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Are your beauty products out of date?

From clumpy mascara to cakey bronzers, is your make up bag a mine field of bacteria? See what the expiry date for your beauty products is...

By Evan Katzman
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Are your beauty products out of date?

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Now be truthful, have you ever bothered to check when your makeup or beauty products expire before you hand over your cash? The chances are, like the majority of other women, you haven\'t and, because companies don\'t have a legal requirement to print use-by dates on their products, your make up bag could be a thriving mine field of bacteria and infections waiting to happen. Thankfully products nowadays are so jam packed full of preservatives that infections are rare and it is usually the additional chemicals themselves which result in an allergic reaction rather than your mouldy old mascara wand. What you will get though is clumpy, messy products which leave an uneven finish and will probably leave you looking worse than you did bare faced. So, do yourself and your skin a favour this year and clear out your make up bag in favour for clean new products that will leave you looking fresh faced and glowing, read on to find out the shelf life for your beauty products...

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The product: Mascara

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Shelf life: Three to six months

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It\'s common knowledge that moist, wet environments harbour bacteria which is why mascaras don\'t have much lasting power. You might think that it will be fine to carry on using your mascara after this time but you\'d be saying hello to clumped together spider lashers. Not attractive. Try making yours last up to six months by resisting the urge to pump your wand in and out of the tube, this doesn\'t help get more product onto the wand it just puts air into the tube which dries the mascara out. Another common misconception is that, unlike with nail varnish you can\'t add any form of liquid to mascara to thin it out. All this does is dilute the preservatives making it last even less time!

The product: Foundation

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Shelf life: 12 months

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Liquid foundations don\'t last quite as long as powder based compacts due to the different ingredients in them which can cause them to separate and start to go lumpy. Once they start to develop a funny smell you know it\'s definitely past its best and it\'s time to invest in a new one. To make yours last it\'s full life time try to choose one with a pump or dispensers which prevents air getting in and protects what product is left from outside bacteria and dirt. Foundation doesn\'t just stop at the product itself either. Take a good look at your sponges or foundation brush, when was the last time you cleaned them? Your make up tools are the worst culprit for harbouring dirt and bacteria and need a good clean in some warm soapy water every couple of weeks, it takes minutes and will make your brushes last longer and lessen the chances of you unwittingly putting bacteria into your products.

The product: Face powder and bronzer

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Shelf life: 18 months

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Ever wondered why your powder sometimes gets that hardened rim on it after you\'ve been using it a while? It\'s the powder mixing with the oils in your skin, which is why it\'s so important to change your powder and bronzer regularly. A lot of brands offer refills for powder compacts now so it won\'t cost as much to keep your powder in tip top condition.

The product: Moisturiser

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Shelf life: Three to twelve months - check the ingredients!

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Since the wave of ‘green\' organic products there has been an influx of moisturisers containing all natural ingredients, great for skin but, like all natural products, they go off very quickly. If this doesn\'t put you off try out some of Lush\'s devine smelling goodies which all have a ‘made on\' date stamped on them so you know exactly how fresh they are and when you need to use them by. To make your moisturiser, natural or not, last that little bit longer, keep it out of direct sunlight and stick it in the fridge.

The product: Perfume

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Shelf life: 18 months to two years

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Think twice about splashing out on that larger bottle of your favourite perfume, the chances are, you won\'t be able to use it before it starts to go off. The average woman has three perfume bottles on her dressing table at one time thinking that they\'ll last for years but, after a surprisingly short period of time, the alcohol in perfume begins to evaporate which changes the chemical balance of the perfume causing it to change colour and smell a bit ‘off\'. If this sounds like yours, it\'s time to let go and chuck it in the bin.

The product: Concealer

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Shelf life: 12 to 18 months

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The life of your concealer is dependent on what type of concealer you use and how you use it. Stick concealers will last you up to 18 months whereas liquid pump concealers will only last you about a year. If you can\'t bear to ditch your faithful liquid concealer for a stick make it last longer by regularly cleaning the applicator with soapy water or by simply wiping it after each use with a tissue. With all concealers the cardinal rule is never share it, you\'re just asking for a face full of spots if you lend yours out willy nilly.

The product: Eye drops

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Shelf life: One month

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There are so many eye drops on the market now which all claim to brighten and whiten your eyes that they\'ve been adopted as a normal part of a beauty regime. This shouldn\'t be the case though as all eye drops, whatever their purpose, are a sterile solution which is why they only last for one month. Don\'t even think about using your drops after the expiry date, it\'s likely they will be contaminated with dirt or bacteria and you could end up with a nasty eye infection. If you know you\'re got several late nights coming up then eye drops are definitely a good option but be sure to keep them in your fridge or a cool place to keep them, and your eyes, clean and fresh.

The product: Lipsticks and glosses

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Shelf life: 18 months to two years

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Take a look at your favourite gloss. Has all the packaging rubbed off making it barely legible? And is there a layer of god-knows-what around the inside lid? Sound familiar? Then it\'s time to go shopping. Lip glosses don\'t last quite as long as lipsticks as they don\'t contain as much fat and are often used with a pump which can put bacteria into the product. Make the most out of your purchases by just sticking to a couple of glosses and lipsticks, one for daytime use and one for the evening. This way you\'ll get plenty of use out of them compared with alternating between five of six which all end up discoloured, gloopy and in the bin.

The product: Deodorant

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Shelf life: One to two years

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Healthy types started kicking up a fuss a couple of years ago about all the chemicals including pore clogging aluminium contained in deodorants which lead to a whole host of natural deodorants void of any nasty harming ingredients. The down side to taking care of your skin in this way though is that natural products just don\'t last as long as standard ones so you\'ll have to be generous when you\'re rolling-on or spraying if you want to use up a bottle within your one year time frame. Just stick to one bottle at a time and, if you need one for your gym bag as well, pick up a travel sized one which saves on space and won\'t end up knocking about at the bottom of your bag for years.

The product: Eyeliner

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Shelf life: Three months to three years

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The big difference here is whether you use a pencil or liquid eyeliner. Liquid eyeliners work very much in the same way as mascaras, the wet environment means that they shouldn\'t be kept for more than three months. Pencil eyeliners have greater lasting power because you reveal new product every time you sharpen them keeping them fresh. Thankfully, if the thought of giving up your liquid eyeliner is just too much there is a compromise. Gel eyeliners are emerging as the best product to have if you want to produce this years goth thick eyeliner trend, and they have the added bonus of lasting up to a year. Check out Bobbi Brown\'s collection of long lasting gel eyeliners, they create a great glossy effect and, with the right brush, are easy to apply.

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