Beauty 101: Product Shelf-Life


We all have done it, we’re all guilty of it (myself included)- keeping beauty products way longer than we should! As we shed off our winter layers and trade that cable knit sweater for a flirty eyelet dress, wouldn’t it make sense to refresh our makeup wardrobe as well? It doesn’t matter how blacker than black that eyeliner is, or how perfectly pink that lipstick makes your lips – there comes a time when you just need to let go (like those bell bottoms you keep hidden in your closet). There’s a good reason why we need to remember to throw out products at the right time – bacteria, dried product, and clumping, to name a few! Most of your beauty products should already make it fairly easy for you to tell; look out for the small open jar at the bottom of the product, the little number inside the image should have a M (for month) or Y (for year) next to it to tell you how long the product will be safely usable from the time you open it. It might look something like this –

expiration symbol

If it doesn’t state the expiration, here are a few basic pointers for remembering when to say goodbye, and how to help your makeup faves avoid the trash bin a little longer.


Change Every 2 to 3 Months


 Mascara has one of the most notoriously short shelf-lives out there, so this is one to be diligent with. With every swipe and re-application you can pick up icky bacteria and insert it back into the tube.

A longevity trick is to “swirl” your mascara wand instead of pumping up and down – pumping can cause air to enter into the mascara tube causing the product to dry faster. This can in turn cause clumping and uneven product distribution on your wand.

With enough time, lingering bacteria can cause itching, redness, or even conjunctivitis (pink eye).

Don’t let that happen to you and do your eyes a favor! Whenever you open a new tube of mascara take a sharpie and leave yourself a note on the tube for 3 months out to remind yourself when to toss it.

Foundation and Concealer

Change Every 6 to 12 Months


As a general rule for liquid foundations (and most things), the wetter it is, the more likely bacteria will start to develop. Keep your liquid foundations stored in a cool, dry place, and out of the moist bathroom. This will prevent the liquids from heating up and oxidizing. Unlike powder foundations, liquid foundations contain water and/or oil and overtime it will separate and break down faster. Same goes for liquid concealers and tinted moisturizers. And remember to always apply with clean fingers or brush. Using dirty applicators is another way to spread germs throughout the face and cause breakouts and infections.

Lip Products

Change Every 12-24 Months


Since lipsticks have little to no water in their formula, they can tend to last a little longer. However, with their repeated exposure to your mouth area, a general rule is to throw them out after about a year, but they can even last up to 2 years. A surefire way to know when to toss it is if it starts to feel dry and doesn’t spread evenly onto your lips.

As for glosses, they can last between 12 to 18 months on average. If it starts to get gloopy or smell funky, it’s time to throw it out.

For a little extra life-boost, avoid applying your lipsticks/gloss directly onto your lips; scrape a little product out onto the back of your clean hand or a palette and apply with a lip brush. This should help avoid the transfer of bacteria from your lips to the product.


Change Every 3 to 24 Months

eyeliner Similar to Mascara, liners go near your sensitive eye area and need to be switched up nearly as often. Depending on the type of liner, pencil, liquid or cake/cream, they can last as short as 3 months to as long as 2 years or more. With pencil liners, sharpen them often – it refreshes the pencil and removes any surface bacteria that may have developed on it. Also remember to keep the cap that came with it and seal it tight; this keeps germs from getting on the tip of the liner and will keep it from drying out. With this trick, your pencil liner could live a good two years (if it lasts that long), but you’ll know it’s gone bad once it starts to crumble. For liquid, gel or cream liners, 3 months is a good limit. Always remember to keep the lids sealed tight to keep air from entering inside. Since there’s water in the product bacteria will develop faster. Like the lipstick trick – scrape out or transfer the product out on a separate, clean brush and apply it that way to keep the germs at bay.


Change Every 3 Months to 2 Years


Powder eye shadows can have a great shelf life. Since they lack any moisture, bacteria can be kept at bay for a long time. However, since they’re used around the eye area, they can get in contact with bacteria which can be transferred back into the container. Usually, you should be able to wipe the top layer of eye shadow with a clean tissue to remove any oily residue or germs. You can also spray with an isopropyl alcohol spray to dry out any bacteria and disinfect. This can greatly help it’s longevity. Especially keep watch on your cream eye shadows as they can develop germs faster than their powder counterparts. Avoid using your fingers to get product out of the pot and instead scrape it out with a clean applicator and apply that way.

Face Powders

Change Every 1 to 2 Years

PowdersLike powder eye shadows, face powders like to go the distance – for at least up to 2 years. But sometimes they can contain a little moisture due to botanical products used in the formula, so you still need to watch for bacteria, especially if you leave it lying around your bathroom. Whether it’s a blush, bronzer, or powder foundation, always remember to apply them with a clean brush.

For cream blush or bronzers, they’ll have a shorter shelf life, about 3 months on average.

So What Have We Learned?

As a general rule, always remember to keep your beauty products stored in a cool, dry place, and avoid giving them too much exposure to moisture, heat and light. Avoid applying or touching your products with your fingers to keep the transfer of germs to a minimum. Also, try to write dates on the bottom of your products as a reminder of when to give it the toss. If it starts to crumble, smell funky or make your eyes/skin itchy or irritated, throw it out!

Hopefully these tips and tricks will help keep your beauty products fresh and clean as long as possible, and although parting may be such sweet sorrow, it is always for the best!

Thanks for reading!

Until next time,


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