Is Your Makeup Too Old?

We may all be guilty of hanging onto makeup a little too long, myself included.  I’m sure most of us may even keep products as long as possible, only making the official decision to chuck them when they start to clump, smell, or change color.  Unfortunately, by the time your makeup starts to stink, it’s probably already been filled with bacteria for a while.  Admittedly, I still have (and sometimes use) my very first Chanel lip gloss.  It’s now about six years old – but it’s Chanel! What can I say?  So how do you know when to throw out your beloved beauty products?

  • Mascara lasts 3-6 months.  It has a short shelf life because of how often it gets applied to your face and then put right back into the product.  While a general rule is that anything liquid has a shorter life, mascara’s life span is cut even shorter because you can’t clean the wand.
  • Concealer has a life of about 18 months due to emulsion, which means that the ingredients begin to separate. Keep in mind that you’re generally using concealer to cover blemishes, which in and of themselves carry bacteria.
  • You should never use liquid foundation for longer than one year. You can increase the shelf life of liquid foundation by using a clean sponge or makeup brush instead of your fingers, which carry even more germs.  If the foundation begins to separate or smells bad, throw it out.
  • Loose powder can last a very long time if you keep it dry.  As long as you continue to clean your brush and the product applies the way it originally did, then you should be fine.  Once the loose powder dries out (it can dry out), you’ll see it won’t apply as smoothly.  Then it’s time to get a new one.
  • If you use powder eye shadow, it can last you around two years.  Similarly to loose powder, if you maintain the product and continue to clean your brushes, you’re fine to keep it until it seems to apply differently.  Cream shadow, however, should only last you about 12-18 months.  The products within the cream shadows break down faster than powders.  The same rules apply to powder blushes and cream blushes.
  • Lip pencil and pencil eyeliner can last up to three years because sharpening them helps to remove most bacteria.  If you remember to sharpen them regularly and try to clean your sharpener between uses, you should be able to keep that pencil until it’s nothing but a nub.
  • Lipstick can hold up for about 2-3 years due to the way the product is formulated, but if there is a color change or rancid smell, throw it out.
  • Don’t keep lip gloss for more than 18 months because it will begin to separate after that time.  The same re-dipping problem that occurs with mascara will occur with lip gloss.
  • Fragrances will last as long as they continue to smell good.  If you (or anyone else) starts to notice a change in smell, throw it out.  Until then, the alcohol in the perfume will act as a natural preservative.

Is it time for you to go on a makeup purge? I think I’m gonna go through my makeup stash now!

About Kathleen Tower

Kathleen is the style editor for The Collabor-eight. She's a 23-year-old true Jersey girl; big hair, bigger heart. Her passion for beauty and makeup started with an internship at Seventeen Magazine and has grown ever since. After graduating from Villanova, she turned her love for Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter into a full-time job as a social media coordinator! When she's not at work, she's browsing everywhere from the Internet to the streets for her own "Manicure Monday" inspiration. She believes that true style comes from a mix of high and low, designer and drugstore, expensive splurges and nearly steals!

7 comments on “Is Your Makeup Too Old?

  1. Kathleen, this is a great post! Sometimes people don’t realize when it’s the right time to throw away makeup. My optometrist has been stressing that I change my mascara very often as it can gather bacteria over time. Very important for the eyes of course.

    • Thanks! I tend to hoard makeup too long, so I’m sure other people do, too! Mascara might be the most important item to change often!

  2. I spritz my makeup (especially concealer) with alcohol to kill bacteria and I clean my brushes with alcohol after each use. Great info!

  3. So it’s time to ditch my N*SYNC lip balms? Noooooooo!

  4. […] having a tube for maybe 2 months, this one started going flaky on me. Either I got an old one, or the shelf life’s not so […]

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