It may keep your face young, but makeup itself ages, decays

After spending a considerable amount on cosmetics, it can be painful throwing out that $30 tube of mascara, even if it has been sitting in your makeup bag for months past its recommended shelf life. Although it’s hard to part ways with your favorite lash enhancer, using a product longer than it was intended for could have negative side effects.

While the U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not require cosmetic companies to include official expiration dates on their product labels, the FDA highly recommends that manufacturers have a shelf life for their products, according to the FDA website. Since there is no official expiration date, it can be tricky to determine when it’s time to toss out your products.

Below are tips on how to tell when they should be discarded and how to store products to make them last longer.

*Eye cosmetics: Mascara, Eyeliner*

The shelf life of eye-area cosmetics is shorter than other products because of “repeated microbial exposure during use and the risk of eye infections,” according to the FDA.

Mascara dries up quickly because of the constant air exposure, making it usable for about three months before it goes bad. One should not add water or saliva to the mascara wand or tube in attempt to extend the product’s life span. This may cause bacteria growth in the makeup, which could infect the eyes.

However, it is important to note that it is not the overextended time that heightens risk of eye infection, according to Michelle Roberts, campus manager for the Concept College of Cosmetology in Urbana. Roberts said you can get an eye infection from any eye makeup that was used for any prolonged period of time by multiple people.

Roberts said one sure way to tell when your mascara is starting to go bad is to check the consistency.

“(When it starts getting old), it gets really dry and clumpy, won’t have the same consistency and will not distribute evenly when you apply it,” she said.

Liquid eyeliner also comes with precautions. It requires careful application so that the product doesn’t get inside the eye, which Roberts said could clog the tear duct. For pencil eye liner, Roberts suggested to sharpen it often to eliminate the bacteria on the tip.

*Cover-up: Foundation, Concealer, Applicators*

Even though cover-up is usually applied through sponges, brushes or other applicators, infections are still a possibility. Ringworm or other kinds of contagious skin conditions can be spread through sharing makeup.

Jennifer Topete, senior in AHS, considers applying her makeup a vital part of her daily routine. She takes in account the health risks of sharing makeup.

“I do not share makeup because of the health risks I have heard of that are involved,” she said. “I’ve heard of people getting cold sores, styes, skin and eye infections.”

To avoid the growth of bacteria, applicators should be replaced or washed frequently. Roberts advised that consumers should wash makeup brushes after every single use. You can use an antibacterial soap to wash them, and then let them air dry. Conditioner also can be used to make them softer.

“I suggest cleaning your makeup brushes at least two times a week to keep them from breeding and spreading bacteria on to your face or other products,” Topete said. “It will also keep the different colors in your makeup from combining with others, therefore prolonging their true color.”

Another thing to keep in mind is that there is a difference in brands.

“(The ‘expiration date’) depends on what brand it is. Quality runs differently in different brands,” Roberts said.

It’s possible for your makeup to last longer than the intended shelf life if the correct precautions are taken. However, it is better to be safe than sorry; toss out makeup when it is reaching its end point.

If your favorite tube of lipstick starts to smell or doesn’t apply as smoothly as it used to, it’s better to throw that out than to risk having some sort of infection.

_Melissa is a sophomore in Media. She can be reached at [email protected]_