Makeup DOES Expire

Yes, that precious $30 foundation of yours DOES have an expiration date. 

Frequent use (even if you've only used it once) can cause a build-up of bacteria in any cosmetic. Using the same sponge or applicator on the same product can further increase the amount of bacteria that grows on your cosmetics. The bacteria found in your everyday cosmetics can also be a cause for acne (imagine all that bacteria clogging up your pores).

My first interest in bacteria in makeup stems from 9th grade memories in the girl's washroom (get your heads out the gutters, boys). To my germaphobic horror, two friends of mine were sharing black eyeliner on the waterline while one girl pointed out how one could contract infections from doing so. Boy, was she ever right. 

Years later, I had a heated debate with a university roommate over the extended use of using the same mascara tube. "Haven't you SEEN that episode on Tyra?!" I remember shouting at one point. She didn't understand that there are mites on your eyelashes (everyone has them, it's natural) and with every coat and pump of mascara, you're basically adding to the bacteria in the mascara tube. Nasty.

Need further conviction? Google "bacteria" and you will get a taste of what's growing on your makeup, brushes & sponges. Caveat, easily-grossed out readers!

Generally speaking, most cosmetics have a shelf life of about half a year. Powders can last up to 2 years. Below is a chart of the average shelf life by cosmetic (these are not golden rules as every product is formulated differently, but it gives a nice guideline). I tried to make it as extensive as possible. 

Average Shelf Life
TIPS ON CURBING BACTERIA GROWTH (from my own experience and the FDA):
  1. Throw out/replace your makeup if it starts to smell (obviously).
  2. Wash your makeup brushes FREQUENTLY. Do a deep cleanse (washing with detergent and olive oil and rinsing thoroughly with water, followed by shaping) at least every week. Spot clean with a brush cleaner after each use. Dry brushes on the side or upside-down so water doesn't get trapped inside. Make sure they are fully dry before using again.
  3. Sponges are a haven for bacteria. If you use sponges for application, opt for disposable ones. If you have a reusable sponge like the Beauty Blender or Sonia Kashuk Beauty Sponge, deep clean with a disinfecting soap at the end of the day.
  4. Creams and lotions kept in tubes generally last longer than those kept in jars. The reason? Everytime you open a jar, you expose the product to the air and this makes the ingredients of the product (including those helpful preservatives) break down even faster.
  5. For powder-based makeup (ex. powder foundation, eyeshadow, bronzer), if you start to see little lumps forming, it is time to toss!
  6. Keep makeup out of direct sunlight. That MAC eyeshadow may look pretty on your display unit next to the window, but it's best to depot it and keep it in a palette. Also, think about the Back to MAC program.
  7. Don't use eye makeup if you have an eye infection. Same goes for lip products if you have a cold sore. If you must, kindly throw it away after, for your own sake.
  8. Don't share makeup! (refer to my grade 9 anecdote)
  9. Keep the lids or caps of containers closed when not in use.
  10. Write purchase/use start dates on your makeup containers. Call it anal retentive, but it will help you in the long run.
  11. Don't blow on your makeup brushes. You can generate spit from your mouth (the dirtiest part of your body) onto the brush. Ew.
Hope that helps, ladies and gents! Stay clean!

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