It’s time to spring-clean your makeup drawer! Beauty products have a shelf life, and using old products can expose your skin to all sorts of gross bacteria that can lead to acne and other skin breakouts. But how long can you keep your favorite Chanel lipstick or Mac concealer? Here are some tips on the expiry date of makeup—when to toss it, and how to take care of it so its shelf life is longer.
Liquid eyeliner and mascara
Liquid eyeliner and mascara have the shortest shelf life of all the beauty products. That’s because they’re liquid, and bacteria love moisture. Plus, you use them near the eye area, another moist part of the face (you don’t know it, but there’s a lot of dirt that clings to your eyelashes). Some products spoil as quickly as 3 months; others last as long as 6 months. You can tell if it’s gone bad from the smell.
Foundation can last as long as 2 years, but it really depends on the formulation. Oil-free foundations are the fastest to ‘spoil’ because they dry out, and you can’t get any out of the bottle. As for liquid foundations, throw out anything that’s changed consistency or starts to smell bad. Cake foundations can spoil faster if it gets damp (which happens if you use a wet sponge to apply).
You can use concealer up to a year. The ones with wand applicators tend to spoil faster, because you apply the tip directly on the face (where all the bacteria is!) and then put the wand right back into the bottle. Concealers in pots do last a bit longer, but it’s at risk for contamination because you use your fingers. Wash your hands or use an antibacterial gel before you apply. (Or better yet, use a concealer brush.) Those in a tube are safe since you only squeeze out what you need.
Creams last about one year, powder formulas last as long as 3 years. The ones that have high oil content will grow ‘rancid’ faster.
Again, you contaminate the product each time you use the wand on your lips and put it back into the bottle. Those that come in tubes are only slightly safer. The lips contain a lot of bacteria, because of the saliva.
Lipsticks last longer than lip gloss because of the ingredients and formulation. However, the nose knows: throw away any lipstick that smells funny.
Photo by Sarah Gim