Have you conducted a clean sweep of your medicine cabinet or bathroom shelves lately?

Probably not…

There are a number of reasons to consider throwing out that purple eyeshadow you’ll never wear again. Chances are, that shampoo bottle way in the back won’t be used anytime soon.

So why hold on to products for so long?

Most of us hold on to our beauty products for the following reasons:

  1. Fairly expensive
  2. We’ll get around to using them
  3. Holding out for a special occasion
  4. Couldn’t miss out on a great sale
  5. Product didn’t work well the first time, but maybe it’ll work later.

Regardless of the reason, it is important to know when to throw away those items. Most beauty products are designed and formulated to stay fresh and stable for a limited period of time. After some time, that face cream or hair conditioner may begin to break down, change color, texture, or smell. This occurs due to the chemical changes taking place inside the product. Beauty products are formulated to perform a specific job and once the chemical composition changes, so does the benefit and outcome. These chemical changes can lead to allergens, infections and illness. Just because you can’t see physical changes take place within a product doesn’t mean it’s safe for use. Microorganisms such as bacteria, yeast, and fungi can be invading your items. Most cosmetics and personal care products undergo stability and preservative efficacy to ensure that the products have an extended self life.

But, do you know the shelf life of your products?

Probably not…

That carton holding your facial mask was more than likely thrown in the trash prior to the first use. The label on the back or underneath your shampoo bottle hasn’t been checked. The company website FAQ hasn’t been read. These are a few reasons for why you probably don’t know when to ditch those old cosmetics. Many cosmetic companies display their ingredients and instructions on the box instead of the actual item container. One reason is because, they know you’ll throw it away.

Now your brain is starting to comprehend! Don’t just read this article, you should really go pick that box up that you just threw away. Now turn it around and you should see a container icon with a number displayed inside of it. Don’t see it? It’s okay, check the container the product is housed in. Still don’t see it? Final step, check the website. The number you see is the number of months the product is good for (amazed yet?).

Beauty products’ shelf life varies based on formulas and functions. For example, mascara is typically good for up to 3 months while your body lotion may last for 24 months. Here is a comprehensive rule of thumb for some beauty products:

  • Mascara- 3 months
  • Foundation- 6 months to 12 months
  • Lipgloss/Lipstick- 6 months
  • Eyeshadow- 12 month to 24 months
  • Hair care products- 6 months to 24 months (depending on preservatives used)

Of course, keeping products in a cool and dry place will prolong the shelf life.

If you are ever in doubt, throw it out.

Bottom line, try to refrain from hoarding or becoming a “Product Junkie.” If the skin or hair care product is effective, you won’t need a cosmetic case or shelf stocked full of unused products.

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