Too many beauty products you haven’t used in ages? It’s time for spring cleaning

Tan Wei Lin

CNA – With 2021 underway (and Chinese New Year coming up), it’s probably time to start some spring cleaning. And that also extends to beauty routines, which have been directly impacted by mandatory mask-wearing and also spending much more time at home instead of out.

Now’s a good time to go through your vanity and make-up kit, rid them of items that have been collecting dust all through 2020 and then fill them with a few thoughtful purchases that would prove useful in 2021.


It’s not that hard to figure out when your skincare products will expire. If there isn’t an expiry date printed on the box, just look out for that tiny “open-jar” symbol typically found behind or underneath the product. The number on the symbol indicates the number of months it will remain good for use, starting from the point you break open the product.

Many cosmetics, however, do not come with said indication – so how would you know if they have expired or not? First of all, if the texture, colour and smell of the item has noticeably changed, bin it straightaway because all these are sure signs that it has gone past its shelf life.

For the other products that do not exhibit these signs, here’s how you can gauge if it’s about time to throw them out.

Cream- and liquid-based products tend to be the first to expire, since moisture promotes bacterial growth – this means that foundations, lip glosses, lipsticks, blushes and highlighters in cream or liquid formulations are likely to have “gone off” in six months to a year. Powders, being dry, will last from two to three years.

Err on the side of caution, particularly for products that you’ll apply very close to the eyes. Mascaras should be thrown out three months after you open them, while cream or liquid liners will be good for use for six months, up to a year.

Any product that has an applicator that dips into the container when closed will have a higher chance of bacterial contamination. The same is also true of cosmetics that you dip into with your fingers. Check these items carefully for signs of expiration.


If you know that a product is about to expire, but don’t think you can finish it up before it does, you can use it for other purposes. For example, it is safe to use your facial moisturiser as a hand cream or body moisturiser – but don’t do the reverse, because body lotions may do damage to the skin on the face, which is thinner and more sensitive than the skin on your body.

Haven’t touched your collection of lipsticks since masks were made mandatory? Use them as cream blusher – it won’t smear on your mask like lipstick worn on your lips can, especially if you set your make-up with translucent powder and a setting spray.


It’s pretty clear that we won’t be going mask-free anytime soon. It’s safe to say that you’ll be continuing your pandemic-adapted beauty routine for an indefinite period.

If you’re still battling maskne, it’ll make sense to rethink your existing beauty regime. A good place to start would be to chuck out the heavier-textured, rich serums and moisturisers – consider using them to soften dry elbows and feet – and replace them with lighter, oil-free products that are friendly to acne-prone skin.


That doesn’t mean you can’t use lipstick and foundation at all, of course. What you need is to find transfer-resistant alternatives. If you must buy lip make-up, go for lip stains and tints, as well as budge-proof liquid lipsticks, which are all great options that will stay put on your pucker.

For a make-up base that won’t melt easily under your mask, choose foundations in a matte or semi-matte formula that will offer longer-lasting wear throughout your day out.

At the same time, there are a few items you should definitely consider adding to your make-up kit – a translucent face powder that will set your make-up but not leave marks all over your mask like a pigmented face powder will, and a setting spray.