Last year, cosmetic companies made over $50 billion dollars. How much of that money is sitting in your bathroom drawers and cupboards in the form of cosmetic clutter?
I usually try to do some bit of decluttering on the weekends. These days it helps me relax and declutter my mind just as much as it clears new space in our home. This weekend I took a look in the bathroom. I found I have three different facial lotions, two for evening times and one for daytime use. I also have a plethora of hair care products from sleek and shiny serum to controlling frizz mousse, but I really just use a dab of hair paste each day to smooth down fly away hairs. I won’t even get into specifics about my makeup. Suffice it to say, I was intrigued as to why I have so many beauty products when I am fairly successful at being decluttered in most other areas.
Let’s consider these stats-
According to Wikipedia’s U.S. age graph, in 2010 there were around 120 million females between the ages of 15 and 75, myself included in that number.
Also in 2010, an estimated $50 Billion was spent on cosmetics in the U.S.
That averages out to $416 spent on makeup per year per female in the U.S. between the ages of 15 and 75.
No wonder I have so many beauty products in the bathroom! I also have a feeling that $416 is probably on the low end for some women, depending on where they purchase their makeup.
While these stats are interesting and made me stop and think for a few minutes about why I purchase makeup to begin with, and the social and cultural implications of wearing or not wearing said makeup, I really just wanted to focus and rid my bathroom of extra products.
So, let’s get back to decluttering.
After I discarded the products I was no longer using (Test: I couldn’t remember the last time I used it), I went ahead and did some quick online research here and here, to find out about expirations of different types of beauty products, so I could declutter based on health and hygiene as well. It turns out many skin products grow bacteria over time, so it is important to discard them regularly.
What I found in my research was that a general rule of thumb for eye makeup is to discard after three months. That includes everything from mascara to eyeliner to all types of eye shadow, even the powder form. The reason being that your eyes have sensitive mucous membranes around them that can become irritated if you are using products that have bacteria growing in them, which can easily happen by the three month mark.
Foundations and Concealers-
Foundations can last for several years if they are unopened, but only 6-12 months after opening. They are also best kept away from the bathroom, but if you’re like me, that’s probably not going to happen. In that case, I’ll be discarding every 6 months to be on the safe side. Liquid concealer will also last for up 12 months, and the stick concealer will last for up to 2 years before needing replacement.
Powders and Blush-
Powder based products (except eye shadow) will usually last really easily up to 2 years. This includes dust on powders, pressed powders, bronzers and blush.
Lipstick and Gloss-
Lip care products should usually be tossed at the one-year mark. If they become goopy when you try and spread them on your lips, it is a sure sign they should be discarded immediately.
Shampoo and Conditioners-
If you use a regular store brand or salon brand of hair care products, they will usually retain their benefits for up to 18 months. However, there are a lot of brands out now which advertise the use of Botanicals in their products. If that is the case, they are most likely not using the preservatives and additives in the products that make their shelf life longer, so you will need to watch for a change in consistency and smell to tell you if it is past it’s expiration.
The chemical properties in sunscreen begin to break down at the 3-year mark. So, while it may last you through two summers, don’t keep it any longer than that or you’ll risk damage to your skin instead of protection.
Armed with this information, be ruthless with your cosmetic decluttering session. Toss all those eye shadows you thought would look good with your eye color but you never used. Get rid of the broken eyeliner pencils you were keeping around to sharpen. By all means you probably should replace your mascara NOW! All those pressed powders you set aside when your tan faded should go in the trash unless they are less than two years old, or you plan on getting your tan back sometime soon.
Once you’re done decluttering, if you’re like the average female in the U.S., you will probably have some nice space freed up from your drawers and under the sink, you may also have thrown out a lot of money in makeup. If that is the case, look at it as a learning experience and motivator for being more careful about your cosmetic purchases in the future.
Once I decluttered my cosmetics and figured out which ones I could keep based on use and expiration dates, I created this little cheat sheet to help me out in the future. Use it to jot down when you purchase a new cosmetic, so you know when it’s time to discard and avoid possible breakouts and infection from bacteria.
(CLICK IMAGE TO DOWNLOAD PRINTABLE PDF)