New Year new makeup

Yeah, that’s right: Everything has an expiration date. Food, your passport, that guy you’ve been dating. It’s a new year, and it’s time to clean house—and this includes your cosmetics.

The FDA does not have guidelines or regulations for skin care and cosmetics. They do, however, mandate that products sold be free of contamination. Whether your fave foundation is preserved by the typical—and questionable—parabens and propylenes, or a more natural preservative like orange/lemongrass blends or coconut derivatives, it won’t last forever.

Shelf lives of make-up can be vague because of many variables:

  • How sterile was the production facility?
  • Does the formulation contain water?
  • Purity of ingredients
  • Storage conditions, i.e moisture, sun exposure, etc.
  • Your application process/habits, i.e. finger-free, applicators, brushes, etc.


Here are some basic guidelines and tips to follow to know when to throw out and when to keep.

Because mascara is repeatedly applied and returned to the tube, contamination risk is especially high.
How to know it’s time to throw: Eye irritation, gasoline smell. Replace every two-three months, or sooner if you have an eye issue.

This make-up staple contains water—and bacteria love water.
How to know it’s time to throw: Off smell, formula separating, change in color. An unopened container of foundation can last a couple of years, but toss an opened container after six-twelve months.

Concealer usually contains water, so as with foundation, bacteria can be a problem.
How to know it’s time to throw: Change in smell or color. Replace once a year; powder concealer can last up to two years.

Face powder
Some powders contain a trace amount of water or botanicals that maintain moisture, which increase the growth of bacteria.
How to know it’s time to throw: Color or texture change, brush pick-up limited. Replace powder after two years.

Even with a powder blush, there is cross contamination of moisture from your face cream and foundation already applied to skin.
How to know it’s time to throw: Replace blush every two years, and if you use cream blush, change it after one year.

Eye shadow
Because eye shadow comes in regular contact with mucous membrane, contamination risk is high.
How to know it’s time to throw: Change in color and texture. Replace eye shadow every three-six months.

Eye pencil/liners
It’s helpful to sharpen these often, but as with eye shadow, there is contact with mucous membrane and therefore contamination risk..
How to know it’s time to throw: White film that doesn’t go away when sharpened, eye irritation. Replace these every three months.

Though lipstick doesn’t often contain water, it is replaced in and out of the container quite often, therefore making contamination risk high.
How to know it’s time to throw: Smells like stale cooking oil or old crayon, texture change. Replace at one year, or earlier if you’ve been sick.

Brushes should be cleaned regularly with an easy-to-use brush cleaner between each applicaton/use. At least once a month, shampoo with a gentle, sulfate-free shampoo and air dry.
How to know it’s time to throwPuffs and sponges can be washed in a lingerie bag on the gentle cycle in the machine and air-dried.

Happy New Year and happy making up!

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