When Do You Actually Need to Throw Out Your Makeup?

Time to purge your collection!

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It can be easy to hang onto your makeup for a long time, especially when it’s a high-end, expensive brand. But you might not be doing your face any favors by applying old makeup. In fact, you could even be putting yourself at risk for breakouts or, at the very least, skin irritation.

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Unlike with food, most makeup companies aren’t required to display an expiration date on beauty products, so it can be hard to tell when it’s time to toss them.

But three things can potentially happen to makeup once you open and begin using it: Air hits the product, resulting in oxidation; heat and moisture exposure may cause mold to grow; and your fingers and brushes can transfer bacteria onto it.

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As you go through your makeup collection, use the list below as a guide to help you purge the items you’ve had for too long.

Generally speaking, makeup in liquid form (e.g. mascara, lip gloss, foundation) has greater potential for trouble, because things like bacteria and mold thrive off the water. Powder makeup (e.g. blush, bronzer, highlighter) will last longer.

New, unopened makeup should have a shelf life of a few years. But when in doubt, toss it out!

Liquid Foundation & Concealer

Problem signs: Separation, lumps, uneven color, streaky application

Throw it out: After six months

Powder Foundation & Concealer

Problem signs: Crumbly texture, uneven color

Throw it out: After two years

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Mascara

Problem signs: Dryness, clumps

Throw it out: After six months

Liquid Eyeliner

Problem signs: Dryness

Throw it out: After three months

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Pencil Eyeliner

Problem signs: Crumbling, missing cap

Throw it out: After two years

Eyeshadow

Problem signs: Difficulty transferring onto a brush

Throw it out: After two years

Lipstick

Problem signs: Dryness

Throw it out: After two years

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Lipgloss

Problem signs: Dryness, clumps

Throw it out: After two years

Lipliner

Problem signs: Crumbling, missing cap

Throw it out: After two years

Use your best judgment: If your makeup looks or smells odd, you’re probably better off chucking it. You can help avoid breakouts from unclean makeup by always washing your hands prior to makeup application, and taking proper care of your brushes.

To ensure you don’t throw out good makeup before its time, use a permanent marker to write the purchase date on the bottom of each item when you add it to your collection.

Jackie Kolgraf
Jackie Kolgraf

Jackie lives in the suburbs of Boston with her dachshund and corgi. She loves flowers, snow, One Direction, and bad TV. When she's not writing about pop culture, she's probably reading about it.