When a product is past its expiry date, the chemicals may have reacted or broken down; in the best case scenario, they will no longer work as effectively. In the worst case? It can harm our skin. What are the ways we can store our beauty products so they stay fresher for longer?

You may also have experienced this before: while applying your mascara, you pick up on a telling scent. You pause, examining that tube of YSL mascara, and realise the contents have turned clumpy. The horror! When is it time to throw products away? Read these seven storage and usage tips for beauty products:

1. Store beauty products in cool and dark places

Store beauty products far from windows and away from direct sunlight. Keeping beauty products in refrigerators especially in our tropical climate works wonders in extending their shelf life. The bonus? Icy-cool on your skin when applied. But take care to only store creams, serums, and lotions. Keep other products such as lipsticks, nail polish and even perfumes in cool and dark places at room temperature.

2. Avoid moisture at all cost

apply moisturiser

Make sure your hands have been sanitised and are dry before dipping your fingertips into that pot of eye shadow. Clean habits are key to keeping your beauty products fresh. That said, the bathroom is the worst possible place to store your make up. Daily exposure to heat and a dampness breeds bacteria and breaks down the products – definitely not what you want on your delicate skin.

3. Step one, sanitise

Use sanitisers to clean beauty products and tools

Include sanitisers into your daily beauty routine. It’s easy to get lazy with your daily makeup routine. Many time-pressed women confess to entirely skipping this step, even reusing brushes that have not been cleaned for weeks. (This writer was shocked to hear of some who confess to cleaning brushes only when they’ve forgotten the true colour of the bristles!)

Sanitise your makeup brushes and wands on a daily basis. It is now so easy with the wide range of disposable makeup wipes and sanitising sprays available. We recommend keeping a spray bottle of isopropyl alcohol (easily available at your neighbourhood pharmacy for less than SGD10) on hand, so that you start your daily beauty regime right.

4. Give your products a weekly “deep” cleanse

wash your brushes

While Tip #3 refers to sanitising tools and hands before reaching into beauty products, you should do a  “deep” cleanse for your beauty products as you would your skin in this tip. Pore packs and face masks do wonders to purge impurities from our pores and keep them tight. Similarly, show love to your beauty products on a weekly basis. Foundation bottle necks, lip liner caps, or mascara wands – all these should be cleaned weekly to minimise contamination.

Mix dish washing liquid and olive oil to thoroughly condition and cleanse makeup brushes. Simply pump both oil and liquid into a small dish. Run brushes (bristles only) through the mixture. Rinse thoroughly.

Pay close attention to eyeliner and mascara wands, as well as eyeshadow pots as your eyes are extremely delicate and prone to infection. Clean wands with cotton pads soaked in isopropyl alcohol. Spray isopropyl alcohol and lightly dab with a cotton pad to “deep” cleanse eyeshadow pots. Allow to dry. Foundation powder cakes can form a hardened layer when facial sebum is introduced. This happens each time the foundation sponge is used to pick up product for application. Lift the hardened layer off with a piece of sticky tape.

5. The golden “smells good, looks good” rule

Use beauty products that are fresh, discard if there is a change in smell

Don’t hold on to beauty products that cause skin reactions or worse still, infections. Check for changes in colour, smell, or even consistency in all your beauty products on a weekly basis. Sometimes, heat and external factors such as dust may cause our beauty products to chemically react or break down. This makes them smell musty or appear lumpy. Discard products as soon as the first signs of contamination, or changes in consistency appear, even if it is still within its recommended shelf life.

6. Spoolies to the rescue

Use spoolies to make mascara stay fresher longer

Disposable mascara wands – also known as spoolies – do more than make for easy application. Extend the lifespan of your tube of mascara with spoolies. The idea is this: you introduce air into the mascara tube each time you pump the wand back in. Instead of pushing the wand back in, use a spoolie to gather product from the other side of the mascara wand. Minimise the number of times you introduce bacteria from the air into your product with this step. This keeps your mascara fresher for longer. Your eyes will also thank you for it.

7. Take note of magic numbers 3, 6, 12 and 24 (months)

Assuming your products are within their shelf life, how long can you use them for? As a guide, beauty products that are opened and are liquid-based should be kept for no more than 12 months. Replace that bottle of liquid foundation within six to twelve months. Similarly, throw blush and liquid concealer after its first year.

Bin mascara that have reached the two- to three-month mark. Throw your cream eyeshadow pots after they pass their third month. Pencil eyeliner, being non-liquid, can be kept for up to two years. The same goes for other non-liquid based products such as concealer in powder or stick form.

Finally, check your products to see if they have manufacturer batch numbers, or recommended shelf life indicated. Note the common symbol of a container with either the number “6” or “12” in the centre – referring to the number of months best to keep it for after opening it.