A few years ago I was watching Clean Sweep when I made a horrifying discovery: makeup lasts a maximum of three years. Most products don’t last nearly as long as that. Shortly after that, I started to clean out my makeup case. Some of my products had been there for more than ten years.
Here’s a quick review of the shelf lives of various products. Remember this next time you shop – unless you can use it up within the allotted time you’re better off opting for a cheaper drugstore version. That way you won’t waste as much money when you have to throw it away with half left in the container.
Makeup Shelf Life Times
The following list reviews major product categories with shelf life times and info on how to find out how long it’s been in your makeup box.
Mascara: 3 Months
Mascara is an ideal environment for bacteria, which can easily be transferred to your eyes. Throw out your mascara every three months to avoid eye infections.
Liquid Eyeliner: 3 Months
Once again, liquid eyeliner is moist, which makes it prime territory for bacteria that can transfer to your eyes.
Moisturizer: 12 Months
Some of the essential oils or natural components break down quickly, so moisturizer that’s more than a year old may not be as effective.
Nail Polish: 12 Months
The chemicals start to break down after about a year, which could cause the color to change. You’ll also notice that the polish doesn’t hold together well or apply smoothly.
Oil-Free Foundation: 12 Months
These foundations tend to dry out faster than cream or powder foundations. The oils on your fingers can also introduce bacteria into the liquid. Use a sponge or brush to preserve it. Storing it in the fridge can also extend its life. When the color changes, it’s past its prime.
Concealer: 12-18 Months
Stick concealer lasts longer than liquid concealer, but both become lumpy after 12-18 months. Lumpy concealer won’t cover as well, and may contain bacteria from your blemishes. You may also notice color changes.
Cream Blush: 12-18 Months
Cream blush will dry out after about a year. It may also start to change color or not go on as smoothly.
Cream Eye Shadow: 12-18 Months
Like all other cream products, it dries out over time. It may also harbor bacteria. Never use it while you have an eye infection to avoid contamination. You should apply it with a clean brush to extend its life.
Cream Foundation: 18 Months
Cream foundation will dry out after about a year and a half. It may also start to change color or not go on as smoothly. If you apply it with your fingers, the oils on your skin could also introduce bacteria into it.
Lip Gloss: 18-24 Months
Lip gloss dries out fairly quickly because it’s thinner and contains less fat than lipstick. If it becomes clumpy, dry, or changes color, throw it out.
Blush and Bronzer: 2 years
Powders last longer, but the oils in your skin will alter the texture and make it more difficult to apply after a couple years. You may also notice changes in color.
Lipstick: 2 years
After two years, the fats in the lipstick will start to break down, which will make it dry, crumbly, and probably change the color. To make it last longer, apply it with a clean brush. Never use lipstick when you have a cold sore or share it with someone else.
Lip Liner: 2 years
Lip liner can last up to two years if you sharpen it regularly to prevent bacteria build-up and avoid using it when you have a cold sore.
Powder: 2 years
Powder tends to get clumpy after more than a couple years because it mixes with the oils in your skin over time. If you take excellent care of it, it can last up to three years.
Powder Eyeliner: 2 years
Powder eyeliner will last longer than cream or liquid liner because it doesn’t dry out, but you should always use a clean brush to avoid contaminating it with bacteria. If they’re in stick form, sharpening them regularly prevents bacteria growth. If the color changes or it becomes hard to apply, throw it out.
Powder Eye Shadow: 2 Years
Powder eye shadow lasts as long as powder eyeliner if you always use a clean brush and avoid using it while you have an eye infection.
Perfume: 3 Years
Cheaper perfumes and eau de toilettes may only last two years, but good perfumes should last up to three years. You can extend the life slightly by storing them in the fridge. If the color or scent changes, throw it out. If you’re not sure how old it is, check the stamp on the bottom. The number at the end is the year it was bottled, for example, a number ending in 6 means it was bottled in 2006.
If you’re not sure how old your makeup is, check the consistency. If in doubt, throw it out and start fresh. Mark the date on the label with a Sharpie so that you always know how old your makeup is.