Research shows women holding on to cosmetics too long

By Simon Pitman

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Personal care products Cosmetics

New research says that British women are holding on to cosmetic products even if they have deteriorated with age, pointing to opportunities for the industry.

A survey carried out by Mintel showed that ‘funny smells’ or discolouration would only push 28 per cent of women surveyed to discard products such as make-up, shampoo or shower gel.

The survey results suggest that industry could play a bigger part in helping to raise awareness of the hazards relating to using cosmetics and personal care products that are past their best through enhanced labelling and marketing campaigns.

Not only do personal care products lose their efficacy with age - a process that happens even quicker if they are not stored correctly – but they can also become breeding grounds for bacteria that, when applied to the skin, can increase the risk of rashes and even infection.

Awareness of product spoiling could enhance brand associations

Greater awareness of this kind of risk would obviously help to prevent consumers suffering such consequences, ultimately serving to enhance the brand image and increasing positive associations consumers have with them.

Likewise it could also serve to increase sales if consumers are encouraged to discard older and deteriorated products in favour of replacement purchases.

The Mintel study draws a comparison with food products, underlining the fact that consumers would be far less likely to eat food that was beyond its sell-by date or clearly not safe to consume.

Hazardous to health

“It is not simply a matter of products no longer performing to optimal standards, old make-up can be hazardous to our health,”​ said Alexandra Richmond, senior beauty analyst at Mintel.

"Repeated exposure to bacteria from the mouth affects lip colour cosmetics, while out-of-date mascara and eye pencils can raise the risk of infections."

Richmond also went on point out that often natural and organic products – currently an area of the market that is enjoying huge consumer interest and growth – are more susceptible to spoiling because they use fewer and sometimes no preservatives.

Mintel’s survey results also show that many women in the UK struggle with the concept of sell-by dates for cosmetics and personal care products, with most indicating that they would continue to use it until either it runs out or when it is clearly off.

Another problem is that many labels indicate that the product should be used within a certain period after opening. However, a significant number of women surveyed said they had problems keeping track of when products were first opened.

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