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October 11, 2011

Make Up Shelf Life

Like everything, make up has a shelf life and should be thrown out after a certain period of time. Some become a breeding ground for bacteria and other nasties, so maybe it's time to think about how long you've had certain items and say goodbye.

Before I begin, let me reassure you that I don't necessarily follow the guidelines (naughty, I know..). This is the information I found when researching the topic but I'm no expert. These guidelines are only approximates too, please keep that in mind.

Remember: Any product that may be water based (cream blushes/shadows, liquid eyeliner, foundation etc) has a shorter shelf life as bacteria loves a moist atmosphere. Also, these guidelines are based on time of opening. Most make up products will keep for years if unopened. 

Oil Based: 18 months / Oil-Free: 12 months
Oil-free foundations don't last as long as oil based foundations as they dry up a lot quicker. Foundations in a squeeze tube (eg. Laura Mercier Tinted Moisturiser or Covergirl NatureLuxe Silk Foundation) tend to be more hygienic as it's more difficult for bacteria to enter the tube, rather than a bottle (eg. Revlon Colorstay/Mac Studio Fix Fluid). Be sure to alternate (or throw out) your foundation regularly, or as recommended. Not only will old foundation not work as desired or begin to separate  it may transfer unwanted bacteria directly to your skin. If so, it's time to ditch it. Looking to buy a foundation to keep for an extended period of time? Opt for a pump bottle or squeeze tube.

12 - 18 months
I've read that stick concealer lasts the longest. They're also the best for indicating when it's time to throw them out. When a stick concealer is dry and no longer applies as it did, it's time to throw it out. When liquid concealers (eg. Maybelline Fit Me! concealer) alter in consistency, or begin to separate, ditch it. To prevent contamination and/or the transferral of bacteria, don't apply any concealer (stick or liquid) directly to the skin or use the brush/wand that comes in it; always apply some to a clean finger, brush or sponge. 

24 months
Although powders will last a lot longer, it's best to throw them out after about two years. Pressed powers may begin to become oily, especially if used with the sponge applicator. As a general rule, pressed powders will last longer than two years but it's important to be mindful of contamination. Remember, some face powders are water based so be mindful of bacteria. 

Powder: 24 months / Cream: 12 months
Powder blushes (both loose and pressed) follow the same guidelines as pressed/loose powders. Cream blushes should be replaced after a year, however. 

3 months
Once opened, it's important to use your mascara up fairly quickly. The pumping action associated with mascara application is a great way for bacteria to be pushed further into the container. Bacteria from a mascara brush may cause eye irritations, redness or even conjunctivitis. Not that appealing, am I right? If your mascara develops a bad odour, becomes clumpy or begins to irritate your eye, throw it out immediately.

36 months
This has been one of the most difficult for me to research. Some information suggested that eyeliner should be replaced every three months. Other information says that, if sharpened regularly (weekly), eyeliner pencils can last up to 36 months. Wind up and liquid eyeliners should be disposed of after about three months. All eyeliner can pick up bacteria and apply back to the eye, however an eyeliner pencil can be sharpened to remove the exposed product. As with mascara, it'll important to throw your eyeliners out if they irritate your eye. 

Powder: 18 months / Cream: 12 months
Powder eyeshadows can last for a very long time, especially if they're used/applied with clean make up brushes. However, cream eyeshadows begin to 'break down' after time and should be throw out after about a year. 

24 months
Always look at the texture of your lipstick prior to application. When applying it, take note of any beads of oil on the tip of the lipstick or in the lip gloss. If these appear, it's time to throw it out. Discolouration of a lip product, or a new and unpleasant odour, also means it's time to replace them.

Tips to prolong the life of make up products
  • Keep make up away from moisture (I obviously need to look at my make up storage, mine is all in my bathroom)
  • Wash brushes regularly to prevent contamination
  • Wash sponges or replace sponge regularly 
  • Sharpen pencils weekly to remove bacteria 
  • Wash your hands before applying make up
  • Add a few drops of acetone to thick nail polishes to thin them out


  1. Do you have any tips for washing brushes?

  2. To Anonymous, I'm probably not the best person to ask about washing make up brushes. I'm soo naughty and never do it as often as I should. I use a shampoo that I found didn't flatter my hair, rather than a brush specific shampoo. I just lather the shampoo up as much as I can and wash the brushes until the water runs clean.

    It's not too descriptive but I hope it helps! Maybe one of these days I'll make a video! :O


Tiny Hand With Heart