Sometimes it's easy to forget (even for a beauty retailer like me) that skin care and cosmetics often have a "best before" date. Expired makeup and moisturizers can cause skin irritations and eye infections and even just plain ol' pimples—stuff most of us could live without. And I'm often asked if organic and natural products have a shorter shelf life than drugstore and department store brands: Do they go "off" more quickly, since they're made without the synthetic preservatives found in conventional products? To find out, I went directly to the source: the creators of a few of Fresh Faced's best-selling brands.
Mairin Cipolla, marketing manager at Kahina Giving Beauty, says a good rule of thumb is to consider whether or not a product is easily contaminated by fingers or lips or other body parts. So, for instance, if your eye cream comes in a jar and is applied with your fingers, there is substantial contact with air and skin and more chance of contamination. These products should ideally be replaced every 6 months. If, on the other hand, your moisturizer comes from a pump bottle or your serum from a dropper, the products will generally be more stable for a longer period of time (say, a year).
Pai Skincare's organic moisturizers have a 18-month minimum shelf life. And provided you store them in a cool, dark place like your bathroom cabinet, they could last as long as 36 months, thanks in part to air-tight packaging and a number of natural ingredients that provide excellent protection from bacterial growth.
You're in luck when it comes to makeup. Mineral cosmetics are at a distinct advantage in terms of shelf life. Alima Pure makeup contains nothing but pure minerals, which means they have no expiration dates. "Bacteria cannot grow in minerals, and so as long as you don't introduce any contaminants (water or other 'organic' matter), they will last indefinitely," says Alyson Hancock, regional sales manager at Alima.
Vapour Organic Beauty products last 2 years, according to account specialist Tia Cozart, although the company has done some recent research that suggests Vapour has an even longer, 30-month shelf life.
It's also worth considering that active skin care ingredients (think antioxidants or hyaluronic acid) can lose potency over time. I choose not to sell bulk or oversize products at Fresh Faced for just this reason. Better to buy small amounts more often than have a large bottle of moisturizer or serum that might sit on your shelf for a while and lose efficacy.
There are a few things you can do to prolong the life of your favourite eye cream or facial oil. Store them in a dry, dark area, away from direct heat and sunlight. Wash your hands before touching products with your fingers, don't add water or oil, and avoid sharing makeup. To keep your mascara fresh, pull the wand out just once—pumping it can trap air and bacteria. Use the following guidelines to make sure you—and your skin—are as fresh as can be.
Moisturizers and cleansers in pump bottles: Toss after 1 year.
Creams and cleansers in jars or pots: Toss after 6 months.
Facial oils and serums with dropper dispensers: Toss after 1 year.
Toners with pumps or spritzers: Toss after 1 year.
Lip colour: Toss after 1 years, or if gloss or lipstick starts to look and feel cakey.
Mascara: Toss after 3 months.
Nail polish: Toss after 1 year.
Eyeliner pencil: Toss after 18 months; sharpen before each use.
Liquid eyeliner: Toss after 3 months.
Of course, if a product's smell, colour, or texture has changed, or if it has been exposed to prolonged heat, you should definitely replace it.
Hard to believe it's already July! Spring flew by in a blur. Thanks to all my new (and repeat!) customers last month, I'm pleased to present Fresh Faced's June bestsellers (in no particular order).
Invented in the 19th century by Eugene Rimmel, mascara typically uses a carbon black or iron oxide pigment to darken the lashes, a polymer to form a film on them, and thickening waxes or oils for volume and luster—and, of course, a preservative. It’s pretty popular stuff—one tube of Maybelline Great Lash* (arguably the world’s favourite brand) sells every 1.1 seconds. Even those of us who prefer an au naturale approach to our daily makeup tend to include mascara among our bare necessities.
It’s also a product that’s applied very close to the eyes, and unfortunately, most conventional brands contain some nasty stuff that you’d probably never knowingly risk putting on your peepers: triethanolamine (linked to respiratory toxicity and allergies), parabens (can lead to breast cancer and cause skin irritations), fragrance (fragrances contain hormone disruptors and are among the top five allergens in the world), phenoxyethanol (the U.S. FDA warns that phenoxyethanol can cause shutdown of the central nervous system, vomiting, and contact dermatitis), and propylene glycol (linked to dermatitis, kidney damage, and liver problems).
I’m no longer willing to sacrifice my health for longer, stronger lashes, so I prefer these natural alternatives:
* Maybelline Great Lash ingredients: Aqua/Water, Cera Alba/Beeswax, Ozokerite, Shellac, Glyceryl Stearate, Triethanolamine, Propylene Glycol, Stearic Acid, Palmitic Acid, Sorbitan Sesquioleate, Methylparaben, Quaternium-15, Simethicone, Quaternium-22, Butylparaben. May Contain: CI 77492, CI 77491, CI 77499/Iron Oxides, CI 77007/Ultramarines, Mica, CI 77891/Titanium Dioxide, CI 77510/Ferric Ferrocyanide, CI 75470/Carmine, CI 77288/Chromium Oxide Greens, CI 77289/Chromium Hydroxide Green, CI 77742/Manganese Violet.