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Have you ever pulled a gor­geous, bright red lip­stick from the back of your beau­ty prod­ucts stor­age spot and thought, “This will look won­der­ful with the out­fit I’m wear­ing tonight!” Then you pause and try to remem­ber when you bought this gor­geous lip colour – was it dur­ing that trip two or three years ago? Has it real­ly been in the back of your draw­er ever since? And then it occurs to you – should I use this lip­stick if I can’t recall when and where I bought it? The short answer is no, like­ly not. Depend­ing on how you’ve stored it, that lip­stick you cov­et but rarely wear is des­tined for the trash bin, sor­ry to say.  Using it is poten­tial­ly harm­ful, as it may have been con­t­a­m­i­nat­ed by germs sit­ting inside that draw­er for so long. And if your stor­age spot is in the bath­room van­i­ty, in all like­li­hood, that lip­stick has been exposed to mois­ture and heat. It may even have been exposed to sun­light if you leave it sit­ting on a tray or on a shelf in the bathroom.  We don’t want to rain on your parade about your favourite beau­ty prod­ucts. But there are guide­lines you should be aware of before using some­thing you’ve had for a while. In this arti­cle, we clar­i­fy those guide­lines and offer some “dos & don’ts” for prop­er beau­ty prod­uct stor­age and the lifes­pan of dif­fer­ent products. 

What Is A PAO?

This is the term beau­ty prod­uct man­u­fac­tur­ers use that stands for “peri­od after open­ing.” Unless your item has a pre­cise expi­ra­tion date, as sun­screens do, for exam­ple, the PAO is your best guide to how long the prod­uct lasts after you’ve opened the pack­age or box. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, this infor­ma­tion is usu­al­ly on the out­side pack­ag­ing, and you’ve like­ly recy­cled the box before check­ing. They often denote a peri­od of time such as “12 mos,” mean­ing that once you’ve opened this par­tic­u­lar prod­uct, it is at its best for 12 months. If you don’t know the PAO of the prod­uct wor­ry­ing you, but you real­ize it’s been in your draw­er or cup­board for a long time, err on the side of cau­tion and pitch it.  Here are tips for keep­ing make­up, skin­care prod­ucts and oth­er items in your beau­ty sup­plies draw­er safe and usable for as long as possible:

1- Powder-Based Products

does makeup expire l when to throw out makeup l do skin care products expire l when should i throw out makeup l how long does makeup last Blush­es, bronz­ers, and oth­er pow­dered prod­ucts last for as long as 2–3 years. How­ev­er, these things must be stored prop­er­ly.  (We’ll get to prop­er stor­age tech­niques shortly).

2- Foundation, Cover Up & Other Liquid Products

U Because they are emol­lients, these prod­ucts have a short­er lifes­pan than pow­ders. If you use foun­da­tion vir­tu­al­ly every day, you don’t need to wor­ry about its expi­ra­tion date, as you’ll like­ly fin­ish the con­tain­er before it gets old. How­ev­er, if you only use it occa­sion­al­ly, don’t keep it longer than 6 – 8 months.

3- Mascara

This is one of those prod­ucts you should be espe­cial­ly care­ful with, as the wand goes up close to your eyes. Mas­cara stays in good con­di­tion for 3 – 6 months, in which time you may have used it up. Do not, under any cir­cum­stances, add a drop of water to help the mas­cara stretch further! If the wand gets dirty, clean it with warm water and gen­tle soap and let it dry com­plete­ly before return­ing it to the tube. If you get an eye infec­tion at any point by chance, throw the mas­cara out imme­di­ate­ly, even if you’ve only used it once. The wand is prob­a­bly con­t­a­m­i­nat­ed, and putting it next to your eye may rein­fect it.

4- Lip Balm, Cleansers & Toners

You should use these prod­ucts dai­ly, but if not, you’ll be glad to know they last a full year; after that, it’s time to replace them. A good rule of thumb for lip balm is this: if you only use it in win­ter, replace your tube each autumn.

5- Eye Makeup

does makeup expire l when to throw out makeup l do skin care products expire l when should i throw out makeup l how long does makeup last Whether you use creams or pow­der-based eye shad­ow, remem­ber: these prod­ucts also go onto your eyes, very del­i­cate and vul­ner­a­ble spots. Be sure you keep what­ev­er brush or wand you use to apply eye make­up clean. Don’t keep them stowed at the back of the van­i­ty for more than one year – that’s about their max­i­mum lifes­pan. Like our advice on ditch­ing mas­cara if you’ve had an eye infec­tion, the same holds true for shad­ows, eye­lin­ers, and eye­brow brush­es and liners. 

