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How To Make Your Beauty Products Last Longer

Jamie Schneider
mbg Associate Editor By Jamie Schneider
mbg Associate Editor

Jamie Schneider is the Associate Editor at mindbodygreen, covering beauty and health. She has a B.A. in Organizational Studies and English from the University of Michigan, and her work has appeared in Coveteur, The Chill Times, and Wyld Skincare.

Beauty Products from Above

Image by BONNINSTUDIO / Stocksy

Gone are the days of roaming the aisles of Sephora or popping into a drugstore to snag an emergency lip balm—at least for the time being. While social distancing is a great opportunity to keep your routine makeup-free, there's a handful of products we're using to the very last drop, fearing that all-too-familiar squelch of a coveted CC cream running low. 

That's why we consulted three beauty experts on how to ensure your collection withstands the test of time. Here, their tried-and-true tips to make your beauty products last longer:

Don't use your fingers to scrape out product. 

You might have to force the habit, especially if you rely on the pads of your fingers to blend everything from shadows to lipstick. But according to celebrity esthetician Joanna Vargas, you shouldn't dip your fingers into jars. Even if you wash your hands, your fingers can transfer bacteria and oil into the formula and expedite the shelf life. The applicators are there for a reason—use them. 

Even if you don't have one of those mini beauty spatulas or brushes, you can use items like tongue depressors or cotton swabs to swipe product out of pans and jars, explains board-certified dermatologist Caren Campbell, M.D. "Especially with COVID-19 concerns, this keeps the main tub of product more sterile," she says. And if your product has a pump—that's even better.


Keep your tools in tiptop shape. 

Even if you use the aforementioned tools to scrape out your makeup, it's important to keep your brushes and applicators fluffy and clean. In addition to washing them after every use, you may want to stick to high-quality makeup brushes from the get-go. "Very soft, high-quality brushes will pick up less product from the pan and will blend more efficiently on your skin," says makeup artist Jenny Patinkin

Your brush quality can also determine how long your products themselves stay soft and bouncy. Ever notice those shiny speckles on the surface of a bronzer? Those are likely due to the transfer of oils from your face to your brushes to the pan—taking away its efficacy. "Those little speckles harden over time, making it difficult to get any color pickup, so keeping your brushes clean will make a difference," Patinkin says. 

If you're already noticing your powders harden, don't fret: She assures us you can also take a clean butter knife and gently scrape away the top layer to remove those hardened spots.

Remember: If it's old and dry, there's a reason. 

You may hear of old tricks and tips to extend the shelf life of your products. (You know, add eye drops to your mascara and the like.) And sure, those anecdotes may work in the short term—but you could be creating a whole other issue by testing the waters. 

"If a product is old and crusty and you add something to it, the amount of bacteria you could be creating is frightening," Vargas says. Her tip? If it's dry, it's probably time to just toss it. You don't want to be using an old product on your skin anyway, as it has the potential to cause acne, clogged pores, and irritation. While it might feel borderline sacrilegious to toss a beloved item that has a bit of product left in its nooks and crannies, chances are reviving it would do more harm than good. 

The take-away.

Applicators are your friends, keep your high-quality brushes clean, and if you have to try too hard to make it last, it's probably worth throwing out anyway. The good news is, there are plenty of DIY formulations you can play with in the interim—it might not replace your favorite highlighter, but it'll hold you over until it's safe to roam the beauty aisles again.

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