Save Face: Learn When to Toss Your Makeup

(Image Credit: Luca Fabbian)
(Image Credit: Luca Fabbian)

I love trying out new makeup. I can sometimes have three mascaras and ten lipsticks circulating at the same time. There’s no doubt that this makes for a more fun time getting ready, but it can also result in a product I’ve used only once or twice sitting around for a few years because I think that maybe I’ll really need that blue eyeshadow for a future occasion, or even just because I feel like I’m being wasteful if I get rid of it. If you’re anything like me in this regard, you probably have unnecessary clutter around your vanity, but even worse? You’re likely to have expired makeup lying around.

Didn’t know cosmetics have expiration dates? Many people don’t, but unfortunately it’s the truth. If you look on the bottom of a product, often times there will be an indication of how long it is okay to use. For example, you might see “2Y,” meaning two years, or “6M,” indicating that you need to toss it after six months. If your cosmetics don’t have clear expiration dates on them, check out this list as a general guideline to when you need to say goodbye to your beauty products.

Mascara: I’ve always heard that mascara should be used no more than about three months. You don’t want to mess with bacteria that might find its way in, and it tends to get dried out and clumpy after that point, anyway.

Lipstick and lip gloss: From a quick glance at my most-used lip products, the general suggestion seems to be to toss after one year.

Foundation and concealer: These are typically fine to use for a year, but sometimes the advised expiration date is after only six months.

Eyeshadow: Mine range from one to two years, which is pretty painful since I’ll never make it through an entire eyeshadow palette in that time.

Face powders: Like eyeshadows, the rule of thumb is one to two years. This means setting powder, blush, bronzer, and the like all need to be used up in 24 months.

Liners and pommades: Six months to a year is the time frame you should stick to. Not only are they also more prone to bacteria since they are used around the eyes, but they are some of the quickest to dry out and stop working properly.

I know it hurts to throw away that beautiful, ridiculously overpriced Chanel foundation, but expired products just don’t work like they should—I can’t be the only one who’s shaken up a separated foundation in hopes of giving it new life. On a more positive note, this gives you every reason to make a Sephora trip without an ounce of guilt! It’s time to toss that forgotten makeup pile and get shopping.

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I was born and raised in New Jersey, but after attending the University of Vermont, Burlington, VT, has become my home away from home. I’ll take Netflix and my couch over a night out every time, and I’m very happy to spend my (increasingly rarer) spare moments reading and writing.

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