How long should you keep makeup after it has been opened?

Quick quiz!

1) Do you still own that same tube of lipstick you wore back in high school?
2) Have you somehow made your mascara last an entire year?
3) Do you hold on to a darker foundation (stored in the back of your drawer) because it matches your skin so well in the summertime?

As much as I hate to be the bearer of bad news, if you answered “yes” to any of these questions, you need to toss the aforementioned products into the garbage ASAP!

Makeup does have a shelf life and it does expire. Quicker than you may think!

Still, many of us (and I’m guilty of this too) insist on holding on to our makeup for months after its expiration date, usually because we have no idea it has already expired!

I did some research to figure out when beauty experts say you should toss specific makeup and skincare items in the garbage. Before I get into the shelf lives of specific products, here are some general makeup rules to live by.

Toss your product if:

+It stinks or has any sort of unusual odor at all.
+You can’t remember when you purchased it.
+It stirs up memories from an occasion that happened more than two years ago.

In general, it’s important to be aware of the period after opening a product that you should toss it in the trash. Drawing conclusions based on articles written by experts from Cosmetics Suite101, About: Skincare, The Rachel Ray Show and Live Weddings, I’ve compiled a list of the shelf lives of specific products.

Get rid of the clutter in your drawers and toss products if they are older than:

Foundation: 12 months (water based/oil-free), 18 months (oil-based).
Concealer:: 6-12 months.
Powder : 2 years.
Blush and bronzer: 2 years (powder), 12-18 months (cream).
Eye liner: Sharpen it regularly and it will last up to 3 years (pencil), 3-6 months (liquid).
Eye shadow: 2-3 years (powder), 12-18 months (cream).
Lipstick: 2-3 years.
Lip liner: 2-3 years.
Lip gloss: 18-24 months.
Mascara: Some experts say 3-4 months. Others say 6 months maximum. No matter whom you’re choosing to listen to, all experts agree that mascara has one of the shortest shelf lives out of all makeup items. It’s a “breeding ground for infection, so six months is the maximum P.O.A.,” according to beauty expert Sonia Kashuk.
Nail polish: 12 months.
Applicators (brushes and sponges): 3-6 months. Wash them regularly.

Please note: Natural cosmetics expire faster than others because they don’t have chemicals in them to extend their shelf lives. Toss your natural cosmetics sooner than others.

Face wash: 6-12 months.
Moisturizer: 6-12 months.
Toner: 6-12 months.
Exfoliants: 6-12 months.
Eye cream: 6-12 months.
Lip balm: 1-2 years

So, next time you’re rummaging through your makeup bag and you run into that lipstick you’ve had since high school, TOSS IT IN THE TRASH!

Your PJ

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29 thoughts on “How long should you keep makeup after it has been opened?

  1. Karly-

    I'm glad it was helpful :) After doing research for this entry, I went through all my makeup and got rid of a ton of it. (I had nail polish left over from high school and I'd never even considered its expiration date!)


  2. thanks for the list! I can't bring myself to toss out makeup unless they start to look/smell funky! usually old stuff would just sit in my bag of abandoned makeup until I find the will to throw them away

  3. Connie-

    Sometimes it is very hard to part with old makeup. Many women begin to look at makeup as collector's items!

    On another note, as I said in a comment on your site, I LOVE your blog! I really admire the honesty in your entries and how personal you've been able to make each of them without making them being TOO personal. (Example: Your entry "Review: Nexcare Acne Patch by 3M")

    It's great to hear from another skin-care and beauty-product enthusiast!


  4. Sorry, but I think some of this is sort of ridiculous. It seems like a ploy by the beauty industry to get us to spend more on makeup than we would otherwise. I agree that mascara and other liquid things that touch your eyes need to be tossed with regularity. However, if you take care of your products, keep them closed when not in use, apply with clean brushes/fingers and don't share them, there's no reason you'd need to throw most things away every few months. I pay hard-earned money for my makeup and I won't throw something out that's over half-full unless there's something wrong with it, like an off smell or color.

  5. Clinique now makes a spray product to clean brushes so you don't have to get them completely wet anymore. Just spritz and rub with a tissue. You can use within five minutes. All bacteria is dead. Wy would you ever need to replace those costly brushes in only six months time? Nonsense!

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  8. Clinique now makes a apply product to fresh styling brushes so you don't have to get them absolutely wet any longer. Just apply and rub with a cells. You can use within five moments. All viruses is deceased. Wy would you ever need to substitute those expensive styling brushes in only six several weeks time? Nonsense!

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  11. Very informative post telling us about how long we should use make up products. Different products have different time range in which they expire and shouldn't be used. This blog gives complete information about the time range of makeup products in which they expire. Expired products can cause side effects.

  12. thanks for the list! I can't carry myself to toss out cosmetics unless they begin to look/smell funky! usually old things would just sit in my bag of discontinued cosmetics until I look for the will to toss them away

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