When to Throw Your Beauty Products Away

Used cosmetics

It’s just about time for spring cleaning to commence and while you probably do a thorough job of cleaning out your closet, you may be neglecting one area completely: your beauty products. Beauty products do have a shelf life, but most of us keep all of our items because you never know when you might need that turquoise liner or neon orange lipstick. A good general rule to go by is if you don’t use a product at least once a month, and it isn’t designated for special occasions only, you should probably part with it. However, if you have a hard time discarding anything or knowing exactly when it’s time to clean out your cosmetics bag, check out the guidelines below to keep your makeup safe and your face clear.

Foundation and Face Products
Both liquid and powder foundations tend to have a shelf life of anywhere between one and two years. Powder foundations, whether loose or pressed, tend to last on the longer side and are often good for two years while liquid foundations may only last one depending on the formulation of the product. It can be so hard to part with the absolute perfect foundation because it can take forever to find it, but it’s important to let go of old products. If you start to notice an odd smell or the “tiger” like stripes that can occur on the inside of the bottle, chuck the foundation. “If the pigments are no longer uniform in a bottle, they’re certainly not going to be uniform when you put it on your skin,” says Ni’Kita Wilson, a cosmetic chemist. She continues saying that if you continue to use these foundations, “…you’re going to look patchy and blotchy, so the color just won’t be even.”

Your powder bronzers, blushes and highlighters, like powder foundations, last for about two years so you don’t have to worry about tossing these all the time. Cream or liquid blushes, bronzers or highlighters have a shelf life of about one year, but if you notice any smell or changes in the texture of the product, it’s best to throw it away and start a new product.

Powder eyeshadow

Eye Products
Powder eyeshadows in either loose or pressed form have a pretty long shelf life. Wilson says you can use these products pretty much until they crumble, but there are some caveats. If you’ve ever dipped a wet brush, finger or other applicators into a powder eyeshadow for a more intense pigment on the lid, you’ll want to get rid of these before they disappear. “While powdered eyeshadows do have preservatives, they’re not meant to be wet. The preservative system may not be strong enough to actually withstand that kind of a treatment,” advises Wilson. You can keep those palettes you invested in longer than some of your other makeup. Liquid, gel and cream eye products along with mascara should be used for about six months and then disposed of. After about the three-month mark, liquid eye products begin to gather bacteria that can cause eye irritation or infection.

Lip Products
Opened lip products, even if you just opened it to switch the color, shouldn’t stay in your collection for more than a year. This 12-month rule applies to any liners, lipsticks, glosses or lip treatments.

You may have glanced at your beauty products and seen a small image of a container and a number, but not realized what it meant. Many products come with this image and it indicates how long the product can safely be used. Paying attention to these can help keep your beauty products safe and effective. When it comes to spring cleaning, it can be hard to part with old favorites, but throwing away bad makeup makes space in your cosmetics collection for newer colors, formulas and products. Know when to throw your beauty products away to keep your skin, and body, healthy and happy.


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