When To Throw Out Your Favorite Beauty Products (and It’s A Lot Sooner Than You Think)

Quality makeup can come with an eye-watering price tag, so it’s no wonder women want to get their money’s worth by using up every last drop.

But according to beauty insiders, eking your favourite cosmetics products out could lead to a range of health problems, from breakouts to bacterial infections – even if you’re cleaning your makeup brushes and sponges regularly.

Indeed, you should be throwing out mascara every four to six months, while makeup sponges should be changed every four weeks according to Joanne Dodds at Hairtrade.com.

So are you following or falling foul of these beauty rules? Read on for our guide to how to look after your favourite products – and when they’re destined for the bin.

‘Blending sponges should ideally be replaced every month and washed with cleanser after every use,’ says Joanne. ‘It is important to replace these, and the signs you need to throw it away can include any deformities on the sponge, breaking out for no reason and discolouring.’

Mascara: Four to six months

‘Because it can come in contact with your eyes, it is important to discard mascara after it has been opened for three months,’ Joanne warns. ‘This is to prevent bacteria from causing eye irritations or infections. Most mascara tubes are labelled with a shelf life of four to six months, so it is important to know this.

‘It is also recommended to avoid pumping your mascara, as this pushes air into the tube, which can dry out the mascara and cause bacterial contamination. When placing your wand into the tube, swirl it around in a circular motion to prevent air bubbles.

‘Throw away your mascara if its dried out, or has a different texture, colour or scent.’

Creamy makeup products will only last around six months due to them providing more moisture for bacteria to thrive on. ‘Keep an eye on creamy products for mould, smell or separation, and throw away if they look a little funny,’ says Joanne.

Liquid eyeliner lasts around four to six months, as it’s a product that is fairly susceptible to bacteria. Pencil eyeliners can last up to two years but the cap should be kept tightly closed (the same rules also apply for lip pencils as well.)

‘If you’ve had an eye infection, always throw away eyeliners that you’ve previously used, as this could increase the risk of getting another infection,’ Joanne notes.

‘Liquids and cream foundations only last between six to 12 months, as they contain water, oils and other hydrating agents, which decrease the shelf life and increase bacteria,’ Joanne says. ‘Powders can last up to two years, as it’s harder for bacteria to grow in products that are solid.

‘It is important to note that the ingredients in the foundation determine the germ growth. Always read the back of the label and make a note of when your foundation is due to expire. Wash your makeup tools regularly and also wash your hands before you apply.’

‘In a similar way to mascara, pumping the wand in the tube is also bad for lip-gloss. If your gloss is discoloured, or different in texture and thickness, it’s probably best to throw it away.’

‘Nail polish is one product that does go out of date. Once you open a polish, the product can evaporate which causes it to thicken and separate. Always remember to keep the lid securely fastened as this can make the product expire quicker.’

‘If your concealer is dried out, has a change in texture, becomes cakey/lumpy or smells different, throw it out immediately,’ Joanne advises. ‘Not only will the concealer be making your spots worse but it will also prevent you from getting a perfectly blended makeup look.’

‘Although most powders, blushes and bronzers have a shelf life of 18 months to two years, your powders should be fine even after they reach their expiration date.

‘Powders can become hard and have poor application after their expiration date, but you can minimise the bacterial contamination by lightly cleaning the product regularly and avoiding leaving the product exposed to air. Throw away powders with broken lids and check for mould and any unusual smells.’

‘Look after your lipsticks well and they can last up to two years. It’s important to remember to never leave them without a lid on and clean with a wipe occasionally to remove the top layer of bacteria growth.’

‘Although fragrances have a shelf life of eight to 10 years, they can last for much longer if you store them correctly. Avoid heated rooms, strong lights and always keep the lid securely on between usages. The best place to keep your fragrances is a dark cupboard and regularly check for discolouration.’

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