Spring clean your beauty cabinet

There’s no better way to make a fresh start than by giving your beauty cabinet a good spring clean and simplifying your routine. Yes, it can be a bit daunting to tackle, and you’ll probably procrastinate for a few weeks (same!),  but your skin and your mind will thank you for it. Ready to get started? Let’s go! 

back of skincare bottle

Photo credit: Asheda Weekes

Start by checking your expiry dates 

It’s difficult to let go of anything you’ve spent a bit of cash on, but the truth is, using an expired product can make your beauty routine redundant – or worse – actually do harm to your skin. Expiration dates, PAO’s and spoil checks are there for a reason, so let’s explain. 

Expiry dates 

An expiration date refers to how long a product will last from it’s production date. It means that the product will remain fresh and stable, despite it being left unopened and kept at room temperature. Usually, this can be found on the product’s packaging, but it’s common for beauty products not to have them.  


Short for ‘period after opening,’ you’ll find these golden numbers on any beauty/skincare item in a little open jar symbol. Unlike expiration dates, a PAO can be found on most product packaging. The number, typically 6,12, or 24 months indicates how long the product can be used for after opening. 

Why are PAOs different? Because any given formula and product types will have different preservative systems that are effective in fighting off bacteria. And once opened, different factors (air, bacteria, storage environment) can affect how long it lasts.

If a product is used post-PAO, those juicy ingredients lose their benefits, and you won’t see the results you were hoping for. It can also be potentially harmful to the skin, like with sunscreen, the skin-protecting ingredients will no longer be doing their job meaning you could be susceptible to sun damage.. In skincare, it could also lead to breakouts and skin irritations. 

Since PAOs vary so much, here is a general guide to follow:

  • Face Cleanser: six months to one year 
  • Facial Sprays - one to two years
  • Face Moisturiser: six months to one year
  • Sunscreen: one year
  • Liquid foundation: six months to one year
  • Cream makeup: six months to one year
  • Lipstick: one year
  • Powder makeup: two years
  • Eyeliner:  three months (liquid); after two years (pencil)
  • Mascara: three months
  • Nail polish: one year
  • Perfume: eight to 10 years

Our tip? Write the open date on every new product you use to help keep track of expiry dates. 

Assess the product formulas

It’s not just the expiry and PAO that you need to worry about. Sometimes products will noticeably go off because of the environment, so throw these out if you come across them in your sense check:

  • Separated formulas in your foundation or nail polishes 
  • Lipstick with some moisture on top 
  • Change of colour or smell in skincare products 
  • Powder products that have a crusty or hard surface 
  • Mascara that is dried or flaky

Check your environment

The environment where your products live can have an impact on their shelf life. It’s best to keep your products in a dark, cool space and away from the bathroom which has irregular temperature and often poor ventilation. Heat, light and humidity can be breeding grounds for bacteria. A lot of skincare products were designed to live in average fluctuations of temperature, but not long-term heat or cold storage. 

Another environmental factor we tend to forget is our own hands. Bacteria from our own hands can interfere with formulas for pot products, so be sure to wash your hands before doing your beauty routine. It may be tempting to quickly dip your fingers to scoop out the product, but using a spatula or applicator will be better for your skin and make the formula work harder. 

Wipe down your products 

It happens. Somehow foundation residue appears on your eyeliner, or the glitter from eyeshadow powder is left on all your makeup (especially in a makeup bag). Or maybe there’s some crust from your lotions and serums spilling over the bottle. 

To help set up a clean environment, give all your products a good wipe down with some rubbing alcohol. While you’re at it, wipe down the cabinet at the same time! We recommend keeping products in a drawer or cabinet, as leaving them out can expose them to environmental factors and bacteria which impacts their longevity. 

Makeup brushes laying down

Photo credit: Kseniia Lopyreva via Pexels

Clean your beauty and skincare tools

A lot of dirt and bacteria builds up on your tools. So if you’re not cleaning them, you won’t be getting the most out of your beauty routine, and er, you’ll also be putting bacteria on your face. Ideally, you should be cleaning them every week. But with a spring clean it’s time for a little more TLC. Whether you use a makeup cleaning solution, shampoo or Castille soap, keep it near the sink to help remind you more often to do a clean more often. 

Reorganise your beauty storage 

Now the fun begins. With all your products and tools clean, the beauty cabinet is ready to be reorganised. Whether it’s by size, brand, frequency of use or colour coding, have a play to style your cabinet in a way that helps bring joy to visiting it every day. 

Start fresh and keep it simple 

It’s more than a clean beauty cabinet — your skincare routine gets a spring clean too. By keeping your favourite, hardworking products on hand and getting rid of the rest, you’ll get the same results with less time and clutter. 


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