Just like the perishable goods in your kitchen pantry, your favourite beauty products come with a best-before date too. And while it might not seem like a big deal using that sunscreen from last summer or reaching for that mascara you havenâ€™t used in some time, applying expired make-up and skincare can have dire consequences.
â€śThe efficacy of active ingredients can become compromised over time,â€ť explains Sheryll Puku, Elizabeth Arden national training manager. As products age and are exposed to air, heat and light, preservatives stop doing their job and active ingredients become unstable. When ingredients deteriorate and breakdown, skincare not only stops working effectively, some products can become hazardous and irritate skin.
Expired sunscreen or sunscreen that has incorrectly stored poses a particular risk to skin health when summer rolls around. If youâ€™ve ever applied sunscreen, religiously reapplied and limited your sun exposure it only to end up with red, unhappy skin, sunscreen that has expired or has been stored incorrectly could be the culprit.
When it comes to sunscreen anything that is past its use-by date should be thrown out immediately. And even though sunscreen has been created to fend off harmful UV rays, it doesnâ€™t mean that sunscreen should be left in the sun and heat. Just like with other skincare products, exposure to light and heat can degrade ingredients. One telltale sign that sunscreen belongs in the bin is a change in consistency or the separation of the formulation. Rather than keeping your sunscreen stored in the carâ€™s glovebox just in case you need it when youâ€™re out in about, it pays to keep sunscreen stored in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight.
Because beauty products are repeatedly exposed to our skin, light and air, they can quickly become breeding grounds for harmful bacteria. â€śExpired products are likely to harbour bacteria which can cause problems for the skin such as irritation and inflammation,â€ť says Puku. Skincare products stored in jars, make-up brushes, mascaras and eyeliners, in particular, can become worrisome when not cared for properly.
SPRING CLEAN YOUR ROUTINE
If you want to get the most out our your skincare and keep your skin healthy, you should be routinely overhauling your beauty cabinet and getting rid of the expired product. â€śDepending on the products, Iâ€™d suggest every six months to a year,â€ť says Puku. But often working out when a product has expired can be much easier said than done.
While some beauty products have an expiry date printed on them, most simply come with a period-after-opening symbol. The small symbol can usually be found on the packaging or back of a product and has a number followed by an M â€“ for example, 9M â€“ to indicate how many months a product can safely be used for once it is open. Because most products donâ€™t come with an expiry date, unless you keep a note of every single product you open, it can be tricky to keep track of when itâ€™s best to bin something.
There are, however, some telltale signs that reveal itâ€™s time for beauty products to be disposed of. Using your senses to figure out whether to keep or throw away a product is a great place to start, explains Puku. â€śA change in smell, colour, consistency or texture usually indicates itâ€™s time for it to go,â€ť she says. Lipsticks can become dry and smell waxy if they are past their due by date; mascaras can become clumpy and caky, and the pigment in foundations can change colour and separate.
Although skincare can dry up, change colour and texture, itâ€™s not always the case and active ingredients can lose their efficacy before these telltale signs become apparent. Therefore, it can be helpful to keep a note of when you start using skincare products. Even if a product looks and smells like it is still safe to use once it reaches its period-after-opening date, the active ingredients are unlikely to be effective and you wonâ€™t get the same results from your regimen.
Putting some effort into how you store your skincare and make-up might take a little time but will be worth it in the long run. While some of us take pride in having skincare, make-up and fragrance on display in our bathrooms or bedroom, itâ€™s not always the best environment â€śLight, heat and air generate free radical activity that can affect the performance and longevity of Makeup and skincare products,â€ť explains Puku. Rather than display your products in places that are exposed to light and can change in temperature frequently â€“ such as the bathroom â€“ keep your products stored in cool, dark and dry spaces. â€śIf youâ€™re diligent in keeping your products in good condition, using spatulas instead of fingers, keeping your brushes clean, storing them correctly you will certainly get the best of your products for longer,â€ť Puku explains.
If youâ€™ve purged expired beauty products from your regimen and unwanted outbreaks and irritations are plaguing your skin, it might be time to take a closer look at your make-up brushes. Because make-up brushes are repeatedly exposed to skin bacteria, they can contribute to unwanted skin concerns.
To avoid problems, Puku recommends cleaning your brushes regularly. â€śYou can use a professional brush cleaner after every use and/or a gentle shampoo (such as baby shampoo) followed by a leave-in hair conditioner every week,â€ť she says. â€śBrushes should dry quickly, making these cleaners convenient between makeup applications.â€ť If youâ€™re using shampoo Puku suggests dampening your brush, putting a little shampoo into the palm of your hand and then working the brush into the shampoo. â€śRinse, lightly condition and then rinse again, making sure to squeeze out any excess moisture.â€ť Once youâ€™re done, lay the brushes flat on a towel, leave to dry and theyâ€™ll be as good as new.