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Do Skincare Products Expire? How to Know When Should You Toss Old Skincare and Makeup

Do Skincare Products Expire? How to Know When Should You Toss Old Skincare and Makeup

Have you been slathering on products that are expired? Lord, I hope not. Maybe you have several opened jars of moisturizers and masks? You know that beauty products expire and lose their efficacy over time, right?.  WAAIT, what? Yep, those beautiful toners, serums, and your favorite masks expire and might not work like they used to if you’ve had them open for a while. 

So, if you’re curious if that balm or mask, or that expensive moisturizer you opened last year is still good, then keep reading. I’m even going to share when you should toss your makeup, how to keep your products free from growth, and the telltale signs on how to know if your skincare has gone bad.

Why You Should Toss Expired Skincare and Makeup

Trust me, you don’t want to slather something expired all over your face. Why? Well, 2 reasons.  1- it’s probably lost the potency because the active ingredients breakdown and 2 - It could be full of microbes.  Yikes

Using beauty products way past their prime and beyond their shelf life can cause irritation, infections like pink eye, or cause you to breakout. Let’s be honest, do you really toss your mascara after 3 months? Well, you should.

The general rule of thumb is use up beauty products within 6 months to a year after opening. But there’s so much more to it, so let's get down to business. 

Tips to Keep Bacteria OUT of your Beauty Products 

I don’t want to scare you but it’s possible that you’re causing your favorite products to go bad more quickly. SAY WHAAAT? Ugh I know, so unfair.  You could be introducing bacteria into those skincare goodies. Basically instead of helping you achieve youthful glowing could be causing harm.  Here’s some tips so you don’t let that happen every again.

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  1. Wash your hands before you start your skincare routine. No dirty fingers dipping into jars.
  2. Keep water away from open jars.
  3. And please for the love of all things holy, don’t put the product dropper up to your face.  If you’ve been scrolling through social media or flipping through a magazine, you’ll see someone putting a product dropper right up on their face. Don’t do it, I beg of you. Droppers are NOT applicators, they’re used to distribute the product into your hand.  
  4. Use a spoon or spatula to scoop out your balms, masks, and moisturizers. This will keep your fingers out of the jars protecting your products. 
  5. Keep the lids tightly closed after using. Introducing excess air will lead to rancid oils and degrade the formula more quickly.
  6. Don’t pump your mascara wand back and forth into the tube. That pushes air into the tube, making it a breeding ground for bacteria. No one wants an eye infection.
  7. Wash your makeup brushes. Shoot for weekly. And change out your beauty blenders often.


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Is It Time to Toss?

Have you noticed you have a drawer full of unused skincare? Or maybe that special fierce red lipstick you’ve only worn 1 or twice over the last couple years (thanks Covid) is still rolling around in your purse (it me).  Or you have 3 mascaras open. Or maybe you have bottles and jars spilling off of your shelves that you barely touch? Chances are they’re either expired or about to expire. You know makeup can expire too right? It’s frustrating, I know.

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Sort through all your makeup and skincare. Go through everything-all of your masks, serums, lotions, creams, cleansers, and toners, foundations, eye shadow pallets, and those 934617 lipsticks. Figure out what you need to use up before it goes bad. Unopened products have a longer shelf life but once opened you’ll want to use them up within 6-12 months to be on the safe side.

  1. Take note of what you reach for the most, what you don’t really love or use, and the must haves in your skincare routine that you can’t live without. This will help you determine what you need to repurchase and what you really shouldn't buy.
  2. Is it opened? If so, does it smell different  than you remember or has the consistency changed? These are telltale signs it’s past its prime.  It’s time to clean out the jars and recycle them.
  3. Think back to when you opened it. There’s typically a little icon of an open jar with a number followed by an M on the back of most packaging. This icon called Period After Opening (PAO) symbol tells you how long the product is good for after opening- the M stands for months. Take a peek at all of your jars, if that jar says 12 M, and you opened it well over a year ago, then it’s time to toss it.
Period After Opening (PAO) symbol

Pro Tip: If you didn’t LOVE a facial cream, serum, or cleanser but hate to waste it, use it up on your hands, feet, or the rest of your body (unless you had a reaction to it).

But what about your favorite Me Time skincare products. Flip those over, they have the PAO on them as well. 

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Guidelines for When to Toss Old Makeup 

  1. Liquid liners, lipsticks, and foundation - use up or get rid of within 6-8 months
  2. Cream blushes, shadows, and foundations - toss after a year.
  3. Lipsticks and lip balms-about 8 months to a year. 
  4. That mascara from 6 months ago..toss it. Mascaras should be tossed after 3-4 months. If it gets clumpy or smells funny, toss sooner. 
  5. Powder shadows, foundation, bronzers, and blushes last the longest - 18months to 2 years.

Pro Tip: Don’t share eye products or lip products, that’s how germs and infections can spread.

Less is More

Overbuying lipsticks, lotions, or facial serums and masks because you got caught up by the latest new launch. Or you just couldn’t help yourself when you’re strolling your favorite store or scrolling on social.  It can be expensive and ultimately create waste if you’re not using it up before the expiration date.  Just before you make your next purchase, ask yourself - do I really need it or will I be able to use this before it expires?

Now, go through your stash and toss what needs to be tossed. If you’re a fan of Me Time then hopefully you’ve already simplified your skincare routine with multi-tasking rituals. But if not, having a tightly edited skincare and makeup routine helps you reduce cluttered up drawers, no more wasting product that expires before you get to use it, and saves your hard earned cash

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