Signs That It’s Time to Ditch Those Beauty Products

By: Gilda Torres

When to throw away my beauty products? That’s a common question we all ask ourselves, and here’s the answer!

I imagine you have a favorite lipstick that is very hard to get hold of when the season changes, or maybe you have a beloved nail polish that is only found in a few stores. This is probably why you keep it too long, not considering that beauty products -like medications- have expiration dates.

We talked to several of our experts and they helped us recognize when and how to identify that it’s time to change that lipstick or that nail polish and our creams to maintain healthy skin.

Products have expiration dates usually identified by a tiny picture of a container with 6m, 12m, 18m, etc. “That shows us how long you should use it from the moment you open it,” explained our celebrity makeup artist Epy Joel of Avant Garde Salon and Spa in Miami.

“Expired products can not only lack potency, but they can also become a breeding environment for bacteria,” the expert added.

Here’s how to know when it’s time to change products according to their nature and use.


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“The treatment ingredients (antioxidants, alpha hydroxy acids) inside a pump bottle or airtight tube are amply protected from bacteria and exposure to air, so they can last about 16 months. But I always recommend that you check the packaging to verify the expiration date. Serums that contain unstable ingredients, such as vitamin C and retinoids, may have a much shorter shelf life,” explained Dr. Maribel Pedrozo, facial care specialist and owner of Biobell Oriental MedSpa in Miami.


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About this product, we spoke with Joaquin Manuel Vega, expert manicurist and pedicurist at Avant Garde Salon and Spa in Miami. “I recommend moving it around and if you notice a change in consistency (usually after two or three years), it means that the solvents in which the pigments are suspended have evaporated. This causes the color to accumulate at the bottom. Once separation occurs, getting a smooth, even coating will be difficult. It is time to throw it away.


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“If the container does not have an expiration date, the formula should remain stable at room temperature for up to three years. However, exposing a product to extreme heat and sun can cause the contents to decompose. In that case, the ingredients will no longer be evenly distributed, so its protection will not be uniform and it loses effectiveness,” Pedrozo explained.


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“Any makeup formula that contains water is at a higher risk of bacterial contamination because water provides a home for bacteria to thrive. Since almost all foundations, except powders, have some water in them, it’s best to replace them after 12 to 18 months. Also, as foundation ages, the pigments can separate, resulting in uneven coverage, detracting from the appearance of your makeup,” said Epy Joel.


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Dr. Pedrozo pointed out that “if you use a daily moisturizer, chances are you’ll finish it long before it expires. But if you have several in rotation, or use small amounts, discard any that are older than 18 months.


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“Water-based liquid eyeliners can pick up bacteria, which can lead to an eye infection, so discard them after six months. However, when the eyeliner is in pencil, it can last longer. And that’s because when you sharpen it, you kill any bacteria,” explained Epy Joel.


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About mascara, the expert, Epy Joel, stressed that they should be replaced regularly. “This is the product you should keep an eye on the most: eyelashes protect the eyes from dirt, pollen and bacteria. A mascara brush, can pick up these particles, transferring them to the product. To reduce the risk of infection, discard mascara every six months.


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“Lipstick, gloss and balm generally do not contain water, so they collect less bacteria. Unless, you leave your lipstick exposed to the heat on a summer day, they should last in good condition for at least two years,” added the makeup artist.

However, all the experts agreed that the ideal thing to do is to write the date on the products when you open them. This way, it will be easier to know when to replace them.

About the author: Gilda Torres


Gilda Torres is the founder and CEO of the public relations agency Public Relations Experts. She obtained a bachelor's degree in International Relations from the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) and has studies in communication and journalism. She as well as with a master's degree in Public Relations. She currently collaborates in different digital and print media, where she writes about beauty topics. She considers herself a BoriMex, because her mother is Mexican and her father is Puerto Rican.

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