When to Throw Out Beauty Products

If someone looked in your cosmetics bag at home, could they tell you have no clue when to throw out your makeup? After all, who doesn't have at least a few dried-up mascaras or some broken cakes of eye shadow lying around? You should know that cosmetics have expiration dates, and you need to go through your makeup supply on a regular basis and get rid of old beauty products. They can lead to infection, and they won't ever give you results comparable to those of new cosmetics.

How Do You Know If Your Makeup Is Old?
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has no guidelines or recommendation dates for throwing out cosmetics. Makeup products go through a series of stability tests, such as subjecting the product to repeated temperature extremes, testing how well the preservatives work over time, testing packaging and doing patch tests on volunteers to look for problems.

However, people take care of their cosmetics in different ways and use them at different rates, so it is especially difficult to determine a specific amount of time the cosmetics will last without any changes to texture, consistency or freshness. People who wear all of their makeup products every day will probably use them up before they need to worry about expiration times. Others who wear certain products only occasionally or who don't store their makeup properly may find that they need to throw out some products and buy new makeup before they have finished all of it.

As far as general recommendations are concerned, it is easy to spot liquid makeup that is too old. Liquid mascara may start to clump, or liquid foundations may separate over time. If this happens, it is definitely time to throw them out and buy new items. The same goes for makeup that cakes up. If powder or powdered eye shadow becomes cakey, you should probably replace them as well.

You can also help makeup last longer if you store it anywhere but the bathroom. The moist bathroom environment encourages the spread of bacteria and the spoiling of makeup. This advice is especially important if you use cosmetics with natural ingredients.

Also consider your makeup brushes and tools. Replace your sponges regularly, and wash your makeup brushes every two weeks.

Timelines for Commonly Used Cosmetics
Mascara. Most guidelines suggest replacing your mascara three to four months from the time you open it. After that, it can start to clump. There is also a very real concern about bacteria growing in your mascara. You could re-infect your eye if you've had an eye infection, or you could spread infection if you share makeup. You don't want to risk an eye infection, so don't use old mascara.

Eyeliner. Like mascara, liquid eyeliners should be tossed after three to four months and for the same reasons. The smallest amount of bacteria can create a painful eye infection. If you use pencil eyeliner, you can use it a little longer. Sharpening the pencil removes the outer layers, not to mention the bacteria on those layers, and you can also clean your eyeliner pencil with a little spray of rubbing alcohol. If the pencil starts to crumble as you sharpen it, toss it out because crumbling is a sign of bacteria.

Eye Shadow. Powdered eye shadow can last a long time. As long as it doesn't get dry and cakey, you can use it for as long as a year, or even two. If your preference is a cream eye shadow, you can use it safely for about a year, unless you stick your finger into it when applying the cream. If that's the case with your eye shadow, get rid of it after three months.

Foundation. Liquid foundation should be replaced every six months. You can possibly stretch that out closer to a year if you keep the foundation in a cool, dry place and use a tube formula that squeezes out or a liquid with a pump. Mineral powder foundations that come in a loose powder form can be used for as long as three years if you shake a little powder into the lid and then dip your brush or sponge into that powder. When you are finished picking up powder from the lid, dump out any excess; otherwise, you'll just add bacteria from your brush or sponge to the powder, which is what you should try to avoid.

Blush. Approach blush the same way you would approach eye shadow. Powder blush can last up to a year or two. If your blush breaks, however, just toss the chunks away and buy new makeup. The chunks will be difficult to apply without looking caked on. If you use a cream blush, you can use it for a year, unless you apply it with your fingers.

Lipstick. You can use your lipstick for up to two years. If your lipstick starts to show beads of oil, replace it. If you notice a change in the color or if the lipstick starts to smell funny, it also needs to be replaced. Don't keep your lipstick in the bathroom or in a hot car.

Moisturizer and Cleansers. You should be able to keep moisturizer and cleansers for about a year. However, if you dip your hand into the jar to remove it, then you should probably toss it much sooner because of bacteria on your hands. You can avoid having to toss moisturizer or cleansers if you use a cotton swab or a makeup spatula.

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