I have been asked this question umpteen times in various situations and scenarios. (Some of which involved poor girls coming to me with inflamed eyes or horrendous looking lips after using products that were in the bottom of the never ending pit us women call ‘handbags’) and the simple answer is YES!!!! They absolutely do go off. I didn’t realise how few people actually know this.

Every beauty product you purchase has a little icon on the packaging somewhere which tells you how long it is good for after its opened. The Icon is usually a little open jar with a number of months beside it………

This indicates the beauty product can be used for 6 months/ 12 months etc once opened. And I would sincerely advise you stick to what it says on the tin. I have seen waaaaay too many disasters in my years as a beautician to even chance my arm using a product if I cant remember when I bought it, and I am uber careful now about what goes on my face. Seriously…..you only get one face, you only get one skin….DONT RISK IT.

So what exactly happens to a beauty product when it goes off?

To start with, the product will work less efficiently than usual. For example, if a foundation which contains an SPF has expired it may not protect you from the UV rays leaving your skin totally exposed to sun damage. Can I just mention here that this rule also applies to sunscreen. I once came upon a girl who used last year’s sunscreen on this years sun holiday and absolutely scalded herself as there was absolutely no SPF at all in the cream she lathered on her body before she spent hours in the scorching sun. She then aggravated the burns by using last year’s after sun lotion before she realised exactly what was going on. Some sun creams can last for up to 3 years but we get so little sun in the emerald isle we tend to reach for whatever is in the press as soon as the sun shines and god only knows how many years its been sitting there!

Products with active ingredients like salicylic acid for the prevention of acne or retinol to help reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles may not be as efficient as usual.

The texture/smell/colour/appearance/consistency of a product may change over time. This is a major indication that your product is off! If your foundation has changed colour it has become oxidised and needs to go. If a lipstick has become gritty or course or fails to apply right due to the consistency change….bin it! Lip glosses are a touchy subject with me. The gloss itself can be fine but with time the applicator can become very smelly. The soft brush/pad can gather bacteria from the mouth on application which can then breed in the tube. I always use a separate lip brush when applying gloss. The brush can then be cleaned separately after coming into contact with the mouth.

A product can sometimes even seem fine to look at but inside it may be harbouring bacteria that you cannot see. Have you ever continued to have little breakouts of spots no matter how hard you tried to combat them? This can be a good indication that a product you are using is past its use by date, is harbouring bacteria and you are spreading it onto your face. Or it could also be a sign that your sponges and brushes need a good scrub.

Another issue that often arises is where people store their make up and brushes. Who stores them in the bathroom???? (I know its the nearest place to the mirror) Who leaves them on the windowsill above the toilet? Guilty? I’m so sorry to be a kill joy but every time you flush your loo, particles of human faecal matter become airborne and nestle in your brushes or on your open eyeshadow palette or head straight for your beauty blender…….EEW! right? Move your brushes to the bedroom!

So back to your make up products. What can actually be happening inside your product container after the use by date is that all of the molecules that once made up your make up product are breaking down into something else that you can take a serious reaction to. You may experience swelling, inflammation, dermatitis, bumps, rash, prickly heat, blisters, bacterial conjunctivitis.

Here’s a little trick I use…..  invest in a sharpie marker and every time you open a new product scribble the date on the packaging somewhere. you will always know when it goes off!

If you can’t find the use by date on your products then as a general rule you should replace mascara every 3 months,  foundations every year, concealers every 12 to 16 months, powder products every 18 months, eyeshadows and eyeliners every 18 months, lipsticks every 18 moths, liquid liners every 6 months and you should  wash your make up sponges after every use and throw them away after 1 month, give your brushes a clean with a brush cleaning solution after every use and wash with baby shampoo once a week and if anything seems dodgy…steer clear! For the sake of your faysheen!