My beauty routine drastically changes every summer. Lighter products, simpler eyes, and definitely more SPF. With the change of seasons, I always take some time to thin out my beauty products and toss the ones that have outlived their useful life. How do you know which ones to let go of? Most beauty products have a general shelf life beyond which they’re not worth much to your skin or hair. What’s worse, you risk getting an eye infection or getting a nasty sunburn using expired products. It’s painful to throw out beautifiers you spent good money on, but it’s important to do so to protect yourself and keep your beauty routine at the top of its game.
A few tips…
Your products come with a cheat sheet, called a Period After Opening (PAO) number. On each product, there will be a small open jar symbol with a number that indicates how many months it will be good after you open it. The FDA regulates sunscreen and certain acne-fighting ingredients, so their expiration dates trump the PAO number.
Grab a Sharpie and write the date you opened a product to help you remember when to toss it. For especially important toss-it dates, try using your phone’s reminders. Every time I open a new tube of mascara, I have Siri remind me to replace it in 3 months. You can also go old school and just jot down on your calendar when you should replace important beauty items. For my nail polish, I keep a sheet of the polishes I own with a swipe of the color and the date I purchased the bottle.
Consider storing your makeup in your bedroom instead of your humidity-ridden bathroom. Your products will last much longer. I have a teeny-tiny bathroom that gets steamy quick, so I only store hair products there and keep all my skincare and makeup on my bedroom vanity. Don’t keep makeup in your car (or anywhere else hot, for that matter). This is one of the quickest ways to ruin your products.
Anything in a jar will go bad more quickly. Always use clean hands when getting anything out of a jar. Purchase a bottle or pump when possible or use a small spatula to get creams and gels out of a jar.
All-natural and water-based products won’t last as long as synthetic. While “preservative-free” products may seem like a great idea, just know you'll have to toss them sooner!
Keeping everything clean goes a long way toward keeping your products safe. Wash your makeup brushes at least monthly with a brush cleanser or baby shampoo. Clean out your makeup bag regularly to help reduce bacteria. Wipe down the outside of your products with an antibacterial wipe regularly. Always wash your hands before touching any products.
Here’s when to toss them…
3 months or less
- Mascara & liquid eyeliner - This is the BIG ONE. You risk serious eye infections if you use mascara or liquid liner longer than this. Don’t pump air into your mascara tube since it dries it out and quickens bacteria growth. Use a swirling action instead to pick up more product. Toss immediately if you’ve had an eye infection.
- Loofahs - Plastic loofahs can be used two months, while natural loofahs and sponges should be tossed after one month.
- Cheap makeup sponges - Replace every few uses or switch to a highly quality sponge like a Beauty Blender and wash regularly with their special cleanser.
- Sample-size bottles - The tiny size of these makes the product break down more quickly. Once you’ve opened a sample-size bottle, use it up ASAP.
- Eye cream - 6 months if it’s in a jar, 1 year if it’s in a bottle
- Face wash
- Liquid/cream foundation or concealer
- Cream eyeshadow
- Sunscreen - Expiration dates are the most important thing here!
- Lip balm or lip gloss
- Eyebrow gel
- Bar or liquid body soap
- Lip pencils
- Eye pencils
- Powder eyeshadow, blush, or foundation
- Hair products, including shampoo & conditioner
- Body lotion
Longer than 24 months
- Nail polish - If the color still goes on evenly, there’s very little problem with keeping these past the 2 year mark. Using a nail polish thinner (never nail polish remover) can extend the life of polish.
- Hairspray - Can last up to 3 years.
- Perfume - Scent and appearance will tell you if they’ve gone bad. Keep them in a cool, humidity-free zone out of sunlight to make them last longer!
Allllll of this to say: simplify, simplify, simplify. The less beauty products you own, the less you have to keep up with (and eventually throw out).