How To Tell When It's Time To Throw Your Makeup Away

Most cosmetics have an icon on the packaging showing how many months of shelf-life a product has after opening it, which generally is...

Beauty & Fashion

Makeup hoarders, I have some bad news for you.

Just like milk, makeup expires too!

As a cosmetic junkie, I know how terrible of a feeling it may be to have to part with a product well before you have completely finished it, but there comes a point in time when it is absolutely necessary. I had to find this out the hard way when I got myself reacquainted with a liquid eyeliner that I had been holding near and dear to my heart since high school, which ended up giving me a terrible rash on my eye that soon spread to other areas of my face. It was painful, itchy, and made me super self-conscious for the 5-7 days that the rash was present. Since that day a few years ago, I’ve brought my hoarding to a minimum and have been more cautious about how long I hold on to any beauty product.

While there may be women out there who will say it's common sense--makeup holds bacteria, you shouldn't hold it for five plus years, there are many women out there that do. I can’t even count how many times I’ve had women come to me looking for replacements or dupes for products that they have had for years, that have oxidized to the point that you can no longer even tell what the true original color or form was.

Most cosmetics have an icon on the packaging showing how many months of shelf-life a product has after opening it, which generally is efficient, but who holds onto the packaging for every last little cosmetic product that they own? Only top level hoarders.

Here’s the breakdown of the shelf-life of most cosmetic products:


When it comes to mascara, women often complain about it drying out too fast or having to replaced frequently but in all honesty, it should be. Mascara shouldn’t be held on for years; in fact, after 3-4 months, it should be tossed. You don't want to take any chances when it comes to your eyes and the nature of the product and application of it is an invitation for bacteria to come and chill.

Eyeliner and Lip liners

As in my horror story, eyeliners can be a cause of concern. Liquid liners, specifically, should be tossed between 3-6 months to insure no pesky bacteria has time to infect your eye. Eyeliner and lip liner pencils on the other hand, you can probably keep them for 2 years without any problems. If it’s a non-retractable pencil, sharpening between uses helps the longevity.

Foundations and Concealers

With the exception of foundations and concealers that you have to dip into, these can usually last any wear from 1 year (oil-free) to 2 years (non oil-free). Foundations and concealers with wands that come into contact with the skin or fingers on the other hand should be tossed around the 6-month mark. 


Whether it’s eyeshadow, face powders or blush, generally powders are pretty safe and don't promote bacteria growth as much as liquids or creams do and can be kept usually up to the 2 year mark. If it smells funny, changes colors drastically or causes any irritation, toss it!

Lipstick and Lip Gloss

This is personally the most difficult product for me to part with, mainly because I always making an excuse to purchase a new one but after 2 years, it’s time to let go. It’s argued that keeping lipstick up to 4 years is possible but like with many other products, it it smells or looks weird toss it! Don't take any chances.


After abut 6 months, the clock on your sunscreen officially runs out. If you hold on to them longer than you wont breakout into a rash or anything but the product will no longer block of the sun as effectively as it did before that timeframe, which essentially will defeat the purpose.

If you have been holding on to cosmetics longer than the recommended time span without any outbreaks, you’re probably reluctant to following this guideline. But just keep it mind, it’s better safe than sorry!

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