When was the last time you thought to look through your makeup bag and discard old products? Believe it or not, makeup has an expiration date and if not properly discarded, cosmetics can lead to bacterial buildup and infection.

You wouldn’t know this by just glancing at your foundation’s packaging because cosmetics aren’t required by law to display expiration dates on the labels. Despite the variance in the composition of your favorite makeup formulas, there are general time frames that you should consider to extend your makeup’s shelf life and stay as glamorously safe as possible.

Expiration dates begin as soon as you first open a product. Powders and shadows have the longest shelf life because they usually expire in 2 years. Cream shadows don’t boast the same longevity and expire in about 18 months.

Next in line is eyeliner, lip pencils, lipstick and lip gloss, which all last for about one year. One way to prevent bacterial transfers is to sharpen pencils at least once a week. You should discard it once the kohl dries or crumbles.
Concealer usually expires after 6-8 months and liquid foundation lasts about 3-6 months and cream lasts about 4-6 months. You can tell when it’s time to toss foundation when the ingredients begin to settle and separate, if the texture gets thicker or thinner or the smell changes.

Lastly, is the product most notoriously known for needing to be replaced the most often, mascara, which expire after about 3 months. Three months is the maximum amount of time you should keep mascara because with every use it’s being exposed to air which pushes bacteria into the tube. That’s why pumping your mascara wand in and out of the bottle is an absolute no-no.

These are all ballpark figures so you might not have to toss your favorite cosmetics sooner or later depending on how you take care of them.

Here are a few more tips to help you really determine if it’s time to upgrade your beauty caboodle:

-Always apply product to a clean face. Good hygiene is key, so this means you may want to avoid sharing your makeup with others.

-If a product has a strange odor, immediately toss it.

-Pay attention to what labels say about the temperature that certain items can be stored. Avoid extremely hot or cold temperatures unless directed. Usually, a dry, cool area is ideal.

-Keep containers tightly sealed when not in use.

-Don’t mix makeup too much. If the label doesn’t say to add anything to the product, don’t do it. Adding to a product could introduce bacteria and make things worse.
-Use a makeup brush cleanser or mild soap on brushes at least once a week because oil, dirt and bacteria can get caught in the bristles. A mild shampoo such as baby shampoo also works. Wash makeup sponges after every use and discard them after a month or when tearing occurs.

-Margaret Francois


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