Ah, spring cleaning–that frenetic attempt to reduce your personal inventory. From the sour milk you find in the back of the fridge to the expired medicines that should never be consumed to the no-good dog of a man, spring is the time we finally get around to throwing out things we should have tossed months ago. This year, don't forget to include your cosmetic kit in the mix. After alll, you wouldn't eat old food–and you shouldn't use old make-up. Here's a guide to the expiration dates of common cosmetics–and some tips on how to replace the products you toss.
If you've ever slathered years-old lotion onto your skin, you know that moisturizer can go bad. Real bad. Keep your skin cream open too long, and you'll begin dealing with a goopy and rancid substance that smells something like death and wet socks, all in one.
Toss Time: Six months is about the limit here, so check the bottoms of your bottles, and if you see the half-year mark approaching, it’s time to toss your moisturizer.
Replace with: Peace Love Nature Baby botanical face lotion ($46), made with wildcrafted shea butter, safflower oil, sea algae, and extracts from organic and wildcrafted plants and flowers to soothe, is light enough to use even in the humid summer months. The five varieties (for normal skin, dry skin, combination skin, sensitive skin, and super sensitive skin) assure the right moisture for everyone.
Neutrogena Body Lotion ($14.50) is whisper light, absorbs instantly, and leaves your skin room to breathe–all of which make this sesame-oil infused lotion the best pick for right now, as humidity increases but dry skin can still be a problem.
Of all eye make-up, lash lengtheners go the quickest—you’ll notice when they get clumpy, dried-out, and absolutely ineffective.
Toss Time: Six months after opening.
Replace with: Lancome L'Extreme Instant Extensions Mascara ($23.50). I know you've seen the ads. And, yes, they are kind of creepy. They're like, "It's not mascara, it's FIBERSTRETCH." And you're like, "Umm, that doesn't sound like something I want happening to my eyelashes." But misleading marketing aside, this product promises to extend lashes by up to 60%–and it does. The mysterious "fiberstretch formula" and really intense "extreme lash brush" actually weave extensions–yes, like hair extensions–onto your lashes, even the teensy-weensy ones, creating an impressive effect of thickness and length. Get the waterproof version for longest wear in the summertime.
That SPF 30 from last year has definitely turned into an SPF 4 by now (if that), the experts say. The active ingredients in sunscreen weaken over the winter as they sit in your medicine cabinet, so if you want to prevent sun damage, you must regularly replace this product.
Toss Time: Before the start of each summer.
Replace with: Philosophy Shelter Broad Spectrum Sunscreen for the face and body, SPF 30 ($25). Don't you just love this brand? They don't waste money on marketing, and so can spend it researching truly great products. The broad spectrum of sunscreens in this lotion will help protect your skin against burning from both sun and tanning rays–meanwhile the peptides are improving elasticity, firming skin, and preventing wrinkles and premature aging.
Your more likely to finish your liquid foundation than to have it go bad. But, if you use yours slowly—or your bottles have been exposed to heat or light—it wouldn’t be a bad idea to chuck them this spring. Two tell-tale signs that your foundation has expired: a nasty smell, and a separation of the oils.
Toss Time: Around two years.
Replace with: Calvin Klein Infinite Matte Oil-Free Foundation ($32). This new, medium-coverage foundation will leave your skin flawless and velvety, with a semi-matte finish that's perfect for our upcoming sunny seasons. Natural Asian botanicals, combined with vitamins C and E help to fight free-radical damage.
When bristles get bent and broken, they lose their efficacy. Change your toothbrush with each season to make sure your brushing is actually doing the trick.
Toss Time: Maximum of four months of use.
Replace With: Oral B's brand-spankin'-new Cross Action ProHealth ($4.50), with criss-cross bristles for better penetration of hard-to-reach places, soft gum stimulators to improve gum health, and a nifty tongue scraper (eww, I know–but really gets rid of morning breath like nothing else).
For more information on product expiration dates, and on how to keep your cosmetics safe for as long as possible, check out this page from the FDA.