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Is It Time To Replace Your Makeup? 12 Simple Guidelines

Nothing lasts forever, and that includes your makeup. Find out when to bid your products farewell here.

Jill Nystul • August 19, 2022

Jill Nystul • December 20, 2023

Jill Nystul • December 20, 2023

Jill Nystul • December 20, 2023

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Because I have such ridiculously sensitive skin and eyes, I try to avoid using old makeup that has passed its prime, but it’s easy to lose track. But I recently I came across a good tip that will make it easier in the future: when you buy a new makeup item, write the purchase date on the item in permanent marker.

But knowing when you bought a product is only half the battle. The other part of the equation is knowing how long each product you own is usable, and I’ve already got you covered there.

Just reference the guidelines below to figure out when you should get rid of your old makeup products and replace them with new ones.

Guidelines For When To Toss Your Old Makeup

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1. Foundation

If you dab your fingers into your bottle of liquid foundation every day, you should replace it after 6-8 months, or a few months longer if it has a pump top. And if a liquid foundation starts to separate, a cream foundation gets thicker, or a pressed powder develops a rubbery aroma, it’s time to toss it.

Your best-matching foundation shade can change at least twice a year anyway, so getting in the habit of replacing your foundation every 6 months or so will give you a chance to switch shades at the right time.

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2. Liquid Concealer

Liquid concealer can last up to a year, as long as you use a clean sponge or applicator. Don’t use concealer that has turned tough or elastic-like, nor if it separates, appears oily, or smells rancid.

Keeping your fingers out of your concealer and keeping the lid shut tightly when it’s not in use can save your concealer from spoiling before the year is up. But if you prefer to apply concealer with your fingers, it is best to toss it after 3 months.

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3. Cream Blush

In general, cream blush should be replaced after a year. To prolong its life, clean your blush brush regularly and store blush in a dark, dry place. If it gets wet, you run the risk of promoting bacterial growth. Creams tend to thicken and smell funny when they turn, so watch for that.

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4. Face Powder

Powder makeup can last over a year, as long as there’s no shiny buildup on the surface and you haven’t experienced any skin irritation. One reason why powders tend to be less problematic is because bacteria can’t grow without moisture present.

However, over time, powders with botanical ingredients like aloe or jojoba can become harder to blend, and are more likely to crumble as those trace amounts of moisture evaporate.

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5. Powder Blush/Bronzer

With proper care and clean brushes, you can squeeze up to 2 years out of your powder brush or bronzer. However, if your powder grows a white crust or starts to crumble, throw it out. You can also protect powders by keeping them dry and storing them outside the humid environment of your bathroom.

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6. Mascara & Liquid Eyeliner

Most experts recommend replacing liquid eyeliner and mascara every 3 months. Personally, I usually use it until it starts to dry out, which rarely takes more than 6 months. The only exception is if you get an eye infection — if that happens, you should replace all of your eye makeup ASAP.

Overall, don’t take chances with eye products — germ-ridden formulas can cause infections and styes. When you buy a new tube of mascara, keep bacteria out by closing it tightly after each use, avoid pumping the wand in and out, and don’t share your mascara with anyone.

7. Eyeshadow

Powdered eyeshadow will normally last up to 2 years, as long as you wash your brushes regularly. Since my eyes are pretty sensitive, I replace my eyeshadows after about 4-6 months. Even though they are similar to other powders, they’re making more direct contact with your eyes, making bacteria more of a concern.

8. Pencil Eyeliner

Pencil eyeliner can last up to 2 years if properly stored and sharpened regularly. Pencil eyeliners have a longer shelf life because you can create a fresh, clean surface each time you sharpen them. (Just be sure to sanitize your sharpener with rubbing alcohol regularly.)

9. Lipstick, Lip Gloss, & Lipliner

Lipstick, lip gloss, and lipliner can last up to 2 years, if you don’t use them up before that. The risk of them growing bacteria is relatively low since they don’t contain any water. You may want to replace them if an illness or cold sore, or if you notice any changes in color or texture.

10. Nail Polish

Nail polish won’t go bad from bacteria, but eventually it will become a bit clumpy, and the pigments will settle on the bottom of the bottle. If you shake it and it remains separated, it’s time to toss. (If the polish is simply too thick to work with, you can add nail polish thinner.)

Toss any nail polish you haven’t used in the last year. Chances are if you haven’t used it in 12 months, you’re not going to be using it any time soon, so toss it to make room for something you’ll use and enjoy!

11. Makeup Brushes

If cleaned and stored properly, good makeup brushes can last for years. But when the bristles start to fray or fall out, it’s time for a new set. Check out more tips about cleaning and caring for your makeup brushes here.

The Takeaway

Generally speaking, the better you take care of your makeup, the longer it will last. The above guidelines can help, but make sure to use your senses (and common sense) as well. If anything looks or smells off to you, you’re better off tossing it. Better safe than sorry!

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