When is it time to break up with your make up?

The lipstick you bought to wear on that first date, the eye shadow palette you bought for your wedding that’s now older than the kids, that expensive foundation that you bought a few years ago but you only wear on special occasions - chances are you could have similar products that may now be out of date, lurking in your make up bag.

When I worked as a make-up artist with Space NK, people often came in to the store looking to replace a product they'd been using for years that was well past its shelf life or sometimes so old it had long been discontinued.  So I pose the question – why are we happy to put out of date products on our skin when we wouldn’t use anything in our fridge or cupboards a day past its best before date?


Make up has a limited lifespan, but according to a survey I read, 68% of women only replace make up when it runs out – therefore that expensive foundation you only use on special occasions could be years out of date. EU legislation stipulates that if a product has a shelf life, it must be displayed on it.  If you look closely at the packaging you will see a little jar symbol with a number in it. This is known as the Period After Opening (PAO) date, and this symbol indicates how long it will take after opening, before your product expires. 

It generally varies from 6 to 36 months depending on the product. As it starts from the date you open it, its worth noting somewhere when you first used it, or label the product with that date. Here are some general guidelines:

Mascara - 3 months
Liquid eyeliner - 6 months
Eye pencils - 18 months
Powder based products (eye shadows, blushers etc) - 24 months
Lipsticks - 24 months 
Foundations - 12 months depending on the product

Out of date products or those not hygienically stored, can play host to various bacteria, yeasts and moulds,some of which can be harmful and can cause infections, skin irritations and other conditions. Take a moment to edit the products in your make-up bag – if it looks a bit off, smells a bit off then it probably is off!

Look at what you use most, and edit it down to these items discarding any that you've had a long time, but don't use. For those items that you do use, think about the time last bought them and taking into account the shelf life recommendation, it might be safer to bin and replace. It doesn't have to cost the earth to replace them either  - there are some great drugstore brands out there like Sleek, L'Oreal Paris, Rimmel and Bourjois that have a fabulous choice of products at great prices. And don't forget to ensure your brushes are cleaned regularly too. No point buying lovely new make up only to use dirty brushes with them. Check out my blog post on keeping your brushes in tip top condition


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