Whenever you’re cleaning up you always come across things you thought you lost forever. It could be anything from a credit card you swore was stolen but was actually under your car seat or the watch you were supposed to get fixed for a friend last year that you find behind the dresser.

If you’re a woman like me, you probably come across random makeup items like lipstick or eyeliner. I always used to be a little happy when I would find lost makeup since I could add it to my collection. But one day I thought, “can I really use this lipstick after 2 years?”

For me, this is not limited to lost makeup items. I have a lot of makeup, but I’ve always been an eyeliner and lip gloss girl so items like eye shadow and foundation could last in my collection for years. I remember a few years ago going through my makeup collection and finding things I bought in high school. It’s been a few years since I graduated college! I got to thinking; how long does makeup last.

Now when you’re looking at eyeliner with no package, you can imagine that it would be rather difficult to find an expiration date so I had to do some of my own research. I was totally shocked with what I found. Basically, I was possibly poisoning myself for years with old makeup. I immediately threw away just about all of my makeup.

I’m sure I’m not alone in my ignorance to the shelf life of makeup, so here’s a general list of the shelf life of most makeup items. The times do depend on the quality of makeup as well, so you’re best bet is to check your manufacturer’s website.

Mascara – up to 6 months

This was by far my biggest shock! I’ve kept mascara for years. I was really worried about what effect it’s had on my eyes. The reason mascara has such short shelf life, it that it’s a breeding ground for bacteria. The most common infection from bad mascara is pink eye. If you don’t wear much mascara, buy the smaller sized. Many stores offer trial or travel sized mascara.

Nail Polish – 12 months

This really depends on what’s in the polish and how often you open it. Again, smaller bottles if you’re not a frequent nail polish wearer.

Concealer and liquid foundation – up to 18 months
This really depends on the composition of the concealer or foundation. Oil-based items will generally last longer than water-based items. Check the ingredients and check with the manufacturer.

Lipstick and lip glosses – up to 4 years

Lipstick is a point of contention among experts. Some say only 1 year, others say 4 years. Lipstick generally lasts longer than lip gloss. Lip gloss with dip sticks will go bad faster for the same reason as mascara. Lipstick will last longer if you put it in the fridge. Again, check the manufacturer’s expiration date. If you notice a change in the color or smell, throw it out.

Lip and eye liners – up to 3 years

This was good news for me me since I wear mainly eye liner. Liners can get some bacteria on them. To prevent this use pencil liners instead of push up liners and sharpen them about once a week.

Eyeshadow and powders – up to 3 years

Since powders are dry it’s less likely for them to go bad. Cream eyeshadow will not last as long as powder shadows.

As if all this information is not enough, another thing you want to make sure you keep in mind is the expiration date as your shopping for your makeup. A lot of times, items remain in on the shelf of a store for a long time before they actually get to you. You should try and buy the freshest makeup you can. If the item doesn’t have an expiration date, then your safest bet is to start from the day you opened the item.

Also keep your makeup sealed tight when you’re not using it. Avoid sharing makeup if you can. Keep your tools clean as well. Try to wash your brushes every 3 or 4 months. If you use sponges, wash them out on a weekly basis and throw them out after a month of use.

What I’ve been doing is writing a ‘throw out date’ on my makeup to make sure I know when to throw something out. This way I always know how long I have before I throw something out. It also has bearing on what I’ll buy now. If I know something will expire before I’ll use half of it, I’ll be less inclined to buy the item.

I hope this info was helpful, and hopefully you won’t have to throw away all your makeup. But if it’s it’s expired, let it go! Your health is more important.

Until next time, Cheers to a better you!

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