The Urge to Purge: Time to Toss it Out? Makeup Shelf Life

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All good things eventually come to an end and even the best products have a shelf life, so sooner or later we have to let go. I think I make an educated guess when I say that there are two things that prevent us from doing the right thing, namely to throw stuff away especially when it comes to makeup. First of all, we grow so fond of these products that any change is downright frightening particularly if we can’t replace them with identical items reasonably priced.

Second, going through the makeup drawer to decide which items can be used a bit longer and which belong into the trash is a time-consuming process that has a deterring effect on us. The bad news is that nobody will rush to the rescue and it is entirely up to us to do what needs to be done, namely to take every single item and make a decision.

On the flip side, there are some simple rules that must be followed to simplify the process and to greatly reduce the duration of the entire operation to less than 30 min.

Eyeshadows, liquid or lip pencils are safe to be used for three months but when they show signs of fatigue don’t hesitate to throw them away. Lipstick and lip glosses last a bit over one year but then again, don’t become the victim of standardized rules and get rid of them if they don’t look safe for use anymore. Mascara on the other hand should be replaced every three months, because you don’t want any expired substances to get in contact with your eyes and cause an infection.

makeup-shelf-

When to Say Goodbye?

Mascara

This is the makeup item you should be most vigilant about: As the brush is taken out, applied, and put back in the tube, it brings with it any bacteria that has collected along the way. Lingering bacteria can cause redness and itchiness, or even conjunctivitis (a.k.a. pinkeye) and sties. Switch mascara every two to three months to be safe. It will also have a distinct gasoline-like smell once it’s gone bad.

toss-your-makeup

When to Say Goodbye?

Foundation

With the exception of powder formulas, all foundations are water-based, which means bacteria love them. Unopened, foundation can last for a couple of years, but once the seal is broken, it’s best to replace it after 6 to 12 months. Keep foundations out of moist environments (such as your bathroom) and away from heat, as high temperatures encourage the growth of the bugs and can speed up the spoiling—true for beauty products in general.

foundation

When to Say Goodbye?

Concealer

This is meant to cover blemishes, not cause them—which is what can happen if you use a concealer that’s too old. You’ll know it’s gone bad because the color will start to shift. Concealers in powder and stick form can last for up to two years, while liquids should be tossed after one.

concealer

When to Say Goodbye?

FACE POWDER

Powders are the Energizer Bunny of makeup. They keep going…and going—at least, for up to two years. Still, some powders contain small amounts of water from botanical extracts, so there’s the risk of it growing bacteria if you leave it lying around your bathroom. Look on the ingredients panel for long Latin names—these are often botanicals, and their common names (such as oat extract, chamomile, aloe, bamboo, and green-tea extracts) are typically listed in parentheses.

face-powder

When to Say Goodbye?

BLUSH

The same rules that apply to face powder apply to powder blush, since neither contain water. Cream blush, however, should be replaced after a year. To prolong the life of any blush, clean your blush brush regularly and storing the color in a dark, dry place. If your blush gets wet, you run the risk of promoting bacterial growth. Moisture can come in the form of residue from your foundation and face cream as well.
face-blush

When to Say Goodbye?

EYE SHADOW

To keep your eyes from getting red or itchy, replace powder shadows after about three months. Even though they are similar in formulation to other powders, because they’re constantly in contact with a mucous membrane, there’s a higher risk of transferring bacteria to the product and then back to the eyes. Pay extra attention to cream-based shadows, which tend to grow bacteria more quickly than powders. If you use your fingers to apply, wash your hands before doing so, and be aware of any color switches or off-putting smells.

eyeshadow

When to Say Goodbye?

EYELINER

Liquid or pencil, these eye definers should be replaced about every three months. Like eye shadows, they are applied near a sensitive area and can pick up bacteria and bring it back to the eye very easily without any visible signs of contamination. If you’ve used a dingy liner, you could experience redness, itchiness, or, in extreme cases, conjunctivitis. Pencils will last a bit longer than liquid if you’re steadfast about regular sharpening, but you’ll know they’re dead once a white film starts to develop on the tip that can’t be sharpened off.

eye-pencil

When to Say Goodbye?

LIPSTICK AND LIP GLOSS

The wrong color may spoil your mood — but the risk of the formula spoiling (or growing bacteria) is low since they don’t contain any water. But since they’re repeatedly exposed to the mouth area, replace lip products after a year, or if you’ve recently been sick. Lipsticks and glosses contain oily ingredients that start to smell like stale cooking oil over time.

lipstick

When to Say Goodbye?

NAIL POLISH

It won’t go bad from bacteria. Eventually though, lacquer will dry out and become thick and clumpy, with the pigments settling along the bottom of the bottle. Shake it, and if the formula remains separated, it’s done.

nail-polish

When to Say Goodbye?

TOOLS

If cleaned and stored properly, good brushes can last for years, but when the bristles start to fray or fall out, it’s time for a new set. To keep them looking pristine, wipe them on a dry paper towel or washcloth after every use, and giving them a thorough cleaning every two weeks with a gentle hair shampoo. The best way to store them is propped upright in a glass, where they can air out and won’t be squashed and deformed.

tools

If you try to follow the conventional wisdom that goes: “If you haven’t used it in a year, get rid of it”, you won’t feel regrets after the major clean-out frenzy. Also, you should make note of when you purchased things and look for expiration dates on products that have them. They are there for a reason.

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About the Author Calleigh

Calleigh is passionate about inspiring others to a healthy living and encourages to re-discover their lifestyle. Her keen interest in health shines through in her written work on DIY skin care, beauty tips, healthy and active lifestyles.

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