The Makeup Shelf-Life Breakdown

When to throw away past-their-prime beauty products

Makeup Gourmet (SF) 1.15.13;

I form deep and lasting attachments to my favorite makeup products (this probably has something to do with how much I spend on them). Yes, I am the type of lady who will hold on to a Chanel eye-shadow palette long after we should have parted ways because it cost upwards of $50. But, like a bad boyfriend, we need to toss the “just isn’t cutting it anymore” products from our makeup bags when they have nothing left to offer – besides bacteria. Ew.

Unsure of when to toss your mascara or that remaining nub of eyeliner? Here’s the shelf-life breakdown of your everyday basics.

Mascara: Every time you swipe your lashes, your wand collects itty bitty particles of bacteria that end up going right back into the mascara tube. Knowing this is enough to make me want to buy new mascara after each application, but experts recommend switching every two to three months.

Foundations: With the exception of powder mineral foundations (I live and die by Bare Minerals), most of which can last up to two years, all foundations are water-based, meaning they attract bacteria easily. It’s best to replace your foundation after six to twelve months.

Concealer: Powder and stick forms of concealer can last up to two years (take that, blemishes!), while liquid concealers should be discarded after one year.

Blush: The same rules for foundation apply to blush as well. If it’s powder-based, you’re good until you hit the two-year mark. Cream blushes, however, should be thrown away after a year.

Eye shadow and eyeliner: Follow the same rule of thumb as mascara: if a product is going anywhere near your eyes, replace after three months.

Lipstick and lip gloss: Both contain oil-based ingredients, which make these low-risk products in terms of spoiling. Aim to replace glosses and lipsticks after one year, unless you’ve been sick – then toss and start fresh.

The upside of cleaning out your makeup drawer? Shopping for new products, of course. (Sorry, bank account.)

By Lauryn Paiva, Staff Writer

Do you throw away your makeup when you should? Share in the comments below or tweet us at @ruelala.

Not a Member and like The (Style) Guide? You’ll love Rue La La. Join now.


January 17, 2013