When you’ve found
the perfect lipstick, it’s tempting to hold onto it forever. But “cosmetics do expire,” says Dr. Sarah Vickery, principal scientist for Cover Girl. “Most have a shelf life of one to three years,” she says. But that’s when makeup’s unopened. Once you start using a product, you’re introducing bacteria to your product and this is why you should be regularly editing your cosmetic bag and trash-binning those that need to go—even if it’s your favourite shade ever.

Signs of a product that is past its’ prime? “If the product has a different odour, if it’s changed consistency—for example, if it’s less viscous than before—or if it’s become cloudy when it used to be clear, or if the emulsion has broken and separated,” she says. The length of time you can keep a product depends on what it is and how you use it.

Cosmetics and when they expire

  • “Mascara has the shortest shelf life because the eyes are so sensitive and prone to infection,” says Vickery. A tube of mascara should be replaced every three to four months.
  • Eyeshadows, powder blushes, lipsticks and the like are good for a few years. “Anhydrous products—that is, products that don’t contain water last longer—given that bacteria grows over time in water.”
  • Pencils have the most longevity. Lip and eye liners can last up to three years, as long as you sharpen them regularly, she says, adding that you shouldn’t wet them with saliva.

Make your makeup last longer

To make your makeup last as long as possible, practice good hygiene. “Wash your hands before applying your makeup and your face should be clean as well, along with your applicators,” says Vickery. Although the bathroom is a humid environment (and therefore ripe for bacteria growth), she recognizes that it’s not practical for most women to store and apply their makeup elsewhere. “As long as you’re not keeping your cosmetics on the dash of your car, you shouldn’t need to alter the conditions how you use and store them.” Just make sure to twist on the lids tightly, don’t swap makeup with your friends and follow the simple guidelines above and you’ll be in tip-top shape.

How to care for your makeup tools on the next page …

Tool time

Maryann Richardson, a Vancouver-based makeup artist with Judy Inc., professes to be a bit crazy when it comes to keeping her cosmetic tools as clean as possible. As a pro, she has to ensure every
makeup brush is cleaned after every use before using it on her next client. For us at home, she suggests we clean our brushes every one to two weeks. Her favourite brush cleaners include Cinema Secrets and MAC Brush Cleanser, and for quicker cleaning BeautySoClean Sanitizer Wipes and Mist. Here are her pointers:

  • Do use a special brush cleanser. While many makeup artists recommend shampoo, she finds the soap in some shampoos can be too harsh, stripping the bristles of the brush and sometimes leaving a film on the bristles thanks to over-conditioning—“it makes it difficult to pick up product with the brush in the future,” she says.
  • Don’t drench the bristles. When cleaning your brushes, ensure the cleaner or water doesn’t saturate the metal part of the brush holding the bristles onto the handle. “This may loosen the glue and cause it to deteriorate,” she says.
  • Do air dry. Resist the temptation to use a hair dryer to dry your brushes—the heat may damage the delicate bristles. Instead, swipe the brush on a paper towel to remove excess water and let air dry.
  • Don’t forget to wash your eyelash curler or sharpeners. Use a sanitizer wipe on your lash curler, and for your pencil sharpeners, use a Q-tip soaked in rubbing alcohol or brush cleanser.

How to care for your hair care tools on the next page …

As for your hair tools, they, too, need a little regular maintenance, says Greg May, owner of Greg May Hair Architects in Toronto. “Over time, they can build up with product and harbour bacteria,” he says.

Brushes and combs:
Greg favours using a clarifying shampoo (one that contains tea tree oil, which is a natural disinfectant) to clean his brushes. Then using a brush cleaner (available at beauty supply stores, or simply use an inexpensive brush) extract any hair that’s collected in your brush—“rub the brushes together but be gentle as you don’t want to damage the bristles.” Dry with a towel.

Blow dryer:
The venting system of your dryer should be cleaned once a month. “If you don’t clean the air vent, you may end up choking the motor, which will damage the dryer and reduce its lifespan,” he says. Most vents are located in the back of the dryer; unscrew or pop off the lid. Remove the vent and rinse it under water to get rid of any debris. Towel dry and put back in dryer immediately.

Read more:

How to wear red lipstick

How to get flawless foundation

Eye do: Say goodbye to tired eyes
Bad beauty habits to break now!