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Spring Cleaning Your Beauty Kit :: Are Your Products Past Their Prime?

Spring Cleaning Your Beauty Kit :: Are Your Products Past Their Prime?

It’s Spring Cleaning Week at our sister site, Crafting a Green World. In sticking with that theme, we will be talking spring cleaning here this week too. Let’s kick things off with a little beauty kit clean out.

One reason we love nontoxic cosmetics and personal care products is that they do not contain synthetic preservatives. This also means, depending on the product type, a shorter shelf life. But who wants to use the same mascara or moisturizer for years on end anyway? Yuck! As with food, fresher is better.

Related: Should you throw old makeup in the trash?

While natural preservatives are effective in keeping cosmetics safe for use, they do have a time limit. If a product grows bacteria, using it could mean breakouts, irritation, or rashes. Not to mention the ick factor.

It’s a good idea to purge your beauty supplies a couple of times each year, just to make sure that what you are using is safe. First off, toss any products that have expired. How do you know when cosmetics reach their expiration date? Great question. Here in the US, unlike the European Union, cosmetics manufacturers are not required to put an expiration date on their products. Some, but not all, natural cosmetics manufacturers will add an expire date or list “use by” suggestions on their products or website.

When in doubt, I have two rules. First is the sniff test. You can tell by the smell if a product is past its prime. You know the scent of a wet towel that has lain on the laundry room floor for a day? Yep, that’s what I am talking about and you will know right away if a product has gone bad. Another scent to notice is the rancid oil smell. While many facial oils and balms do not contain water, the oils can still go bad over time, especially if stored in a warm bathroom. You know how olive or cooking oil smells after its gone bad. Same deal here.

The second is my new season rule. If I purchase a facial or body moisturizer that I specifically use for, say, winter and do not use it up, I toss it out the next winter. It has sat too long to be fresh. Obviously, if a product has grown mold, toss it out no matter how new it is.

Following is a list to help you out with freshness limits on natural cosmetics. While it is important to note that products vary between different brands and formulations, this list provides a general idea of how long your products should last:

Shampoo + Conditioner, Bath + Shower Wash, Facial Cleaners: 1-2 years unopened.

Facial Moisturizers + Body Lotions: Use within 6 months of opening. Airless pump bottles are the best at helping to preserve a lotion, bottles and tubes are next, and jars that you dip your fingers into would be the least effective packaging in terms of keeping a product fresh.

Deodorants: 6 – 12 months

Makeup: Foundations/Cream Blush/Highlighter, use within 6-12 months of opening. Cream shadow/Mascara, use within 3-6 months of opening.

Lip Balm/Gloss/Lipstick: 6-12 months

Sunscreen:  Sunscreens are required to carry a use by date.  To err on the side of effectiveness, I pitch anything from the previous season and replace with new.

Take this first step in sprucing up your beauty kit, and stay tuned to FGS this week for more help in spring cleaning your health, beauty and lifestyle.

[Image by EndOrfinaS~ at] 

Written by Liz Thompson

I am an organic beauty expert, writer, and mom of two young environmentalists who can already spot a toxic product when they see one. Read more about me at Organic Beauty, and find me on , Twitter, Pinterest, and Facebook.

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