Here is your ultimate guide to decluttering your beauty stash so you know just when to throw out unusable beauty products.
With beauty brands launching new products everywhere you turn, it’s hard to fight the temptation of buying a new lipstick or eyeliner everytime you walk past a store. Over time, it’s only natural for you to have amassed a large number of beauty products. Before you know it, you can hardly keep track of when you bought what, let alone when to throw what out.
Before you start lining your eyes with an eye pencil you found at the bottom of your trusty old gym bag, or start moisturising your skin with a face cream that resurfaced while you were clearing out an old travel kit, here’s what you need to know about the lifespan of your skincare and makeup products.
If a moisturiser that you forgot about for months has changed in colour, texture and scent, it should be thrown out at once. Most products come with a label that might read “6M”, “9M” or “12M”- this reflects the amount of time that they stay fresh and viable once opened. So if a product’s label reads “6M”, it means that once you’ve opened it, you should finish using it in six months and toss it after.
Beyond the fact that products might start to degrade and not be as effective as they were meant to be if you use them past this date, there’s also the risk that these products might be contaminated, which can cause inflammation or an allergic reaction.
Plus, any product that hasn’t been closed tightly and has been exposed to our humid air should be tossed. This is especially so for products that have a high water content because moisture provides the perfect breeding ground for bacteria. On the other hand, products that are in powder form tend to be able to last longer than those in a liquid form.
Another thing to look out for is if the products you have are “paraben-free”. Often used as a preservative to prolong the freshness of the product, parabens have racked up a bad rep for itself amongst the clean beauty advocates as they have the potential to cause skin irritation for some people. As such, many beauty companies have jumped on the clean beauty bandwagon, eliminating parabens from their formulas, which can affect how long their products can stay fresh. So if you support the clean beauty movement, be sure to keep track of your beauty products so as to make sure you use them up before they start getting contaminated.
(Also read: 5 Natural Beauty Brands All Beauty Insiders Love)
Skincare: Cleanser and exfoliator
Generally, cleansers and exfoliators should be kept for no longer than one year once opened. Even if you might be switching between a few cleansers, depending on your skin condition, finishing a bottle or tube of cleanser or exfoliator within a year shouldn’t be much of a problem.
(Also read: 20 Best Facial Cleansers For Every Skin Type)
Lasting between 12 and 24 months, toners can be kept fresh as long as they are kept in a cool place (that’s to say, not in your bathroom). However, if it starts to smell funny or the colour or texture changes, it could be a sign that it’s time for it to go.
(Also read: 16 Best Toners For Oily And Acne-Prone Skin)
Skincare: Facial serum, moisturiser and mask
Due to their high water content, facial serums are most likely to degrade about six months after opening. And because they contain high concentrations of active ingredients, it might be the easiest to notice when your serums have lost their efficacy. The same thing goes for moisturisers, and especially so if yours comes in a jar or tub instead of a pump format.
Frequent dipping of your fingers into the same jar can cause contamination more easily so it’s best to make sure you dump face creams that have been sitting around for longer than you can remember. If you prefer facial oils, they can usually be kept for up to 12 months.
And since the formulation of cream or gel face masks is similar to that of serums and moisturisers, they also start to degrade after about six months from date of opening.
(Also read: 6 Best Vitamin C Serums For More Radiant Skin)
Skincare: Eye cream
When it comes to products that you apply near your eye area, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Since eye creams also usually formulated with high water content, they should be tossed after about six months. There’s no need to worry about wasting an expensive product though. Most eye creams come in 15ml or 20ml sizes, which should last about three to four months of daily use.
If you use your mascara tube every day, you’re introducing bacteria into the tube each time you insert the wand to get more product on the brush. Plus, since it’s water-based, mascara formula is a great place for bacteria to multiply and thrive. Usually, the texture of the product hints at whether it’s still fresh as the more it’s exposed to air, the more likely it will dry up: so if your mascara is clumpy and has already formed into a paste, it’s a sign that you should toss that out. Alternatively, the rule of thumb when it comes to mascaras is three to six months.
(Also read: 5 Top Mascara Tricks for Stunning Eyes)
For liquid or gel eyeliners, the lifespan would be similar to that of mascaras, about three to six months. For pencil eyeliners, as the content of water is not as high, you will need to toss them out approximately after 18 to 24 months.
(Also read: 18 Smudge-Proof Eyeliners That Will Last All Day)
Makeup: Foundation, concealer, blusher, highlighter, and bronzer (cream, liquid, stick)
If you like using these face products in a cream, liquid or stick format, be prepared to toss them out every six to 12 months. As they are made with high water content, the likelihood of them harbouring bacteria is higher. And if you dip your fingers into them for application, that also increases the exposure to bacteria. Alternatively, if you’re using these products in a powder format, you can keep using them for up to three years, unless the texture, scent or colour changes.
(Also read: 7 Foundations That Cater To Every Skincare Need)
Makeup: Lipstick, lip gloss, lip lacquer, and lip pencil
Since the moisture content is relatively low, these products usually last between two and three years.