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How Long Does Makeup Really Last?

How Long Does Makeup Really Last?

It’s always a good time to go through your makeup drawer or cosmetic bag and purge the products that have been sitting around for quite some time. As far as that glittery eyeliner you haven’t used in or the foundation that wasn’t quite right (but you decided to hold on to just in case), at this point they are more likely to do harm than good.

Bacteria and other microorganisms are introduced to your makeup each and every time you use a particular item. If that doesn’t scare you enough, imagine what happens when you expose your products to these germs and leave them sitting in the heat and humidity of your bathroom. Over time, these microorganisms are going to proliferate within your makeup, and potentially increase the chances of skin infection or exacerbate acne, rosacea and other skin conditions.

This is exactly why makeup products have expiration icons—but it can be hard to keep track when these labels are on outer packaging you probably toss in the trash as soon as you try something new. Yet it’s easier than you think to manage product expiration dates, but it may take a wee bit of effort.

If you’re a data geek, simply start a spreadsheet. Enter a product when you open it and make note of when it’s time to toss it based on the icon that indicates a 6-, 12-, 18- or 24-month window of use. If you’re less technology-inclined, a piece of masking tape marked with a product’s “to-toss” date works just as well.

I recently went through my makeup stash and realized I have eyeliners, eye shadows, lip balms and more that have been sitting idle for ages—and a major purge ensued. (On the bright side, this means shopping for new makeup is in order!) Here, the general expiration guidelines for optimal makeup freshness and safety

Mascara: Air and bacteria get into the tube every time you use it, so it’s best to replace your mascara every three to six months.

Eyeliner: Sharpening with every use can help keep your eyeliner germ-free for up to a year, but retractable pencils or gels have a shelf life of about six months.

Powders: Eyeshadows, blushes and other powders are generally good for up to two years but be sure to keep an eye out for changes in texture or smell that can mean the product has gone bad.

Foundation: Pump-based foundations can maintain their integrity for up to two years, but by then it’s probably a great time to try something new.

Lipstick: Many of us have a tendency to collect lipsticks, but it’s usually best to discard them after two years—and sanitize them with a spritz of alcohol before using if it’s been a while since your last use.