By Stevie Wilson
When one contemplates expiration dates of cosmetics, do you ever think about hair products too? Probably not””I never did till I realized that hair products tend to have proteins, thickeners, softeners and even natural ingredients that do change or go “bad” over time. What’s worse is where you store them””in the shower!! Changing temps, steamy atmosphere and often not so bright light mean things can often change quicker and odd things grow (ewwww!!) in that half a bottle of shampoo or conditioner.
According to NaturallyCurly.com experts, Michelle Breyer and Gretchen Heber, there is a life-span to hair products. “Most large companies put enough preservatives in their products to last at least four years. But if you’ve had a product for longer than two years, it’s probably better to discard it. Companies constantly test their products using a challenge test. They bake the product in special ovens that calculates one month of oven time into one year in your bathroom, or on the shelves. Each month they inject several bacteria into the product to test how effective the preservatives perform. If the company’s results are weak, they will imprint an expiration date onto the product. Consumers should definitely heed that date and discard their product.
It should be noted that even with preservatives, some precautions should be taken to protect product quality. Products should never stand in direct sunlight for a prolonged period of time. This will prematurely shorten the life of the preservatives. Thus, be cautious of products sitting in a window display. Because of the large quantities of products produced, it would be a great idea for companies to be put expiration dates on their products. Make sure you open the cap and smell the product before buying. If it smells odd, throw it away. Look at its consistency. If a product has separated, it’s probably time to throw it away.”
Bobbi Brown has such firm ideas about product expiration, she even put it in her book, Bobbi Brown Beauty!
One of the most objective (and least agonizing!) ways of clearing excess products out of your life is to toss anything that’s been open to the air too long to still be safe, clean, or effective. Below are some rule-of-thumb-life spans for products once they’ve been opened.
Cream Cleanser- 1 year
Cream/Moisturizer- 1 year
Foundation, oil-based- 1.5 years
Foundation, water-based- 1 year
Gel Cleanser- 1 year
Lipstick- 1-2 years
Mascara- 3-4 months
Powder- 2 years
Brushes- wash every 2-3 months
Sponges- wash weekly, discard monthly
- Bobbi Brown, make-up artist, Bobbi Brown Cosmetics
Trish McEvoy had much the same feeling too about cosmetic expiration.
“Ditch all those cosmetics you bought that weren’t quite right. Toss anything that smells funny (cream formulas separate over time) . Make-up has a shelf life of a year, with the Exception of mascara, which should be replaced every three months, six at most. Check to see that your make-up is squeaky clean. Everything from brushes and sponges to powder puffs should be in pristine condition. Snip off the tips of lipsticks to uncover fresh pigment. Sharpen your eye and lip pencils. If you haven’t worn it in six months, you’re not likely to start now.”
- Trish McEvoy, Make-up Artist, Trish McEvoy Beauty, from her book The Power of Make-Up.