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Know When to Toss Your Makeup

From foundation to eyeliner, all makeup has a life span, ranging anywhere from just a few months to over a year. And since old makeup can cause breakouts and irritation, and even grow bacteria, you need to know when it's time to replace your favorite products. Here you'll find the timeline of everything in your beauty bag, starting from the shortest shelf life to the longest.

Know When to Toss Your Makeup
  • Mascara and liquid eyeliner: 3 months. This is the makeup item you need to be most careful about. Both of products have the potential to collect and trap bacteria with every application, which can in turn cause redness and conjunctivitis. Warning sign they have gone bad: a gasoline-type smell.
  • Liquid foundation: 6 to 8 months. Because of its water base, bacteria are also attracted to liquid foundation. An unopened bottle can last years, but once it is opened the clock starts ticking. To help extend the shelf life, keep it out of moist and/or high temperatures (like the bathroom). Try to avoid dabbing your hands directly in the bottle, and instead use an applicator or a pump bottle. Warning sign it has gone bad: an off smell or change in color.
  • Lipstick or lip gloss: One year. The risk for bacteria growth is low, since neither lipstick nor lip gloss contains water. But since they do come in contact with your mouth, it's a good idea to replace them annually or if you have been sick recently. Warning sign it has gone bad: Lipstick will be hard to spread, and lip gloss will be streaky or clumpy.
  • Powder foundation and blush: Over a year. As long as there is no shiny build up, and you have not experienced adverse reactions, powder face makeup can last well over a year. Avoid any that advertise botanical extracts, as these water-based ingredients can invite bacteria growth and shorten the life. Blush or bronzers that you don't use daily can last even longer (as many as 4 years!) with proper care and clean brushes. Warning sign it has gone bad: an off smell or change in color.
  • Pencil eyeliner or lip liner: Over a year. Store them properly and sharpen before each use, as this will keep them clean. Warning sign it has gone bad: an off smell.
  • Eye shadow: Up to 3 years. Since you probably don't use the same shade every day, eye shadow can have a long, healthy life with proper storage and clean brushes. However, since this is a product that comes into contact with your eye, always toss them after an eye infection to avoid reinfection. Stay away from cream-based shadows, as they grow bacteria in as little as 3 months. Warning sign it has gone bad: an off smell or irritation after use.