SHELF LIFE: when to love it & leave it

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Incredible though it seems the shelf-life for cosmetics rests on the independent stability tests cosmetics houses do, which vary from one to three year assays. Further clouding the issue is that cosmetic houses typically look at temperature variables like freezing or overheating; they don’t take into account how we use products – leaving them open say, or lying in the sun, and so prone to contamination and deterioration. On the other hand, products which have been kept in ideal circumstances may be OK to use long after the suggested ‘sell-by’ dates. And there is of course no way of knowing how long a product has been on a shelf before you come along and buy it. I think the only answer to this is to look at the product categories separately and take a view from there. Products that you put near your eyes (mascara, eye gel) should be tossed out quickest – probably within four to six months – because repeated microbial exposure during use raises the risk of eye infections. For the same reason – microbial growth – genuinely natural cosmetics with plant extracts and non-traditional preservatives (or no preservatives) should also get less time on your dressing table.Where face bases (foundations, creams) go, some dermatologists suggest a use time of eighteen months – as for sunscreens. The thinking is that the actives disarm and the filter in sunscreens separates after this time. But while there is no official line on sunscreens in particular I say buy a new one for every holiday.




T Leclerc Hydrating Foundation - a comfortable foundation which moves with skin and imparts a flattering satin finish.

Blink Gel Mascara - a glossy black which gives light definition.

Antonia Burrell Cream Supreme Facial Moisturiser - a beautiful air-light cream for maintaining skin hydration and suppleness.