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The Ultimate Guide To...

The Ultimate Guide To When Makeup Products Expire

Are you using expired mascara on your eyes? Find out when it should get the boot from your makeup bag.

We’re all guilty of using makeup products past their prime. And while it might not seem like such a big deal, using expired products on our skin can be seriously damaging. They can pick up tons of bacteria along the way and, in turn, spread them to your face causing irritation, rashes, and other skin conditions.

When does makeup expire? Check out how long you should actually be using those cosmetic products before tossing!

Mascara: 3 Months

Mascara is probably the beauty product you need to be most vigilant about keeping an eye on. Because the brush is taken out and used so often, it accumulates bacteria much more quickly than other products. This bacteria continues to grow and can eventually cause redness, itchiness, pinkeye, or even sties when you use it on your lashes.

Three months is the longest you should go without switching out your tubes, and if your mascara ever smells distinctly of gasoline (even before three months is up) that’s a sure sign to get rid of it.

Foundation: 6 – 12 Months

Nearly all liquid and cream foundations are water-based, meaning they are a perfect breeding ground for bacteria. Once the seal is broken, your foundation should be replaced after 6 to 12 months. Any change in color or unusual smell is a definite way to know that it’s time to toss.

Pro tip: Get your favorite formulas to last a little longer by keeping them out of moist areas like the bathroom and away from heat to discourage spoiling, which causes irritation and breakouts.

Eyeliner: 3 Months

It doesn’t matter whether it’s liquid or pencil, eyeliner is applied near such a sensitive area so often it needs to be replaced almost religiously every three months. Pencils can last a bit longer than your liquid liner if you regularly sharpen it, but you’ll know it’s done when a white film starts to develop on the top. However, it’s better to be safe than sorry in terms of applying these products to an area that is so prone to irritation. Buy your eyeliner and mascara at the same time, so you can just switch them out with one trip to Sephora.

Powders, Such As Blush, Bronzer, And Eyeshadow: 2 Years

Our powder makeup products—blushes, bronzers, shadows, etc.—tend to last an insanely long time. They can technically be safe to use for up to two whole years. So don’t go throwing out that eyeshadow palette you bought last winter; it should be totally safe for some more fabulous looks this year.

Cream Blush/shadows: 1 Year

Because of the water content in cream blushes and eyeshadows, these products need to be replaced after a year. There’s nothing worse than applying your favorite products to help enhance your features and they turn out to irritate them instead. If your cream cosmetics become so hard that they barely budge from the container, it’s time to toss!

Concealer: 12 – 18 Months

Concealer is meant to cover spots on our face, but using old concealer can actually cause them, instead. When concealer starts to go bad, the color will shift (also problematic in covering up blemishes, so that should be an obvious one!). Powder concealers, like our other powder cosmetics, can last for up to two years, but toss a liquid concealer after just one.

Lipsticks And Glosses: 1 Year

Good news: Your favorite lipstick color should safely last you a whole year—if you don’t use it all up in the first couple of months, that is. However, if you have recently been sick, it’s recommended that you swap out the wand or toss the tube to stop spreading that bacteria. When your gloss starts to feel globby our your lipstick is too hard to spread onto your lips, it’s definitely time to move on.

Brushes And Tools: 1 – 5 Years

A good set of brushes can last for years—only if properly cared for. Experts recommend cleaning your makeup brushes and sponges at least once a week and letting them air dry. It might seem excessive, but your skin will thank you! Once those bristles start to fall out, though, it’s definitely time for a new set of brushes.

Hannah Marsh

Hannah is a Texas-born, Iowa-raised alumna of Iowa State University. When not writing trending content across several Meredith sites, she enjoys all things fitness-related, binge-watching "Whose Line is it Anyway" episodes and fully embracing her self-diagnosed peanut butter addiction.

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