As beauty enthusiasts, you’ve probably been there before — digging deep down into your makeup pouch to pull out “old faithful.” That go-to product in a signature shade that you swear was created just for you and no one else. Often, it’s a lipstick or blush that was likely a limited edition, discontinued, or just plain hard to find these days. And although you know you’ve been pulling out that same exact product for God knows how long, you still open up the tube and whip it on with pride, oblivious to the slight changing of color, weird texture, and strange smell. Nope, you don’t notice. It’s your fave. And besides, you’re already running late.

This is a big no-no, ladies! You see, just as we keep a keen eye on the expiration dates of milk, bread, and other products that come in contact with our bodies, cosmetics must be replaced in a timely manner, as well. Sure, most of our makeup items are packed full of preservatives that lead us to believe we can keep swiping, brushing, and patting until the very last drop. But understand that such carelessness can come at a cost. After all, how cute would you look with a mean case of pinkeye from old mascara or a nasty mouth sore from some contaminated lipstick tube? Ahhh, not the look you were going for, huh? I figured as much. *wink*

No worries! Here are some tips to ensure you’re properly taking care of your beauty bags:

How to Store

Cosmetic items should be stored in a cool, dry environment. Cabinets and drawers are ideal. Note: Bathrooms and cars, where most of us end up prepping our faces each morning, are the worst places to store your makeup bags. Exposure to moisture, bright lights, and extreme temperatures can put your products at risk.

When to Toss (General Guidelines)

· Cleansers/Moisturizers (cream/gel/liquid): 6 months to a year
· Liquid/Cream foundations: 6 months to a year
· Concealer: 1 year
· Powders: up to 2 years
· Eyeshadow/Blush: 3 years, unless in cream formulation, which shortens product life to 1 year
· Pencils: 3 years (sharpen with each use to prevent bacteria buildup)
· Mascara: 3 months
· Lipstick: 2 years
· Lipgloss: 1 year

Factors That Shorten the Life of Our Cosmetics

· Multi-use Products: Items such as our fave NARS “Multiple” that are advertised for use on eyes, lips, and cheeks can become a breeding ground for bacteria. When used on each area consecutively, we run the risk of spreading germs from our eyes, to our mouths, to our skin – and everywhere in between. To avoid complications, wipe before use on each area and discard/replace every 6 months or so.

· Natural, Vegan, “Green” Products: All-natural and eco-friendly products typically contain little to no preservatives. Thus, we should pay close attention to the expiration dates to avoid spoiled ingredients. Note: These products typically can be stored in the refrigerator to extend usage.

· Wands/Brush Applicators: Though they make application simple as 1-2-3, wand and brush applicators often allow bacteria to travel. Each time we swipe our lashes or lips, we’re putting germs back into the tube. To play it safe, avoid sharing lip glosses and mascaras. And do not pump your mascara! Contrary to popular belief, this doesn’t do anything but force air, moisture, and thus germs (!) into the tube.

· Broken Seals or Other Signs of Tampering: If it looks like someone’s had their way with the product you’re about to buy, don’t take your chances. There’s no telling what kind of health and hygiene issues the person before you had. As cute as the color may be, it’s certainly not worth putting yourself at risk!

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  • MK

    thanks for this, I think I need to toss a few things