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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — When you hear the words “expiration date” food likely comes to mind.

However, believe it or not, there’s a shelf life for almost everything at the cosmetics counter.

In fact, not throwing out old stuff can be harmful to your health.

A woman’s makeup bag says a lot about who she is, what she likes and it’s personal.

Many ladies, though, have the habit of holding on to the products inside.

Zaniesha Davis, owner of Makeup by Zi, is a Memphis makeup artist.

“We’d probably find some things that have been in there for about a couple of years,” says Davis about many women’s bags.

Shadows, shampoos, even sunscreen, all have a shelf life.

David told WREG, “They do actually have an expiration. They get a little bacteria from sitting in one spot, maybe they’re in a heated area. ”

Dr. Frances Lawhead is with Memphis Dermatology Clinic.

She said, “I’ve probably seen it four, five times in the past several months. It happens more commonly than we think.”

According to Dr. Lawhead, there are several side effects associated with expired cosmetics.

“Breaking out in acne like reactions, some people breakout in what we call a contact dermatitis with itching and redness.”

The government doesn’t force cosmetic companies to print expiration dates on products.

It’s up to manufacturers to determine shelf life.

So how do you know when it’s time to toss?

“On the bottom of the product there’s a little cup or a little symbol for a cup and it has a number and it has the letter “M”. “M” stands for months so you take that number and it’ll let you know how long that product with last,”explains Davis.

Shelf life varies by product.

Davis says, “Your powders and foundations those are probably the main products that go all over your face those can last one to two years.”

Cosmetics-Expiration Dates

  • Foundation, powders, blush-1 to 2 years (time varies for foundation based on type)
  • Lipstick-Up to 2 years
  • Eye, Lip pencils-3-5 years
  • Mascara-3-6 months
  • Nail polish-12 months
  • Anti-aging and acne products-3 months to 1 year.
  • Sunscreen-Check bottle for expiration date

Davis told WREG about a good way to remember when to toss a product.

“I suggest that maybe you should write the date on your product, the date you purchased it or set an expiration based on that number that you see on the product.”

Helping everyone to maintain healthy skin and of course a flawless face!