We know how tempting it is to hold on to our makeup forever (hey, if we’re shelling out $30 for a tube of mascara, we want to use every last drop!), but few abide by the golden rule: Toss your beauty products ASAP as recommended. Why? Because they do in fact expire, which can result in the products being less effective, or worse, hoarding bacteria that can lead to numerous infections. Use these guidelines to know which products you can keep in your makeup bag for now—and which ones to toss, STAT.
Mascara: 3 Months
Mascara is usually the first thing to go, because the moist environment inside the tube is an ideal breeding ground for bacteria (definitely not something you want to be putting near your eyes). Plus, thanks to air being pushed back into the tube by the brush causes the product to dry out quickly, meaning you won’t get the same awesome results you got when you first bought it.
Liquid Foundation: 6 Months
Like mascara, the inside of a foundation bottle is the perfect environment for bacteria to thrive, so it’s best to toss your liquid foundation after six months. Also be sure to look for thickening or separation of the formula—a sure sign that you’re ready for a fresh bottle.
Pencil Eyeliner: 2 Years
Liner has the potential to last up to two years, but on one condition: You sharpen it regularly (at least once every two weeks). Because it comes in contact with your eyes, sharpening frequently is necessary to prevent bacteria buildup.
Lipstick and Lip Gloss: 2 Years
Contrary to popular belief, lipstick has a relatively lengthy shelf life. But if the formula begins to feel dry or the pigment is hard to spread, it’s time to give your favorite tube the heave-ho. As for lip gloss, you’ll know when its time is up when it becomes thick, sticky, or goopey. Because these products come into contact with your mouth, you should replace immediately thereafter you’ve been sick. Better yet, avoid use during that time to avoid transferring germs.
Nail Polish: 2 Years
Generally, your polish should stay fresh for at least two years. Fortunately bacteria doesn’t tend to thrive inside of nail polish bottles, so it’s fine to use until the formula starts to become noticeably separated or thick.
Pressed Powder, Powder Eyeshadow, and Powder Blush: 2 Years
Because of the low water content of these products, you can count on them staying fresh for about two years, provided they are kept in a cool, dry place. Just keep an eye on them—if you notice any changes in texture or smell, it’s time to toss. Here’s another tip: Washing your makeup brushes frequently (daily even) with a gentle shampoo helps prolong the life span of powders as well.
Fragrance: At Least 2 Years
Keep your favorite scent in a cool environment and out of direct sunlight, and you’ll be able to enjoy it for years to come. And despite how pretty perfume bottles look on your dresser, you can further extend the life of your fragrance by storing it in the refrigerator.