Most women, when they find a makeup that they really like, tend to keep it, and continue using it until it is used up entirely. Generally, it seems like if you buy makeup new, and keep it stored in a relatively clean place that is not subjected to too much heat or cold, that it should last as long as it takes for you to use it. And remembering the old axiom, “Waste not, want not,” it certainly seems smart to use up one bottle of foundation, tube of lipstick or mascara, etc. before starting out on another. This type of thinking is actually incorrect, and ascribing to such policies can actually wind up in infections, rashes and more.

Makeup Doesn’t Usually Come With a Dating System
Typically, makeup does not come with the same type of labeling system that you’ll find on dairy products, for instance, where the “use by” date is clearly printed on the container, to ensure your safety. Because of this omission, it becomes the responsibility of the purchaser to know the facts on any acceptable lifespans of the various kinds of makeup that comprise their makeup array. Just because a product of any kind does not necessarily share details on when you should throw it away, this does not mean that it will be safe to use, infinitely. This is especially true, when it comes to makeup, and its general disposition over time. The fact is that anything that is stored in a manner where use involves repetitive contact with eyes and skin is going to be subject to degradation over time. And the particular way that a form of makeup is applied does not necessarily speed up or delay the process, either. This means that products like lipstick and mascara are subject to expire just as quickly as foundation and eye shadow, for example.

While it seems a shame to toss a perfectly good tube of lipstick into the trash, you might just be avoiding a more costly round of doctor visits and prescriptions, down the road. Here are some general guidelines, however, when any makeup is subjected to extreme or contaminating conditions, go ahead and dispose of it then.

  • Lipsticks: Probably the longest lasting makeup, both lipstick and lip gloss are the least likely to grow bacteria. Because of various elements, lip gloss should be tossed after 6 months, and lipstick, after a year. Powder-based lip colors can last up to 2 years, when stored properly.
  • Foundation: Some foundations will include an expiration date these days, but in the absence of one, cream based products that are applied to the face (think foundation, blush and eye shadow,) last between 12 to 18 months. They contain oil, which breaks down faster than powder formulations.
  • Mascara and Eyeliners: Mascara is the most volatile form of makeup, being applied within the sensitive eye area. For this reason, after 3 months, you should toss it and buy a replacement.
  • Eyeshadow: Powder shadows are good for 2 years, and the liquid variety, 12 months, provided that the applicators are kept clean, and you have not had an eye infection. Never share makeup, and especially eye makeup with anyone else.
  • Rule of Thumb: Anytime a product develops an odor or changes in appearance, toss it. Be safe, not sorry.