In general, the more natural the product, the more likely the product will go bad over time. Think about it: instead of being full of preservatives and synthetic materials, natural products contain nutrients, vitamins, and minerals that break down, as does everything in nature.
Even the most expensive skincare creams, serums, oils, tinctures, and ointments eventually spoil to the point that you’ll probably want to throw them away.
How products begin to break down
Watch for these signs
If your product does not have a clearly marked date of expiration, or if you're unsure how old something is, the general rule is to toss anything that has significantly changed in color or odor, that has separated, clumped, thickened or thinned, says cosmetic chemist Mort Westman. All are signs that the product has gone bad and is no longer useable.
Average lifespan of common products
• Mascara (regular or waterproof), liquid or gel eyeliners: 4 to 6 months (always toss out dry mascara—never add water to extend its life)
• Cream, Liquid, or Stick Foundations: 6 months to 1 year
• Powder-based products (including mineral makeup): 2-3 years
• Cleansers: 1 year
• Toners: 6 months to 1 year
• BHA or AHA Exfoliants: 1 year (Does salicylic acid expire? Yes!)
• Face and Body Moisturizers: 6 months to 1 year
• Lip Balms: 1 year
• Sample Packets: 1 day after opening (no, really. one day)
• Serums: 6 months to 1 year
Optimizing the life of your products
1. Store products in cabinet or drawer
2. Wash hands before using products
3. Make sure cap is on tight after each use
4. Consider how humidity and heat may affect longevity of product
5. Abide by shelf-life dates, if available
1. Store product in direct sunlight
2. Add water to products to thin out
3. Forget to clean cap if you drop lid on floor
4. Use creams/lotions/lip products from jars, as sticking fingers in jars increases risk of contamination
We all want our investments in self-care products to go a long way. Following these few simple guidelines will help your natural makeup and skincare retain their optimal level of effectiveness and product integrity so that your skin stays looking its best.