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Spring Cleaning Alert: Your Expired Makeup Products a Breeding Ground for Bacteria

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As we welcome the first day of spring, it’s time to tackle that spring cleaning checklist. But amid the decluttering frenzy, have you spared a moment to look at the expiration dates of your makeup products? 

Saffron Hughes, the makeup artist at FalseEyelashes.co.uk, is here to highlight the importance of maintaining hygiene in your makeup routine before revealing how long makeup products really last.

A study reveals that 90% of makeup bags are contaminated with superbugs, including E. coli

Saffron said: “Amid the excitement of spring cleaning, it’s easy to overlook the ticking time bombs hidden within our makeup collections: expiration dates. But did you know that neglecting expiration dates can lead to bacterial contamination?”

“Dead skin cells and bacteria from your brushes are transferred to your makeup bag after every application. Shockingly, researchers have found that 90% of makeup bags are contaminated with superbugs, such as E. coli. This highlights the importance of not only cleaning your makeup products regularly but also checking that they’re still in date.”

How often you should replace your makeup products, according to a MUA?

Saffron suggests always checking the label before using any new beauty product. Look for a small jar symbol followed by a number and the letter M. This indicates how long the product will work best and how long it should be used after opening and exposure to air.

“After this timeframe, products can decline in quality and become a breeding ground for bacteria. If it’s a product you might not finish in time, make a note of when you opened it to avoid disappointment. If it’s too late to do that, here are the average expiry dates for common products. “

  • Sponges, or products with sponge applicators. Makeup sponges/beauty blenders have a shelf life of about 3 to 6 months, depending on how well they are looked after. Makeup sponges should be stored in a breathable mesh bag/pouch.
  • Mascaras. Mascaras have a shelf life of up to 6 months. If the formula starts to appear clumpy and there is an unpleasant smell, it should be disposed of sooner than 6 months. Mascaras should be kept in a cool, dark place.
  • False eyelashes. False eyelashes have a shelf life of 6 months. However, most can be reused up to 8 times when looked after carefully. The easiest place to store your lashes is in the tray they came in, as this helps them to keep their curved shape. Alternatively, you can purchase a lash case to store all of your favourite lashes.
  • Spray makeup products. Cosmetic setting sprays have a shelf life of six months. They are best kept at room temperature to avoid a warm spritz on the face. They can also be stored in the fridge for refreshment.
  • Lash glue. Eyelash glue has a varying shelf life of 6–12 months. Always remember to check the packaging. You should never store your eyelash glue at extremely low temperatures, as this can cause the glue to separate. It should be stored in a dark place at room temperature.
  • Liquid makeup products. Liquid makeup cosmetics have a shelf life of 12–18 months. This will vary depending on if they are water- or oil-based. They should be stored in a cool, dark place, as exposure to heat and sunlight can dry out products and cause natural oils to separate.
  • Cream makeup products. Cream makeup products have a shelf life of 12–18 months. Cream-based products should also be stored in a cool, dry place.
  • Powder makeup products. Cosmetic powders have a shelf life of 12–24 months. They can be stored anywhere that is cool and dry. Storing them in a humid area can cause powders to turn saturated and cakey, so avoid keeping them near radiators and heaters and do not store them in the bathroom.
  • Pencil makeup products. Cosmetic pencils have a shelf life of up to 2 years, but you will probably have sharpened them down and used them before that. They should be stored in a cool, dry environment to avoid them melting in the heat. They should be disposed of when they become dry and chalky.
  • Lipsticks and lip gloss. Lipstick and lip gloss have a shelf life of up to 2 years or can be used until the texture turns dry (lipstick) or turns gloopy (lip gloss). They should be stored in a cool, dry place, avoiding the bathroom, as the excess moisture in the air can break down the pigment.
  • Makeup brushes. Makeup brushes have a shelf life of 1–5 years, however, it all depends on how well they are looked after and how often they are cleaned. It’s best to store your makeup brushes upright in a brush holder, jar, or container to preserve their shape. You can also fill the bottom of your containers with rice, or pebbles to avoid your brush heads touching and cross-contaminating.

Additional hacks for keeping your makeup hygienic

In addition, Saffron has shared three additional tips that you may find helpful:

  • Always close the lids of your makeup products or it’ll lead to bacteria growth. Accidentally leaving makeup product lids open is a silent invitation to bacterial growth. So, when you use a makeup product, double-check that the lid is tightly shut to prevent moist air from entering the product and creating the perfect humid conditions for bacterial growth. Wet conditions, like those found in bathrooms, should also be avoided for makeup storage for similar reasons.
  • Clean your makeup products regularly. While everyone knows the importance of regularly cleaning their makeup brushes, dust, dead skin cells, and product buildup can accumulate on your beauty products themselves. The same study previously mentioned found that E.coli, fungus, and staphylococcus aureus, otherwise known as staph infections, can be found on beauty products, all of which can cause skin infections.
  • Don’t ignore a change in the texture or smell of a makeup product. One way of determining if your product has expired is by the smell. If the product now has a new distinctive odour that it didn’t have before, then it’s time for it to go. Another way you can determine if your product has expired is if the texture has changed. If your liquid products have thickened or become clumpy, then they need to be disposed of. Cosmetics also begin to separate, and this becomes very visible. You can also tell if a product has expired by the colour of it. Makeup oxidises when exposed to air. The longer it sits there, the more likely it is to oxidise. So if your makeup is looking more orange than usual, then it’s most likely expired.

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