Bad Habits

Are you one of those people who has eight different mascaras in your make-up bag, six of which haven’t been used for as long as you can remember? Do you have a lipstick that you brought around about the same time Heather Shimmer was in fashion? Was that blusher handed down from your mum? Although this all sounds pretty disgusting, you’ll be surprised how many of us keep products way past their life spans, holding on for dear life just in case we may use it once more.

Make-up, like anything else we use, has a shelf life. If you’re constantly dibbing in and out of a product, brushing it on your face and putting the applicator back in the pot again, then you’re spreading bacteria. It’s this bacteria that can not only cause spot breakouts, blemishes and infections, but it can also cause more serious conditions such as conjunctivitis and even herpes… gross. Stay away from sharing make-up and even testing it in store too – never, ever apply to your face… who knows who has used it before you!

PAO Number

In 2005 the cosmetics industry introduced a PAO number (period after opening) to give customers understanding of the life of a product and when it should be thrown away. There will be one of these on every product you buy, as well as a small number indicating the number of months it’s healthy to use for after initially opening. However, worryingly a lot of products you find in ‘alternative’ places, i.e. your Poundlands, market stalls, internet shops, don’t have these PAO numbers. This basically means they were produced before 2005, making them not only really, really old, but possibly full of nasty stuff.

Here is a guideline of how long products should last for. Don’t take it as law though, use your judgement and if it smells, is discoloured or generally doesnt look right… chuck it away!

Concealer: 12-18 months
Powder: 2 years
Blush and Bronzer: 2 years
Cream Blush: 12-18 months
Powder Eyeshadow: 2 years
Cream Eyeshadow: 12-18 months
Eyeliner: 2 years
Liquid Eyeliner: 3-6 months
Mascara: 3 months
Lipstick: 2 years
Lipliner: 2 years
Lipgloss: 18-24 months
Nail Color: 1 year

    Ideally you should be going through your makeup bag every 3-6 months, throwing away anything you haven’t used or has been open for longer than the suggested lifetime. You’ll be surprised how many dried up products you’ll find, but also how many products you haven’t even opened! I recently went through my Aunt’s make-up case and was utterly disgusted. Not only did she have mascaras they don’t even make any more, eyeshadows that have been around since the mid-90s and lipsticks that were so indented they were barely apply-able, she had one truly revolting item. I found a concealer that didn’t have a lid and that she’d been applying with a cotton bud – for NINE YEARS! Rank.

    This weekend make sure you give your make-up bag a good rummage and clear out all the rubbish. What better excuse than to go stock up on some more? It doesn’t have to be tidy, just germ free… look at the state of mine!



    1. Mrs Hirons
      August 11, 2010 / 11:24 am

      There are no guidelines on the PAO btw.Companies can pretty much put what they want and some (unethical ones) use it to make you think that your product is out of date – when it isn't – and thus repurchase…Just thought I'd throw that our there.Sorry!

    2. LondonGirl
      August 11, 2010 / 11:30 am

      Valid point, although companies do have to consult professionals to determine the PAO date and can't just pull a figure out of the air (unless their completely rubbish and wrong!) It's better to be safe than sorry : )

    3. Rachel
      August 11, 2010 / 2:24 pm

      Ooh so THAT'S what those numbers are! I always wondered if it was some industry standard on cap size, what with the opened cap graphic and so on.. they really should educate people more about this.

    4. LondonGirl
      August 11, 2010 / 2:28 pm

      Yeah they should, nobody really knows what they mean! x

    5. Annie
      August 11, 2010 / 7:41 pm

      are those your make up bags?? I try and be good about this stuff, i only use one mascara, foundation etc and only have a couple of eye shadows! but I agree, sure some of the dates might be little white lies to encourage you to buy more often, but it seems a simple hygenic rule to keep you make up updated and clean! x

    6. LondonGirl
      August 12, 2010 / 8:12 am

      The bottom mess is my make-up bag! it's so important to clean it out regularly… a lot of the cheap products aren't even safe to use as long at their PAO number. While I worked for a cosmetic brand we tested a lot of them and they were so nasty and rank it's surprising they were allowed on sale! x

    7. sweetest_potato
      August 12, 2010 / 9:25 am

      Testing products on your face just gives me the shudders. I watched a woman do her whole face just using Superdrug testers. Foundation, blush, mascara the works. Amymakeupnovice

    8. Daisy
      August 13, 2010 / 11:00 am

      Really good post, worth knowing ! I did these a month or so ago, really glad I did too!

    9. Pantene
      August 16, 2010 / 12:10 pm

      Hi LBQ I'm Julie the Community Manager for Pantene. That's a great post, every girl who uses make up should know about the PAO. I must confess that I do keep make up that my mum gave me ages ago – I don't use it, but I just keep it just in case, silly me!Julie@PanteneUK

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