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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Ithaca chapter.

People are destroying their makeup products. This is not a drill. Now at first, I thought this was some sort of horrible joke that people were posting on Instagram to get attention. But trust me, they’re actually onto something. When was the last time you checked the expiration date on your makeup? If we’re being honest, it didn’t even cross my mind that makeup could even expire. With that said, now that I do know, it doesn’t make it any easier to throw out any of my products.

First things first; finding the expiration date may seem harder than you think. There’s a small little symbol on the packaging of products called PAO symbol (period after opening).

Although you may not want to always follow it, there’s a reason those little symbols are on there. Bacteria can begin to live in makeup containers, and active ingredients will eventually go bad. These two factors can cause a reaction to your skin, eyes, and lips.

The general rule of thumb for an expired beauty product is as follows:

  • Pencils, eye, eyebrow, lip: 1-2 years

  • Mascara, liquid eyeliner: 3 months

  • Lipsticks: 1-2 years

  • Lip gloss: 1 year

  • Foundation: 6-12 months

  • Powders: eyeshadows, blush, setting, contour: 3 years

  • Nail polish: 2 years

  • Perfume: 2-3 years

All this information made me think about how wasteful I am. I have literally 4 different mascaras sitting on my vanity, all open. This experience has made me think about all the different skin care products I have sitting in my cabinet that is expired and isn’t doing my skin any justice. Slowing down on our beauty purchases when it comes to highlighters, eye shadow palettes, etc, can help focus on the beauty products that may be neglected (we all have a few of those).

It’s important to be as hygienic as possible when handling skincare and makeup products. Cleaning your hands before applying moisturizers and face masks can help reduce the growth of bacteria and other germs in products. Storing products in areas that aren’t hot and steamy (aka your bathroom) will also stop the spread of bacteria.

It’s easy to hold onto products that still have product left in them, or that you paid a good penny for. But, remember to weigh in the risks of using these expired products. So, yes, it may hurt a little when you throw out those expired products, and by no means are we asking you to carve out your palettes for wholesome social content but it’s better to be safe than sorry.

If i'm not telling you how obsessed I am with my dog, then I'm probably telling you how obsessed I am with all things beauty. 
Gillian was the Campus Correspondent for Her Campus at Ithaca from September 2018 to May 2019. She was a journalism major and anthropology minor at Ithaca College and graduated in May 2019. Gillian enjoys reading, writing, Harry Potter, the Sims and grilled cheese.