I wrote a post a couple of months back on why you should discard your mascara after three months. Mascara can harbour bacteria like Staphylococcus aureus and Pseudomonas aeruginosa. These can give you serious eye infections.
After I published the post on mascara, I had a few requests about makeup use by dates for the rest of your cosmetics. This is an especially important question if you’re using natural makeup and skincare which don’t use as many preservatives as mainstream brands.
Makeup and skincare products are like food – they have use by dates. They can go off or lose their effectiveness.
And yet Australian product safety laws don’t require use by or best before dates on cosmetics. You will find that some manufacturers will label their products with either a manufacturing date, or a use within date. These are usually a little image of a container with a number inside.
Natural products often tell you how soon to use them. For example, Simple As That recommends that a couple of their products like the Mocha Body Scrub and the Matcha Mask are used within 6 weeks, as they contain raw foods (matcha, coffee beans and cacao).
What’s the use by date on makeup?
But if the packaging doesn’t have a use by date on it, how do you know when to use it? Here’s some guidelines on makeup use by dates:
- Mascara and liquid eyeliner – three months.
- Eyeliner and lip pencils – up to two years. Sharpening before you use it will ensure a clean tip and make them last longer.
- Eyeshadows – liquid eyeshadows one year. Powder eyeshadows can be used for two years.
- Lipsticks – 18 months (and never share lipsticks in case of cold sores)
- Lip glosses – 12 months
- Blushes and bronzers – cream blushes & bronzers – one year, powder ones two years.
- Foundations and concealers – 18 months. Oil free ones won’t last as long.
Write the date you opened the product on to it with a marker pen as a reminder to yourself of when to discard it.
Why packaging is important
Closed packaging means that bacteria can’t get into the product as easily. It also means that you’re not putting fingers (and bacteria) into the product each time you use it.
So makeup in a pot is more likely to get contaminated, whereas stuff in a pump pack isn’t. An example of this is my much loved Miessence concealer. I always used to dig this out with my fingers. When I started to get reactions every time I used it, I realised it had gone off. Now I use a small spatula which I wash before and after each use to stop it getting contaminated.
The ideal packaging is a pump tube, like the Lavera liquid foundation that I love. You don’t touch it, and bacteria can’t get into it because of the design. Perfect.
Keeping makeup brushes clean
Keeping your makeup brushes and applicators clean is important, too. This will stop the transfer of bacteria and preserve your makeup for longer.
Wash all your brushes and applicators once a month in warm, soapy water. It’s easy to do, but I found step by step instructions on the Lauren Conrad blog if you need.
General tips for makeup safety
Makeup should be fun, not a health hazard!
- Don’t share makeup
- Wash your hands before applying makeup
- Use clean brushes and applicators
- Keep containers clean and closed tight when you’re not using them
- Keep makeup somewhere cool and dry. So the glovebox of your car is not ideal!
Safety tips for eye makeup
Eye makeup can be especially problematic, so you need to be extra careful with anything that you apply around your eyes.
- Apply your eye makeup and especially mascara, somewhere stable – not in the car or on the train! Scratching your eye with your mascara wand could lead to eye infections.
- Don’t add water or (horrors!) saliva to your mascara tube or liquid eyeliner, and throw them away after three months.
- Only use eye makeup for eyes. Don’t use a lipliner as an eyeliner for example. It’s okay to use a blush as a lipstick, though.
- Replace your eye makeup if you’ve had an eye infection. It may be contaminated with bacteria, which means that there’s a chance of reinfection.
So go on, tell us. What’s lurking in your makeup bag?