When to Throw Away Makeup

Every makeup-wearing person has one. The drawer/shelf/closet where old makeup products go to die. If you’re like I used to be (somewhat still am…) you think “I can’t just throw this away! I might need this exact outrageous color of fuchsia at some point in the future!” And that lipstick gets stowed away until the end of time. We have to stop this habit – not only are we cluttering up our lives, but we’re spreading bacteria! But not all makeup is created equal – some products last much longer than others. So here is a basic guideline of when to throw away makeup.

Foundation (liquid) – 6 months to 1 year

This stuff is often expensive, but fortunately gets used quite a bit. So you might already be tossing this within the required time.

Cream makeup (concealer, blush, shadow) – 6 months to 1 year

I don’t use a lot of cream makeup, but I used to have an entire Ben Nye kit from my college days as a theatre major. I’m ashamed to say I threw it out just a few years ago, and that it was probably at least 10 years old (if not older) when I did. *cringe* But that stuff was SO expensive so I justified keeping it, even though I was barely using it.

Lipstick – 1 year

I was dismayed to find this out. I have a LOT of lip gloss and lipstick, because I don’t wear it all the time, but seem to receive it as a gift.

Powder – 2 years

I am sure the powder in my makeup case is at least 3 years old. BUT IT WAS EXPENSIVE. COME ON, CUT ME SOME SLACK.

Eyeliner (liquid) – 3 months

Again, I don’t wear this very often, but I bet the current tube I have is probably two years old. Ick.

Eyeliner (pencil) – 2 years

This suggestion lines up with my normal eyeliner pencil usage. It helps that you can sharpen it every time you use it, of course.

Mascara – 3 months

This is literally the only makeup I’m good about tossing when it’s time. Probably because there is nothing worse than trying to apply goopy mascara.

Moisturizer – 6 months if you scoop it out with your fingers from a tub, 1 year if it comes out of a pump

Another category where I’m probably in the clear. Though I seem to have acquired a LOT of moisturizer of late. (I blame Sephora.)

Sunscreen – 1 year

Though I doubt I keep facial sunscreen longer than a year, body sunscreen is another matter. I’m religious about applying sunscreen to my face. Not so much with the rest of me. 

Nail polish – 1 year

This one makes me laugh, because I’m certain I have nail polish from middle school under my bathroom sink right now! And you can’t take it from me! Oh, all right, I’ll go throw it out.

All of this has taught me that I really need to clean out my bathroom cabinets. Some products may have expiration dates right on the label, so be sure to read them. Don’t rinse them down the drain, as chemicals in makeup can affect the environment. Some brands even offer ways to recycle old cosmetics. When in doubt, make sure it’s sealed and toss it in the trash. Your face will thank you when you throw away old makeup.

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