You know that favorite lip gloss that you’ve had for ages but just can’t bear to throw away? You might change your mind and toss it out if you knew what could be growing in it. Studies have shown that cosmetics can harbor bacteria, mold, and other germs (yuck!), including potentially dangerous staph bacteria. But you don’t need to spend a fortune buying all new makeup; you just need to know when varous products should be tossed. While the Food and Drug Adminstration doesn’t specify expiration dates for cosmetics, here’s what I recommend to my patients to keep them safe — and help their makeup go on flawlessly:
Mascara and liquid eyeliner have the shortest shelf life — they should be replaced three to four months after opening. Each is a liquid, which tends to grow more bacteria, and you dip the wand repeatedly into the container, which increases your risk of getting an eye infection such as “pink eye” (conjunctivitis). If these tubes dry up, do not add water (and definitely don’t spit into them!).
Eye and lip pencils and lipsticks are less likely than liquids to grow bacteria; they should be replaced after one year. Sharpen or wipe the tips before and after use to keep them fresh.
Lip glossshould be replaced after six months. If it dries up, or if the color changes, toss it. If you get a cold sore, which is caused by a herpesvirus, toss what you were using — and never share your gloss.
Powders (loose or compact powder, powder blush, powder eye shadow) generally stay fresh for one to two years. They have the longest shelf life because they contain the least amount of water, so it’s harder for bacteria to grow