Health

Throw away your pre-pandemic makeup, it can infect you

  • It’s time to throw away any mascara you’ve used for six months or more.
  • Liquid cosmetics can breed bacteria, so be careful with what you put near your eyes.
  • Powders and lipsticks are usually stored for one to two years.
  • Visit the Insider home page to find out more.

The pandemic lasts longer than the lifespan of most makeup products.

This means that if you’re scooping up old eyeliner and lipstick from your makeup bag around 2019, it’s probably time to throw them away.

Most cosmetics have a shelf life of six months to a year, but it is not unusual to keep them longer. Whether you should use old cosmetics depends on the product and how you store it.

Two symbols tell you how long to keep your makeup.

The open cream jar icon, also known as the After Opening symbol, shows the number of months that a product remains open after opening. Most products are labeled “6M”, “12M” or “24M” according to their expiration date.

Two labels that tell you if your cosmetics have expired

Two labels that tell you if your cosmetics have expired

Andrea Michelson


Some cosmetics may also have a batch code stamp that tells you when a product is about to expire regardless of opening.

The numbers won’t make sense to the untrained eye, but sites like Cosmetic calculator – which went viral on TikTok last year – I can help decipher them.

If you cannot find these symbols on cosmetic products, they are most likely indicated on the packaging. If the packaging has been out for a long time and you can’t remember when you bought it, it’s probably time to throw the product away.

Be especially careful about what you put next to your eyes.

If you are going to get rid of any solid makeup, the first thing to throw away is mascara and other liquid eye makeup that you have been using for six months or more.

Placing potentially pathogenic foods near your eyes can lead to conjunctivitis or worse.

“It’s always better to play it safe than sorry when it comes to the products around your eyes,” Elizabeth Anderson, director of scientific communications at Michigan State University’s Center for Ingredient Safety Research, told Insider.

Powdered eyeshadow and eyeliner pencils usually have a little more leeway than liquid products, and have a shelf life of one to two years.

Liquid cosmetics are more prone to the development of bacteria, mold, or yeast than dry powders.

Lipsticks and powders have a longer shelf life.

Anderson said she had no problem using a year-old blush.

“The risk of a mild rash or irritation on the face is a different matter from a serious eye infection,” she said.

Lipstick also has a longer shelf life than you might expect. POA range from one to two, depending on the product.

That’s because your mouth is better equipped to ward off harmful bacteria than your eyes and skin, Anderson said.

You should still check the texture and smell of lipstick and powder before using them. Any lumps, lamination, or foul odor indicates it’s time to throw them away, or you risk getting a bacterial or fungal infection.

All-natural cosmetics are likely to have a shorter lifespan

Preservatives are usually present in makeup for one reason: to keep it from deteriorating.

Other natural ingredients can be used in place of preservatives, but Anderson said they can become more aggressive on your skin.

“I personally would never put something that is not related to science next to my eyes,” Anderson said.

According to Anderson, if you buy preservative-free cosmetics or anything that is marketed as “all-natural” that doesn’t have a clear ingredient label, you should treat it like food. Store it in the refrigerator and throw it away earlier than other foods.

Your makeup will last longer if you store it in the right place

Anderson said too many people store their makeup in the bathroom, which is a humid place where germs can thrive.

Makeup stored in a cool, dry place will last longer than improperly stored makeup. Be sure to close containers tightly to keep bacteria and dust out.


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