14/08/2014 12:36 BST | Updated 22/05/2015 06:12 BST

The Beauty Shelf Life: Why Makeup Isn't For Keeps

How long have you been using the same mascara for? Longer than three months? It's time to chuck it.

It's not just mascara that needs replacing either. Makeup comes with a use by date and in most cases, it's important to stick to it.

Many of us are prone to holding on to our favourite palettes or foundations until they're empty, and if we've had to splash out, why shouldn't we make our cosmetics last?

The answer is hygiene. Makeup past it's use by date is prone to germs and no one wants to use a concealer with a bit of bacteria on the side.

So - when it comes to looking after our makeup, what are the rules? MyDaily asked Rebecca Butterworth, a senior makeup artist for Mac, to explain.


Find the use by date
All cosmetic products will have a shelf life date printed on the box. It looks like a little open jar with a number inside it. That number is the number of months the product will stay safely useable from when it's first opened. You can keep skincare longer by keeping it somewhere cool. Store liquid foundations away from bright or direct sunlight to stop them from heating up and oxidizing.

Powder products have the longest shelf life
Powder products keep for the longest (my mum still has some usable eye shadows from the Seventies!) because they have minimal liquid content so bacteria has a harder time multiplying. Often powder products look like they've gone bad because they can develop a film on the surface. This is usually oil from your fingers or applicators that has bonded with the powder. You can remove this really by pressing and removing a small piece of sticky tape on the surface of the powder. If it's deeply embedded - use a clean mascara wand to reveal the fresh powder underneath.

A makeup trick to make products last
Dropping a little serum like Mac's Brightening Lotion into your nearly empty foundation bottle will help make it last a few pumps longer.

Mad about mascara?
You MUST change mascara every three months. These harbour the most germs, which love a little moist tube in which they can grow! Don't pump your mascara wand back and forwards, this will introduce air into the tube and mean your mascara dries out much too quickly. If your mascara has dried out too quickly put a tiny drop of face oil into the tube and give it a good shake. This will reactivate the product.

Keep tools clean
Brushes and sponges are the worst offenders for harbouring dirt and bacteria. I wash my brushes and sponges daily when working. If you don't have time to shampoo your brushes every day, make sure you give them a clean every couple of uses with a quick drying brush cleanser like the Mac Brush Cleanser. I pop my sponges in a small mesh bag and put them in the washing machine with my delicates on a cool wash to get them sparkly clean again.

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