Know your expiration dates

Published: .
Updated: .
Andrea Morehead/Eyewitness News

Indianapolis - The food in your refrigerator comes with an expiration date stamped on it so you know when to throw it out. But what about things like beauty supplies and bike helmets?

When Jaclyn Conyer buckles up her kids, four-year-old Landon and two-year-old Amelia, for a bike ride, she trusts the helmets they're wearing will keep them safe. When she secures them for a car ride she believes their car seats will provide enough protection. But like many parents, she didn't know both bike helmets and car seats have expiration dates.

"I understand the guidelines change, but why would it expire?" Conyer wondered.

Eyewitness News asked an expert in child safety, Dr. Joseph O'Neil at Riley Hospital.

"This one is 2000. Even though this helmet looks nice, and looks like it's perfectly fine to wear, it's out of date," said Dr. O'Neil, showing us a child's helmet.

Dr. O'Neil told us expiration dates go beyond the food in your refrigerator.

Wear and tear on products like bike helmets reduce their effectiveness.

"Sometimes they will get thinner with age. Also when you use make-up, hair spray or perspiration that will also interact with this foam and cause it to get weaker with age," he said.

Bike helmet manufacturers say they provide the best protection for two to five years. Just look for the "born on" date inside the helmet.

Car seats also have an expiration date.

"A seat that was manufactured in 2000 will not have the same safety benefits that one that is built today," said Dr. O'Neil. "We recommend that seats be used for six years."

What about bottled water? Some people may just throw it out if they see it's past the expiration date. But there's nothing wrong with the water. It's just the packaging that could look worn..

Most products in your bathroom have a shelf life, too. Shampoo, conditioner and body washes, when stored unopened, are good for two to three years. But if you use a medicated shampoo - like a dandruff shampoo - manufacturers have to print a specific expiration date. Just look for it on the back or bottom of the bottle.

Mouthwash is usually good for 3 years after its manufacture date.

Make-up doesn't last forever. Lipstick is good for about two years. Mascara should only be kept for three to four months after opening. It stores for two years unopened.

Optometrist Dr. Michael Miller warns you should be careful with any product that goes in your eyes. Contact lens solution needs to be at full strength to work effectively.

"The older that solution is, probably the weaker the disinfectant," said Dr. Miller.

The same goes for disposable contacts. They're good two to three years beyond their purchase date, as long as they weren't opened.

Now that Jaclyn Conyer knows about the expiration dates, she's going to take a closer look at the products she uses..

"They don't teach you those things in mom school," she said.

Look up expiration dates for products in your home.