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Make-up: A time to toss

Published:Thursday | August 18, 2016 | 2:21 PMRandy Bowman

Every so often us women, after a haul, end up with numerous beauty products. We certainly know how to apply them, but do we know when these items expire?

Similar to food, your make-up has an expiry date. But unlike food, the shelf life depends on when a product is opened and how it's stored. Most products come with a PAO (period after opening) symbol, which can be used as a guide to help decipher how long it can be kept.

The symbol has a number, which stands for the number of months it lasts for next to letter 'M', which stands for month, i.e., '12m' means that once you've opened a product, you should realistically stop using this product after 12 months.

If there is no POA symbol, keep reading.

Moisturiser - If it is preservative-free and uses natural ingredients, take extra care as natural alternatives can't protect your product from bacterial contamination as well as synthetic alternatives. If not, it should not last longer six months.

Concealer - Hydrating agents and oils are used to get that smooth, silky and blendable texture. If your concealer dries out, changes texture, becomes cakey/lumpy or starts to smell different, throw it out - immediately! Ironically, it'll just be making those breakouts that you're concealing even worse.

Foundation - Liquid, cream or powder, will drastically change the PAO you'll see on the back of your product. Liquids and creams range from six to 12 months. Powders go up to two years, as the dry texture doesn't allow bacteria to grow as easily.

Powders - these can go bad, too! Minimise the risk of bacterial contamination by cleaning your make-up tools regularly and never leaving the powder exposed to air. That means keeps lids closed tightly, and throw away powders without lids or that are broken.

Brow pencil - With regular sharpening, any bacterial growth on the top layer will be removed. Toss after six months, though.

Eye shadow creams - These will only last around six months due to the hydrating agents, which provide moisture for bacteria to thrive on. Powders can last up to two years, but remember to watch out for discoloration, waxy build-up or a change in smell.

Mascara - Do not pump your mascara. That forces air into the tube, dries out the product and facilitates bacterial contamination. Before using, slowly move the wand in a circular motion while in the tube for full coverage. Throw out mascara once it dries out and never try to add water or share your mascara.

Eyeliner - Liquid or pencil? These last around four to six months as they are also susceptible to bacteria contamination. Throw them out if you've had an eye infection. Pencil eyeliners can last up to two years and should be cared for in the same way as brow pencils and lip liners.

Lipstick - Even though they contain water, moisturisers and hydrating agents can last two years as long as you look after them well. Occasionally clean them with make-up wipes to remove the top layer of bacteria growth.

Lip gloss - Similar to the mascara, use circular motions and watch out for discoloration, changes in texture and thickness. Toss after two years.

In addition to monitoring the life of these products, wash your make-up tools regularly. Remember, get rid of it once there is a change in texture, colour, or smell.

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