Need to Know: Expiry Dates for your Cosmetics

It would be great if beauty products lasted forever – but sadly that isn’t the case… Just like food and drink, cosmetics, skincare, and haircare have a shelf life. Keep products too long and the products won’t be as efficient – or, worse still, become contaminated with harmful bacteria.

So check the dates below – and if you realise something has gone over it’s shelf life, why not invest in one of my recommendations as an alternative?

Mascara – 3-6 months
Mascara has one of the shortest shelf lives of cosmetics. As we pump the wand, air and bacteria are forced into tube, which both dries out the fluid (making it less effective at coating lashes) and contaminates it, potentially spreading infection to our eyes. As soon as you notice the product drying out, ditch it. It’s just not worth the risk.
Replace with: Clarins Wonder Perfect Mascara, £18.36. The only way to wear lashes for Spring/Summer 2011 is long and lustrous! This mascara promises both – and I’m a big fan.

Moisturiser – 3-6 months
The shelf life of daily face moisturiser is short, so use it generously and quickly to maximise the benefit. Pump bottles are ideal, as they prevent bacteria creeping into the product. In terms of when to throw it away, trust your eyes and nose – if it doesn’t look or smell right, don’t even consider applying it to your skin.
Replace with: Trilogy Vital Moisturising Cream Pump, £20.89 – a hygienic pump bottle, indulgent texture, and high-grade natural ingredients.

Nail Varnish – 1 year
There’s no problem with bacteria here – but the longer you keep a nail varnish, the more likely it is to become gloopy and sticky. To make it last a little longer, why not keep it in the fridge? Lowering its temperature will keep it fluid and make application a breeze.
Replace with: Nails need to be bright and cheerful for the season ahead – so get colourful with Dior Vernis Long-Wearing Nail Lacquer, £17.36, in Blazing Pink, Psychedelic Orange, or Mayan Red.

Shampoo, Conditioner, and Shower Gel – 1.5 years
These products start their shelf life when you open the lid – unopened, they would last years longer. They will last a good year and a half – but if they change colour, develop a funny scent, or start to congeal or separate beforehand, the only place for them is the bin.
Replace with: For a rich, indulgent, skin-pampering shower, treat yourself to a bottle of L’Occitane Shea Butter Milk Shower Cream, £12. And from the same brand, I also adore the Volumising Shampoo for Fine and Normal Hair, £12, and Conditioner, £8.39.

Lipstick and Lipgloss – 2 years
Lip products contain wax and very little water, which means they have a much longer shelf life. We usually finish them before their shelf life expires – but if you find an old lipstick at the bottom of your dressing table drawer, it’s safer to throw it straight away.
Replace with: Next season, the most fashionable pouts will be painted red. Get involved with the sublime Dior Rouge Diorific Long-wearing True Colour Lipstick, £20.43 in Dolce Vita Red.

Perfume – 2-3 years+
Perfume contains a high percentage of alcohol, which is a natural preservative – so bacteria isn’t an issue – but you should monitor the scent and ditch the bottle when it starts to change. To extend its life, make sure you keep it out of the sun.
Replace with: Jimmy Choo Eau de Parfum, from £33.15, is one of the most exciting perfume launches of recent months. I’m a big fan.

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