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When To Throw Out Your Beauty Products And How To Know If They Have Expired

Selection of make-up on dressing table
Selection of make-up on dressing table

As far as new year's resolutions go, some are more daunting than others.

Giving up smoking or drinking less? Not so fun. Playing with makeup and sorting through products? Easy and satisfying.

While clearing out your bathroom cabinet and sorting through your makeup stash might make for a nice Instagram snap at the end, it's also an important process to undertake for more serious, hygienic purposes.

"It's imperative that you throw out old makeup and cosmetics at least once a year," Makeup artist Tobi Henney told The Huffington Post Australia.

"Doing it in January is a clever idea because you know each new year that it's time to turf the old stuff. While keeping makeup for years might seem harmless, expired or germ riddled products can cause serious infection."

Discerning what needs to go is actually pretty easy. By law, cosmetic labels must feature a symbol which indicates the shelf life of the product. The symbol appears as a small tub or jar with a number inside it. That number represents the amount of months from opening until expiry.

Look for this symbol on your products

"As a rule, not all makeup is created equal. If you use mascara everyday it will likely only last three months. Lip products have a shelf life of between six and 12 months, and foundation and other base products last for about a year," said Henney.

"You will usually be able to tell if a product has turned. Mascara will go clumpy and lip glosses and balms in tubes will start to separate. That's a sign that it's time to throw them out. Be very careful with any products that go near or around your eye as they can easily spread germs such as conjunctivitis. Eyeliner that is applied to the waterline should be sharpened regularly."

You may notice from time to time that eyeshadows or other pressed powder products such as bronzer can develop a hard film on the top, effectively limiting the amount of colour transfer. This is often due to the use of dirty fingers, which contain natural oils or have been recently applying liquid foundation. Sadly, the reside on your fingers hardens the product. The same can occur when you use brushes that are dirty. These products need to be thrown out.

Speaking of brushes, they need to be washed frequently. Once a year is downright disgusting -- not to mention a common way to spread acne and breakouts.

"As a makeup artist I wash my brushes after every use and directly after every single client. For the everyday makeup kit, once a week to once a fortnight is sufficient. Use an antibacterial brush cleaning spray, or a mild regular shampoo in hot water. Leave your brushes to dry on a windowsill in direct sunlight so that the UV rays can further help eliminate any residual germs," said Henney.

The same rule applies to skincare and you'll find the same symbol on tubes and tubs of your favourite creams and lotions. Specific products to be mindful of are sunscreens and fake tans.

"Sunscreen expires, after which point it is no longer effective. The safest way to ensure you're covered is to purchase new sunscreen each season. If it's from last year or has been in a hot car or beachbacg, the likelihood of it being fully effective has been compromised," said Henney.

As for faux tan, the result might be streaky, patching, or green skin. Not pretty.

Be extra mindful to check your natural or organic skincare, as they traditionally contain little or no preservatives. For that reason they often don't have a very long shelf life -- sometimes only six months.

Lastly, check your beloved scents.

"This is also a good time to assess how you store your favourite fragrances," said Henney.

"More and more of us are collecting a 'fragrance wardrobe' instead of wearing one signature scent. This means that we don't go through the juice as quickly. Fragrance easily goes off if it is stored near sunlight (read: that pretty display on your dresser) or in a hot, steamy bathroom. If the colour has yellowed or it smells strongly of alcohol, it has turned. If you really love and want to savour a fragrance, it is best stored in the fridge," said Henney.

Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh. So satisfying.

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