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What’s in your beauty stash… and how long has it been there?!

March 16, 2011 by Works with Water

Many of us are guilty of hoarding beauty products – show me a woman who doesn’t have shelves stashed with various creams and potions, many of which claim to do the same job! So every now and then it is worth having a good clear out.

Beauty products have a use-by date. Unlike food products, the use-by date on beauty goodies won’t give a specific date – instead it will have a little symbol like this –

This represents how many months the product is suitable for use after opening – in the case of this symbol shown, it would mean that the product needs to be used within 12 months. 12 months is pretty much the standard amount of time for most products, although many natural products will have a 6 month shelf life, as they contain fewer preservatives. Depending on the type of product, 3 years is the maximum time recommended for use after opening.

If you use products after the recommended time, they may not be as effective and could cause your skin to react as the risk of contamination is increased. So if you are experiencing spots, pimples, breakouts and skin sensitivity and you’re not sure why, the answer could lie with your skin creams and make up.

The beauty product with the shortest shelf life is mascara, as the formula is subjected to a lot of air being pumped into it every time the wand is pumped in and out of the tube. Therefore it is recommended that you replace your mascara every 4 months; this is particularly important as mascara is used around the delicate eye area and so the risk of infection is greater.

With creams, lotions and potions, look out for pump dispenser varieties where possible; these are the most hygienic as only a minimal amount of air can get into the product, plus no mucky fingers are placed inside the pot.

The best way to keep your products in tip-top condition for as long as possible is by storing them in a cool, dry place out of direct sunlight. This isn’t always practical – bathroom products are of course kept in the bathroom, which is generally a humid place to be. So where possible, keep your products stored in a bathroom cupboard. (My sister came to stay recently and hung her washbag over my radiator – definitely not the thing to do unless you want your products to boil!)

I know it can be hard chucking out old favourites – but be ruthless – your skin will love you for it! Ask yourself, if a product has been festering away for longer than you can remember, did you really love it that much anyway?

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