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How to spring clean your beauty cupboard

Joanna Dyer
Article written by Joanna Dyer

Date published 28 February 2022

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If your usual spring-clean doesn't include your skincare and makeup, it's time it did. Here are our top tips for sorting out your cosmetics collection.

It's easy for our dressing tables to become cluttered with all sorts of lotions, potions and powders, meaning that we either lose track of what we have or are inadvertently using products that are past their best and could be harbouring harmful bacteria.

Thankfully, sorting out your beauty products doesn't have to be an overwhelming task.

The first thing to do is throw away anything you haven't used in the last year. From lipstick to moisturiser, if a product has sat untouched on your dressing table for the last twelve months, there's probably a reason. Life's too short for beauty products that we don't enjoy using or wearing.

Makeup and skincare expiry dates

Next, throw out anything that is past its expiry date or has been open for too long.

For skin and beauty products, the most important thing to look for is an open jar symbol which will have a number written inside, followed by the letter 'M'.

This is the 'period after opening' (POA); '12M' means that the product should be used within 12 months of opening, while '6M' would mean you have six months before the product should be thrown away. After this point, the product could develop harmful bacteria. Unfortunately, nothing lasts forever!

Top tip! Mark the date on the packaging when you first open a product. Or, if you don't want to spoil the packaging, make a note in your diary (or put a reminder on your phone) so you know when to throw something out.

How long does makeup last?

If you're not sure how long a product has been open, these timeframes can be used as a guide:

  • Mascaras need to be replaced three to six months after opening, or as soon as the product appears flaky or starts to cake. If you have had any form of eye infection, throw out any products that have been around your eye straight away. Eye pencils can last longer as they are effectively 'cleaned' when sharpened.
  • Powder-based products, like blushes, eye shadows and compact powders, can last between one and three years, if regularly cleaned and providing you haven't had any skin issues during this time. Loose powders can't be cleaned so won't last as long.
  • Liquid foundations and concealers vary depending on their packaging, but 12 months is a good guideline.
  • Lipsticks and glosses can last for one to two years. Like eye pencils, lip pencils can last longer providing you sharpen them regularly.
  • Nail polish is long-lasting and can last for quite a few years. Throw it away when it no longer applies in a smooth, thin layer.

Top tip! The general rule is that if you notice changes to a product's smell, colour or consistency, it needs to be thrown away.

Two makeup brushes on a beige background

Wash your makeup brushes regularly in order to keep skin healthy.

How to clean makeup brushes

If you wear makeup every day, your brushes should be washed once a week. Do this with a mild shampoo, until the water rinses clear, then leave them to dry naturally. Avoid submerging the whole brush, as this will weaken the glue between the bristles and the handle.

How to clean your makeup

  • Powder makeup, like blusher, bronzer, eye shadow and mattifying powders, can be blotted with a tissue to remove any oils and bacteria on their surface.
  • Lipsticks can be gently wiped with a tissue or makeup wipe.
  • Lip liners, eye pencils or eye shadow sticks can be cleaned by sharpening. Make a habit of doing this after every couple of uses.

How to make your beauty products last

  • Store your products in a cool, dark place, away from humidity. Try to avoid storing things in your bathroom!
  • Avoid wasting old perfumes by repurposing them as air fresheners for the bathroom.
  • Store nail polish in a dark drawer or box.

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Joanna Dyer

About Joanna Dyer

Joanna Dyer is a content writer and editor at Healthspan.