Toss aside expired makeup and start the year afresh.
Like fruit, haircuts, and boyfriends, beauty products have expiration dates—but there’s no easy way to find out what they are. “The risk of using old products is, first and foremost, bacteria,” says Sephora PRO Erik Soto. “If you’re acne-prone, they will cause breakouts.” And of course, the secondary risk is having makeup that goes on wonky and skincare that plain doesn’t work (a big risk, when you consider SPF is one of the most expiration-prone products). We picked Soto’s brain for the best ways to know whether to give your goods the kiss off. HOLLY SIEGEL
DO A SMELL TEST
“When you first get the product, see what it smells like, because you want to be sure it maintains that same consistency,” says Soto. “Check it at 30, 60, and 90 days to see if it’s changed. If any skincare or product has a sour or waxy smell, it’s an indicator that it may be going bad. I’d toss it and get a new one.”
CHECK YOUR BEAUTY BAG
“I’ve seen people take a label maker to their makeup!” says Soto. A less sticky option? Check “My Beauty Bag” on Sephora.com—you’ll be able to see when you purchased things to know how long they’ve been sitting pretty.
WATCH FOR HIGH-RISK MAKEUP:
“Mascara lasts only about six weeks from when it was opened,” says Soto, adding that resisting the urge to pump your wand is a good idea (the extra air also causes the product to dry out faster). “If you feel bad throwing it away, use it for another purpose: in your brows for texture or to touch up your roots if you have dark hair.”
“If it comes out of the tube separated, it’s been sitting too long in one place. You want to shake it up, because foundations do separate naturally—but if you know it’s more than six months old or smells funny, toss it.”
LIPSTICK AND LIP GLOSS
“Lip gloss is susceptible to bacteria because it’s gooey. It’s easy to tell when a lipstick is going bad because it starts to smell really waxy.”
The more water content a product has, the more chance the formula has to be compromised or worse, germy. “Liquid eyeliners and cream blushes can get old,” says Soto, adding, “if your compact has a sponge in it, make sure the sponge is completely dry before you put it back in the compact.”
…AND DON’T SHARE
Mom was right. “Don’t share makeup!” says Soto. “Especially mascara. That’s why we makeup artists use disposable mascara wands and other tools like brushes to apply mascara!”