Are expired cosmetics really that big of a deal? Our guide to when to toss your makeup


It’s easy to forget about that bag full of makeup that is hanging out somewhere under your sink. It’s full of collections, hauls, and splurges that you’ve made over the past few years, and you can’t possibly get rid of any of it.
So what’s the problem? Infection and contamination, that’s what.
Did you know your makeup can make you sick? Old makeup can harbor germs and bacteria that can spread to your face after application, and that is just no good. Stay safe by periodically going through your stash and removing that which is past it’s prime.
Here is a handy list of how long certain products are good for:
  • Foundation or liquid makeup: 6 months. Repeatedly exposing your liquid foundation to your fingers or brushes makes for a tasty microbial brew. Toss it out.

  • Powders and powder makeup: 2 years. These are safer because they contain no water, so that mineral makeup set you bought really will be worth the pretty penny you spent on it.

  • Mascara: 3 months. Yes, it really needs to be tossed after three months. It’s a dark, wet environment in there, which is perfect for growing the nasties. Get rid of it. The same goes for your liquid eyeliners.

  • Powder eye shadows: 2 years. Again, no water to harbor bacteria, but you probably do have some shadows that have been lurking around for longer than that. Throw them out!

  • Cream eye shadows: 6 months. Even if you never expose the product to your fingers or a brush that has actually touched your skin (and, quite frankly, I find that impossible unless you have about a hundred makeup brushes), the dark place that the shadow lives is perfect for bacterial growth. 

  • Pencil liners (eye, lip, etc): 6 months. These are directly used on the skin and therefore have a limited life span. Especially if you use your eyeliners on the waterline (rim of the lower eyelid), you have to get rid of these. 

  • Lipstick and lip gloss: 2 years. But guess what? You’d probably want to get rid of them before that anyway, since they tend to dry out and give less than optimal color. However, if you must keep them that long, toss them out at the two year mark to make sure you aren’t hosting bacterial growth.

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