Is your makeup expired? Here’s how to tell


Some of the same women who would never consider drinking milk on its expiration date don’t think twice about using years-old liquid foundation.

Nothing lasts forever, and that also applies to cosmetics.

Read more: 5 drug store beauty products worth buying

Are you cosmetics too old to be safely used?

Once opened, the clock is ticking, so use it or lose it, according to Julian Reynolds, founder, owner and lead makeup artist at Julian’s Cosmetics and Skincare in Atlanta.

‘Lipsticks should be discarded after two years — and lip glosses every year — because you are applying a liquid consistency directly to the skin, and there is a potential to develop bacteria in the product,’ Reynolds said.

In particular, take note of the date when opening a new mascara. Dried and clumpy mascara is a breeding ground for bacteria because of the wand’s close contact with the eyes. And don’t pump the wand into the tube, thinking that freshens it up. That just pumps air into the tube, which diminishes the product faster.

A chemical smell is obvious in mascara that has been open longer than it should have been.

‘We recommend changing your mascara every three months,’ Reynolds said. ‘Or if you have had any sort of eye infection or irritation, the mascara should be thrown out and replaced with a new one immediately.’

Oxidation and degradation of certain elements in liquid foundation begin as soon as the air hits it. Plus, fingers going back and forth between the product and one’s face exchanges bacteria between the two. Add heat and humidity to the mix, and the conditions are perfect for promoting yeast and mold. Allure magazine recommends opting for a new bottle after three months of use.

It’s not uncommon to amass a big collection of eye shadow shades to match to one’s wardrobe. However, it might be best to stick with a handful that are more likely to be used on a regular basis, Reynolds said.


‘If you have not used the eye shadow in the last five years, it is not the right shadow for you and you will probably never use it again anyway,’ he said.

Most women tend to put on their makeup in the bathroom, but it’s really not the ideal place. Keeping all cosmetics in a cool, dry linen closet that is free from heat and humidity is the best bet. And when it comes to application tools, makeup mogul Bobbi Brown suggests washing all makeup brushes every few weeks and throwing out any makeup that is broken, missing a lid or in a broken container.

But a little common sense goes a long way.

‘If it smells funny, looks odd or seems to have changed in consistency or color, it should not be used any longer,’ Reynolds said.

Read more: 10 items that are cheaper on vs.

Here’s when you should toss products, according to Brown:

Replace after three months:

  • Liquid foundation
  • Mascara

Replace after one year:

  • Eyeliner
  • Lip liner
  • Eyebrow pencil

Replace after two years:

  • Blush
  • Eye shadow
  • Moisturizer
  • Powder
  • Concealer

Simple stay-fresh secrets for applying makeup:

  • Wash and dry your hands thoroughly before putting your fingers into a product.
  • Avoid reinfection of cold sores or conjunctivitis by tossing make up that was used before the infection.
  • Smell your brand-new mascara and note the scent. Old mascara takes on a chemical smell.
  • Don’t cover a pimple and stick your finger back into the makeup.

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