I’ve never been a fan of the whole ‘new year, new me’ thing, but I will admit there’s something to be said for the motivation that a new year and a clean slate can bring.
With this in mind, I thought that today we could go through our makeup bags together, for a fresh 2023 start.
Before we begin, take a look at the back of your products and somewhere near the bar code you’re going to see a little jar with a number and the letter M in it. This stands for how many months your product will work to the best of its ability after opening.
For some things – for example, anything containing SPF – I’d recommend you to adhere to these dates religiously. SPF has such an important function in protecting your skin from the sun; once you reach the expiration date, it is literally rendered ineffective.
For others, we can take a slightly more common-sense approach. If it smells good and performs well, leave well enough alone.
The shortest makeup expiration dates
The shortest expiry date in your makeup bag will likely be your mascara. Three months is the recommended lifespan for safe use of your mascara, and it tends to work out about right if you use it every day.
If you’ve noticed the formula feels clumpy, use some kitchen roll (because it leaves behind no fibres) to gently scoop the excess from the brush, and it will feel have more slip again.
While it may be annoying to replace mascara so often, the good news is the high street is home to fantastic affordable mascaras. The Essence Princess mascara is one of my favourite finds of 2022; it gives incredible volume and length and all for just a few pounds.
Most of your liquid and gel-like makeup (like liquid eyeliner, gel eyeliner, lip gloss) will fall into the ‘quick fling’ category too, with a six to twelve-month shelf life.
The longest makeup expiration dates
When it comes to things like blusher, bronzer and highlighter, these tend to keep for the longest, likely one to two years. After a while, you might notice what we call ‘hard pan’ on your powders. This is that little film that builds up on your when you’ve used them a lot, usually a bit grey in colour and preventing your brush from picking up as much product.
A simple resolution for this is to use some Sellotape to gently lift it away, transforming your powder back to its shiny best. I shared the tip on TikTok recently and it reached hundreds of thousands of viewers!
More keepers include your pencils and powder foundations, lasting up to two years with regular hygiene.
Makeup expiration dates to be especially careful with
These can be classed under ‘avoid holding on past the sell by date’.
If you enjoy using clean and green brands, you need to pay closer attention to your use-by dates than anyone. The terms ‘clean’ and ‘green’ are widely criticised for their lack of regulation, but as a general rule, you tend to find that these brands use fewer preservatives. With this in mind, they may start to sweat a little earlier than other makeup items.
Eyebrow products may also see a shorter shelf life; creams and gels for the brows tend to catch foundation, skincare, and everything else along with them, so you’ll likely find that these need throwing out long before the expiration even.
Because of this, you may want to go for affordable options for this category. I love the Collection Clear Brow Gel, £2.49, Boots, for strong hold, and the Maybelline Brow Fast Sculpt, £6.99, Look Fantastic, with tiny fibres for building fullness.
Cleaning your makeup collection
Now that you’ve had your cull, it’s time for a deep clean.
The Pro Hygiene Collection Antibacterial Makeup Spray, £6, Pro Hygiene Collection, has been in my kit for years. You can safely use this on everything in your kit to prevent bacteria buildup between uses, and it won’t alter the formula in any way.
If you’re open to a new year’s resolution, you could get yourself into the habit of a quick makeup bag spritz on the days that you wash your brushes; your makeup (and your skin!) will thank you for it.
Thank you so much for keeping up with my column this year – I am wishing you the happiest of holidays and looking forward to sharing more tips in 2023!