When to Toss Your Makeup.

What happens when you use expired makeup? Girrrrrrrrl, let's just say that it's not pretty. 

I've done it. You've done it. We've all done it at some point (especially when you've shelled out a pretty penny for a product). And can we talk about how many gorgeous products we're always seeing in Sephora and on Instagram? It can be so tempting to stock up on tons of different products even when you already have a vanity covered in cosmetics. 

It's time to get over our makeup-loving selves and prioritize our skin though because products that are past their use-by date can cause breakouts, swelling, irritation, blisters, infections (think acne and pink eye) and more. There are some things that just aren't worth the risk. Actually, there are many things that aren't worth the risk (like galaxy print leggings and squiggly eyebrows), but we'll save that for another day.

Cosmetics and skincare that have passed their use-by date work less efficiently and can be harmful. Why? Because formulas break down over time and preservatives stop working, which can do major damage to your skin. The efficacy of active ingredients becomes compromised as products get closer to their expiration dates. Cosmetics that are past their prime will also dry out, get clumpy and lose their consistency. Um. Ain't nobody got time for clumpy mascara or runny foundation. Amiright? 

Despite what it feels like sometimes, expiration dates aren't there to get you to keep restocking your makeup stash. In fact, there is no FDA regulation of makeup expiration dates in the United States, so tons of products don't even list one. That being said, it's up to you to figure out when to say bye, bye, bye to the products in your makeup bag. 

Here's my go-to guide for when it's time to toss your favorite liners and palettes:

Beauty Blenders

When to Toss It: 1 month

Sponges can play host to tons of bacteria, so they have an especially short life expectancy. Make sure to cleanse yours at least every other application and trash them after a month of use. 


When to Toss It: 8-12 months

This will depend on the type of concealer you're using. If you apply it with your fingers, the days are numbered because you're more likely to transfer bacteria with each use. If you use a concealer with a wand, toss it as you get closer to the 1-year mark. Applicator-in-product situations are always something to look out for because they can be breeding grounds for bacteria. When the applicator brush is stored within the product itself, the shelf life is substantially shorter.

A concealer in a pan can last up to 12 months if you apply it with a sponge or a brush that is regularly washed. 


When to Toss It: 3-6 months

Your eyes are especially sensitive to bacteria exposure, so smudge pots and liquid eyeliners with felt tip applicators should be headed to the garbage can at three months. As a rule, sharpen pencil eyeliners at least every other use to extend their shelf life.


When to Toss It: 6 months – 1 year

Foundation contains ingredients that often begin to separate once they have passed their use-by date. This causes the oil ingredients to rise to the top, meaning that foundation that's passed its shelf life could be adding extra pore-clogging oil to your skin. Can you say breakout? Hard pass. Toss it as soon as it starts to look like it's separating, no matter how short or long of a time you've had it.  

Foundations that are kept longer than six months usually go bad due to bacteria from cross contamination. This is especially true for formulas that are applied with your fingers. Looking to stretch your foundation and really get the best bang for your buck? Opt for liquid formulas that are squeezed out of a tube or those with a pump. The opportunities for bacteria to breed are slimmer. 


When to Toss It: 1 year

Lipsticks typically have a shelf life of one year, and even less if you have an infection like a cold sore. If your lipstick or gloss smells even a little off, it's time to toss it. Girl, bye.


When to Toss It: 3 months

Always toss mascara that's been opened for three months or more. Mascara that is past its prime is likely to be dried up, flaky and often will not last all day.

One of my favorite tips is not to pump the wand into the tube. Doing so causes the product to dry out faster. Instead, twirl the brush inside to distribute your mascara evenly onto the wand. 

Pressed Powders

When to Toss It: 1-2 Years

Powders have a longer shelf life than most other cosmetics because they don't contain oils or water.

Whether you're using an amazing bronzer, blush or eyeshadow, powder formulas begin to break down after your very first use even when you're using a freshly-cleaned brush. Because you're transferring oils from your face through your brush, bacteria can build up quickly.  Toss powder products after a year to be on the safe side. Use your best judgment and keep an eye on your blush and eyeshadow for changes in scent or consistency.

The bottom line? If you can't remember when you bought a beauty product, it's probably time to toss it. I know. It hurts. But, I promise you'll be fine and your mascara tears will eventually dry.