My girlfriends and I were chatting about all things beauty last night, and a question came up about how long skincare and makeup products are good for. We’ve all been guilty of clinging on to a cream that’s past its prime or a lipstick that’s been in the makeup drawer for way too long.
Because most beauty products aren’t required to have an expiration date, it’s tricky to know when you should throw them out.
Here’s a guideline to sorting through the past due products in your arsenal.
Makeup that Should be Retired
If you’re a makeup hoarder like I am, you probably have stockpile of products sitting in a drawer collecting dust. Although most color cosmetics can last for years, that doesn’t mean you should keep them for that long. Rule of thumb: If you haven’t used it in over a year it’s time to cut bait.
Mascaras, in particular, have a short life span. Toss them out after three months (that’s typically the point when they start to become dry and flakey anyway).
Skincare products have a “best used by” date, also known as the period after opening or PAO. You can often find the PAO symbol (shown here) on the back of the packaging, and its number indicates how many months the product is good for once you open it.
PAO guidelines are helpful, but not surefire. If a product has changed in texture, color, or smell, that’s a red flag that it’s time to toss.
Last Summer’s Sunscreen
Most credible brands label their sunscreens with an expiration date, but when in doubt, toss it out after a year (especially if you’ve left it exposed to high heat for long periods of time since that reduces its efficacy).
Cream in a Jar
Unfortunately superstar anti-agers, such as antioxidants, breakdown in the presence of air and light so every time you pop that jar open, those ingredients you paid the big bucks for are losing their effectiveness. Likewise, you should avoid clear packaging in general.