Sunday, September 20, 2009

Cosmetics: They Don't Last Forever


How long do cosmetics last? In some cases, even unopened cosmetics can go bad; more often, the important consideration is how long the product has been opened.

period after opening symbol

If you live in the European Union, your products will have a symbol like the one above, showing the lifespan - the "period after opening." However, there are no such labeling laws in the United States.

Every site I've looked at says that mascara is the item that is most likely to get contaminated; some say toss 3 months after opening, while others say 3-4 months or 3-6 months. On the other end of the scale, eye and lip pencils are good for 2 years (according to some sites) or 3-5 years (according to another.)

You can read more from these sources:
* CBS News
* Good Housekeeping
* Mail Online
* Marie Claire (summarized at Unclutterer)
* Real Simple
* U.S. Food and Drug Administration

cosmetics first-use stickers

Now, how do you keep track of when that product was opened? You could use any basic label and stick it on the product - or you could use BeautyAlert stickers. [via Springwise]


Another option is the product called Timestrips. The company seems to be encouraging manufacturers to incorporate Timestrips into their packaging, but a Timestrip that tracks up to four months is available online.

Or you could note to-toss dates on your calendar, use a general-purpose reminder program (such as Remember the Milk), or use TossTime - but the TossTime web site seems under-developed, so I might hesitate to use this service.


Cynthia Friedlob said...

I've found that you can write a date on just about anything with a Sharpie. No label required. If you're concerned about the ink getting smudged (it's remarkably durable so this usually isn't a problem), you can just cover it with a little piece of tape.

Not as elegant as a label, perhaps, but it works!

And thanks, Jeri, for the links about cosmetic expiration dates. We really should require that information on the packaging.

Jeri Dansky said...

Thanks for commenting, Cynthia - great suggestion!