Just like a carton of milk or a loaf of bread, beauty products have their own best-before date. It's important to replace them consistently, says Toronto makeup artist Sheri Stroh, "because bacteria can build up causing breakouts, skin irritation or even infection." But if you've got a drawer full of makeup that you bought who-knows-when, it can be tricky to know what's gone bad. Here are tips for keeping your kit clean and your makeup safe to use.
A version of this article was published in our December 2012 issue, p. 34.
Photo: Tony Lanz
Look for a sign
Sniff before applying, suggests Stroh. "A bad smell is a sure sign that something is off and should be thrown out." Also, check the consistency. "If a liquid is passed its prime, you may begin to see some separation or a change in colour and texture. Chuck it," says Stroh. "Try to store your cosmetics in a cool, dark space. This may help preserve them longer, and that goes for perfume, too." Old pencils should always be sharpened to keep them fresh and clean, and mascara should be replaced bimonthly. When it comes to old pressed powders (blushes, compacts, shadows), see if a layer of film has formed on top. If it's not too thick, you might be able to salvage the product: Scrape the bad stuff off with a butter knife until it looks fresh again. If anything is irritating your skin or not performing well, those products should go, says Stroh.
Opt for smart tools
Using a set of proper brushes and applicators instead of your fingers will help lengthen the shelf life of your cosmetics. But it is important to clean them regularly to avoid bacteria and cross-contamination - especially with tools that come in contact with your eyes or are used with liquid products. "Try to gently wash your brushes every couple of weeks and lay them flat to dry," says Stroh. "There are a variety of brush cleansers on the market that clean, disinfect and dry quickly, or you can use a mild shampoo."
Mac Brush cleanser, $17
Where to Buy?
Keep it simple and organized
Clear containers or cases are easy to clean and let you see exactly what cosmetics you have. If you prefer a drawer for storage, try using a cutlery insert to keep it organized, says Stroh. When you're looking to buy something new, be realistic about how much of each product you actually use. Smaller packages are more likely to get used up by the time they should be replaced, and they're more affordable, too!
Signature Clear Cosmetic Case, $11
Where to Buy?
Cosmetics cheat sheet
When to replace your products*:
Mascara: every 2 months
Creams: every 12 months
Lipstick: every 12 months
Pressed powders: every two years
Perfumes: every five years
*Some products may last longer depending on frequency of use.
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