How to Tell When You Need to Toss Out Your Makeup

When it comes to makeup, many of us hang on to it as long as we can, especially if it’s the good stuff. While this is certainly understandable, it’s not always a good idea to be totally frugal when it comes to cosmetics. Makeup has a shelf life, and keeping it too long can actually do you more harm than good. Here are a few tips on knowing when it’s time to just toss it.

Water Based Foundation

Water based foundations are great for coverage, but they’re also a haven for bacteria. Once they’ve been opened, you should replace them within 6-9 months of the first use. Also, don’t store water based foundation in moist areas, as this is a sure fire way to speed up the growth of bacteria. If you’re unsure whether your makeup is any good, look for signs like a change in smell or color. These are definite indications that it’s time to replace the makeup. If you don’t, you risk damaging your skin.

Facial Powder

The shelf life of facial powder is much longer than water based foundation, but it’s not a forever type of thing. You should use these for a maximum of two years, and even less if you wear it frequently. Some powders have trace amounts of water, and that’s just enough for bacteria to flourish. This is especially true when there are botanicals in the ingredients. You may not notice a distinct change in color or smell when the powder starts to get old, so keeping up with the purchase date is critical to maintaining the health of your skin.


When you apply mascara, the brush collects tons of bacteria from your eyelashes, and that bacteria is then transported right into the tube. You should always replace mascara at least every three months, if not sooner. The bacteria inside the tube can cause some serious irritation to the eye, often resulting in the need for medical treatment. Also, pay close attention to the smell of the mascara when it’s nearing the time to toss it. If it has a strong, pungent smell, get rid of it immediately.


Blush is a form of facial powder, so it follows the basic shelf life rules of powder foundation. However, if you use cream blush, you will need to toss it within a year or less. It’s also important to take very good care of your brushes, as they also provide a place for bacteria to thrive. Clean them regularly, and never use them until they’re completely dry. You don’t want to introduce any moisture into the product, as this is a guaranteed way to promote the growth of germs and bacteria.

Lipstick and Gloss

Lipstick and lip gloss is repeatedly exposed to your mouth area, which is why you should replace it after a year. If you’ve been sick with a cold or any other virus, you should replace it much sooner. In general, you’ll know when your lipstick had gone bad because it will become difficult to spread,and it may start to smell like cooking oil. Old lip gloss will clump up, and may not have the shine it had when your first purchased it.

No matter how much you pay for your makeup, you can’t keep it forever. Tossing your makeup when it’s time can decrease your risk of contracting a bacterial infection, or damaging your skin. If you want to save a few dollars and you don’t wear makeup frequently, purchase smaller bottles instead of the standard sizes.


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