The start of a new year is the perfect time to take inventory of not only your life, but also of what you need to detox from your beauty cabinet.
You may be wondering, “How do I know when my natural makeup and skin care have gone bad?” or “Do I really need to throw out my mascara after just 3 months when it still works fine after 5 months?”
Rest assured, this beauty expert is here to help you figure it out!
The first thing to know is that you do need to check your products for spoilage on a regular basis (not just once a year) because putting anything that’s rancid or moldy on your face, body, or hair can spell trouble.
If you shop in the Whole Body department, chances are you’re using beauty products without synthetic preservative systems, like parabens. While parabens are effective at keeping bacteria at bay and maintaining a product’s shelf life, your skin is better off without them.
Naturally based formulas have made big strides over the last few years for longer-than-ever shelf life. However, all products, especially the naturally formulated ones, need to be kept under watch to avoid spreading bacteria and harming or irritating the skin.
What causes products to go bad? A variety of things, depending on the formula and its volatility. Severe temperature changes or UV exposure could trigger instability. Opening and closing repeatedly allows oxygen to permeate chemical compounds and begins the process of oxidation and rancidity. Bacteria and mold love dark, moist places – that’s why mascara is such a perfect place for bacteria that’s been transferred from the eye during application to thrive, creating the risk for infection.
2-Step Fresh Check
Obviously you’ll be more aware if your everyday items are starting to turn, but about every 3 months you should do a “fresh check” on your whole beauty stash to see if anything has gone bad. Dig back into your cabinets and drawers for the stuff you use less often, like facemasks, body oils, hair products and lip-gloss.
Smell Check: This is one of the best ways to tell if a product has gone rancid because it’s a bit putrid and the smell is unmistakable. If the product doesn't have the scent you remember – especially if that’s an off-putting smell – throw it out.
Sight Check: If the consistency of the product has visibly changed, it’s potentially past its prime. Signs of mold, odd film floating, or significant discoloration means you need trash it.
Many natural products will offer an expiration date somewhere on the label (as shown in the photo below). The container may have a little symbol of an open jar with a number and letter “M” indicating the number of months a product is good after opening. For instance “18M” means the product’s shelf life is 18 months from the date of open.
Tip: Put a recurring reminder in your calendar to sort through your beauty stash in in January, April, and August.
Certain moisturizers, foundations and nail polishes that contain oil can separate before they expired. Try giving the bottle a vigorous shake to remix.
On Replacing Mascara
Many people say to toss mascara every 4 months, while others say up to 6 months of use is fine. As a makeup artist for a very long time and a mascara wearer myself, I can say I’ve never had a mascara go bad before I was done using it. I make it a point not to share my mascara with anyone – ever - so there’s no risk of spreading and sharing bacteria.
It’s time to replace mascara when it starts flaking or becomes much drier than the consistency it was when it was just opened. It’s not necessarily bad for you to use, but it’s definitely not going to be as effective by that point.
Note: Pumping the mascara wand up and down forces air in and will dry up the formula more quickly, and may also cause clumping.
You’re all set to maintain a fresh and healthy bathroom cabinet! Tell me: do you have a “clean-out” ritual or any tips to share for keeping your beauty products in top shape?