Know When it’s Time to Toss

February 24, 2017
Tiffany Alvano

Unlike a bad boyfriend, your favorite tube of lipstick can be hard to quit. It’s the absolute perfect color– complimenting your skin tone seamlessly and it’s the perfect shade to be used year-round. While this lipstick doesn’t usually have an expiration date printed on the bottom, that doesn’t mean that it won’t go bad. This looming “break-up” date for you and your tried and true cosmetics varies by product. So how do you know when it’s time to move on? Here’s a breakdown so that you know when it’s time to toss!

Tossing out your cosmetics is actually less about the product breaking down, and more about what’s gotten inside that could be causing your skin to be irritated, breakouts, eye infections, and styes – bacteria. As a rule of thumb, the wetter it is, the happier bacteria will be living there, so the shorter shelf life it will have. The same goes for any product you use near your eyes. Just remember that this is all dependent upon whether or not the product has been opened!


As previously stated, because it is a wet product it won’t last quite as long. Your foundation has a shelf life of six months to one year once it has been opened. You can help your foundation last closer to the one year mark by keeping your bacteria-laden fingers out of the bottle. Instead, drop the formula onto the back of your hand and then use your fingers or a brush to apply.

Lipstick, lip liner, and lip gloss

If you notice a change in the texture, (getting too dry or strangely thick) toss any of your lip products. Other than that, they should last you a year.


If you use a pencil eyeliner that needs sharpening, there’s good news; it will last you a year! That’s because as you sharpen it, you’re cutting away any surface that may have come in contact with or contain bacteria! However, if it’s liquid, you should only hang onto it for three to four months. If it’s gel? It easily traps bacteria so chuck every two months. And remember, never share anything that comes in contact with your eyes!


Unfortunately, the shelf life of your mascara is really only three months because it is used so often and in such close proximity to your eyes. It’s important to switch it out regularly. Again, if you notice any changes or funny smells, you may need to toss it sooner.


If you are using a powder blush, you can continue to do so for two years – the longest of all your cosmetics! And if you prefer a cream blush, you’ll still get a good year to 18 months out of it.

Eye Shadow

It may come as a surprise that that eye-palette you’ve had for years should have been tossed ages ago! Three to six months is as long as you should keep your eye shadow. Technically they haven’t gone bad, but because it’s so close to your eyes you’ll want to swap your shadows out more regularly.

*Remember, if your favorite mascara has a funny smell, the texture of your concealer has changed, or your foundation has separated, it’s a sure sign that it’s time to toss!

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