What is Your Expired Makeup Really Doing to Your Face?

Makeup doesn't expire, right? I wish my favorite shade of eyeshadow or lengthening mascara didn't go bad, but sadly, makeup does have an expiration date and it's actually dangerous to use expired makeup on your skin.

October 1, 2015
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Makeup doesn’t expire, right? I wish my favorite shade of eyeshadow or lengthening mascara didn’t go bad, but sadly, makeup does have an expiration date.

The worst part is many of us ignore those dates. If it looks alright, it must be fine. I’ve said that exact phrase to myself. It’s actually dangerous to use expired makeup on your skin.

I started paying more attention to general makeup expiration dates and while it made me feel like I was wasting unused product, I knew I was lessening my chances of getting Pink Eye or smearing bacteria all over my face. By the time you get done reading this, you’ll do the same thing I did – clean out your makeup bag.

Bacteria Grows Quickly

Most of the makeup you use probably has preservatives in it. These help them last longer and fight bacteria from air and applicators. Keep in mind all-natural makeup doesn’t use preservatives and might expire faster, but they’re also better for skin so it’s an even trade off.

I never thought much about bacteria in my makeup. I always washed my hands and face before applying anything. I cleaned my applicators weekly. What was there to worry about?

From the moment you expose your makeup to air, it’s exposed to bacteria. You’ve just set off a ticking time bomb. Now you rub or dab your applicator in the makeup and apply to your face. You repeat the process until you’re done. Just like that, you’ve spread bacteria from your face to your makeup.

Bacteria doesn’t just get bored and magically go away. It’s powerful stuff that keeps growing and reproducing until your makeup turns into a nasty Petri dish. Do you really want that on your face?

Liquid based makeup, such as liquid foundation or mascara, provide a better breeding ground for bacteria than powder based. What does that mean for you? It means you get to keep your powder eye shadow longer than your liquid eye liner.

Don’t worry. It doesn’t happen overnight. All types of makeup have a natural resistance to bacteria. Just like us, the resistance fades with age.

Now do you see what I mean about taking expiration dates seriously?

Bad Makeup Is Worse Than No Makeup

I’ve had those days where I thought bad makeup has got to be better than no makeup. I was wrong. All it took was one look in the mirror to realize something wasn’t right.

Think it doesn’t matter? Here are just a few of the problems I faced myself:

– Adult acne

– Redness

– Dry patches

– Excessive oiliness

– Eye infections

Of course, the more I tried to cover up those issues with more makeup, the worse the situation got. As it turns out, the culprit behind all of my problems was old makeup.

While these didn’t happen to me, you could also experience the following:

– Swelling

– Rashes

– Blisters

– Sun damage (SPF becomes less effective)

As the makeup itself breaks down, it doesn’t work as well. In some cases, it actually does the opposite of what it’s supposed to do. For instance, a foundation designed to even out your skin tone over time might cause redness or dry skin.

The excess bacteria seeps into your pores and takes you back to your high school days. I thought acne was over after puberty. Not only is adult acne an issue, but expired makeup is a common cause of flare ups.

The worse part for me were the eye infections. I couldn’t figure out what kept happening. A friend told me it could be my mascara. I used to be a big believer in using a product until it ran out or didn’t look like it should anymore.

Every time I stuffed the wand back in my mascara, I was forcing air into the tube. This just makes bacteria grow faster. The next day, I put that bacteria all over my lashes. After five to six months, the bacteria ended up giving me an eye infection. Mascara typically has a 3 month shelf-life, by the way.

Trust me when I tell you bad makeup is not good for you. You’d be better off wearing nothing at all.

Using Makeup Past Its Prime

Just like with food, you’re not going to have any real side effects if you use your makeup a little past its prime. Mascara is probably the only real exception, especially if you use it regularly.

If you notice any small changes in your skin that aren’t related to those annoying monthly hormone issues, consider checking the age of your makeup. Simply tossing out your old foundation and replacing it with fresh could eliminate your sudden skin problems in a week or less.

Most women ignore the general expiration rules and instead use common sense. I use a combination, especially when I’m using products past their prime.

Think about the following before using old makeup:

– Does it smell different?

– Has the color changed?

– Has the texture changed?

– Does it feel different on your skin?

– Is drier or more watery than it should be?

The moment your makeup changes, it’s time to toss it. I know the moment my lipstick starts to smell a little strange, it’s time to buy something new. Besides, do you really want to use makeup on your face that doesn’t look like the product you originally bought?

Be careful when you use any makeup past its expiration date. It’s not worth risking your skin’s health just to use up that last little bit of foundation or concealer.

Follow the Rules

Don’t want to wait until your makeup starts to smell or look funny? I’m not a huge fan of that myself. Luckily, there are some general guidelines to follow. Plus, many manufacturers place expiration dates on their products.

Before I go any further, I should point out that if you’ve used makeup while you’ve had a cold, the flu or any infection on your face, such as lips or eyes, toss out the makeup you used during this period. The last thing you want is to spread those germs back on your face.

Liquid and cream foundation lasts approximately six months. Liquid and cream concealers are usually good for up to eight months. The same goes for any liquid or cream based eye shadows and liners. Cream based products typically last a little longer than liquids.

I’ve started using more powder based products for any makeup that I don’t use often, such as that neon blue shadow I only use on 80s night at my favorite restaurant once a month. These products last around a year.

I’ve also switched to eye and lip pencils that I can sharpen. Since you’re constantly shaving off the old, these last over a year. Just remember to keep them sharp.

I was surprised to discover lipstick and lip gloss are good for at least a year. Try to limit yourself to three or four favorite shades so you don’t have so much excess going bad.

Finally, toss your mascara after about three to four months. It goes bad faster than anything else.

I know you don’t want to throw away all your makeup. I didn’t either, but I’m glad I got rid of the expired products. My skin looks better than ever.

In the future, I recommend limiting how many products you buy at once. You can only use so much at a time. Find a few favorites or shades of each product and use them up before buying more. You’ll save your skin and money.

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