. https://www.beauty-heroes.com/blog/the-right-way-to-dispose-of-toxic-beauty-products/. Accessed 20 November 2020.

“When Does Makeup Expire?” Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/health/beauty-skin-care/does-makeup-expire. Accessed 20 November 2020.

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