The new year is here, and now is the perfect time to take inventory of your beauty and skincare products—time to weed out the cosmetics duds you never wear, toss containers with barely any product and throw out makeup that’s past its prime. To help with your task, I’m including some helpful guidelines on expiration dates for your beauty products. Note there are no federal laws when it comes to makeup expiration dates, but these are recommended guidelines you should follow. It’s also a good idea to go through and review your makeup collection at least every six months.
It Expires When?
- 3 to 6 months: mascara and liquid eyeliner
- 6 months to 1 year: gel eyeliner and moisturizer
- 1 year to 18 months: liquid foundation and lipgloss
- 18 months to 2 years: cream or mousse foundation, concealer, cream blush and cream eye shadow
- 2 to 3 years: face powder, powder blush, powder bronzer, powder eye shadow, lipstick, lip and eye pencils
Keep Your Eye on the Product
Products without water (powders, eye shadow, bronzer) can last two years or more, as can pencils that can be sharpened. Everything else should be thrown out immediately if it doesn’t seem normal. Product separation, weird odor or a change in color or texture—uncommonly thick or watery—can all be indicators of a product gone bad. Mascara has the shortest shelf life. Toss it immediately if it develops a weird smell or color. To keep mascara from drying out too quickly, make sure you don’t pump the wand in the tube; you want to use more of a circular swirl motion. And make sure to close the top securely after each use. That goes for all products in pots, jars and bottles.
In general, cream and liquid products expire more quickly. Cream blush will get a chalky white film that tells you it’s time to dump it. If a product looks hard and doesn’t apply correctly, it’s probably best to get rid of it. Cream eye shadows are more likely to grow bacteria than powder, so look for any change in the texture and color. To extend the life of your cosmetics do not introduce water or saliva into the product; that will encourage bacteria growth. Use brushes, not your fingers, to access products in jars. And never share your cosmetics, especially eye or lip products.
PRO TIP: Keep your makeup in a cool location, away from moisture and heat, both factors in bacteria growth. So storing your makeup bag (or giant kit if you’re makeup obsessed like me) in the bathroom is a big no-no!
You should also clean your makeup brushes and sponges on a regular basis. Clean synthetic brushes that you use to put apply concealer and foundation weekly (once a month for powder brushes). My preference for cleaning synthetic brushes is Dawn dishwashing liquid. It breaks down cream and oil-based products wonderfully, and it’s anti-bacterial. Use any clear shampoo or brush cleanser on hairbrushes.
PRO TIP: Dry your brushes laying horizontally on the edge of a table or counter. Drying them standing up causes water to run in the ferrule and loosen the glue holding the hairs in your brush. Good makeup brushes are an investment and you don’t want to ruin them!
Karen E. Duncan is a freelance makeup artist and beauty consultant in New York City and lead makeup artist for Bilkerdijk Custom Blend Cosmetics created by celebrity makeup artist Barbara Bilkerdijk. Visit her at kareneduncan.com.