All cosmetics and skin care products have an expiration date, which means that many old containers hang around bathroom cupboards far longer than they should. While slathering oneself with expired moisturizer doesnít seem nearly as bad as drinking a glass of spoiled milk, the ingredients still get absorbed by your skin. Natural products have an even shorter shelf life than mainstream, drugstore products, which are full of preservatives.
Hereís the problem. According to the FDA, ďThere are no regulations or requirements under current United States law that require cosmetic manufacturers to print expiration dates on the labels of cosmetic products.Ē If youíre lucky, a conscientious manufacturer might choose to put a date or a picture of a tiny jar with a number of months beside it, i.e. 12M or 24M. Products from the European Union must have an expiration date for anything lasting less than 30 months. (Iím not sure what happens after that magical date.)
3-7 weeks: loofahs and sponges
No one I know throws out a loofah after 3 weeks, but apparently all those water-filled holes are a playground for bacteria. Opt for a reusable washcloth instead, or a bar of soap.
3 months: mascara, liquid eyeliner
Always throw these out after an eye infection and avoid testers at cosmetic counters.
6 months-1 year: skin creams, moisturizers, sunscreen, anti-aging/anti-acne products, liquid foundation, liquid concealer
Products with a pump are less likely to introduce bacteria than open containers, which should be tossed in 6-9 months.
2 years: shampoo, conditioner, hair styling products, shaving cream, toothpaste, perfume, cologne, nail polish
Trust your sense of smell. Always store perfume and cologne away from sunlight.
3 years: deodorant, anti-perspirant, mouthwash, soap, powder-based makeup, lipsticks and glosses, eye and lip pencils (can last up to 5 years)
Keep your fingers clean when you dip into containers of gloss.
Thereís a bigger problem, however. Itís easy to talk about tossing expired cosmetics, but if you havenít detoxified your beauty routine and still use products that contain the Dirty Dozen (and countless other carcinogens, pesticides, reproductive toxins, hormone disruptors, plasticizers, degreasers, and surfactants), itís not safe simply to toss them into household garbage. David Suzukiís website suggests the following option for getting rid of toxic cosmetics:
The first step is donít buy any more chemical-laden cosmetics and stick to those deemed safe by the SkinDeep Cosmetics Database. Second, use up the products and recycle the containers. Third, if you donít want to keep using them, find out if your city considers cosmetics to be household hazardous waste. Fourth Ė this is more extreme, but I like it Ė consider mailing your expired product back to the manufacturer, asking them to dispose of it safely and urging them to sign the Compact for Safe Cosmetics.