6- Moisturizers & Skin Creams

Six months to one year is the most you can ask of these prod­ucts. Any longer risks the prod­ucts dete­ri­o­rat­ing in both thick­ness and qual­i­ty. But if you buy small con­tain­ers and use these prod­ucts every day, wor­ry­ing about them grow­ing old isn’t an issue. 

7- Lipsticks, Lip Gloss, & Liners

All of these last as long as 3 years, pro­vid­ing they are kept out of extreme heat and sun­light. If you leave a tube of lip­stick in your car’s glove com­part­ment for emer­gen­cies, three years is push­ing it! Get rid of it after one year tops. 

Dos & Don’ts For Storing Beauty Products:

Fol­low these tips for stor­ing your favourite prod­ucts, and you will ensure they are safe, germ-free and last as long as possible.
  • Do get rid of eye make­up if you’ve had an eye infec­tion of any kind. Keep­ing a tube of mas­cara, for exam­ple, even if you’ve used it only once, is not worth the risk of get­ting a sec­ondary infec­tion if the wand has been contaminated. 
  • Do pay atten­tion to all ‘best before’ dates, expiry dates, and PAOs. From now on, check the box and pack­age all your make­up, creams and oth­er prod­ucts come in for this vital bit of information. 
  • Do keep your cos­met­ics and mois­tur­iz­ers out of the sun­light and as far away from mois­ture as possible.
  • Do con­sid­er how the cli­mate you live in affects the beau­ty prod­ucts you use. For exam­ple, extreme heat can make lip­sticks stored in your purse’s cos­met­ics bag soft, there­by reduc­ing their shelf life. 
  • Do pay atten­tion to all best-before dates and PAOs on pack­ag­ing and containers. 


  • Don’t buy prod­ucts in jars. Any con­tain­er into which you have to dip your fin­gers has the poten­tial to become a source of infec­tion, as your fin­gers may car­ry germs that get trans­ferred into the jar, even if you wash your hands.
  • Don’t share make­up or creams – ever! Let­ting your daugh­ter play with your make­up may be well-inten­tioned, but it’s a sure way of trans­fer­ring germs and bac­te­ria. Lit­tle hands are not always as clean as they should be, so let­ting her use your lip­stick just for fun or to play grownup is risky. Get a few inex­pen­sive prod­ucts for her alone to use if she’s in the phase of want­i­ng to imi­tate mommy. 
  • Don’t keep any prod­uct that smells off and looks odd. If a cream has sep­a­rat­ed, for exam­ple – toss it!
  • Don’t add water to extend a pro­duc­t’s life. 
  • Don’t for­get to reg­u­lar­ly wash all appli­ca­tion brush­es and wands reg­u­lar­ly with warm, soapy water, and let them dry thoroughly. 
  • Don’t put prod­ucts of any kind in the fridge. The extreme cold affects the consistency.
  • Don’t buy beau­ty prod­ucts with excess packaging! 
This means the best before date and/or the PAO (if applic­a­ble) will be print­ed on the con­tain­er, and it’s also a lot bet­ter for the envi­ron­ment. Unnec­es­sary plas­tic and card­board sur­round­ing, for exam­ple, a tube of mas­cara, may not be recy­clable. Even if it can be, cut­ting back on extra pack­ag­ing is a smart habit to get into — accord­ing to Forbes Mag­a­zine, rough­ly 70 per­cent of all beau­ty prod­uct pack­ag­ing is not recy­clable, so if you don’t buy sus­tain­able cos­met­ics yet, now is the time!
  • Don’t for­get to clean out that stor­age cup­board or draw­er. These places eas­i­ly get the odd swipe of lip­stick or drop of foun­da­tion in them. Keep­ing them clean means your beau­ty prod­ucts stay clean­er too. Be sure to reg­u­lar­ly wipe down the con­tain­ers them­selves, too, along with the pump mech­a­nisms and screw tops on all products. 

Wrapping Up

Many beau­ty prod­uct man­u­fac­tur­ers, includ­ing Revlon, Clin­ique, Estee Laud­er, and oth­ers, are com­mit­ted to offer­ing the finest cos­met­ics and creams in lit­tle or no pack­ag­ing. That means that the infor­ma­tion you need about fresh­ness is prob­a­bly on the con­tain­er itself. When it comes to how long those goods last, ask your­self: “Do I want to put this on my face?” If you sus­pect even slight­ly that the item is no longer in top shape, get rid of it. After all, why risk using a less-than-fresh cos­met­ic? Your face (and eyes and skin and lips!) deserve noth­ing but the best.

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