Beauty Duty: Fall Fling

Usually people think of Spring as the time for cleaning out and re-organizing, but Fall offers the same opportunity with less sacrifice. Who really wants to spend the first few beautiful days of Spring in the house cleaning? But, when the weather starts to cool down and the days get shorter, you might as well tidy your nest for the dreary months to come.

And while you are rotating your wardrobe, putting the flannel sheets on the bed, and dusting off the winter coat, why not take a moment to clean out your makeup bag? Yes, ladies, cosmetics have a shelf life and not replacing them in a timely manner can lead to skin and eye infections that you definitely don't want.

Here are The Beauty Couch's rules for what to keep and what to fling:

1. Just to cover the obvious: anything given to you by your mother/sister/BFF in junior high has got to go. Chances are it doesn't even look good on you anymore, so why keep it around?

2. Anything that is obviously past its prime: separating nail polish, gloppy gloss, anything with a weird smell, obvious mold, you get the idea.

3. Anything you don't wear. Yes, that was your absolute fav gloss two Summers ago, and maybe, just maybe, it might come back into style again. But, face it, if you haven't worn it in the past 12 months, you probably never will again. Toss it.

4. The exact recommendations vary but as a general rule: dry products last longer than liquid or creams because they are less likely to harbor bacteria and other nastiness. According to the FDA "There are no regulations or requirements under current United States law that require cosmetic manufacturers to print expiration dates on the labels of cosmetic products." However, some labels will come with a marking such as "12M" which indicates the length of time that the product should still be usable, in this case, 12 months.

Mascara
should be discarded every 2-4 months regardless if the tube is empty or not. Again, from the FDA: "The shelf life for eye-area cosmetics is more limited than for other products. Because of repeated microbial exposure during use by the consumer and the risk of eye infections, manufacturers usually recommend discarding mascara two to four months after purchase. If mascara becomes dry, discard it. Do not add water or, even worse, saliva to moisten it, because that will introduce bacteria into the product." Um...do people seriously spit in their mascara? Ohmygod, stop it right now.

Powder, Powder Blush/Bronzer, Cream Shadow, Cream Blush, Concealer, and Eyeliner can last anywhere from 1-2 years. Eyeshadow can last up to 2 years.

Water based liquid foundation will last up to 1 year and oil based will last up to 18 months.

Lip products are more variable. Lip liners can last anywhere from 1-3 years but should be sharpened frequently. Lipstick generally lasts for 1-2 years, but some sources claim it's good for 3 or 4. Just watch for signs of color change, funny smells, or other suspicious activity. Lip gloss tends to have a shorter lifespan, usually around 12-18mos.

Nailpolish, if stored properly, can last up to 2 years. If you have an older bottle and the colors have separated, shake it a bit to see if they re-combine. If the colors and oils don't mix and it smells odd, then it is time
to get rid of it.

And a few final pieces of advice courtesy of the FDA:
  • "Among other cosmetics that are likely to have an unusually short shelf life are certain "all natural" products that may contain plant-derived substances conducive to microbial growth. It also is important for consumers and manufacturers to consider the increased risk of contamination in products that contain non-traditional preservatives, or no preservatives at all.
  • "Cosmetics that have been improperly stored - for example, exposed to high temperatures or sunlight, or opened and examined by consumers prior to final sale - may deteriorate substantially before the expiration date. On the other hand, products stored under ideal conditions may be acceptable long after the expiration date has been reached.
  • "Sharing makeup increases the risk of contamination. "Testers" commonly found at department store cosmetic counters are even more likely to become contaminated than the same products in an individual's home. If you feel you must test a cosmetic before purchasing it, apply it with a new, unused applicator, such as a fresh cotton swab."
Now, doesn't it feel good to bring some organization back to your makeup bag?

Wait. Now you need a new makeup bag? One that isn't stained from years and years of stray eyeliners and leaky nailpolish rolling around the bottom? Okay. I'll get right on that.

 

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