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Spring Cleaning Tips for Your Makeup & Skincare Products

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Spring has sprung and it is time to purge all that has accumulated over the winter months. The Certified Fabulous team knows the importance of spring cleaning your home, but let us not forget to cleanup cosmetic products as well. We all have a basket of skin, body and hair care products in our bathrooms, or a makeup bag full of cosmetics. Unopened, well-formulated products can remain stable for a couple of years, if stored at room temperature. However, heat and humidity promote the growth of mold and bacteria, and since most of us store our cosmetics in the most convenient place in the house, the bathroom, even unopened products can be at risk for contamination. Once a product has been open and exposed to the air, the clock starts ticking.

Cosmetic products DO go bad. At best, they stop performing the way they used to, could evaporate, or the feel of the product may change. Do you know when to purge your makeup and skincare products?? The Cert FAB team is here to help. We will explain the when and why you should toss your cosmetic products.

Most cosmetic products will have either a PAO symbol or an expiration date denoted somewhere on the packaging. "PAO" stands for "period after opening" and is symbolized like this: PAO

The PAO symbol will also have a number followed by an "M" (M for month). The number indicates the number of months the product is guaranteed to be stable, after the product is open. For example, if you see a PAO symbol with 12M stamped on it, the company is telling you the product is good to use for 12 months after opening. This number is determined by testing performed on the preservatives used in the formula which keep the product from growing mold and bacteria.

The expiration date is simply a date printed somewhere on the cosmetic's packaging (usually on the bottom) which indicates when the product is due to expire. In some instances, a product may have a problem well before its PAO or expiration date. Cosmetic packaging that is warped, expanded or shows signs of deterioration is a definite sign that something is wrong with the formula and should be tossed. If it smells funny, or the texture of the formula has changed significantly, definitely toss it out as well.

If a product does not have a PAO or expiration date listed on the packaging, we have created this easy guide to help you know when to throw away products that could be harmful due to expiration: 

  • Mascara: 4 to 6 months. It is important to replace your mascara frequently to prevent eye irritation and infections. Be sure to purge mascara if you have any hint of an eye infection. Tip: Avoid pumping the wand as it pushes air into the tube causing mascara to dry out faster.
  • Cream, Liquid or Stick Foundations: 6 months to 1 year.
  • Powder-Based Foundations (including mineral-powder foundation): 2 to 3 years
  •  Lipsticks, Lip Gloss and Lip Liners: 1 to 2 years. Long wearing formulas have a shorter lifespan than creamier formulas since they often contain ingredients that evaporate more quickly. Pencil lip liners may last a little longer since sharpening removes old surface. Make sure to toss any and all lip products if you experience cold sores.
  •  Eyeliner: Liquid- 3 months, Pencil- 2 years. As they do with mascara, bacteria thrives in liquid eyeliner tubes and the product tends to dry out quickly. Pencil eyeliners last longer because sharpening removes the old surface. Be sure to wipe your pencil sharpeners with rubbing alcohol as they can become contaminated.
  • Eye Shadow: 2-3 years
  • Cleansers: 1 year. Certain ingredients found in cleansers (glycolic acid and retinol) become more potent if stored for a long period of time, potentially causing an allergic reaction.
  •  Toners: 6 months to 1 year
  • Serums: 6 to 12 months. Serums are vulnerable to heat, light and air. Many serums contain unstable ingredients which, although are effective at combating fine lines and wrinkles, once oxidized (which comes from exposure to air) serums may darken or discolor.
  • Moisturizers: 6 months to 1 year. Moisturizers will last longest in a tube or a bottle with a pump. Be mindful when purchasing moisturizers in jars. Most products that come in jars also include a small spatula you can use to take product from the jar instead of using your fingers. If your product does not come with a spatula, consider using a disposable cotton swab to dispense product.
  •  Sunscreen: 6 months to 1 year. Like all creams, sunscreens are susceptible to oxidation. Exposing sunscreen to air can cause the product to breakdown as water in the formula will evaporate. Oxidation can make your sunscreen unstable and ineffective. Store sunscreen in a cool, dry place. When on the beach, avoid leaving your sunscreen in direct sunlight.
  • Acne Products: 2 years
 Tips & Tricks
  • Always wash your hands thoroughly before using any product or applying makeup.
  • Close jars and container lids tightly between each use.
  •  Always smell your cosmetics when opening for the first time (especially mascara). As time goes by, you will be able to notice a change, if you are mindful of what your new, fresh product smelled like after purchase.
  •  Make note of the date you opened your products. We like to mark the date on the bottom of the packaging in permanent marker. This way, you can better track the PAO, or how long you have had the product if there is no expiration date.
  •  Keep makeup out of the bathroom.
  • Keep tools, such as makeup brushes and pencil sharpeners fresh and bacteria-free by cleaning them frequently.

Happy Spring Cleaning!!

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A contributing writer from a variety of experts working in beauty and skin care professions write fabulous articles for us to share with our readers. They range from celebrity makeup artists & hairstylists to cosmetic chemists and doctors. Here and there we will pepper in articles from our friends that work in public relations offices, manage beauty departments in stores or are grooming friendly men that love to write :)

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Guest Monday, 23 September 2019