During the pandemic, as more people covered their faces with masks and switched to working from home, many makeup-wearers scaled back their cosmetic use. It’s great to give your skin a breather from makeup, but one unintended consequence is that those makeup products are more likely to expire before you can use them.
Some skin products, from sunscreen to foundation and other makeup, include a printed or stamped expiration date on their packaging. Others show a length of time that a product can be used after it’s been opened — this is displayed with a graphic of an open jar with a number inside. For example, “3M” means the product is best used within three months of opening.
If there’s no expiration date or open-jar graphic, it’s best to follow these general guidelines for skin products:
- Start the warm season each year with a fresh supply of sunscreen.
- Liquid eye makeup, including eyeliner and mascara, should be disposed of after three months of use.
- Immediately dispose of it if you develop conjunctivitis (pink eye), a stye or other eye infection, so that you don’t re-infect your eye or spread the infection from one eye to another.
- Liquid concealer or foundation should be thrown out after a year.
- Pencil cosmetics, such as certain eyeliners or lip or brow pencils, should also be disposed of after a year.
- Lipsticks and lip glosses should be thrown away after one to two years of use.
- Even if your lotion, sunscreen or makeup hasn’t reached its recommended disposal date, it’s best to get rid of it if you note a significant change in texture, color or smell.
Generally, experts agree that using pressed powders that are slightly past the
expiration date shouldn't case you too many issues. However, it isn't recommended, and you shouldn't use any product that you know is well past its expiration date. If the makeup has been opened and used, though, it can harbor harmful bacteria. Liquid makeup, especially, is prone to becoming a home for growing bacteria over time. Eye makeup can potentially introduce serious infections in the eyes.
An expired product could cause irritation, infection, or a reaction due to the age of the product. Over time, the quality of the product may have degraded and contain certain pathogens that could cause a reaction. This can make your skin more likely to break out, become irritated or even introduce infections. So we recommend always using fresh clean makeup products!
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