Makeup and Beyond

Makeup, Beauty, Fashion, and Personal Care Tips

Spoiled Cosmetics


Are your cosmetics spoiled?

Is your makeup bag full of spoiled cosmetics?  Do you know how to tell if cosmetics are spoiled? Unfortunately, makeup doesn’t last forever and you must be your own cosmetic detective.

Expiration Dates
Cosmetics do expire, and expiration dates are sometimes printed on the inside or outside packaging, but this is not always the case. Other dates found on products are manufacturer dates. This information is more for the manufacturer than it is for the consumer.

Consumers are not always able to decipher an expiration date if it is in code. For example, SFC0934 could mean the product was manufactured in “S” San Fernando, CA and expires March 4, 2009. As consumers, how do we know that this is an expiration date? We don’t, and won’t until someone steps up and makes change happen. But in the meantime, you can follow set your own criteria for fresh makeup using the following guideline.

While these suggestions won't scientifically prove your cosmetics are spoiled, they can be useful tools.

Sniff Test
For all your makeup and skin care products, give them the "sniff" test. Do they smell different? If they do, then they could be contaminated and should be discarded.

Sight Test

  • Do your skin care products look different?
  • Are the liquid products thinner or thicker that what they were when first purchased?
  • Is there something in the pit of your stomach telling you that it just doesn't seem right? Human instinct is a powerful defense tool.
  • Has the color of the product changed?
  • Has the formula separated?
  • Is the consistency different from what it was when you first purchased it -curdled maybe?
If your answer is yes to any of these questions, the product may be contaminated and should be discarded.

Most cosmetics products contain preservatives, which is not always a bad thing.

Chemical preservatives are added to extend a product’s shelf life and kill bacteria. Over time, these preservatives break down and lose their effectiveness.

To cut costs, some cosmetic products are manufactured with either inferior preservatives that degrade at a faster rate than superior preservatives; or preservatives that are of such poor quality that they fail to adequately kill bacteria.

We may blame a rash on our skin, or blemishes to a food allergy, but it is possible the problem is not food, but bacteria from your cosmetics.   

It's important to buy cosmetics from reputable cosmetic companies you trust. 

Natural or Organic Makeup and Skin Care Products
If you prefer to use natural/organic cosmetics, with little or no chemical additives, expect the shelf life to be less than that of chemically processed products. This is because the products themselves are free of chemical preservatives, or they contain very little.

While natural products are nice alternative, extra sanitary care must be taken when working with and storing these products.
Many mineral makeup products on the market today claim to be "natural" or "organic", however, several still contain additives.

Simply opening any container exposes its content to bacteria, and cosmetics are no exception. When an applicator (hands, brush, wand, sponge…) is exposed to air, or any thing else, including the skin, it picks up bacteria. When the product is stored, you are also storing bacteria. 

Mascara is a prime example of bacteria storage. The wand is removed, moved across the lashes, exposed to air, other cosmetics, possibly body fluids, and then the wand is put back into the dark and damp environment of the tube.

If you are having a problem with your mascara flaking, it is possible that the
bacteria killing preservatives have dried up inside the tube. It’s best to discard it, rather than risking an eye infection.

Product Recalls

Has there been recalls on any makeup or skin care products that you are currently using, or are planning to purchase? Visit the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's website if you are concerned about a product recall. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is responsible for U.S. safety regulations of the cosmetics and skin care industries.

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