by BR Natalie
Online shopping is undergoing a bit of a boom at the moment isn't it? And with constant ads for discount cosmetics and skin care popping up in my newsfeed, I thought it was time to revisit...The Haul of Horrors.
Back in August 2017 I wrote an article detailing my Haul of Horrors. For the first time in a long time I had shopped for beauty products in outlet stores. Why did my haul horrify so many? Because the products I bought weren't beauty bargains - they were in fact, really, really, really old stock. They were unopened and sealed, but using the Batch Code I was able to track the date of manufacture for each product - and they were far from 'new'.
Fourteen of the twenty products were over FOUR years old. One product was over 10 years old when I bought it as 'new'!
The big deal with them being over three years old is that the general consensus is a product that has been stored correctly, should remain stable for 3 years. It’s important to remember, any product is only considered in premium condition (regardless of how old it is) if it has been stored and transported correctly. Imported and clearance products have gone from warehouse to store and back again at least once, often they’ve travelled the globe. Whether the storage conditions are stringently monitored cannot be verified. Changes in temperature, being shaken and stirred, exposure to light - these things impact the formula and quality of a product.
Here in New Zealand every cosmetic must carry a batch code. Which means EVERY beauty product sold in NZ, regardless of where it was manufactured, must carry a visible batch code, meaning theoretically a consumer can find out the exact date the product was made.
There are two cosmetic batch code databases online. checkcosmetic.net and checkfresh.com but these both focus on global 'big' brands. You're not going to find cult brands, smaller brands or even NZ brands in these databases. And, if you're shopping online you won't know the batch code until you've paid for and received the product anyway. Oh, and if you spend ages in-store loitering in the beauty aisle checking batch codes on your mobile you might get accused of shoplifting. True story.
So, how you can tell if a product you're thinking of buying is a beauty bargain, or incredibly old dated stock without using the batch code?
1. Check brand sites.
Your first port of call to find out if a product is a current line should be the brand website. Brands pay top dollar to showcase their products - they want you buying the latest lines. Now, if I can't find it on the NZ domain, I'll try the .com and .co.uk, just in case the product just hasn't been released here yet.
If you can't find a product or specific shade on the brand website, chances are it's been discontinued, which means your potential beauty bargain is possibly dated.
2. Compare the Packaging.
This is a good step if the product IS on the brand site. Beauty companies often tweak or update their branding, so if the product your thinking of buying doesn't match the product on the brand site/at official stockists, then chances are it's old!
And also - don't think you're safe buying online. I bought Revlon Black Cherry online. Guess what? The image on the website was of the current logo and branding, and was described as 'brand new and fresh'. The product I received had a much older logo, and upon checking the batch code, my Black Cherry (which I saved 40% on retail) was manufactured on 8th November 2006! OVER TEN YEARS OLD! I ended up waiting for a Revlon special at Farmers and buying a 'young' Black Cherry - the differences in formula and application were marked. But that's another story!
3. Blog search.
Beauty bloggers have been around since www-time began. If I can't find a product on the brand site, I turn to Google and use blogs to date the collection.
So, for example. I received an email not long ago saying that a buy-now, pay-in-installments beauty store had...Nars. I was intrigued. After all who wouldn't want to spread the pain of shelling out for Nars over 10 weeks? Upon browsing, an Andy Warhol eyeshadow caught my eye. 50% off the regular Nars price - the cynic in me wondered, why? I literally popped 'Nars Andy Warhol' into Google and voila, I had my answer in the first two results.
$39.50 for an eyeshadow manufactured five years ago suddenly doesn't seem that much of a steal to me!
4. Check for expiry dates.
FDA and European Standards mandate that products containing SPF must have an expiry date. So for example, I once picked up an Olay Day Lotion with SPF from a local high street store that sells discounted makeup. There was an expiry date printed on it, and...it was out of date by years.
In NZ SPF/sunscreen is classed as a cosmetic product and doesn't need an expiry date, so be extra-careful on checking the date of manufacture of such products if you're buying discounted.
Also - some beauty products actually have an expiry date on them, for example, from the same retailer I picked up a Rimmel Moisture Renew Lip Gloss with the expiry date printed on the tube of 2013! You'll likely find expiry dates on products with active ingredients, or those that are preservative-free, but again - it's not a legal requirement in NZ for cosmetics, so I strongly urge you to 'shop official' if preservative-free/active ingredients are your jam.