Everything you need to know about makeup expiry dates


I follow a lot of makeup people on Instagram. There is little I enjoy more than watching someone apply their makeup, whether it’s on the bus or on the internet, and watching a makeup artist do it is peak relaxation. Recently, MUA content has changed from self-application all the time, to detailing the prep they have to do as professionals to apply makeup to other people’s faces. It’s fascinating how they organise their products so they can have maximum choice to hand at any given location, and the care they take to ensure hygiene is a priority.

eading back to work off the back of the pandemic has presented particular challenges, like having to buy almost entirely new products for their kit. Beauty products have an expiration date, so almost everything that had been opened had to be replaced, at great cost to the artist. I found myself breathing a sigh of relief that that’s not my situation, and then immediately grimaced at the thought of how long some of my foundations have been open… a cull is imminent.

Parting with expensive beauty products because you haven’t managed to finish them in the designated time period can be heartbreaking, but expiration dates are not something you should ignore. First, the quality of the product will diminish over time. You’ll notice that it won’t apply as well as it did when you first bought it. Second, the longer a product is open, the more bacteria has a chance to grow. Bacteria in your products can result in breakouts and other unpleasant reactions. I don’t know about you, but I’m not spending time and money on a skincare routine just to spread bacteria all over my face!

The good news is that beauty products make it easy to figure out how long you should use them for. On each product, there is a symbol that looks a little like a pot of face cream with the lid slightly open. Between the lid and the pot is a number this is the number of months the product is good for after it’s been opened. You may be horrified to learn that some products are only good for six months it’s hard to take.

Dipping into my collection, it’s clear that liquid and cream products for the eyes tend to have the shortest life span. For example, the undereye concealer on my desk has a recommended use period of six months. Mascara is generally recommended for use until it dries out, however the actual recommended use period can vary from six to 12 months. You’re probably not going to have an issue there find me a mascara that remains good for a year and you’ll be making a brand new discovery. Skin creams will generally be good for about a year, but again, most people will have used it in that period anyway.

It gets trickier with products like foundation. Sure, if you’re a daily wearer then you’ll almost certainly finish a bottle before it “expires”, but if you have a few on the go or only wear it on special occasions, you may find yourself chucking out half-full bottles. Charlotte Tilbury’s Airbrush Flawless Foundation, for example, has a recommended usage period of 18 months. I could weep thinking about the two-year-old bottle I have upstairs which is 30pc full.

No one is going to come to your house and confiscate your old cosmetics, but if you continue to use them, you are taking a risk. If you ever notice a change in the product you’re using in terms of smell or performance, definitely chuck it.

Buying and owning surplus beauty products is pointless. Do you really need that third or fourth foundation? It can be hard to resist the appeal of new products, and I am aware of the role I play in the marketing of them, but there’s no point throwing money in the bin.

Something old…

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Lipid-Replenishing Cleansing Oil for Dry, Irritated Skin (€18.99 at Boots.ie)

Avène is a brand that people have trusted with their skin for several decades. Built on the “healing properties” of thermal spring water, the brand make products that work well on sensitive skin of all ages. I often recommend these products to people whose skin is easily irritated, and particularly rate their Lipid-Replenishing Cleansing Oil for Dry, Irritated Skin (€18.99 at boots.ie) for people prone to rashes or dryness on the body.

… Something new

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Essentials Range (€15-€24 from pestleandmortar.com)

People all over the world have fallen in love with Irish brand Pestle & Mortar skincare products since they launched in 2014. Now, Sonia Deasy’s company is launching the Essentials Range (€15-€24 from pestleandmortar.com) for the body. These cleansers and moisturisers are suitable for the whole family and made of 99pc natural ingredients. I like the recyclable packaging: the pump dispenses product generously, meaning you don’t have to keep going back to it. If you have a family with sensitive skin or eczema, these are a great way to cut down on bottle build-up in the bathroom.

Lost in translation

Ceramides are lipids or fats that make up more than half of your skin’s concentration. They retain moisture, keeping your skin plump and hydrated, and also assist in the function of the skin barrier. These guys hold the skin cells together, and make sure the good stuff stays in (eg. moisture) and the bad stuff stays out (eg. pollution). The sun and natural aging deplete our stores of ceramides, so it’s good to replenish them with skincare.



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