When to throw out beauty products

RACHEL CLUN
Last updated 12:10 09/04/2014
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TIME TO LET GO: Still have potions from decades ago? It might be time for an 'autumn clean' of your beauty cupboard.

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We are all guilty of hoarding old beauty products. From the dozens of different shampoos, conditioners and moisturisers we've tried and abandoned, to eye shadows and nail polishes bought years ago that we swear we'll use again one day. Teal eye shadow will come back into fashion, right?

While eye shadow may last millennia, other beauty products have a limited shelf life. They might not adversely affect your health, but items like perfume are certainly better the newer they are.

You have no more excuses for having a cluttered make-up drawer any more. Here we've complied a list of beauty products and when you should throw them out. Some products just stop working as well as they should, while others could be bad for your health. The lifespan of these products might surprise you - and not in a good way.

*Make sure you check the use-by or best-before dates first, as some products will have different lifespans depending on quality.

Beauty essentials to change regularly

When you think about it, that loofah or sponge you use in the shower every day should be replaced way more frequently than you probably do. Think about it: you use it to slough off dead skin and the day's dirt, so it's a potential breeding ground for all sorts of nasties like bacteria and mould.

You change your toothbrush every three months, and you should probably do the same with your loofah. Keep in mind natural sponges have a shorter lifespan, and should really be changed once a month.

Another breeding ground for bacteria is your mascara. This should be replaced every four to six months, when it starts getting clumpy and drying out. Liquid eyeliner also has the same lifespan, but your pencil should last up to a year.

Sunscreen usually comes with a use-by date, and shouldn't be kept for longer than six months. However if you subject your sunscreen to heat - read, leaving it in the sun while you're at the beach - you should consider replacing it more frequently.

Other creams and moisturisers can last up to a year, as long as you replace lids and caps firmly each time you use them.

Products that last

Powdered foundation, blush and eye shadows can last up to two years, if they're kept out of the sun. Liquid, compact or creme versions can keep well for a year.

Make-up brushes can last forever - if you buy good quality brushes, and you clean them regularly. You should throw out brushes if they start to shed or become stiff even after cleaning.

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Lipstick and lipliners should be good for up to two years, but just keep an eye on how well they apply. If they've been subjected to heat, chances are they aren't going to be as smooth and might turn out streaky. Also, you probably guess that I'm going to tell you lipsticks are yet another hiding place for bacteria. So keep that in mind when trying to decide whether to keep it or toss it.

Nail polishes generally don't work well after a year or two. They become streaky, too runny or too stiff if they've been sitting around your bedroom for too long. Try storing them in the fridge to maximise the lifespan of your favourite polishes.

Perfume is another beauty essential that benefits from being stored in the fridge. While they last longer than two years, the scent will stay fresher if you keep it in an ultra-cool environment.

In a nutshell

Every three months: Throw out your mascara, toothbrush and loofah.

Every six months: Time for new sunscreen and liquid eyeliner.

Every year: Toss out any liquid/creme product you haven't finished. This includes hair products, moisturisers, liquid foundation and creme blushes or eye shadows.

Every two years: Get rid of any old powders, including foundation and blush. You should think about replacing any old lipsticks, get rid of any old nail polish and also make sure your perfume is still up to scratch.

- Sydney Morning Herald

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