How your old cosmetics can harm your skin

How your old cosmetics can harm your skin

Written by Dr Kiran Lohia |Updated : September 25, 2014 2:57 PM IST

expired cosmeticsHow often do you buy expensive make-up and then refuse to throw them out till they are over, squeezing the tube till the last drop to get your money's worth? If you are nodding your head after reading this, you should know that every cosmetic product comes with an expiration date and using them beyond that is an open invitation to some serious skin and eye infections. Dr Kiran Lohia, MD, sheds light on this issue which many women fail to take into account. Using cosmetics beyond their expiry date is dangerous here's why!

Why shouldn't one use cosmetics beyond their expiry date? What are the dangers?

Beauty products should absolutely have an expiry date. Expiry dates are there to help protect you from the side effects of using old products. Once an item is past its expiry date, the preservative can stop working, giving you the risk of infections. Also, some actives can actually become stronger, possibly causing skin irritation. Some ingredients can degenerate, putting your skin at risk of rashes and other skin problems.

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Can there be any serious skin or eye problems due to expired cosmetics?

Serious skin problems that can occur include allergic rashes, irritations, boils and infection. Eye infections are another possible issue, so eye related products need to be carefully maintained and thrown out after 1 year.

In India, the expiry dates aren't always mentioned on small quantity products like eyeliners, mascaras, etc. So when should one discard them?

The typical shelf life of any make-up is two years, while the shelf life of eye make-up is one year. Eye make-up should be thrown out more often because of the risk of eye infections. The skin is a much better barrier than the eye is, putting the eye at more risk for possible side effects from expired products.

Here is a list of commonly used cosmetics and their approximate expiry dates:

  • Liquid foundation and loose powder 2 years
  • Mascara 1 year
  • Eyeliner (liquid) and eye shadow (cream and powder), pencil eyeliners 1 year
  • Lipstick, lip glosses and lipliner 2 years
  • Nail paints 2-3 years
  • Hair products 2 years
  • Sunscreen 2 years
  • Fragrances 2 years
  • Face creams and body lotions 2-3 years

Is there any way to increase the shelf life of cosmetics?

Nearly all products are sensitive to heat, and should always be kept in a temperature-controlled environment. Heat accelerates the degeneration process, reducing the shelf life of your skin care or make-up items. Light exposure affects vitamin A derivatives such as retinol, vitamin C and most oils, causing oxidative damage. This makes the ingredients ultimately inactive. So, keep your skin care and make-up in a dark and cool room to prevent these possible problems. So, storing in a fridge where it is cool and dark will help preserve your products, allowing you to keep them for a longer time.

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