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.


Filling the {Closet} Gaps

A Pretty Penny Pointy Toe Flats with Skinny Jeans Personal Style Kenneth Cole Dover Bucket Bag

Last week, while getting ready for a ‘business casual’ event, I realized there’s a problem with my closet…

It’s filled with casual work/weekend clothes, and cocktail dresses. There’s no middle ground.

Rewind to my days of corporate dress codes: I had outfits for every imaginable business occasion, but nothing to wear to a Sunday BBQ.

Shouldn’t I have this figured out by now?

My girlfriends have similar issues. Despite our best intentions to shop for well-rounded wardrobes, we tend to gravitate to clothes that offer the most mileage for our varying jobs and lifestyles. I find myself buying stacks of jeans and tees in every shape and color. My friend has a stockpile of pencil skirts and silk button-downs for her 9-5. Ask us to dress for something ‘dressy casual’ and our heads might explode.

So we, a.) panic when we’re invited to an event outside our wardrobe’s resources, and/or b.) buy something we’ll probably wear once for the occasion and forget.

I think there are a few key pieces that are missing from my closet that could go a long way in filling the gap between a day at the flower shop and a black tie gala:

Pencil Skirts & Trousers – I know, this is such a no-brainer, but after years of a strict corporate dress code (we’re talking pantyhose, peeps) I couldn’t wait to ditch my pencil skirts and Express Editor pants. I donated them several years ago and never looked back, but it’s time to bring them back into the fold. A simple black pencil skirt and a pair of high-rise trousers would really come in handy. I always loved my denim trousers from Express, and think I’ll order this pair.

Black Midi Skirt – There’s something so feminine and pretty about an A-line skirt in a slightly longer length, and you can dress it up or down with shoes and accessories. I don’t know how I’ve made it this long without one. I’d go for something like this ASOS midi skirt in scuba fabric.

‘Day Dresses’ – I can’t think of a better name for them, but I’m referring to the kinds of dresses you wear to a business networking event or Sunday brunch; not formal, not casual, but just right. I used to have them in spades, in every color and pattern, but they went the way of the trousers when I became self-employed. I’m thinking something solid and versatile, like this Tahari A-line dress.


Beauty Empties | 01

Do you follow Eva Chen, recently-resigned head of Lucky Magazine, on Instagram? Besides her signature #evachenpose showcasing her shoes and bag du jour, her series of #beautifulempties is one of my favorite ‘grams to see pop up in my feed.

Each month or so, Eva shares mini reviews of the skincare and makeup products she used to the last drop. Plenty of YouTubers do this, too; but instead of a 15 minute video, Eva’s version only takes a few minutes to digest.

I love these kinds of ‘real life’ reviews when I shop for beauty products, so I’m jumping on board!

Read more…