When to Throw Away Makeup


Have you ever wondered how long to hang onto your makeup? If the foundation bottle has color smeared on the inside of the cap, is that bad? The key is knowing when to replace your makeup, since applying old or cakey products will make your skin look worse. Even if you’ve invested in salon products, old versions will provide poor coverage and dimmer colors than the fresh versions. Read on for estimated shelf lives of various makeup items. And keep in mind – there probably aren’t long term health risks to wearing old makeup (who said blindness would result from old mascara?), though we’re just advocating for your best possible look.

For Your Skin


CC Image courtesy of Daniela Vladimirova on Flickr

Concealer: 2 years for powder and stick versions, but 1 year for liquids. Once the product starts to go bad, the color will shift. And since concealer is supposed to cover blemishes not create them, it’s worth tossing the old one and buying another.

Powder: 2 years. However, some of these contain small amounts of water from botanical extracts, so there’s a chance that bacteria will grow if left too long. This is especially true if you store powder in your bathroom. If your powder does have botanical extracts, it will list the Latin and common names in the ingredients: aloe, oat, chamomile, bamboo, and green tea extracts).

Foundation: 1 year for water-based foundations and 18 months for oil-based ones. If the water-based one dried out before its expiration date, simply add a couple drops of alcohol-free toner and shake. Oil-based foundations will separate on their own and need periodic shaking anyway. No matter what kind you prefer, it’s best to have two shades. One works best in the summer when you’re naturally more tan, while the lighter one suffices for the winter months.

Gel and cream cleansers: 1 year. Keep in mind that your skin’s needs may shift during the seasons and as you age, so it’s best to evaluate each cleanser’s effectiveness before buying another one. If a particular cleanser isn’t cutting it anymore, invest in a different kind for the best results.

Blush: the same rules apply for blush as they do for face powders, so follow those guidelines.

For Your Eyes

Pencil eye liner: 3 years. This salon product has a longer shelf life simply because there are fewer ingredients in it than, say, concealer. However, the pencil should be sharpened regularly. Otherwise, you risk scratching the delicate skin around the eyes.

Eye shadow: 3 years. Shadow can also double as eye liner, if applied with a small, flat brush. Just dampen the brush and dab the color along the lash line. Dark colors, including deep jewel tones, work best for this. Once it’s applied, sweep other color just above the lash line.

Mascara: 4 months. This product expires the fastest, so you should pay the most attention to it. Eye lashes are the body’s defense against germs entering the eyes, so anything that touches the lashes is quickly dirty. To get the most out of those 4 months, don’t pump the mascara wand in and out of the bottle. This will simply drive more air in, making the liquid dry out more quickly. If the product dries out before its expiration date, don’t add water to rejuvenate it; simply invest in another one.

For Your Lips


CC Image courtesy of Trostle on Flickr

Lipstick: 1-2 years according to some beauty experts, while others say 4 years. The trick is to smell a lipstick if you haven’t used it in a while. Old lipsticks will spoil and smell rancid. If you want a particular shade to age gracefully, store it in the refrigerator.

Lip liner: 3 years. These used to be all the rage in salon products, but their usefulness is questionable. With well hydrated lips and a good lipstick, there’s really no need for a lip liner. However, if you do like them, skip the ones that push up. They tend to break more easily and you can’t tell how much is left until you run out.

For Your Nails

Nail polish: 12 months, depending on the brand. Cheaper brands will expire more quickly, while quality salon products will last up to 12 months. The number of times you use it will also have an impact, since air in the bottle will dry out the polish.

Tools and Accessories

Brushes: 2 years. However, they should be washed with a mild detergent every two or three months to remove impurities. This ensures that you aren’t packing around ancient germs. Also, if you must apply makeup while sick (can’t afford another sick day from the office!), be sure to wash all accessories once you’re healthy again.

Sponges: 1 month. They should be washed weekly, for all the same reasons as brushes. But because sponges absorb so much more product, they should be given the boot sooner

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