I'm the first to admit that I was once guilty of keeping my favourite makeup and beauty products well after their recommended used by dates. I waited until a mysterious rash broke out on my face, but you should save yourself the agony.
Here's how long a product will really last after opening:
3 to 6 months:
Mascara and other products that hang out in and around your eye area are particularly vulnerable to bacteria buildup, making them one of the products with the shortest shelf life. If you wear mascara every day, chances are the expiry will coincide with your product running out or drying up, so this makes for a great reminder that it's time for a new one!
Not all eyeliner formulas are created equal. Liquid eyeliners should be thrown out after 3 – 6 months — just like your mascara.
Meanwhile, a pencil could last up to 2 years and still be hygienic to use, but if it develops white spots that can't be removed with sharpening, it's time to toss it.
6 to 18 months:
Due to double dipping, lip glosses should be replaced every 6 months. However, lipsticks can last up to a year and a half.
Lip products tend to change texture when they go off, so they may not sit as well on the lips, and can take on a stale smell.
Hygiene tip: If you've used a product when you've had a cold sore, it's best to throw it out to avoid using a contaminated product.
6 to 24 months:
Powders (including eyeshadows)
Powders may develop a greyish film over them or even change texture (making them harder to blend) — both telltale signs that they need to go!
To keep your powders hygienic for up to 2 years, make sure your brushes and applicators are kept clean and sterilised.
This is an expiry date I never mess around with — my sensitive and sometimes reactive skin can't take it.
Once skincare hits its expiry date, chances are it won't be as effective as it once was and the active ingredients will have become inactive.
As with most other liquid products, if your skincare has separated, smells bad or causes any kind of skin reaction, it's time is up.
12 to 24 months:
The great thing about foundations is that it's fairly obvious when they've gone off.
While some separation with a liquid foundation is normal, if the product has separated greatly or developed clumps and shaking it won't restore it back to its original fabulous self, it's time to replace it.
Other signs include: a change in colour, an unpleasant smell and a nasty skin reaction.
Up to 3 years:
This is a hugely important one because your sunscreen is not going to be protecting your skin from sun damage if it has expired.
Take note of the expiry date and keep an eye out for any changes in smell or texture and whenever you aren't certain, replace your sunscreen to be safe.
Mileage may vary:
Brushes and sponges
If cared for and cleaned regularly, brushes can last years and years!
However, sponges should be replaced every three months, and sterilised regularly to prevent bacteria from hanging around.
To get the exact expiry date for your beauty product, look for the PAO (Period After Opening) symbol. It looks like a little opened jar, and will have a number followed by the letter M. This stands for how many months your products can be used after being opened.
If you're having any doubts, play it safe and replace your products regularly.