Category Archives: beauty

When in Doubt, Toss it Out: The Shelf Life of Cosmetics

Few things in life make me happier than an organized makeup drawer. So it’s weird that 75% of the time, mine is a disaster.

Besides clutter, my biggest challenge is knowing when to throw things out.

My frustration with the state of my stash boiled over recently, when I used a past-its-prime tinted sunscreen that made my face itch all day and, frankly, smelled a little funky.

When I got home — and after I scrubbed my face — I dumped the entire contents of my makeup and skin care collection on the floor and picked through every piece. With the help of this handy cosmetic shelf life chart,  I filled two small grocery bags with expired (or questionable) products.

I’m not going to lie: it hurt a little. It’s hard to say goodbye to the NARS ‘orgasm’ blush you dropped 30 bucks on and haven’t made a dent in over the last four years. But research shows that, after a while, cosmetics become a hotbed of microorganisms and bacteria that can exacerbate acne and lead to skin and eye infections. Ain’t nobody got time for that; throw it away!

Here are a few tips I picked up about keeping your cosmetics (and in turn, your skin) so fresh and so clean:

  • I store all my makeup and skin care in a tall vintage chest of drawers in our small master bathroom. They’re a great vertical storage solution if you’re short on space, and have the added benefit of protecting your products from sunlight and moisture, which can breakdown pigments and encourage bacterial growth. I love this mirrored chest of drawers from One Kings Lane.
  • I recently learned about the PAO, or ‘Period After Opening’ symbol, printed on the back of some cosmetics. It’s used on all products sold in Europe, but isn’t included on everything stateside. It’s a symbol of an open jar with a number inside, which represents the shelf life of the product after opening. For example, 6M means pitch it 6 months after opening; 12M, 12 months, etc.
  • Since it’s easy to lose track of time, I started writing the opening date on the back or bottom of my products with a Sharpie. This way, there’s no question about freshness.


My Favorite Everyday Lippies Under $30


LORAC Alter Ego Lipstick in ‘Duchess’ ($16) – If you’re into that 90’s throwback mauve nude that the Kardashians made trendy again, this is a good one. It’s a matte cream lipstick that can accentuate dryness and flakes, so I make sure my lips are exfoliated and use a clear lip balm before applying.

Clinique Chubby Stick in ‘Chunky Cherry’ ($17) – I used this moisturizing sheer red crayon almost every day last summer. It fell out of my purse and I ran it over with my car, and still tried to use it; the devotion was intense (and borderline crazy?). My girlfriend replaced it for me for my birthday, so it’s happily back in regular rotation. I wish Clinique would add SPF to the formula!

Butter London Lippy Tinted Balm in ‘ Abbey Rose’ and ‘Teddy Boy’ ($20) – This is kind of like ‘diet’ lipstick; it goes on easily like a balm, but has the finish of a subtle lipstick. The high-pigmented formula tints your lips with color that lasts well after the product wears off.

Bite Beauty Lush Fruit Lip Gloss in ‘Strawberry’ ($22) – I’m not much of a lip gloss girl — I hate products that feel goopy or tacky (ugh, and when your hair sticks to your lips?!)  — but after a long trial-and-error search for a good shiny ‘baby pink’ gloss, this was the best. It’s made with real fruit (antioxidants!) and nourishing oils with high-pigment color. Bonus: it tastes like strawberries, so it’s like a grown-up version of my old LipSmackers.

Fresh Lip Sugar Rosé Lip Treatment SPF 15 ($22.50) – I know it seems crazy to drop this much lettuce on a lip balm, but it’s just the greatest. It’s my favorite for days in the sun, because it has built-in sun protection and a sheer rosy color that’s really pretty on its own, with or without makeup.

Tarte LipSurgence Skintuitive Lip Tint ($24) – This is the newest addition to my favorites list. I love a lip crayon, and this one is super moisturizing and adjusts to your skin’s chemistry for a personalized, ‘your lips but better’ pink that lasts and lasts. I haven’t tried the Dior Addict Lip Glow, but reviewers say this natural lip tint is a good dupe. It’s a limited edition product, so I’m seriously considering picking up an extra tube or two for the stockpile.

Bite Beauty Butter Cream Lipstick in ‘Heather’ ($28) – I love all of Bite Beauty’s products, and the Butter Cream line offers a range of flattering nudes and neutrals for every skin tone in moisturizing hand-cut bullets. It’s the most expensive of the lineup, but I probably wear this product more than anything else lately.

A Pretty Penny Favorite Everyday Lip Products Under Thirty Dollars

(Left to Right: LORAC Alter Ego Lipstick in Duchess, Clinique Chubby Stick in Chunky Cherry, Bite Beauty Lush Fruit Gloss in Strawberry, Butter London Lippy Tinted Balm in Abbey Rose and Teddy Boy, Fresh Rose Lip Sugar, Tarte LipSurgence Skintuitive Lip Tint, Bite Beauty Butter Cream Lipstick in Heather.)

My ‘I Woke Up Like This’ Makeup Routine

I wish I could roll out of bed and take on the day with a flawless nekkid face, but sister’s over 30 and needs a little help. ‘Fake it ’til you make it,’ right?

My current daily routine is a mashup of The Zoe Report’s ‘Brushless Makeup in Under 5 Minutes‘ and Teni Panosian’s ‘No Makeup’ Makeup Tutorial; two must-watch videos if you’re into fresh-faced everyday makeup with minimal effort.

Read more…