In the world of cosmetics, age matters, according to a skin specialist speaking via harveynichols.com.

While consumers are quick to dispense with perishable items once they have surpassed their ‘eat-by’ dates, it’s another thing entirely with cosmetics. Many users will be unaware that their favourite skin products or make-up also have a defined shelf life.

Dr Chopra from the London Dermatology Centre is quick to advise women that nasty bacteria can build up in cosmetics as they age and each time they are applied, these bacteria are transferred to our skin.

He says that it is “unwise” to keep using products after anything longer than six months, as “bacteria can build a critical mass and lead to nasty conditions”. Not a nice thought, given how many products are applied to the delicate eyes or mouth.

To avoid rashes, irritation and blemishes, many users might be surprised to learn that some products do carry guidelines on their packaging. These typically take the form of a little pot, upon which is stated a month-based time frame, liverpoolstudentmedia.com writes. That said, the advice can be hard to find as isn’t always provided, as cosmetic manufacturers are not obliged to print the information.

Powders are the longest-lasting product, with eye shadows, bronzer and blusher remaining safe for up to 24 months, while eye liner and mascara have the shortest shelf life, at three – six months. Creams and lipsticks should be all right for up to 18 months, though each product is different.

Rule of thumb is if the cosmetic smells or has changed in texture, it’s time to buy a new one.

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