When last did you buy a new lipstick or eyeshadow? Most likely there are products in your kit that you’ve been clinging onto for far too long and deep down you know that it’s time to let go, even if you aren’t sure about make-up expiration dates.
Maybe you have a hoarding problem, maybe you like having options or maybe you just can’t bring yourself to throw out the designer mascara you got for Christmas two years ago… But just how long does make-up last? Here’s our guide to help you clean out your make-up bag.
Read more: 10 make-up essentials every beauty bag needs
Can make-up go off?
Absolutely. Expiry dates on cosmetics really do exist although they may not be marked your standard sell by/ use by stamps, and they’re there for a reason…
Is it OK to use expired make-up?
No, our recommendation would be to stop using any beauty product after it has expired. Firstly, you want to be able to get the best quality application and wear out of your make-up products, and over time ingredients stop working, formulas break down and colours oxidise.
When you use expired make-up, you not only compromise on your look but on the health of your skin too. Old-make up will often be home to bacteria build-up which can lead to infection and breakouts. It may have cost a fortune, but using products that you’ve had for years is just not worth the trouble.
Make-up expiration 101: When should you start throwing make-up away?
Mascara: After 3 months with daily use or sooner if it starts to clump.
Mascara might just be the second most important product in your make-up bag, after your concealer. When you apply mascara, bacteria found naturally on your lashes get transferred to the wand. This is why experts want you to stop sharing mascara with your friends as doing so could spread infections such as pink eye.
The way you apply mascara could also factor into its lifespan – if you often pump the wand in and out of the tube to make sure you pick up enough product, what you’re actually doing is forcing air into the product which causes it to dry out much faster.
Read more: How to apply your make-up in 5 minutes
Foundation and Concealer: After 6-12 months, depending on ingredients
The more you touch the product, the more bacteria is transferred to it. So foundation and concealers packaged with pumps or wands tend to go a bit further before they need to be replaced.
Water-based formulations will last up to 6 months, depending on much and how often you use them. But there’s good news for those with dry skin as oil-based foundations tend to last longer.
Shake well before each use and when you notice that the water or oil starts to separate from the rest of the formula, you’ll know it’s time to move on.
Lipstick: After 2 years
Hooray! Your favourite lippy will hold up pretty well, so there should be enough time to find a replacement if your favourite shade gets discontinued. Lip liners can also last for quite some time as you sharpen away any bacteria that may build-up. When you notice a change in texture, smell or colour, it’s time to toss your lip products away.
Eyeshadow and blush: After2 years or when they start to break and crumble
Whether you own more palettes than you can count or like to stick with single pots of colour, you may notice a build-up on certain parts of the eyeshadow powder – this is oily residue from your brush which hardens over time. This tends to happen when you apply eyeshadow directly over concealer without setting it with loose powder first.
Read more: 5 of the best make-up palettes to buy
Try to use a clean brush each time you apply a new colour in order to limit any oil build-up. But once you notice a different smell or a grey-ish tone on your favourite shade, it’s time to replace it.
Tools: As soon as the bristles start to fall out
Taking care of your make-up brushes is just as important as checking up on your products’ expiry dates. Damp sponges and clumpy brushes are a breeding ground for bacteria and germs, and each time you apply your make-up with dirty tools you cover your face in all that gunk.
Wash your tools at least once a week using soap and water. Adding a little olive oil to the solution could help remove oil-based build-up.
Skin care products: After 3-6 months
Yes, skincare isn’t make-up but we didn’t want you to think that those beauty products don’t expire too. The active ingredients in serums and moisturisers usually have a shelf-life of around 6 months – after this, they stop working. Natural products which are preservative free will often last for about 3 months, although you can make them last a little longer by storing them in the fridge.
Now that you’ve cleaned out your make up bag, here are some make-up tips the pros swear by.