The Unexpected Truth About Beauty Product Expiration Dates

The food in your fridge seems to scream out when it’s time to toss it, but what about the beauty products that live in your bathroom? Sure, it seems like if they are still working, they are still worth hanging on to…but is that really the best rule to live by? Not necessarily. Here’s what you need to know to make sure your products aren’t past their shelf-life prime:

Guidelines Are Voluntary
The FDA does not require cosmetic manufacturers to print an expiration date on their products. However, most products are recommended to be tested for three-year intervals.

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Eye Products Need Extra Consideration
The FDA does recognize that anything that goes near or in the eye area needs special attention. More specifically, they stand by the rule that mascaras should be discarded two to four months after purchase, and discarded immediately if you have any type of eye infection or (albeit less of a risk) if it feels “dry” when you apply it.

All-Natural Products Need Special Attention
According to the FDA, all-natural products can come with a shorter shelf life—especially if they do not use preservatives.

Sunscreens Are Pretty Straightforward
Because sunscreens are technically regulated as over-the-counter drugs, they get a higher level of stringency when it comes to expiration dates. Most sunscreens nowadays have it printed on the label (look at the very top edge of the product and there should be a very clear month and date). If it doesn’t, write down the date you bought it on the bottle and throw it out when you hit a year. Another good rule of thumb: If the color or consistency looks different than when you purchased it, it’s time to toss it.


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