It’s true, ladies: your makeup goes bad, just like your milk. Old makeup products can be a breeding ground for bacteria, but since cosmetics manufacturers aren’t yet required by law to put expiration dates on their products, it’s up to us to remember when to ditch the expired ones.
Below are some guidelines for when to toss each type of makeup, and here’s a tip: if you have trouble remembering when you bought it, get one of those nifty White-Out pens and scribble the purchase date onto the container as soon as you get it home. (You can always write it on the bottom if you love to parade out your new Diorshow in the bathroom with your friends.)
How Long Can I Keep Different Types of Makeup?
- Mascara: Three months at most. Most of us have kept mascara longer than this, but once you’ve used the wand and put it back in the tube, it becomes a bacterial haven. Oxygen gets shoved back into the tube, and if you know anything about food safety, you know air exposure is a key risk to bacteria production. (And if you ever had any sort of infection while you used a product, NEVER reuse it or you risk re-infecting yourself. Eww.)
- Cream eyeshadow, eyeliner or blush: Six months. These have a much shorter shelf life than their powder counterparts.
- Foundation, finishing powder and lipstick: One year. That said, if you see any changes in these products’ consistency, texture or scent, toss them immediately. Foundation can have a shorter life of only 4-6 months, depending on the batch – if it starts separating, give up on it. Even if you shake it up so it mixes together (a trick all my cheapy girlfriends will know about!), it won’t stay that way long, and within an hour of wear it’ll melt off your face. Plus, why would you want to wear something expired? Gross.
- Nail polish: One year. This depends on the quality of the polish; the $1 drugstore stuff that starts separating in the bottle as soon as you get it home probably won’t make it a whole year.
- Powder blush or eyeshadow: Two years. This assumes you never share your makeup with any of your grubby friends and you always apply it directly to a clean face with clean hands.
- Pencil liners: Three years, if sharpened regularly (and applied with clean hands and blah blah).
- Makeup brushes: Two years. This assumes you shampoo them regularly (we recommend about once a month – unscented soap or baby shampoo will do) and sanitize them between uses. There are special sanitizing sprays for this, but the girls at the MAC counter simply rub them down with alcohol.
- Makeup sponges: One month. Yep, I said it – even with cleaning after every use (which you should do). Just like the sponges by your kitchen sink, makeup sponges collect bacteria like a ten year old collects Pokemon cards. This includes those right triangle shaped ones you put on foundation with and the tiny ghetto eye makeup sponges your eyeshadow comes with.