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The Great Cosmetics Cull

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If you’re forever rifling through your handbag for an eyeliner or dusting crumbled eye shadow off your other cosmetics, it’s time to go in for some thorough decluttering.

Clean up your act with our beauty detox guide. Our experts reveal the pitfalls of clinging on to past products and show you how you can get your beauty regime into shape.

Make-up M.O.T

Guilty of being a cosmetics junkie? Chances are you have a treasure trove of products past their expiry date as you move onto the next big thing.

But clutter isn’t your only concern as old products can actually damage your health, according to Dr Patrick Bowler, skin care expert at Court House Clinics: “The worst scenario is that you could develop a nasty rash or infection if the product has been contaminated with bacteria,” he warns.

One in four women are continuing to use bacteria-infested make-up over four years old, according to a study by The College of Optometrists.

As a rough guide, eye make-up such as mascaras and liquid liners shouldn’t be used after six months, although eye and brow pencils can last up to three years if used sensibly. Other cosmetic favourites such as foundations, concealers, powders, lipsticks and glosses should be used no longer than 24 months - but trust your instincts if you think they’re bin-bound.

“In most cases, once a product is past its use-by-date you’ll end up with something that looks and smells ‘off’, is unpleasant to use, and no longer effective,” Dr Patrick says.

Try: Estee Lauder Professional Brush Collection, from £15 per brush
(www.esteelauder.co.uk)
Ms Makeup Double Dipper Dual Tipped Applicators, £1.99 (Boots).

Handbag haven

As handbags get bigger and bigger in planet fashion we just keep filling them with more beauty bits and bobs. Bad news for your back - and your make-up hygiene.

Some of the most commonly found bacteria in those Mary Poppins bags include pseudomonas, which can cause eye infections such as conjunctivitis and staphylococcus.

“Old make-up brushes, especially if they’ve been festering at the bottom of a handbag, could be riddled with bacteria,” explains Jason Zemmel, pharmacist and founder of HalfPricePerfumes.co.uk.

“I’d advise all women to go through their handbag and make sure everything is clean and usable. In lots of women’s bags, products are left without their lids on and come into contact with all kinds of things in their handbag that could cause infections.”

Try: The Body Shop Retractable Blusher Brush, £11.50; Mary Kay Compact Pro tray with magnetic refill system, £18
(www.marykay.co.uk).

Cabinet declutter

If you’ve besieged your bathroom with more products than your local Boots, it’s time to take stock.

Chuck out all the old bottles containing remnants where you practically need a magnifying glass to see what’s left and make room for fresh new products. Look out for multi-use products to help limit bottle overload.

“Try to keep your ‘beauty zone’ to a specific shelf in your bathroom,” advises Zu Rafalat, founder of beauty boutique Zuneta.com.


“This will ensure that your collection stays in check. Twice a year I make sure I do a big clear-out. If I haven’t used a product at least five times in those six months, I throw it away - it means you just don’t love it anymore and it will be getting past its best-by at that stage.”

Try: Marks & Spencer hanging Floral Cosmetics Organiser, £12; The Holding Company Expanding Vanity Drawer, £21
(www.theholdingcompany.co.uk).

Kit kudos

Any good habit requires a spot of motivation so if you’re making steps to detox your beauty treat yourself to a new cosmetic organiser to kick-start the cleanse.

“I love make-up bags that organise everything for you,” says Liz Pugh at Premier Beauty Workshop.”

Trish McEvoy
(www.trishmcevoy.com) and MAC (www.maccosmetics.co.uk) do great ones. Clear compartments help you see what you’re looking for.

Brush rolls are a good investment if you’re a slave to your application brushes and want to keep them in good order.

“They are effective for keeping your brushes clean and in good condition,” says Liz.

“When they’re loose in a make-up bag, brushes can lose their shape and the hairs go all over the place - not ideal for accurate application and blending!”

Try: Celia Birtwell Brush Roll, £8 (Boots); Orla Keily car print beauty case, £59.99
(Debenhams / www.tripp.co.uk).