April 23, 2014 9:01 am

Cosmetics, perfume come with expiry dates

WINNIPEG – Wondering if that mascara you found in the back of your cupboard is worth keeping?

If it’s been around a few months, it’s time to chuck it, and the same applies to the mascara currently in your makeup bag, Winnipeg dermatologist Dr. Victoria Taraska says.

What about the rest of the items clattering around in your makeup bag or drawer?

Old cosmetics can cause pimples, acne, folliculitis and pink eye, Taraska says. While cosmetic companies aren’t required to put expiration dates on beauty products, they definitely should be purged and replaced regularly.

Some cosmetics have best before dates printed on the packages. Others have a symbol of a jar with an open lid and a number and a letter. The letter is usually an M for month or Y for year, and the number indicates how long the product will last after it’s opened – so 12M would mean 12 months after opening, Taraska said.

But what about those products that don’t have dates? Taraska offers the following advice:


  • Shelf life: 2-3 months
  • When to toss: As soon as you notice it’s getting clumpy or smells weird.
  • Tip: Stop sharing mascara because it spreads germs. If you have to share, use disposable applicators and don’t double dip.

Liquid foundation and concealer

  • Shelf life: 6-12 months
  • When to toss: If it has separated into layers or the colour has lightened.
  • Tip: Keep makeup out of sunlight. UV rays can destroy preservatives, which makes products spoil faster.

Lipstick and lip gloss

  • Shelf life: 2 years for lipstick, 1 year for gloss.
  • When to toss: If your lipstick has become dry or your gloss is extra sticky.

Nail polish

  • Shelf life: 1-2 years
  • When to toss: If the polish is extra goopy or has separated into layers and won’t blend after a quick shake.


  • Shelf life: 2 years
  • When to toss: Expired powders tend to be more dry and flaky than new ones.
  • Tip: Clean your brushes.


  • Shelf life: 8-10 years
  • When to toss: If they smell different or lighten in colour.
  • Tip: Store them in cool, dark places. Bright lights make perfumes oxidize, changing their chemicals and making them smell musty faster.


  • Shelf life: 2 years
  • When to toss: When the colour or scent changes.
  • Tip: Go for a bottle with a pump rather than one in a jar – it will be less likely to pick up airborne bacteria and will last longer.

Sources: Dr. Victoria Taraska, Seventeen magazine

© Shaw Media, 2014

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