A lot of us are guilty of holding on to our favorite makeup products for years. You may figure, “This lipstick still goes on nicely, so it’s clearly okay to use.” This is a common assumption, but it can also be a dangerous one. Not only can old cosmetics wreal havoc on your skin and cause acne, but they can also carry harmful bacteria.
Microbiologists at London Metropolitan University tested five expired makeup products sent in by consumers—including blush (9 months expired), foundation (4 months expired), lipstick (10 months expired), mascara (4 months expired), and lip gloss (one year old and still in date until August 2016). Four out of these five tested positive for Enterococcus faecalis, a strain of bacteria that can cause meningitis, septicemia, bacteremia, urinary tract infections, and more.
If that isn’t concerning enough, the products also tested positive for Staphylococcus epidermis, which mostly affects individuals with weakened immune systems and is known to be resistant to antibiotics. Other bacteria found in the expired makeup included Aeromonas, a cause of gastroenteritis and infected wounds; Eubacterium, which can cause bacterial vaginosis; and Propionibacterium avidum, which aids in the development of acne. Eye and skin infections are also a common consequence of using expired makeup. Take mascara for instance — the possibility of transferring bacteria back and forth between your eye and the tube is huge.
These facts are surprising to most people, and they’re a great reminder of why it’s important to refresh your favorite products regularly! If you’re not sure when old products are too old to use, here are some general guidelines from Jill at Just Jill Cosmetics:
• Powders and eyeshadows: 36 months
• Creme shadows/blushes: 18 months
• Liquids: 12 months
• Lipstick/lip liner: 12 months
• Lip Gloss: 12 months
• Liquid or gel eyeliner: 3 months
• Mascara: 3-4 months
Product life varies, so just keep an eye on your makeup for any changes in scent, consistency, and color. If it sounds like a hassle to track how old all your products are, an easy solution is to write the purchase date somewhere on it with a sharpie. That way, you’ll know when it’s time to update your makeup bag.