Amanda Logan, C.N.P.
Family Medicine, Primary Care
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A common misconception is expired makeup is safe to use, but this isn't always the case. Risks are associated with using expired makeup including, clogged pores and bacterial growth. It's important to be mindful of how long your makeup has been in storage so you can avoid these potential health hazards.
Your skin may react to product ingredients if they have reached their expiration date. This could lead to redness or irritation. If bacteria get into an open container or onto a brush, they can multiply rapidly and cause breakouts or other infections.
Mold is another common issue with old cosmetics because moisture builds up inside containers over time, leading to mold growth. This mold growth can trigger breakouts or other irritations.
Another risk of using expired makeup is a change in the color of the product over time. This is particularly relevant for foundation products. The longer the foundation is kept after purchase, it can oxidize. This oxidation can change the color. If you notice your favorite beige color foundation taking on a slightly more orange color, it may be expired.
Using your sense of smell also is a way to tell if your makeup is expired. This method works well with foundation and mascara. If the product has an odd smell, or a different smell than when you first bought it, throw it out.
If your foundation starts to separate into layers, or your mascara wand gets dry, you may want to reconsider using these products. Do not add water to your mascara to increase the moisture, as this can escalate the bacteria-producing capabilities.
In general, makeup typically lasts one year from the manufactured date before expiring.
Since it's difficult to know just by looking at a product when it expires, here are some helpful guidelines to keep in mind:
- Mascara and liquid eyeliner typically are considered safe to use for three months. Liquid products used near the eye have an increased risk of spreading bacteria.
- Pencil-style eyeliners, gel eyeliners and lip pencils can be used for up to a year.
- Water-based foundation typically is good for a year, while oil-based foundation is good for about 18 months.
- Consider replacing cream-based foundation or blushes every six months to a year.
- Powder products, if stored properly and free from moisture, are good for up to two years.
- Lipstick is good for one to two years, and lip gloss can be used for six months to 1 year.
Minimizing the spread of bacteria in makeup starts with using clean applicator brushes. The brushes used to apply your makeup should be washed every seven to 10 days to avoid bacteria growth.
Following guidelines for expiration of makeup products is the first step in protecting yourself against any potential health risk from your cosmetics.