Answer: Great question! Researching this question certainly opened my eyes and resulted in a major clean-out of my beauty arsenal. Turns out that there are two different time frames to consider:
(1) How long will a product last unopened ?
(2) How long can you use a skin/hair care product after it is opened?
Most experts feel that, in general, an unopened product will stay usable up to three years ( 36 months) after manufacture before it expires. But once its opened, different types of beauty aids have varying lifespans. Where it used and whats in the formula have a big impact on longevity. Water based formulations have a shorter shelf life that those that are oil based. In addition, products used around the eyes like eye creams and sunscreens, mascara, and eye shadows have a significanly shortened lifespan.
Beauty Product Time Table ( after they are opened)
*Concealer- Up to 12 months
*Powder- 24 months
*Cleansers- 12 months
*Liquid Eyeliners- 3 months
*Cream eyeshadows- 6 months
*Pencil eyeliners- 6-8 months
*Powder eye shadows- 24 months
*Mascara – 3 months
*Water-based foundation – 6 months
*Oil-based foundation – 18 months
*Cake foundations- 24 months
*Lip liner -up to 3 years
*Lipstick- 1-2 years
*Nail Polish – up to 12 months
* Sunscreen- 12 months ( but not more than one season)
*Moisturizer- 6-24 months
* Serum- 6-24 months
* Body lotion- Up to 24 months
* Hand cream- Up to 24 months
* Treatment product- 24 months
* Perfumes – up to 36 months
* Skin toners- Up to 12 months
* Natural/Organic products without preservatives – 6 months
After opening, the lifespan of most products can vary from 12-24 months. Fortunately many products are marked with the open jar symbol with a number that indicates open jar safety. The logo at the left shows a lifespan of 24 months. If you want to be sure a new product is fresh and safe when you buy it, you can use the batch code or lot number on a package. Then go to Cosmetic Calculator and and enter the number as directed. This will tell you the manufacture date.
To keep your products fresh and effective you should:
* Keep them in a cool dry place like a linen closet. The warm moist climate in a bathroom is the worst place to strore beauty products.
* Try not to stick fingers in a jar. To avoid introducing yeast and mold, use a cotton swab to take out what you need.
* If a product seems to smell funny, separate or change color, throw it out even if the calendar says its still safe and effective.
* Stick a little label on each product with the date you opened it. Others have suggeted keeping a cosmetic log book. Each time you buy a product, note the name, date of purchase and whenyou opened it. That’s a little OCD to me, so I will stick to labels and a pen.